So when you are predubbing do you/your re-recording mixer print stems & replay those in the final mix, or do you just write automation and all the original edit tracks runs live? If you could qualify your answer with the type of mixing desk being used, and what the impact of conforming has on your approach that would also be valuable.....
I have always printed stems with all the panning and relative levels and print those down into various types multi-channel stems based on the content type. I also try to keep harmonically similar content on different stems as well that way there are less EQ changes needed during the re-recording stage.
I believe the only reason I've been able to get away with the panning is because I have always been the re-recording mixer on the projects I have worked on as well.
All the mixing was generally done "in the box" with Pro Tools since I've always used a D-Control or nothing at all since I reached a stage where I was mixing.
If you have any more specific questions I'd be more than happy to answer.
Generally I think everything has to fit the individual project and if that means no predub at all or what ever, than I would try to go that way. But in the last couple of years I had a strong tendency in regards to recording predubs.
So normally I try to print dialogue and foley predubs. Though lately I also tried keeping foleys virtual which worked pretty well and makes the M&E process easier.
The reason for me is that I tend to work very heavily on the production tracks to get them just how I like them, which might involve a lot of processing and outboard. So a Dial/Foley Premix session easily pushes an HD3 to its max with me, if I have to mix in the box.
On the other hand I have not printed FX or Ambience predubs in many years now. With remote faders or groups and the likes it is so easy to keep a "fresh" layer of logic for the main mix that today it would feel like a real restriction to physically print the predub. This method works for me in all kinds of setups:
1)complete mix in Pro Tools.
2)predub in ProTools (or just parts) - main mix on a desk (Harrison or Euphonix mainly here).
3)all on the desk.
I have to admit, that conforming is not a big issue too often for me. Depending on the amount of changes you'll have to decide, if you want to conform just the recorded predubs or the source session and then print again. In any case I keep a bunch of spare tracks on the dialogue system in the main mix in order to be able to always go back even to the Avid tracks and just restart from scratch, if necessary and wanted.
There are more whys, pros and cons, but I feel it might get a bit too long here.
I haven't used a console since 2004, and I try to keep everything virtual until the end. I live and work in Denmark, Europe, so the productions are smaller than in the US. Normally I can have all my tracks virtual and online with plugins and stem busses on two HD3 rigs, which is what you normally find in mixing stages here in Denmark.
Normally we are two mixers working at the same time. If I am the supervising sound editor / sound designer / re-recording mixer (in Denmark the sound crew is smaller than in the US), I have the dialogue, music and sound design stems on my rig, and my fellow mixer has the rest (bg's, fx and foley) on his/her rig.
The duration of the mix is typically 2-3 weeks. I try to go through the film 3 times over this period. I don't do dialogue/foley predubs. In 3 weeks I would do a rough mix of everything the first week, a detailed mix the next week and a final mix the last week. There will be around 2 screenings during the mix, where the producer and the editor and a pair of fresh ears will be invited. The director will hang around most of the time, not so much in the first part of the mix, and more in the end.
I have tried to do dialogue predubs, but it sucks the energy out of me, and since I am in command I do it my way. I need the mixing process to stay fresh until the end.
I print the stems during Dolby transfer, and I make the M&E in an editing room afterwards, by opening up the dialogue and foley stems again. I never use outboard equipment for reverbs in the dialogue/foley stems, I only use the same plugins I have in my own editing room. This way I get an extra day or so of creativity in the mixing stage.
Re-conforming is pretty simple when you are staying virtual.