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I've finished a mix for a feature film and now they want an M+E and a Dialogue stem, i guess for dubbing? It wasn't in the original deal for me to supply them with this but what I've supplied they have failed.

I've left any production/sync sound effects caught on takes on my sync/dialogue tracks, it seems they want me to cut these up and move them to the M+E... is this a usual procedure?

It's little things such as light footsteps, rustle a door opening etc. I haven't layered anything beneath on everything effect as it wasn't needed everywhere.

Can I argue this or do I need to painstakingly go through the whole film and do this?

  • Interesting dilemma, don't have any advice. However what do you mean with this sentence "but what I've supplied they have failed."? – Arnoud Traa Jul 2 '14 at 14:25
  • This sounds more likely to end up with a legal solution rather than a technical one. It sounds like they did not specify what they wanted well and thus the capture that was done does not meet the needs of what they actually wanted. I'm not a lawyer, but as long as you are sure of the definition of the contract, I'd probably push back, at least for more money to cover the added cost in time of having to do such a painstaking extraction (which may or may not even be possible if it overlaps with dialog). – AJ Henderson Jul 2 '14 at 14:28
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Yea I'm not privy to what your arrangement was at the start of the project but what they are needing now is standard for film deliveries with distribution. The PFX (production sounds from dialog track) need to be pulled down out of the dialog so that the M&E is complete. When they dub it in another language and drop the dialog track, the mix would otherwise be missing all that nat sound. If there are overlaps with dialog, you need to foley cover it so again, the M&E stands complete except for dialog.

If it wasn't considered in the original estimate, you should probably be seeking more money to complete the additional tasks but more importantly you should use it as a learning experience to better your process in mixing feature films that seek distribution. Your client needs this done in order to meet spec, so they have little choice but to work it out with you to get it done, or hire someone else to do it (happens all the time)

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    Exactly this. Also make sure your clients realise that, if they want to hire someone else to do it on the cheap, they could end up with a poor quality product. Having the original Pro Tools session and an overall feel for the film makes you the best person to do it. – Roger Middenway Jul 3 '14 at 18:22
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Thats a pretty common delivery for any film short or feature length that is being distributed. Hopefully you agreed upon some sort of delivery requirement in your contract with your client. Completely doing an M & E after the fact can be a lot of work. Was it expressed beforehand that they need this as a delivery requirement? If they do need an M&E and you agree to do it you will need to move those sounds off of the dialog track and probably add foley and library fx as well.

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I was silly enough not to throughly discuss it in the contract and renegotiating it. I'm currently upmixing it to 5.1, do you usually deliver an M&E for 5.1? Also does the M&E have to match the final original language mix? Because it's never going to match or sound too heavy in foley parts.

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    You usually need an M+E for each track layout delivered. If you're remixing in 5.1, you should create your M+E in that session, then mix it down to LtRt or LoRo (depending what your other print master is). The M+E should match as closely as you can. I've seen people add random bird calls, that were under production dialogue, to the M+E. I wouldn't go that far, though. Just bear in mind that your M+E will be QC'ed by someone in the future, so keep it as smooth as possible. – Roger Middenway Jul 3 '14 at 18:26

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