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Erob

ISO's vs. Mix Track

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I was just curious how important you all think the mix track is? I work for a small production company and have recently been thrust into being the PSM, which I am happy with as it is what I have wanted to do for a long time. Traditionally we used G3's into a Zoom F8 and recorded a L/R mix with the ISO's, but as the person who also does post audio I would normally through out the L/R mix and just mix with all the ISO's we recorded (this was also before I was the PSM myself and was more of a Grip). We recently were able to make a big purchase and completely upgrade our sound gear to include Lectro SRc's, SSM's with COS 11D along with a MKH50 to go along with our 416. I was able to also get the F8 control and found that the faders only effect the mix and the pots change the ISO's. Now that it is much easier to create a solid mix track with the faders I'm debating focusing more time on set to trying to get a solid mix. I'm curious your thoughts and how often is the mix track really used in the professional world?

 

Thanks! 

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I would think your own experience with the workflow on set and in post would probably indicate what is most useful. Eg. Does your production mix save you (or others) time in post and/or gain you appreciation from other departments/production? Eg. picture editor. For me, even if the answer to both of these was 'NO' I would still put resources into trying to do a production mix for good practise but accept there may be other priorities. If the answer to either of these is a 'YES' then I would consider it a requisite part of the job and prioritise doing this over dissipating my resources out of department for example. Even if the mix wont be used in audio post it is a method of QC and a useful reference point, perhaps analogous to having a LUT on a monitor when shooting with a LOG picture profile. 

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And....there are a WHOLE lot of threads on this forum where this issue has been hashed through from every possible perspective by very experienced professionals.

Have a read...

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1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

And....there are a WHOLE lot of threads on this forum where this issue has been hashed through from every possible perspective by very experienced professionals.

Have a read...

 

I thought the "debate" ISO vs Mix Track has been covered very well in 4 years reading this forum. Agree with you, Philip.

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Lots of threads, as mentioned. 

 

I like to have a good mix so the director isn’t distracted on set by weird sound, and so the editor can cut a nice temp, and because I was there on the day and have a sense of how the performance in the space sounded in real life, and because my mix may go through to test screenigs, and because I want the director to love the sound he is used to by the time he gets to the mix. 

 

I just watched a show that sounded like shit. I feel like it must have been nice on the day. Good elements. But the ISOs were used and took all the character out of the dialog tracks. 

 

While I know that most shows at a certain level always remix frim the ISOs, if there’s a good mix in place beforehand, the editor and director will hopefully ask the RRM to make it sound like what I did. 

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A point to keep in mind, is if you're also the boom op, it isn't too realistic to create  a good mix track when it is just yourself doing everything alone n the sound department. 

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

A point to keep in mind, is if you're also the boom op, it isn't too realistic to create  a good mix track when it is just yourself doing everything alone n the sound department. 

The mix track doesn't have to be great, usually, in fact.  In Iso-World you do the best with it you can w/ no rehearsal and maybe no take 2, and it is still a mighty useful thing to have in the moment and on through the rest of production and post.   You have to make a monitor mix to hear what you're recording, so why not lay it down?

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My mix track is almost always used as the final mix, unless there's any issues. I think that's how it should be! :)

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5 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

The mix track doesn't have to be great, usually, in fact.  In Iso-World you do the best with it you can w/ no rehearsal and maybe no take 2, and it is still a mighty useful thing to have in the moment and on through the rest of production and post.   You have to make a monitor mix to hear what you're recording, so why not lay it down?

+1. Obviously having a boom op or not can make a big difference to the outcome but at the very least the mix is a reference point for yourself and whoever else listens along the way.

A picture editor told me, that when assembling multi-camera material, it can be expedient to have the synced isos on the timeline (as well the mix) for a visual reference to which shot will have the speaker. Give them what you can Erob, and since 'them' is you, enjoy.

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I did a little more digging and apologize for asking a question that was already answered and had a long discussion here. That said I appreciate the replies. When I'm one manning it an boom-oping it I think it is hard to get a solid mix and focus on boom. Given the feedback here and on the other discussion I'll put much more time into creating a solid mix track so when I'm out in the world and people expect it I have plenty of practice, even if I don't like using myself (I like working with the iso's). 

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On the 633, I've had pretty good results with giving camera a boom track on the left and a lav mix done by Dugan on the right when I work from the bag. It's also nice enough to monitor and the meters do a good job of telling you what the automix is doing. I record pre-fader ISOs as well in case the Dugan acts weird, and if I'm going into the camera via wireless, I'll record the mix as well. I guess I'd miss the automix if I didn't have it, but I probably could have come up with ways to survive without it. Feels like it's worth the price of admission.

I never got the hang of mixing when I was in film school and we weren't really properly taught the art. If I hadn't done good internships, I could have come out of film school thinking that a mix track is unnecessary. Just goes to show that nothing beats real world experience.

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I do a lot of work for corporate/training companies and find that even though I might take the time and effort to provide ISO tracks (from a Tascam DR680 or Zoom F8) as well as a two-track mix from an SD552, they almost invariably end up using the camera tracks anyway. In many cases their editors leave the tracks panned wide left and right rather than panning them center! I assume they must be mixing on systems where they do not notice. I've also had several editors leave interviews panned wide left and right when I have put lav on left and boom on right! I still like to do ISOs and 2-track mixes, though, for those that do know what they're doing.

