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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Audio For Video: How To Mix Stereo

How to mix in extra sounds in your videos. Audio for video isn't just dialog and music. Sometimes we enhance the production with sound effects and other noises.
You could just plop effects dead center in the mix, but what fun is that? Your video and audio editing software packages have tools to spread the sound around, placing it in convincing locations across the soundstage. Some tools are simple, while others require some practice and patience, but in the end, your projects will sound better. This translates into happy clients, more work and another nice piece for your demo reel.

Between the Speakers

It's true that surround sound is where everything is headed. But until everyone plays video on surround-equipped systems, there is still a place for a nice stereo mix. Creating that mix requires several elements: voice, music and sound effects. For a good example, find your favorite television drama and play an episode on a system with a headphone jack. Plug in the headphones, sit back and listen closely. In most productions, the dialog is placed firmly in the center - with a few exceptions. This anchors the actors' vocals and draws your attention to what's being said. Music is spread across the soundstage, just like any stereo music you listen to on your car stereo or MP3 player. Instruments live in specific locations and larger items - like drums or keyboards - fill the entire sonic image, almost like you're sitting in front of them. Sound effects are where the fun happens. Helicopters fly across the screen, bullets whiz back and forth in a firefight and people walk from here to there, seamlessly. Or is it?
You see, in most television dramas and motion pictures, the sound you hear is almost all constructed in post production. In fact, it's likely that very little of what you hear was actually recorded during the shoot. Actors often replace much of their dialog in the studio, and sound effects libraries stand in for the real thing. Why? Simply because it's easier to control. In the real world of production, a fully "natural" soundtrack requires microphones on everyone and everything, with some poor soul tucked in a corner mixing everything as it happens. If you think about it, that's not really very natural after all. So, rather than go to all that trouble, producers replace and enhance sounds in post. But that's where the fun s… Read More

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