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FilmMixingandSounddesign~Audioinfilms,and

generalmixingtipstricks,techniques.

FilmScoremixingwithAlanMeyerson

2C

, F M , I , M N , T ≈ 2C LastweekIhadthebesttimeofmylifewhenIwasabletospendaweekwith

LastweekIhadthebesttimeofmylifewhenIwasabletospendaweekwithAlanMeyerson,whois knowntobeoneofthegreatestscoringmixersofalltime,andoneoftheveryfewwhocanmakeadent intheuniversewhenitcomestoSurroundMixing.HehasworkedwithcomposerslikeJamesNewton Howard,JohnPowell,HarryGregson‑Williams,andDannyElfman,andhasaparticularlylong‑ standingworkingrelationshipwiththegreatHansZimmerthatcontinuestothisday.So,ifyouhave lovedDarkKnight,Kung‑fuPanda,Inception,Interstellar,PiratesoftheCaribbean,Gladiator,Captain

America:CivilWar,DaVinciCode,andmanymoreofthe200plusmovieshehasworkedon,you

wouldinstantlyknowwhoIamtalkingabout.Alegendarymixengineer,recordingengineerandabove

all,anamazinghumanbeingwithsomuchpatience,passion,anddedicationtosharingandmaking

thingsbe̙er.

Thistime,theblogisgoingtobeaveryexclusivetalkonhisphilosophieswhenitcomestoasurround

mix,histechniquesabouthowhemixes,howheworkswithHansZimmer,andingeneral,getsstuff

done.Itisaboutge̙ingintothemindofoneofHollywoodslegendarysurroundmixengineer.But,all

saidanddone,thereisnothinglikelearningfromthemasterdirectly.Itwouldbeaconversationwith

AlanonthequestionsthatIthoughtwererelevantespeciallyinthefilmworldwherethereisveryli̙le

wri̙enaboutmusicmixingforsurround.AndIwouldhighlyrecommendhavingalookat

h̙ps://mixwiththemasters.comforthis.Ihaven’tcomeacrossanotherwebsitethatwouldchangethe

wayyouwouldlisten,mixorrecord.TherewillstillbealotmorenotesandtechniquesremainingthatI

haven’twri̙enhere,forwhichIwouldhighlyrecommendthemasterclass.

TheConversation

FilmMixer:Alan,howdoyouapproachasurroundmix?

AlanMeyerson:MyapproachistomixandgetthebalanceasfastasIcanandthenpolishthemixwithEQ,

compressionreverbsetc.Irelyonge̙ingtheplacementoftheinstrumentsright.Myphilosophyis“Don’tbuild

mixesinthemiddle”.Thatiswherethedialoguesaregoingtoreside.ThismeansthatIwouldbecompetingwith

thatandinasituationlikethat,musicisalwayslowered.Idon’twantthattohappen.Ialwaysmakemyspace

aroundit.Ilooktomaketwobalancesright–theSpectralBalanceandPositionalBalance.

Icareabouttheimagingforthepersonwhoisnotsi̙inginthemiddleofthetheater(thesweetspot)tohaveas

muchofasonicexperiencetoo.So,Ihavemypositioningsdoneaccordingly.Iwoulddefinitelyusethecenterifitis

needed.Forexample,IwouldhaveelementswithlowfrequencyliketheBassortheKickDrumallacrosstheLeft,

CenterandRightspeaker,sothatithasanequalstrength.ThewayIpanisbasedonmylisteningand

understandingofhowaclassicalorchestraisplacedonastage.Itryandmaintainmypansforthat.Buttherehave

beenchangesthatIdoforcreativepurposesthatsuitthemovie,likewhenIwasrecordingandmixingforafilm

someyearsback,Ihadtheorchestraduplicatedintotwosectionsmirroringeachotherinaroom.Ithenhadthe

orchestrationwri̙ensothatwhentheywereplayed,thepartsandmovementswouldbesplitbetweenthemso

whenyourecord,yougetthisamazingimageofthemusicmoving.ThatwouldbeimpossibletocreateifIwereto

panthingsaround.Therewouldbeahumanfactorinitwiththeorchestration.

Ialsodon’tdoalotofhalfpansorpansthatarebetweentheleftandleftsurroundorrightandrightsurround.I amnotreallycomfortablewiththat.Ihavespecificsoundsforthesurroundsandthefront.Thereasonis,firstof all,Irecordmyorchestrawiththatinmind,usingwidemicsandsurroundmics.So,theimagingcomesup naturally.Hans,forexample,hasallhissamplesinQuad(Left,Right,LeftSurround,RightSurround),sothattoo

istakencareof.ApartfromtheseIalsohaveafewtechniquesthatIusemyBricastiM7swith.Ihave6ofthem,but

Iuse3inastereomodeinaveryspecialwaytocreatedepthandimaging.

