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Dialogue Editor Leveling advice
Old 12th September 2012
  #31
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Well, I personally have never seen a spot being down from a dialog editors mix. From the picture editors mix, yes.
Why would you have a dialog editor working on an un-finished edit? THAT sounds like a colossal waste of time and money to me.

Look, with tight budgets and tight turn arounds, if a dialog editor has time to do a kick ass editing job, and deal with all the editing issues involved, AND wants to do his own leveling. By all means, go right ahead.

But I won't be using any of his volume graphing. Not out of spite, or not thinking he knows what he's doing. Or that I think I am some kind of "Maestro" mixer. But simply because I am not going to be fighting existing automation with my automation.


I don't know what the workflow is where you are Apple-q, and it sounds like you have to deal with mixers that have some attitude problems. My attitude is that everybodies job is equally important. From teh receptionist to the mixer. And everybody should make sure they are doing their job at highest level. If they do that, and then some. Great.
Old 12th September 2012
  #32
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With PT10 I would deliver dx ultilizing clip gain to get things relative but never deliver automation.


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Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #33
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Several things:

1. NR, EQ and pan first, then level. Leveling prior to EQ makes no sense at all.
2. Most mixers compress dialog. That changes the relationship between bg and dialog in the prod track.
3. I hate full range de-essing, so dipping sibilance is a waste of time.
4. Lip smacks and similar should be EDITED out, not leveled out.

my 2c
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound ➡️
On our latest Feature "The Possession" which is still the #1 Movie at the Box Office, we were first told (with little notice) that they wanted a temp that they would do an audience preview (in a few days). Our team quickly took care of the job at hand.
We edited and mixed the temp. It sounded amazing especially for the amount of time we had. The clients were blown away with the sound. We then took that temp and all the work and carried it through to another unplanned for last minute temp.
We do all our work in Pro Tools so we took the first temp and used it for the 2nd temp. We also had a few days to create (not weeks) and the team once again exceeded the client’s expectations. The temp sounded great.
For efficiency we used all our work on the previous temps to then refine what we did in the final.
COMMUNICATE, COLLABERATE, CREATE!
First of all, I DO respect people with talent - you obviously have enough to keep busy - but this was about efficient workflow. And in the above illustration, what exactly am I missing? You did a temp and used that as the base for the second temp instead of starting from scratch? And continued that into the final? I don't get the point... But that could be my POV, from down in the trenches. You're working in staff HQ 30 miles from the frontline, that's why I can't imagine throwing away leveling on dialogue.
Old 12th September 2012
  #35
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalxvi ➡️
snip - I would like to make sure my sound design fits well with the dialogue. My question is can someone give me a reference to what DB the dialogue should be so I can base all of the other elements off of that. - snip - I have QuietArts WaveRider and Waves WLM meter. I dont know how to use WLM meter but I was thinking that if I knew what the dialogue should be and can set everything up in WLM then i can have WaveRider act on the desired settings (just as a rough mix). I just want to set it up for playback purposes.

Will those plugs help or should i look at some alternatives? What is Waves WLM typically used for?

I apologize in advance if my questions come off newbish. LOL
I'm going to do my best to answer YOUR question We all went off course I believe...

Yes. You could use WaveRider and the WLM meter to make your dialog guide track a bit more representative of the final product so your effects would be more in the pocket. Probably not so much for Film but but for Televison it could be helpful. If you are working in the US you should be aiming at a level of -24LKFS on the Waves WLM. I've played with WaveRider (and Vocal Rider) a bit and it can do a reasonable job of messaging a track into something a bit smoother to work against. Might even work for a Film project too but there are no government mandated audio levels for film dialog. That's where experience comes in.I'm pretty good with plugins and can quickly make a nearly inaudible auto compression chain to process a guide track before turning it over to my sound effects person. Typically I would set up a chain, tweak a bit until globally happy then audio suite the entire track with each plugin for the sake of time.