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Right now I do editing and mixing 56 (of 70) episode, reality show (18 contestants plus 3 hosts). Hyper fast postproduction - typical for the genre. Mix track is the main track and it can be compensated (failure wise) by ISOs.

Reality TV is major format today so, mixing skill of our crew is crutial (enhanced by automix algorithms of recorders DSP).

 

Respect.

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Yeah but if you are recording an unrehearsed 4 lav show like I was today I defy anyone to achieve

what I would dare to rely on as a usable 1 track mix! You could only provide a guide.

 

Since my 2 track DAT days with scripted and rehearsed shows it was possible

but so often now it is a feeble block and let's shoot it!

 

I rely on a two track split mix and provide everything as ISO tracks then you are covered

 

mike

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Don't mind starting fresh on the subject.

 

In the original thread, Mark Hensley strongly presented his case for ISO's > Mix Track; the PSM's in the room went wild. 

 

It sure raised my hackles as one who also came from mono tracks --> two track --> 6 ISOS --> 12 ISOS.

 

My hackles have since been tamed by a period project re-mixed by the same Mark Hensley and the estimable Bob Bronow, arguably the best fingers/ears for background noise on the planet. There were many constraints not least of which #1 often not willing/able to be wired. My mix evolved to create a track sufficient for #1 to ADR it. She did. There it is.

 

Some setups, the mix could only be a tool for the picture and dialog editors to survive the edit and know what was missing right away.

 

I had to be of value and losing the mix forced me to find other ways to achieve value.

 

Do not underestimate the value of comms.

 

I often bring full up the off screen / plant mics at the beginning of the first take to confirm that they are there for me, producers and for post, then let 'em roll thereafter in ISO only.

 

Was scared to have Mark use my tracks given that other thread but I had done what I thought was right. Gave 'em in the mix what my ear thought good relative to mixing lavs to boom for what Brendan, Joe and I call "beef": fattening the bottom @-12 for intelligibility, else boom.

 

But I sort of gave up on a useable mix given the wire situation and many 1920's automobiles.

 

You guys did a GREAT job given the raw material you were given; this project caused me to put the mix into a different frame of reference. No less precious mostly. A paradigm shift of some magnitude. Like a director, it's my mission to collect all the elements that can make it work later. I am a collector of options.

 

Just some prep time ruminations about the landscape.

 

Furthermore, it's Sounderday. 

 

https://zoom.us/j/817979726

 

https://www.amazon.com/Pilot/dp/B017APVDEO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511004914&sr=8-1&keywords=z+the+beginning+of+everything

 

 

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On 16/11/2017 at 1:17 AM, Reg said:

My mix track is almost always used as the final mix, unless there's any issues. I think that's how it should be! :)

Same for me, most of the time iso's are only opened up with there's an issue to address (which happens to everyone from time to time), but 2 track split mix is the way to go, and yes, like mike said, getting over 4 wires up with no rehearsals kind of turns that first take into the mixer's rehearsal.

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For me, always a ONE track mix... everything on LEFT...    ISOs of everything...

 

The mix is MY interpretation of how I think it should sound... To me...    If they don't care for it, they can re mix it...  I would like to think after this amount of time doing this, I have some idea on how I think the scene should sound.

  But, sometimes you mix for safety... in some really bad locations you concentrate on getting purely clean sound for them... That becomes the focus..  but you STILL try to give them a clean mix track.  If worse comes to worst, and it does, at least provide a mix track of any quality you can deliver so those in edit knew what was going on audio wise so it can be re constructed ...  HOW things sounded is really important, even if drown out with effects and garbage.

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7 minutes ago, afewmoreyears said:

For me, always a ONE track mix... everything on LEFT...    ISOs of everything...

so your RIGHT is empty?

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Interesting. My typical setup (to clarify my earlier post) is a doing a stereo mix putting wires on L - boom on R (switch if you like), X1 recording a mono mix, and then ISOs rolling. Works very nicely in my workflow. 

 

It's nice to be able to hear them separate in the cans for some setups, or flip a switch and hear the mono feed I'm giving. Post can usually just drop in X1, if they need to do minor re-mixing between boom and wire mix they they can go to the L & R, and then only have to open up and remix all those ISOs if something near-catastrophic happened.

 

Alternative workflows anyone? Very open to trying new things.

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Yep put the wires on L and R - this is then a split track not a stereo mix.

 

Monitor on L R Stereo and yo have them in each ear to detect individual issues.

 

The only reason to listen to a mono mix is to detect phase differences!

 

mike

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45 minutes ago, mikewest said:

 

The only reason to listen to a mono mix is to detect phase differences!

 

mike

 

In my world of narrative mixing, that is a pretty big reason. I mix mono, and strive for what (to me) sounds like a finished dialog mix. I will wire for characters or individual lines as needed, but the booms are primary 90% of the time.

 

Another thing that I would have trouble listening for in a "split mix" is background consistency. Is this an issue for those of you working this way?

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