The main goal of any sound mix is to artfully blend the relative levels of the various components of the soundtrack so that the film will have its intended emotional impact.
Your sound mix must be scheduled and planned ahead of time with Sound Faculty or Staff. During the Fall semester, sound mixes are usually on a first-come, first-served basis. The spring semester gets very busy, so mixes are scheduled well in advance.
Early in the Spring semester, Sound faculty and staff meet with all graduating students. Based on the information provided in the Sound Mix and Post Questionnaire, each student is assigned a Faculty or Staff Sound Mentor, as well as a Preview and Sound Mix date. Scheduling priority is given to graduating MFAs. Your Sound Mentor will assist you in planning your soundtrack and will work with you during the Preview and Sound Mix. The Preview is a last chance to look for organizational or creative problems before your Sound Mix. You must meet with your Sound Mentor early and often to ensure the most efficient use of the allotted mix time.
Rescheduling a mix can be difficult. You must reply-all to the original confirmation email you received from FVSound. FVSound will attempt to accommodate a reschedule, but it is not guaranteed that your mix can be done during operating hours and may have to take place during after hours or a weekend.
Projects vary a great deal in complexity and technical needs. Therefore, you should plan ahead with your Sound Mentor to determine the best way to finish your project.
Mixes are done in A111 Mix Theater and A112 Recording Studio. Sound mixes can be from mono (for 16mm) to 5.1, depending on your finishing format. All sound mixes are compatible with most types of surround decoding systems.
The fee for previews and sound mixes is $15/hour during normal business hours or $25/hour during after hours or weekends. Student films accepted into the Character Animation Producers’ Show will have a mandatory sound mix scheduled for the week after the Open Show. The cost for these sound mixes is covered by the School of Film/Video.
The different versions of the sound mix can be complex and confusing, so it is important to get a layback after your sound mix. Laybacks are done free of charge by Sound Student Technicians.
*Most mixes will finish with a 5.1, LtRt, and Internet version. The 5.1 mix has six channels: Left, Right, Center, Left Surround, Right Surround, and LFE. The LtRt mix (Left total, Right total) is a fold-down of those six channels into a Dolby Surround encoded stereo compatible mix. The Internet mix is a boosted-up version of the LtRt mix and is meant for internet use only (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
After the mix, your mixer will give you a charge sheet which you must take to the Accounting Office to pay for the mix, then bring the yellow receipt to E104 Sound Transfer / Helpdesk during Helpdesk hours to get your mix files. Mixes are typically delivered at the same time as the layback and may be delivered to your hard / thumb drive or to your FVCentral Depositbox. For evening or weekend sessions, files will not be delivered until payment can be made at the Accounting Office during normal business hours.
Preparing For Your Sound Mix
The sound design and editing you do before the mix is the most important part of the mix itself! It is very important that you meet with your Sound Mentor to plan the entire sound workflow before you begin. Your picture must be locked before your preview, and all sound elements should be ready to go.
Sound mixes are done with sound from a Pro Tools session, and images from a QuickTime movie.
You will need to create an AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) output from your image editing software, then import that file into a Pro Tools session to match your original image editing.
There are several 2 Pop articles that explain important technical processes including using standard leaders and moving your work from image editing software to Pro Tools.
You can prepare for your Sound Mix using any available School of Film/Video computer, but A112e and F104 Sound Design Suites are particularly recommended as you approach your Sound Mix date. Sound Student Technicians are also available during Helpdesk hours to assist you in preparing for your Sound Mix.