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ISO's vs. Mix Track

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On 11/18/2017 at 5:15 PM, afewmoreyears said:

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.

+1

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4 hours ago, Wyatt Tuzo said:

 

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?


When I monitor a split mix, I try to get the levels so I'll have a stable-ish center image with the boomed dialogue in the middle. I usually do boom hard left, lavs hard right. Whatever comes up on the sides of the stereo image are inconsistencies, be it backgrounds or handling or rustle. Since they come up on the sides, they're really easy to notice because they'll be pretty distracting. If it's on the left, it's the boom, if it's on the right, it's the lavs. I guess it would be a good idea to mix the lavs a bit lower, but it feels like it would throw me off since the mix would "lean left" all the time.

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5 hours ago, Ilari Sivil said:

I guess it would be a good idea to mix the lavs a bit lower, but it feels like it would throw me off since the mix would "lean left" all the time.


I like to sometimes have the lavs a little bit lower in my ear, as then I find it easier to give full concentration to just the boom when I want to (as that is the most important track of all, usually). 

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5 hours ago, Ilari Sivil said:

Whatever comes up on the sides of the stereo image are inconsistencies, be it backgrounds or handling or rustle. Since they come up on the sides, they're really easy to notice because they'll be pretty distracting. If it's on the left, it's the boom, if it's on the right, it's the lavs.

+1 This is the main reason I enjoy running a split mix.

 

To answer Wyatt, no I have not had any problems listening to backgrounds for consistency, but I've found it advantageous as it lets me know quickly if it's the boom or wires that have changed on the background levels.  And if you prefer you can always have a split mix and just change your headphone source if you need to.

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In this age of muliti-tracking and iso's, why in the world would you ever do split mixing???   Syncing has never been easier.  Sounds like a through back to the 2 track DAT/Nagra days.

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14 minutes ago, Mirror said:

In this age of muliti-tracking and iso's, why in the world would you ever do split mixing???   Syncing has never been easier.  Sounds like a through back to the 2 track DAT/Nagra days.

Yes, there is an element of the 2 track Nagra days to it, and that's why I've seen a lot of young mixers sometimes forgoing a split mix, but having a split mix, as said above, to at least listen to can help in knowing what is going on with the boom and what is going on with the wires without having to start soloing tracks which is helpful on todays faster paced productions. 

 

Post tends to appreciate it as well (in my experience) because they can also tell very quickly if boom is good, if wires are good, and have to open up the ISOs far less often, most of the time just remixing from two tracks rather than however many ISOs you had running. Syncing isn't the issue, it's remixing the ISOs that will take the most work.

 

ITS ALL ABOUT WORKFLOW - giving post options and knowing how we can deliver things to post in a way that keeps their lives as stress free as possible.  And mixing from 2 tracks rather the 3 to X keeps them happy and helps in streamlining the workflow. And now that everything is digital it doesn't cost anything to do a split mix too, so why not?

 

There are different ways of working, just do what is best for your workflow! I'm sure there as as meany reasons for as against.

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Listening to a split mix still allows you to evaluate background.

 

What is more useful with split mix monitoring is to help to locate signal or clothing issues with lavs.

 

mike

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Like @Rob Neidig, I've been burned too often (well, twice but still), by editors who leave my split mix panned hard left and right, that unless I know who is doing audio post and have a conversation with them beforehand, I will always mix in dual mono now and deliver that along with ISO's. Dual mono meaning that I mix in mono, and record it to both the L and R channels of the mix track, to dummy-proof the mix as much as possible. 

 

I do have a split headphone preset set up that I use quite frequently with boom on the left and lavs on the right. I do find that its easier to pinpoint something being off that way, even while mixing to mono. 

 

-Mike

 

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3 hours ago, JWBaudio said:

Yes, there is an element of the 2 track Nagra days to it, and that's why I've seen a lot of young mixers sometimes forgoing a split mix, but having a split mix, as said above, to at least listen to can help in knowing what is going on with the boom and what is going on with the wires without having to start soloing tracks which is helpful on todays faster paced productions. 

