Since starting at Molinare in 1999 I have been fortunate enough to work on a broad range of projects including single strand documentaries and factual series. The process of seeing each mix through to completion is immensely rewarding.
It all starts with having that key introductory meeting with the programme’s director or editor. To be able to begin that dialogue and put a voice to the vision behind a project is so important.
First and foremost you want to do justice to a project that has invariably taken months of sweat and sometimes tears in production before it even gets to the mix stage.
Like any project the turnaround on factual broadcast post sound is usually tight. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have enough time – merely that preparation and a bit of forethought goes a long way.
As an audio assistant I trained under George Foulgham and I learned the craft of mixing. That craft begins with honing the sync and dialogue recordings.
Over recent years the job of pre-mixing sync sound has definitely been made easier with tools like iZotope RX, enabling us to clean up and restore recordings in a way that previously would have involved hours of work within the mix.
Even with the genius of Protools and the various tools at our disposal, it’s the level of work that still goes into the EQ and balancing of the dialogue sync recordings that creates the backbone of a mix.
The work done at this stage will pay you back tenfold by creating space and continuity within the mix to then be able to fully exploit the dynamic range of your music and effects.
This focus was crucial on CCTV: Caught On Camera, where the sync sound switched between interview, location recordings and police radio comms.
Once the sound edit has been completed by Molinare’s in-house tracklayers, adding in effects and atmos, it’s then my job to start pushing those faders.
The more elements at your disposal the richer and fuller the final mix will be. Ultimately that’s the aim of every mix you do.
The approach in style to a particular mix can vary enormously and as a mixer you’re open to all influences across all genres, whether you are mixing in stereo, 5.1, for U.S or British tv.
You learn so much working on each new project and with different directors and execs.
On a recent mix for a documentary film about a series of massive artworks by Damien Hirst commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority, the collaboration between myself, the director and the composer was everything you’d want it to be.
Each of us pushing to get the best out of the mix, but ultimately to do justice to the fantastic images on screen.
To be part of bringing a directors film or series to life in this way is about as good as it gets and is a real privilege.
Hopefully you can also give the viewer a few audio surprises along the way.
Steve Speed is a dubbing mixer at Molinare. His credits include MasterChef Creatives, Life In Solitary and CCTV. Read more about the Art of the Dub in December’s issue of Televisual.
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