January 2021

How essential is sound mixing?

All operations on a set and in post-production are essential but some do not suffer approximation. We may make mistakes with images, having for a couple of seconds a fuzzy grip in a movie and the viewer may think it is intentional but if the same viewer is wondering "what did they say?", the viewing pleasure is really affected.

Sound mixing is indeed essential.

An other example is our modern lives. When watching TV 30 years ago, we used to focus on the program whether film, show, sport, news, we made a point on sitting in front of the TV and enjoying whatever we were watching. We are all living with a smart phone or tablet in our hands today, and for better or worse, we do multiple things at once. Our attention to the TV set is connected more by the sound than the image as we are spending more time with our mobile devices. Sound mixing is very important, finding the right balance will make or break the project you are working on.

The production sound mixer is usually in charge of capturing dialogues and environment sounds.

To make the work of mixing sound easier on a set, the mixer needs high quality samples reason why the sound mixer on a set is also responsible for the Boom Operator, the choice of microphones and their angles for maximum output. To avoid situations where the viewer is wondering the content of the dialogue, the main focus of the mixer will be clear dialogue capture and all peripheral sounds that may add to the viewer experience outdoor and in. Recording dialogues is not easy, actors are putting as much emotions in their voices than on their faces and the sound mixer will need to capture all the details to mix it accordingly.

Good production sound mixers are also good listeners, not only on the dialogues they are recording but with all crew members and actors. Intuition and sensitivity are also important traits of a good sound mixer. They also need to be organized, tagging all sound samples accordingly.

Then comes the job of the sound editor in post-production, making the vision of the sound designer real.

The sound editor is in charge of piecing together the three different sound recording samples:

Dialogues, music and sound effects. This is another essential role, making sure sound FX and music do not overpower dialogues, finding the best possible balance, loudness, fading, the sound editor needs to be fluent in modern technologies, computers have become indispensable in sound editing.

Sound Editors must have an excellent understanding of acoustics, recording processes and knowledge of all post production sound equipment, processes and procedures, in both analog and digital. As for the sound designer, a filmmaker should always have a sound designer in pre-production meetings. The sound designer will contribute to shape the story, he is the architect deciding on the sound and where it goes. He gives to our ears the same pleasure a cinematographer gives our eyes.

Sound designer, mixer and editor are working hand in hand to provide the viewers with ultimate sound experience.