Over the past couple of months I've been putting together a portfolio of sound design projects (http://flavors.me/mritterp) to try and get some work on short student films and such, but I'm concerned about my mixing levels for the portfolio pieces. I have calibrated (and mixed) to 78 spl giving me 20 db of headroom, and figure that's probably the best way to mix when I'm applying for internships where the listener will be in a studio. But I'm afraid that the student filmmakers who I'm trying to work with can barely hear my work (compared to levels they are used to online) and dismiss me as a candidate. The other problem is that it doesn't leave me with much consistency in the overall audio levels on my portfolio through different types of projects.

Should i not bother mixing portfolio pieces to 78 spl? Also general advice on how i could make my portfolio better would be welcome.



I suggest going with the TV-style mix. In which, I usually take the 85 SPL theatric mix, boost it by 6dB, slight remixing where necessary, and have a brickwall at -3dB for good measure to ensure nothing clips (TV often brickwalls dialogue around -10dB, but since it's for web-based display, I allow myself up to about -3dB.

Going about 6dB hotter than theatrical seems to provide the right amount of robustness in volume for web formats (this 6dB bump is often what they do, in a very glossed-over explanation, when a film's DVD/BluRay mix is generated).

This isn't by all means "the answer". But in my experience in generating DVD/Web "mixes" from the theatrical stems, I have had success with the general +6dB rule.

  • Thanks for the info, that means i should be able to raise the levels a decent bit to put the projects in line with my other work
    – user3841
    Jun 5 '13 at 0:14

I would go even further and compress/limit everything to -1.1 dB. I'm sure a lot of fellows won't agree but I'd rather have one showreel aimed at the web with these specs, and a separate one for the professionals which includes headroom and does not generate any loudness conflicts.

  • 1
    The only area I would respectfully disagree with is: what happens if playback sums to mono? -1 will clip but just below -3 won't. Jun 4 '13 at 5:18
  • I have to dig more into summing the channels. I have been working with -1.1 on soundcloud and so far I haven't heard any complaints, but I'd rather be on the safe side. Thanks for the tip Steve.
    – Cat
    Jun 4 '13 at 14:28

as a general advice, i found this post very useful: http://audiocookbook.org/guidelines-for-making-a-sound-design-demo-reel/

good luck!

  • @Matt you're welcome! it is indeed great information and it worked for me.
    – emh
    Jun 5 '13 at 12:55

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