Forme,itsisalwaysabouttheimaging.Iftheimagingisn’tright,itisn’treallypossibletoclearthingsupwith

EQorCompressionbecauseyouaretryingtoclearacrowdratherthanspreadingit.Inthatrespect,itisimportant

tounderstandtokeeponlywhatyouneed.So,iftherearealotofthingsfightinginthelowerrange,Iremovestuff

toseewhatmakesitclean.Sometimes,maskingwouldmakeyoufeelthatthereareotherfrequenciesthatarenot

beingheardandyouwouldbeeqingthewronginstruments.Forexample,agentlerolloffonthehighsofthe

tympaniwouldgiveyouagoodspaceforthehighhatsiftheyplayatthatregion.Sampledsoundsalmostalways

haveabumpat250Hzand2.5kHzthatItakeoff.SoIgetthespaceforthefrequenciestoreside.Ithenbalancethe

elementsamongstthemtogetitright.

MyentiremixisintheboxcurrentlyandIusetheAvidS6toachieveit.Theonlyoutoftheboxstuffthathappens

istheOutboardgearthatIhave.Itisalsoveryimportantformetohaveallthethingshappenquickly.Thisalso meansonehastobeverydisciplinedandknowwhathe/shewantstoachieve.Idon’treallylosethesounds from notusinganoutboard,butinfactgainmuchmore,asthepluginsthatareavailableinProToolstodayare fantasticanddoastellarjob.Plus,thecostandlesspainofpatchingandassigningeverythingintheoutofthebox mix,andtonoteandrememberthat,isallathingofthepast!

FM:YouhaveaverygoodcontrolontheLFEchannel.Howdoyouuseit?

AM:ImixinsuchawaythatIdon’ttakethesupportoftheLFEforthemusictobefull.Remember,themain

speakersonthestagearefullrangeandwithDolbyAtmos,thesurroundsaretoo.So,Iwantmymixestosound

goodeveniftheLFEisturnedoff.Andmanytheaters,unfortunately,arenotcalibratedorhavenosetlevelfor

theirchannels.ThismakesmebeverycarefulwiththeLFE.Plus,Idoalotofactionmovies.Someofthemlikefor

examplethePirates,orDarkKnighthavealotoflow‑frequencycontentdownthereandifIhavemymusictoo,

thenonthedubstage,thefirstthingthatisgoingtobesacrificedinlevelisthescore.Idon’twantthattohappen!

Idon’tusetonalsoundsintheLFE,asIdon’tlikethewaytheysound.Theycanalsosometimesresonate

differentlyindifferentrooms,butthenthat’sjustmypersonalopinionandme!Yetfororchestras,Idorecordthe

lowfrequencyandIsendthattotheLFEchannelwithsomeprocessingusingaLowender,oranRbassonit.The

lowenderismycurrentfavoriteforthis,asittracksthepitchofthesignalverywellcomparedtotheothers.

IalsochangemyLFEspeakerlevelsintheroomImixsometimes.IsendthesignaltothelevelIwanttoonPro

Toolsandadjustthespeakergaintogetitsoundright.Iknowitisnotscientific,butthathasworkedformein

manysituations.

WealsogettheFXpredubs(premix)whilewemixthescoresoweknowthatwedon’tfightit.Itisalsoveryuseful

forus,assometimeswemaynoticeashiphornthatisoutofkeyoralotofsoundsdesignhastonalelements,etc.In

bigbudgetfilms,bythetimeweweremixingthescore,theSoundEffectsarecomplete,sowehaveafinalsound

designtoworkwith.Thisalsoletsusknowifsomethingisnotworkingwitheffectsandweheedthehelpofmusic

orviceversa.Itisaveryorganicandcommunicativeprocess.

FM: Yourchoiceofreverbsandthewayyouplacesoundsisimpeccable.Howdoyouchooseandplace reverbs? AM:

FM:Yourchoiceofreverbsandthewayyouplacesoundsisimpeccable.Howdoyouchooseandplace

reverbs?

AM:Ilookforreverbsthatarenothonkyortoobright.Ialsodon’tliketoEQreverbreturns.ButIdorolloffthe

lowandhighfrequenciestothesendofthereverb.Thisisimportantsothatthereverbdoesn’tbecomeclu̙ered.

Thereusuallyisalotoflowmidandlow‑frequencybuildupthathappensinareverb.Idon’twanttoaddtothat

withsoundsthathaveitinthefirstplace.

Ialwayshavemultiplereverbs.WhenIchooseareverb,Iamnottryingtomatchtheroominwhichtheorchestra

wasrecorded.Iamtryingtobuildanextensiontothatroom.Thishelpsmetogluethemixandinstruments

togethertosoundasiftheyarepartofthesamemusic.ManytimesIhaveseenmultiplereverbsusedandtheyend

upbeingeq’dverydrasticallytomakeeverythingfit.ItryandminimizetheworkIhavetodo.Ialsosometimesuse

longerreverbstoextendthenotes,atechniqueIliketocallas“featherthenotes”.Thisisveryhelpfulespeciallyon

theendofnoteswheretheysometimeshavethetendencytotailofffasterordropaway.Ialsousemultiplereverbs

perstemandhavethestemreverbsindependent.So,mystringswouldhaveasetofreverbs,brassanotherset,

percussionanotheretc.Thisgivesmealotofspacetoplaywithandbuildthemovement.Idon’tlikehavingastatic

mix.Musichastomoveandtheinstrumentshavetoplayinthespaceandinteract.Somultiplereverbshelpme

withthis.