I find the Waves MV2 very useful for this purpose. It can bring the loud stuff down as well as bring the low stuff up. The Waves API 2500 Compressor is pretty transparent in some modes.

Hope that helps.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceme ➡️
First of all, I DO respect people with talent - you obviously have enough to keep busy - but this was about efficient workflow.
yes, and efficient means focusing the time you have on the most important things first. When it comes to dialog editing, that means delivering clean tracks first. I would rather a dialog editor spend his time getting rid of every little click and fixing every dialog problem he/she has the time to fix. Try editing together takes where otherwise ADR would have to be used. Draw out distortion, where possible. Fixing popped p's. and making sure that every line of ADR is in perfect sync.

If he can get that all done in the time he has, then again, great.

My experience so far has been that DX editors simply don't get the time to do all of the above, unfortunately. And it usually has nothing to do with their skills.simly time constraints.
So messing around leveling dialog isnt even in the equasion.
Old 13th September 2012
  #37
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Branko ➡️
Several things:

1. NR, EQ and pan first, then level. Leveling prior to EQ makes no sense at all.
2. Most mixers compress dialog. That changes the relationship between bg and dialog in the prod track.
3. I hate full range de-essing, so dipping sibilance is a waste of time.
4. Lip smacks and similar should be EDITED out, not leveled out.

my 2c
This post needs repeating! This is the exact reason dx editors "leveling" does not work in my mixes. I've seen mixers just pushing faders or riding an aux fader thinking they are mixing. Those guys always seem to ask the editors to "level" for them and are the same guys who crush the hell out of their mix. I've seen these guys use plug ins like "smack" in their dx chain!!!

I start out the dx mix gain staging a region, then eq, then dns, then fader, every single region in the time line!!! No pre leveling will ever translate. It is a total waste of time.

Also the very best dx edits I've ever received are from editors that turn off the volume automation while editing. If the editor can make the edit play with no automation, I know the mix will go well.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #38
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ceme ➡️
First of all, I DO respect people with talent - you obviously have enough to keep busy - but this was about efficient workflow. And in the above illustration, what exactly am I missing? You did a temp and used that as the base for the second temp instead of starting from scratch? And continued that into the final? I don't get the point... But that could be my POV, from down in the trenches. You're working in staff HQ 30 miles from the frontline, that's why I can't imagine throwing away leveling on dialogue.
Ceme,
Let me spell out the point:
For ME, I prefer that a Dialog Editor focus on cutting a smooth
session/ Reel. If they lower something that is +20 and would rip our heads off if we played it then of course do it. Otherwise I prefer not having to go south on the fader when someone went north. I can mix just fine at a fast pace in the room I Final in using my tools and not someone's else's idea of what compressor/ eq/ deseer/ limiter that they had in their chain that they think sounds right. I appreciate the effort, but do job 1 well and let's talk directly before spending time/ effort in ways that may not be the most productive. It's a team effort. My team understands that I am the QB and I make the calls. Those who can work within the guide lines stay busy.
Reasonable? Going back to the OP.. Ask the Mixer directly. It takes less time to call the Re-Recording Mixer and ask him/her than it does to post here on Gearslutz. If the Mixer OK's what they are doing then go for it.How's that?
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #39
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🎧 10 years
Branko, you should avoid hard and fast rules about these things. There are several ways to deal with every issue, and you need to pick the most effective combination for the specific instance to get the best result. Maybe I don't want to get rid of a lip smack, maybe I just want to lower it a little or maybe just remove the extreme high end. I may decide to use Izotope Spectral Repair to reduce extreme sibilance in the middle if a sentence, particularly whistling esses, or if it a final ess, maybe just lowering it works better. I may use a de-esser in combination with other approaches, or maybe it is pumping too much.

If I'm mixing the dialog, I will choose the approach I think is best, but it is usually not a single rule. Even when I'm cutting and mixing the dialog, if I use an Audiosuite process on a line, I always keep the unadulterated version muted on an adjacent track in case I want to go back.

The point being that getting stuck on absolutes limits your effectiveness and creativity, you need to have all of the options available.

