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I'm curious to who sits in on the mix of their Sound Design work on a movie?

Do they let you in, usually?

Does the Director invite you?

Are you scorned at or frowned upon for being there and cheerleading for your effects to be turned up louder? Are you asked to get coffee and donuts so they can mix in peace?

I know I like sitting in and making sure what I envisioned becomes a reality, and the mixers I work with are always happy to have me around - and I hope it isn't always just to ask "what the hell did you put that sound there for?"

Obviously on that "dayplayer" job you get for sound designing the Cheers laundry detergent commercial or the one-off episodes of TV shows I don't expect you to sit in and spend more time rooting for your effects - or do you?

And how about that job you get which is epic or artistically satisfying (Benjamin Button, Assassination of Jesse James, those types of movies), would you go to great lengths to make sure what you Sound Designed for 6 months goes through to a spectacular finish?

What's the usual protocol on this type of thing? Would you take on the job of Sound Supervision as well as Sound Designer just to babysit the mix?

Anyway, I'm curious to know what you do during the mix!

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I sit in on the premixes and final mix on all the films I've done for the last dozen years or more, either as Sound Designer or Supervising Sound Editor.... Its not a matter of being let in, its an essential part of the workflow of efficiently mixing the film.

The foley editor also attends the foley premix & manages the PT for it, and same for FX Editor for ambiences & sound effects predubs...

So also does the Dialogue/ADR Editor (or Supervisor if its a bigger film) and so does the Music Editor.... We each manage the ProTools systems associated with our work in the premixes and also in the final mix (I manage the dubber with all FX/Ambience/Foley predubs as well as the PT I have for running FX/SD/fixes live)

Its not so much to insure the soundtrack comes out "as you imagined", its to insure the soundtrack is fully realised. That means asking for sound effects, ambience or foley to be turned down as much as up - its clarity of emotional direction that you are after, as determined by the director.

Because myself & the dialogue editor have spent the previous 2-5 months working with the director clarifying their intent and making sure we have all content & options fully prepared, sometimes we have unique insight... But most times its the objectivity, dramatic story telling & mixing skills of the mixers that provide the driving force....Its a collaborative effort between everyone attending the mix.

No one can ever predict the final context of the final mix - where you combine all the elements (Score/Source music/Dialogue/ADR/Crowds/Loop group/Ambiences/Foley/Sound FX, SD) and then find the best path through every scene.

On the films I do all of the sound editorial team is invited to the double head mix screening, where we watch the film and check the mix in a different theatre than where we're mixing in. We then discuss the mix and get notes from the director, producer, editor, mixers and all of the team (usually in that order) and then spend 2 more days doing mix updates, fixes and additions....

I personally believe its an essential part of every sound editors development, to at least attend your own premixes and to also attend the double head screening....

  • Tim - couldn't have said it better myself. Excellent answer. – Jay Jennings May 18 '10 at 7:49
  • Part of spending time on the mix stage is learning protocol ie when to keep your mouth shut... I always respect editors/assistants who sit in, silently observing... paid or not... and who have an opinion when its asked for, but are always tactful... – user49 May 18 '10 at 8:52
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I've only been at this professionally for a couple of years, but here's my 2 cents...

I've also been able to sit in on the mixes for the films that I've done. Granted, a lot of the work I've done has been on smaller projects where I am the lead (if not the only) sound editor on the project.

I strongly agree that this is a crucial element for efficient film mixing (especially on compressed "money-saving" schedules). By the time we go into the mix, I can identify nearly every region in the session by sight because that's what I've be working with for weeks or months. By mix time I also have a rapport with the director.

I always plan on attending the mix and this has been appreciated by everyone I've worked with (or at least no one's complained). I've learned as much or more about my work while watching it being mixed as I have by doing the actual editing/designing. It's always satisfying to see the elements come together to support the story in a way that your contribution cannot on its own. This as often as not means nixing or mixing down elements you've put a lot of work into.

If nothing else, I can prepare fixes and answer questions like, "why the hell did you put this here?"

  • "I've learned as much or more about my work while watching it being mixed" <- THAT is the MOST important thing! THATs why it is important... – user49 May 18 '10 at 8:53

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