 

Post tends to appreciate it as well (in my experience) because they can also tell very quickly if boom is good, if wires are good, and have to open up the ISOs far less often, most of the time just remixing from two tracks rather than however many ISOs you had running. Syncing isn't the issue, it's remixing the ISOs that will take the most work.

 

ITS ALL ABOUT WORKFLOW - giving post options and knowing how we can deliver things to post in a way that keeps their lives as stress free as possible.  And mixing from 2 tracks rather the 3 to X keeps them happy and helps in streamlining the workflow. And now that everything is digital it doesn't cost anything to do a split mix too, so why not?

 

There are different ways of working, just do what is best for your workflow! I'm sure there as as meany reasons for as against.

 

Maybe it's a reality show thing but I choose what to do before hand and mix based on experience, whether it's all booms, all radios or a combination of both.  If the editors don't like my choices or find a line plays better on a lav, they can go to the ISO of that line.  Easy to find since all tracks are labeled in the metadata. 

Been doing it almost 3 decades.  No one's complained yet.

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4 hours ago, Mirror said:

In this age of muliti-tracking and iso's, why in the world would you ever do split mixing???   Syncing has never been easier.  Sounds like a through back to the 2 track DAT/Nagra days.

 

I agree with Mirror here, even though I know some still hold on to the antiquated boom left, lavs right "split tracks", practice. The only valid reason I can come up with for ever doing that is if post only has two tracks to deal with. Even then I would put the mono mix on 1 and the boom on 2, allowing post to use just the boom, or add more of the boom, or reduce the boom by inverting the phase and mixing it in.

 

Unless recording actual left/right stereo, the concept of "left" and "right" is a way outdated approach for most production sync sound. Instead of "left" and "right", it makes much more sense to think of the tracks as 1 through 8 (or 12 or 16, or however many you use), and then label what goes on the tracks. Since the days of the 4-track Deva-2, mine have been MIX on 1, PREFADER ISO on remaining tracks. Though there are still some holdouts for one reason or another, the trend continues to move away from the "split track" practice.

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I still do a 2 track mix. 2 identical mono tracks because in commercials I'd often get a letter from the editor or assistant wondering where the other track was (not joking) in their NLE. The only reason I might do a 2 track mix with different info per track is a playback and record shot and I'd have music on one and singing on the other. They'd be in the ISO's, but....

Back to the OP,  a mono of mix and mono ISO's is all you need. I believe a mix track is valuable to post so they can get going w the cut and worry about the mix after picture is locked. Many good "debates" w Hench and others about this topic in the way back files.

CrewC

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The only time I ever do a split mix now is if a show specifically requests a stereo hop on camera. Think doc, reality, sit down interview with an ENG cam, etc. 

 

I know that if they ask for two channels on camera they mean a two-track mix, split logically. Either boom and lavs or if you’re not booming then split the characters up (for example a reality scene). 

 

I think it boils down to whether or not they’re stuck in the old workflow from before we had multitrack recording in the bag.

 

Anytime I’m working on something new where they haven’t established a workflow I always recommend monomix/isos with a mono scratch track on camera if anything. I’d rather sell them on an extra lockit rental than an SR receiver. Cameras are terrible with interference now it’s not worth the headache. Not to mention having to reinvent the wheel to find a place to put an SR on the rigs which are all different.

 

I also think that if you’re monitoring a split mix you’re only doing basic QC on those tracks. You’re not hearing how they really sound. At least in my head they seem to blend in to something that is different from either track if you listen to them on their own. Just my opinion. 

 

If I am sending a split mix to camera for something like a sit down I’ll ususlly PFL the lav occasionally but just listen to the L mix track (boom). Life’s too short just listen to the better track. 

 

 

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I usually do a split mix when I'm going straight into a camera, which has been more often than I anticipated as of late. I've found that I'm generally able to assess the sound quality quickly by simply taking the other cup off my ear when I want to focus on either the boom or the lavs, but I might do occasional PFLs or headphone preset switching. When I'm doing a split mix, I'm often dealing with multiple speakers in an unscripted situation and I really, really NEED to know if the lavs get hits or rustle. It's the only chance I have of actually evaluating if what I have is any good, since it's likely I'll only get it once and the environments often chaotic enough to need the lav to be good as well. Checking playback can be a luxury on some gigs. :/

I haven't had the chance to do proper narrative stuff knowing what I know now, so I have woefully little experience mixing into a mono track. I'd love to practice, but I don't know how I'd do it. The ready stuff I've heard sounds like they've actually understood me when I've told them that it's boom left, lavs right. I totally get the dual mono approach, but I've yet to come across people who are that clueless. I guess it's just a matter of time. :D

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I used to mix down to a mono mix, but some time ago audio post asked me to record a split boom/lav mix and that’s what I‘m doing now. 