FWIW, I wouldn't necessarily want someone else making these decisions for me before the mix unless we had worked the approach out in detail beforehand, and then it would require a high degree of trust.

One other thought that doesn't relate to Branko's comments - If you are working on features, I don't care how well tuned and calibrated your room is, the dialog is going to sound very different on the big screen than it does in your little room. My small room has been EQed and acoustically treated many times over in search of the holy grail of perfect translation to a large theater, and I can guarantee you, IT AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! You can get an approximation that works great for TV or predubs, but a feature playing in a big room is a whole other animal.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #40
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Thank you Gary for so eloquently spelling this out.
I agree 100%.
Well said.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan ➡️
Branko, you should avoid hard and fast rules about these things.
I think you didn't understand what I wanted to say.
Think of those "rules" more like "guidelines".
Although, some of them are hard to skip, "like EQ 1st, then level"
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman ➡️
I guarantee you if you go back and look, you will see that I said I only want one good mic.
I know, but others in that thread wrote they'd rather work with a 100-track-wide dx-tracklay than let the editor pick mics, which sounded pretty ridiculous to me back then but I guess it boils down to different way to work.

I'm just surprised about the extreme "no" regarding level but trusting an editor to pick the best leg of a recording.

I think choosing which mic to present to the mixer is a far more sound-invasive decision (and also takes a million times longer then levelling BTW) to make than setting one clip 3dB louder so it runs smoothly into the next one without audible transition instead of leaving a dialog all bumpy and full of terrible crossfades because the editor isn't "allowed" to smoothen and fix all that in the mix.

For me a good dialog edit runs soothly from a to z without any audible cuts and bumps in terms of level within each scene. And I am talking about audible cuts, smooth fills etc. not "artistic" levels related to the rest of the sound.

I don't even know how to prepare fills that match if I'm not allowed to match the level of the fill to the outgoing and incoming clips. How will I EVER know if the fill works if I have to keep everything at 0dB and live with the random level they were recorded at?

I am not talking about complex level-curves. I am talking about static overall clip-levels to maintain relative transitions constant. etc.

For me that is an integral part of what dx-editors do to make each cut work. Personally I don't know any dx-editor that works with volume-automation disabled.

How will I ever be able to tell if a cut works if the clip levels are all over the place and every microscopic fill is presented at random level?

If there are any dx-editors around I'd really like to know how you make your tracks work without touching clip-levels.
Old 13th September 2012
  #43
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I'm with you apple Q.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #44
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by apple-q ➡️
I think choosing which mic to present to the mixer is a far more sound-invasive decision (and also takes a million times longer then levelling BTW)
which is EXACTLY what I want. The correct mic.
So, instead of wasting time on leveling, use all of that time picking the correct mic. THAT'S what makes my job easier.
Better source, better mix.

If a DX editor can't pic the best mic, he should find a different line of work.
Old 13th September 2012
  #45
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🎧 10 years
I agree with all who say that the most important component is communication between editorial and mix. I work only on low budget films—by US standards— and I survive by working out deals with the mixer as to who covers what. Generally, the rule is simple: Wherever it’s easier to do a certain task at any given moment, that’s where it gets done. No dogma, lots of trust. I usually make all microphone calls, but again it depends on the mixer, the room, the budget, and weird personality matters.

I always level generally (I haven’t cut on mag for 20 years, so why not take advantage of some technology?). I rarely do micromanaged automation, unless I know that the mixer wants such madness. I even occasionally do some noise reduction if absolutely needed to match a renegade shot into a scene—keeping a fully edited, muted track right next door. Plus, if I know that there is absolutely no time in the mix, I will do more aggressive noise reduction in my room. For me, it’s whatever works in the situation facing the mixer and me. And since the mixer is not always available to the editor, there comes a point where common-sense-based-on-precedent is a decent way to operate.

