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Hey guys I am working on a film and the music that has been scored is good but very loud and gets chaotic at some stages.

The genre of the score is rock so percussion's, cymbal crashes and electric guitars are very prominent in this music score.

I am using Pro Tools 9 and I am having trouble mixing the dialogue and music together as it is hard to hear the dialogue at times and at other times the dialogue can be heard but the music is too soft.

Does anyone have any tips on how I could achieve a good mix???

  • you'll get better, more thorough answers, if you tell us what you've already tried doing. as your question stands right now, it just sounds like you don't have any experience mixing and are asking for a complete "how to." that's fine if that's the case, it just helps to know where you're at. that way people can give you answers that are actually helpful. – Shaun Farley Nov 3 '12 at 14:15
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Other than turning down the music, if you have access to the music stems, you can "remix" the music to accomodate the dialogue. Certain instruments often compete with dialogue (cymbals, guitars, or strings are common culprits). If you are working with premixed music or licensed tracks from an album it is obvious that the music was not mixed with the intention of getting in a film so if you can get the stems it is very helpful. Otherwise, using EQ to "carve out" space in the music for the dialogue to sit or using "light" compression to soften the cymbal hits are additional techniques.

The most common and useful is volume automation as stated above.

  • If the music was specifically written for the film / scene then the composer really should have considered the dialogue and left an appropriate gap in the frequency spectrum! I'd say @Ryan 's suggestion of creating your own 'gap' is the best place to start; the dialogue is what the audience will be focusing on and it'll mask any 'detriment' you cause to the music by EQing it. Don't over-automate the music volume though as that will draw the viewers attention, if the music keeps getting louder, quieter, then louder again, around the dialogue. – Skarik Nov 6 '12 at 12:47
  • Over dipping/ducking the music is definitely something to be aware of. It can be very distracting as @Skarik said. Generally when I am ducking music it should feel completely smooth as if no volume change has happened, the amount it is turned down is important but the curve/ length/and timing of the fade are equally as important. A general rule of thumb with mixing is to get the dialogue to the proper level and balance within itself, and then mix everything to that. Dialogue is the anchor to almost every "film" mix (film, TV, advertising, etc.) – Ryan Nov 6 '12 at 15:52
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After doing some of the things already mentioned, you could try using some frequency dependent compression. Put a compressor that allows you to compress only certain frequencies (somewhere in the range of 1K - 4K might be a decent starting point) on the music track and feed the dialogue into it's sidechain. That way every time someone speaks it will lightly compress those frequencies in the music track.

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Volume Automation?

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Volume automation to lower the levels during dialog works fairly well, if the music is supposed to sound loud in the scene (club, concert) or as has been said before using a bell eq to lower the frequencies between 1kHz and 4kHz (between 3k and 4k is about where the "meat" of human voice is). Just please don't get the idea of using side-chain compression. I just QC'd a show that did that with the English dialog and noticed that they won't be able to mix the M&E with many foreign languages because it dips for the syllables. I find that if you are going to make a change make it for the whole track is standard.

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