The reason they gave was that it was easier for the picture editor this way, because now they can edit without the isos, but still have the choice of using more of the lavs if they want to, or get rid of them altogether overriding my mix choice at that moment. This will be especially useful if there is an unexpected problem with a lav, which only manifests itself during the take. In a mono mix scenario this means they’d have to go into the iso tracks, which they may not have easily available. To me this makes alot of sense and I am happy to accommodate them in this regard. Since it’s a lav mix it is still my mix.

 

I will monitor both mixes in mono. I can still easily hear if there is an issue with a lav. Lav issues sound different than boom issues anyway, and I will solo each track every so often

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2 hours ago, Constantin said:

I used to mix down to a mono mix, but some time ago audio post asked me to record a split boom/lav mix and that’s what I‘m doing now. 

The reason they gave was that it was easier for the picture editor this way, because now they can edit without the isos, but still have the choice of using more of the lavs if they want to, or get rid of them altogether overriding my mix choice at that moment. This will be especially useful if there is an unexpected problem with a lav, which only manifests itself during the take. In a mono mix scenario this means they’d have to go into the iso tracks, which they may not have easily available. To me this makes alot of sense and I am happy to accommodate them in this regard. Since it’s a lav mix it is still my mix.

 

I will monitor both mixes in mono. I can still easily hear if there is an issue with a lav. Lav issues sound different than boom issues anyway, and I will solo each track every so often

+1

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2 hours ago, JWBaudio said:

+1

My only thought is, if you mix to a mono mix track, have a boom iso and lav ISOs...if they want the boom, why cant they simply go to the boom ISO...

These are all right there in front of them in most cases...

Seems easy enough to me..

   As was mentioned...this all depends on the show type, set up they require or ask for ...

  In our world, the material is going to different post houses every time, hence the feeling you keep it consistent and simple... These people have jobs and material coming in daily from all kinds of productions... By providing a mono mix track, and the ISOs they know what to do without any confusion...

But each persons requirements are different...

It depends...

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2 hours ago, afewmoreyears said:

My only thought is, if you mix to a mono mix track, have a boom iso and lav ISOs...if they want the boom, why cant they simply go to the boom ISO...

These are all right there in front of them in most cases...

Seems easy enough to me..

When running 2 booms it's nice having a track where the 2 booms are mixed.

 

But you're absolutely right, every show has different requirements and we all adjust based on what post needs.  Case and point, I finished a project recently where post wanted WAV-mono files, a very rare request nowadays (for me at least) unless you're doing something like 16+ ISOs, and that's why I always like to be in touch with post early on and send them rushes if possible (esp. w/ dailies become less regular on smaller projects) to make sure my delivery is fine with them or if we need to change something we're doing on set to help them more, etc. Most of the time post seems fine with any delivery so long as everything is diligently notated, but always drop them a line, quick phone call or email before or during production makes a big difference in making sure they aren't caught off guard by anything.

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5 hours ago, afewmoreyears said:

My only thought is, if you mix to a mono mix track, have a boom iso and lav ISOs...if they want the boom, why cant they simply go to the boom ISO...

These are all right there in front of them in most cases...

Seems easy enough to me..

 

Well yes, that’s true for audio editors. But picture editors generally prefer to edit without the iso tracks as that is much easier to handle. 

For a long time Avid could only handle 16 audio tracks, which sounds like a lot, but if you recorded 8 isos plus a mix that‘s at least 9 tracks and so if they have overlaps from one cut to the next suddenly it’s 18 tracks and they are running into trouble. 