I am an editor, not a mixer. My job is to make lovely tracks that can be mixed efficiently and artistically. I will do what I need to do to make it go well in the mix. I don't care who does any given job as long as no one gets painted into a corner. Sadly, my time is worth much less than mix time, so if I have to do some things that are “mix-only” issues, so be it. Mixing and editorial absolutists alike miss the point.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #46
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🎧 15 years
When it comes to "alt" choices be it a mic choice the original (Picture Editors choice) is ALWAYS available, typically muted nearby. That way I can make the final decision.To me this is extremely valuable to have a choice and easily be able to revert back to the original choice if the Director or Picture Editor likes the original better. I don't tell the Dialog Editor not to look for "alts". This to me is letting the Dialog Editor make choices that he/ she feels will be best for the final. This is a much more productive use of their time vs trying to level volume on all the regions.
But this is the way I work and who the .... am I .
Just trying to share my experience on a Forum and get crap from people who don't sign their names. Too many online experts.
Old 13th September 2012
  #47
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Marti, it seems that those of us who are actually mixing the dialog, are echoing the same sentiments. DX editors should be using their precious time, whic we all know is never enough, and focus on editing, mic selections and searching for alts, first.
Old 13th September 2012
  #48
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman ➡️
Marti, it seems that those of us who are actually mixing the dialog, are echoing the same sentiments. DX editors should be using their precious time, whic we all know is never enough, and focus on editing, mic selections and searching for alts, first.
Absolutely!! Find me some alts and make the session more organized before even thinking about touching anything looks automation or volume.

Apple-q. If the edit sounds bumpy without automation I would fill more, find different / better fill, or re-listen to the edit and not crossfaded those regions together. I've gotten thousands of edits from all types of editors. I know if the edit sounds smooth with no automation, the mix is going to sound great. If the exit sounds bumpy with no automation, I'm going to be editing a lot in the mix.
Old 15th September 2012 | Show parent
  #49
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🎧 15 years
If you want level dialogue, know exactly what you're doing and who you're doing it for.

Attend dialogue mixing sessions if possible, but at the very least talk the mixer before engaging in this practice. If this isn't possible, do the preleveling on some alternate tracks, so I have a choice when mixing. Similar to denoising or notching. This is actually a good thing if the time is tight, but only if you know what you're doing and the mixer is ok with it.

Plus there's more to judging this stuff than the pure dialogue. Some folks like to mix the backgrounds or dedicated room tones at the same time, and if you haven't mixed dialogue, you're not likely to know what that person has up their sleeve.

Ask first. What so many have already said.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #50
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minister's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound ➡️
Just trying to share my experience on a Forum and get crap from people who don't sign their names. Too many online experts.
Marti,
You're full of it.
-Tom
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #51
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🎧 15 years
Thanks Tom
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #52
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🎧 10 years
To those of you who've established you shouldn't deliver an Edit with Automation, I'd like to hear again why everyone has to work on ProTools.
Old 18th September 2012
  #53
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🎧 10 years
:-)
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #54
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathand ➡️
To those of you who've established you shouldn't deliver an Edit with Automation, I'd like to hear again why everyone has to work on ProTools.
Well, remember, we are talking dialog only.
And, you can edit in whatever you like, but you better be delivering a pro-tools session to the stage.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #55
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🎧 5 years
I think ultimately you should ask a mixer what he wants to be clear beforehand.

I wanted to add my experiences though. I work pretty much only on feature films and I know TV is different because of the amount of time allotted for editorial.

In the over 15 years I've been doing this on well over 120 films, working multiple times with mixers like Mike Minkler, Kevin O'Connell, Chris Jenkins, Marc Fishman, Andy Koyama and many others, I've never been told not to do volume automation. I've also never heard back from the mix stage or from a mixer directly that my volume automation was a problem. I'll also add that pretty much every editor I know works the same way. Volume automation is used, sometimes extensively but judiciously, (with much experience) to smooth throughout.

Another important point is that only a few films I've worked on have been mixed on boards that read the automation so faders aren't moving during playback. This means that the mixer is listening not "seeing" automation.

