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well, guys .. i am recently working on a short film. Part of the film has been shot inside the studio whereas the rest of it has been shot on location. There will be no ADR, so i will have to use the location tracks for the final mix. My director wants me to do a 5.1 mix of the film. there are a certain things which i would like to know :

1] how do i treat my dialogue tracks that have been shot on location? i mean should i clean the tracks in such a way that the ambience gets removed as much as possible and then lay ambience track separately? my concern is when i try to level the dialogues the ambience also increases or decreases along with it.. since they are not separate. so i am a little confused about how to work on it

2] how do you generally use the surround channels, what elements go into it ? (do you put ambience, effects in the surround? )

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To answer question 2, the surrounds are generally used for ambiance unless you are doing something like action or sci-fi in which case you can be a bit more experimental and put sound FX or musical elements into the surrounds but be very careful - the last thing you want is for people to be distracted by FX coming from behind them. The basic way to do a 5.1 mix is to create a bus for the rear speakers with a reverb on and then just send some of your front stereo mix to the surround bus. If you have any 4 channel atmos recordings then you could use those to create space with the surrounds, but if not you can try using long atmos tracks and playing one part of the file in the front speakers and a latter part in the surrounds to give the illusion of a 4-channel recording. Just watch out for distracting elements in the rear speakers or looping elements.

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In answer to 1) Use cross fades and volume automation to smooth out BG levels, keeping voices the same level (bearing perspective differences in mind). Cheat in alternate readings where noise is very bad. Cover very bumpy spots with sound effects such as car bys, etc.

Cleaning out noise can be done, of course, but don't harm the voice quality in the process.

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