Hi guys,

I'm preparing deliverables for a feature film. The distributor has asked for 3 separate stereo tracks to be used for creating a 5.1 surround mix.

I have access to the original full stereo mix, including all stems.

I have already created a full stereo mix and also a separated filled M & E mix for foreign.

Now I need to create 1) stereo dialogue only track 2) Stereo Music only track and 3) Stereo Sound Fx only track.

Seems straightforward enough. But I haven't done this before. I am wondering how to properly prepare the tracks, particularly the Dialogue only track. I imagine it should have subtle fades before and after each line of dialogue so that it will blend as seamlessly as possible with the Sound Effects only track (which currently contains all the ambience as well with fills where dialogue was pulled)

There are certain effects that I'm not sure belong on the Dialogue track, such as screams which would be hard to re-create in a dub session. Is Dialogue only in these situations really just dialogue? Or should the dialogue only track contain as much as possible generated by the human mouth? I.e. -- Heavy breathing, grunts, groans, various non-dialogue, non-voice specific.

For those of you who have prepared and designed separate sound tracks like this in preparation for a 5.1 surround mix, any other suggestions or ideas about preparing each track would be greatly appreciated.

For example, when Dialogue Only track is brought in and ambience is in the background of the original dialogue, is it best to pull the ambience on the Sound Effects Only track down to blend them more seamlessly with the dialogue track as would be done in a combined M & E stereo mix? Or do you leave the ambience constant on the Sound Effects tracks because surround makes these fades more noticeable?

Finally, for those of you who have followed the process to creating the completed 5.1 surround mix, in general terms please tell me based on your experience what matters most for each step. As an example, perhaps how much of each track (D, E, M) you send to each specific speaker in terms of a percent for each, if any.

All suggestions for the prep and reasons for each will be much appreciated.

Thanks, Mike

  • Very well written... I have no personal experience with 5.1, so I'm anxious to read the response. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:47
  • @Audiophile 2010, thanks for the thumbs up on the question...
    – MichaelR
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 16:15

1 Answer 1


Create aux sub group tracks for each of the stems you need like dialog, music fxs etc, then set up record tracks off those so when you lay off the programme you can create all the stems, the full mix and the M&E mix in one pass.

The principles are the same fro surround with downmixes to create stereo versions as well.

Spend some time building a template session so you only need to build the mixer once, then for each project start with the template and modify it to suit the specific project.

I would put all dialog related content including non vocal content on the dialog track. After all the screams etc won't match because the dub with be a different actor.

  • @Mike Thornton, thank you for your response. I appreciate your thoughts on the topics you addressed.
    – MichaelR
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 16:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.