Maybe the editors I know are just very good at it (which I think they are) or whatever but in the higher budget feature world volume automation is the norm not the exception. There are people who may not use it but the dozen or so dialog editors I work with all use it.

Another important point is that a lot of the "automation" or volume graphing is to make things louder due to low recording levels. Frequently the separate mic tracks from an assembly are down 15-25 db form the combine track. Gaining those low files would not only take longer but then render them in a permanently changed state.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #56
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman ➡️
...but you better be delivering a pro-tools session to the stage.
I'm curious, what does a ProTools session without automation offer that a OMF/AAF does not?
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathand ➡️
I'm curious, what does a ProTools session without automation offer that a OMF/AAF does not?
Solid compatability without having to worry that the import might be effed up.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #58
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by fsrenduro ➡️
I think ultimately you should ask a mixer what he wants to be clear beforehand.

I wanted to add my experiences though. I work pretty much only on feature films and I know TV is different because of the amount of time allotted for editorial.

In the over 15 years I've been doing this on well over 120 films, working multiple times with mixers like Mike Minkler, Kevin O'Connell, Chris Jenkins, Marc Fishman, Andy Koyama and many others, I've never been told not to do volume automation. I've also never heard back from the mix stage or from a mixer directly that my volume automation was a problem. I'll also add that pretty much every editor I know works the same way. Volume automation is used, sometimes extensively but judiciously, (with much experience) to smooth throughout.

Another important point is that only a few films I've worked on have been mixed on boards that read the automation so faders aren't moving during playback. This means that the mixer is listening not "seeing" automation.

Maybe the editors I know are just very good at it (which I think they are) or whatever but in the higher budget feature world volume automation is the norm not the exception. There are people who may not use it but the dozen or so dialog editors I work with all use it.

Another important point is that a lot of the "automation" or volume graphing is to make things louder due to low recording levels. Frequently the separate mic tracks from an assembly are down 15-25 db form the combine track. Gaining those low files would not only take longer but then render them in a permanently changed state.
Nice observation. I would also add that there are many mixers on the level of the list above that wipe all level automation. I know this for a fact. We/ I do not. As for faders moving all over the place there are a couple of ways to deal with that. I do not have that problem ever. By dropping the names of the people above I take it (even though you didn't sign your name) that you interface with these level of mixers on a regular basis. The OP obviously does not. My post is directed to those novice Dialog Editors who are trying to do everything but haven't taken the time to call the Mixer directly. It takes 5 minutes and creates an avenue of communication. It takes less time to contact the mixer than it does to ask a question here. Back to my original point: focus on the Dialog editing FIRST. Take a reel to the Mixer and sit down with him/ her and listen to their feedback. If you have done everything to satisfy the mixers needs then sure, go ahead and volume graph lines.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #59
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman ➡️
Solid compatability without having to worry that the import might be effed up.
LOL, Seriously - that's what you're going with? As if every PT session you've received has worked flawlessly.

If you make an OMF/AAF right - in my experience it is perfectly compatible. Of course, just like when delivering a PT session, it has to be done correctly.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #60
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound ➡️
My post is directed to those novice Dialog Editors who are trying to do everything but haven't taken the time to call the Mixer directly. It takes 5 minutes and creates an avenue of communication. It takes less time to contact the mixer than it does to ask a question here. Back to my original point: focus on the Dialog editing FIRST. Take a reel to the Mixer and sit down with him/ her and listen to their feedback. If you have done everything to satisfy the mixers needs then sure, go ahead and volume graph lines.
I agree with you. There just seemed to be a lot of 'never do that' type of talk going through this thread and I just wanted to provide a counterpoint to that.

While I can't guarantee that my volume graphing didn't get wiped in every show, there are many I've sat through the predubs and final and know my graphing remained. If done properly it is of benefit not a hinderance. If there is a problem it can be removed from the section in less than a second. I'm not claiming to be doing radical mix type volume automation, rather I'm using it as a tool to smooth within a scene.
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