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So having finally digested most of this thread there are some big take aways for me here. Split track recording sounds really interesting to me and I'm going to look into how to do that on my F8 and give it a try. The more surprising thing to me was that it sounds like recording lavs with PREfader. That is really surprising and I'm curious now if thats standard practice? Do you just gain stage on the transmitter and receiver then until you get a decent level?

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4 minutes ago, Erob said:

So having finally digested most of this thread there are some big take aways for me here. Split track recording sounds really interesting to me and I'm going to look into how to do that on my F8 and give it a try. The more surprising thing to me was that it sounds like recording lavs with PREfader. That is really surprising and I'm curious now if thats standard practice? Do you just gain stage on the transmitter and receiver then until you get a decent level?

You should always gain stage the Transmitter properly to get a good S/N ratio. I run all my receivers at line level and adjust the gain on the mixer. Prefader refers to the main linear fader (or fader pot for bags) that controls levels sent to the mix. The gain pot for each channel controls levels sent to each ISO track. 

 

Since we we are taking about isos vs Mix track I'll throw in my 2 cents that I don't do split mixing and record a mono mix track and isos.

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So RP if you are using 4 lavs in a random discussion situation do you truly do a good mix to mono??

 

mike

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1 hour ago, mikewest said:

So RP if you are using 4 lavs in a random discussion situation do you truly do a good mix to mono??

 

mike

No, I’m mostly referring to narrative work. In the situation you mentioned I do my best give a good mix but I have the ISO’s they can use when I screw it up. 

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Speaking about properly budgeted narrative projects here....

 

It baffles me that any picture editor would want to work with split tracks. They'll be choosing either between the lav mix or the boom track, or doing some poor mix of the two. I can't imagine a director sitting there and listening to some muddled editor-mix during their temp process. What a mess. Why wouldn't they just prefer a proper mono mix from a professional sound mixer, who will most of the time deliver a solid mono mix? It seems very unlikely there are ANY editors in this day and age that are not getting all the ISO tracks into their NLE. If they need to pull something, it's very easy to do. Why fix everything all day with split tracks, as opposed to just fixing what needs fixing?

 

I am under no illusion that my mix track is what they use once it gets to the mix stage. Why on earth would they use it? All it would do would be to reduce they hours they can bill for breaking down and remixing a scene. They have all the information I didn't have. They have the knowledge of which takes/performance was chosen. They know which cameras were used and how the scene was edited. Cutting into close-ups right away, or hanging in the wide, or going back and forth. Added lines. Different ambiance. We don't have any of that information on set. We can only make an educated guess based on years of experience, and make it sound how we hope it should sound. I do that because I want the director to get used to my mix from a creative standpoint, because I was there in the space on the day. But the RRM can recreate that, if the director requests it, and probably do a better job given that they can have many goes at it. We only have one go. While often we can get it dead on, it doesn't mean the RRM won't remix it. It might just sound exactly as we had it when they do.

 

What saddens me is when a good mix is ignored for some poor re-mix of a bunch of radio mics, because they were in too much of a hurry to listen to the mix and see that the PSM was able to fill the boom gaps with selective lav use. They could have done the same as me on the remix, as opposed to abandoning the boom track because there were a few gaps, and the dialog editor flagged it as a "lav scene". (See some old thread somewhere where a RRM said they never listen to the mix, and instruct their assistants and/or dialog editors to either deliver the boom if it's good all the way through, or deliver only the mixed wires with no boom. Tragic.)

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Speaking about low budgeted scripted (chaotic) productions (and unscripted), split tracks with a common element (similar to as Glen Trew described) has some advantages (asides from monitoring a mix with perspective and FX alongside 1 with less BG issues). Eg. Radios on both, boom on 1, allows an editor to easily choose a 'dry' mix, a 'perspective' mix (with FX) or something in between (if they sum both). Obviously, having a boom op, BG sound, phasing and panning are variables in play. I monitor in mono and start checking the 'dry' mix if BG starts to become an issue.

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16 hours ago, mikewest said:

So RP if you are using 4 lavs in a random discussion situation do you truly do a good mix to mono??

 

mike

Why not.....  Activate the Dugan, throw in some NON Dugan Boom pointed away from dialog (20ft from set) for some fill... and let it rip... Great results...

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