Peter on mixing film in 5.1

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April 8, 2016
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Peter on mixing film in 5.1

Surround sound, or 5.1 is now a standard audio set-up in cinemas and indeed modern home cinema systems. It comprises of 5 full audio channels and one low frequency channel, or subwoofer, producing the immersive cinematic experience we know and love .
Mixing in surround sound vs. stereo allows more scope for creativity with the greater variety of effects that can be produced for the listener. However it also comes with added challenges.
In the studio we use various techniques in order to get the mix up to a professional standard. These are mostly done in the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Pro Tools. With this software we are able to manipulate the audio using tools such as an EQ, denoiser and limiters.
One of the main things we can alter is the position of the sound. Using the 5 main channels we can place a piece of audio at any point 360 degrees around the listener. It is vital that this positioning is correct so that the sounds in the film are coming from the right place .
A good example of this came while mixing the audio for the film “Emmi”, where in one scene a teenager is playing loud music from her room and we cut between different parts of the building to see different characters overhearing it. Altering how the music is being heard after each cut requires careful positioning and Equalization.
As we move from the shot inside the room with the music on full blast to outside the room, with the mother listening through the door we need to make some changes to the audio. To produce the more bassy register caused by listening through a door we use a low pass filter to cut off the high frequencies (see below). On top of this, the position of the music must be shifted to the right channels to complete the effect. Aligning this with the cut in the video gives a seamless changeover with the viewer now experiencing the sound from the mother's perspective.
EQing was a large part of the audio post-production process since the pieces of sound in the mix varied in quality and how they were recorded. This meant we had to clean up some of the audio, cutting out unwanted frequencies and occasionally using a denoiser to achieve greater clarity.
By utilising all of these tools effectively we can create an immersive, cinematic sound mix which gives the viewer the perspective the film-maker intended.
Summary
Service Type
Mixing Film in 5.1
Provider Name
London Media Post Production
Area
London
Description
Surround sound, or 5.1 is now a standard audio set-up in cinemas and indeed modern home cinema systems. It comprises of 5 full audio channels and one low frequency channel, or subwoofer, producing the immersive cinematic experience we know and love .
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