Ialsosetupaseparatereverbforfrontandsurrounds.TheeasiestwayIdo,(andthereareamillionwaysofdoing

things!),isbyhavingareverbauxsetforthefront,thenduplicatingthatauxandvaryingtheparameterslike

depthorpredelayforthesurround.Idon’tusealotofchangesinthepredelay,buttheneveryruleismeanttobe

brokenwithanunderstanding!SometimesIaddanEchoboyorDevilLocinaseparatereverbreturntogiveita

slightlydifferentmovementandtonalityfromthemainreverb.Allthisisdonekeepinginmindthatthesoundisn’t

disconnected.Theideaistomakesuretheinstrumentisgluedtothemix.

Mygo‑toreverbsintheboxcurrentlyaretheExponentialAudioR2Surround,ValhallaandtheEventide2016.

TheEventidehasafront‑backadjustmentthatIusealottoplacesomeinstrumentsfurtherbackinthemix.Ialso

sometimesusetheseasthedifferenceinthefrontandthesurroundreverb.Itendnottouseconvolutionreverbsfor

thegeneralreverbspurelybecausethepredelayorthesoundsarenotcreatedbutmadebypushingthesample

further.Itdoesn’tworkincasesespeciallyforgeneralreverbforme.Forthehardware,IlovetheBricastisespecially

themechanicshallpresetandIhaveauniquewayofroutingthese.

Theroutingmayseemabitcomplexinthebeginning,butIhavethatli̙lemixerbuiltwithinProToolswith AuxesandsetupsothatIdon’trecreateitfromsessiontosession.ThewayIuseitis,Isendmyentireorchestra

stemtothis.IsplittheorchestraintoL,C,R,LSandRS.ThesearefedindividuallytotheBricastis.Iuse3ofthem

andcallthemBri1,Bri2andBri3.Allofthemreceivestereoinputandsendstereooutput.Thereturnsfromthe

Bricastisarewhatdothemagicforme.Bri1output1and2ispannedtotheLeftandLeftSurround.Bri2output3

and4ispannedtoCenterandBackSurround(thoughIdon’tusethebacksurroundandhaveitmutedornot

routed).Bri3output5and6ispannedtoRightSurroundandRight.Yes,itisinvertedcomparedtotheLeftone.

MysendsfromtheindividualchannelsarepannedinsuchawaythattheleftorchestralchannelissenttoBri1,

Bri2,andBri3butwithdifferentlevels.ThePansarealsosuchthatBri1fromtheleftchanneloftheorchestra

receivesmoretowardstheleftthantheleftsurroundandsoon.Ontherightchannel,thishelpsgiveaspreadtothe

orchestrasinceIrecordedthestageinsurroundandtheinvertedreturngivesmemoredepthonthespace.Ialso

playwiththelevelstothesendandreturnoftheBricastisbecauseIlikemovementinit.Thereasonthisideacame

tome,isbecauseIhavefeltthewaythereverbsworkwhenyouhaveasignalononlytheleftortherightandthe

waytheycreateastereooutputisveryinteresting.Thereissomeinteractionwiththepredelaysandthereverbs

thatgiveauniquepositioningtothesound.Myfavoritego‑toreverbse̙ingonthisistheMechanicsHallse̙ing.

WhilethisiswhatIdowiththeentireorchestra,IalsohavesendsforreverbsfromthetracksIrecord.Ialmost neversendreverbsfromthespotmicsunlessitisreallyneeded.Ialsodon’ttendtousethespotmicsalotunlessI wanttohighlightacertaininstrumentinthemix.Thatbeingsaid,Isometimesmixwiththescoretohelpmeread theinstrumentsandwhattheyareplayingfor.Now,whenIsendtothereverbaux,Isenditfrommyroommics.I getalotofbodyfromthemandusethattoextendtheroomratherthantryingitwiththespotmics,becausethey don’tusuallygluewellinthemixthateasilyastheyhavemoremidrangecontent.Isometimesaddadevillocora decapitatorinthereturnofthefrontorsurroundreverbjusttogiveitabitofgritanddefinition.Itendtolikethe

AMSNeveRMS16ReverbontheUADforwhichProgram8isanotherofmyfavoritewith20%blend.

Idon’tusethePredelaysontheroomsandneveruseittoplacetheinstrumentinspace.Iusethemonlytogeta

definitionforthereverbs.Andforalongtime,theNewYorkpopworldpredelayvaluewas120ms.(Justlikethe

200Hzand330Hzcutwereverypopular!)ThatiswhatIuseformostofthepredelaystogetthatdelayabit

separatedfromthemainsoundifIwantitasaneffectinadensemix.IalsoliketheD‑verbquitealotespeciallyon

bellsandsuchinstruments.

FM: Howdoyoubeginamix?Iamadubbingmixerandmayprobablyhaveadifferentapproachto beginningamix.Whatisitthatyoustartwith? AM:

FM:Howdoyoubeginamix?Iamadubbingmixerandmayprobablyhaveadifferentapproachto

beginningamix.Whatisitthatyoustartwith?

AM:Myapproachtoamixisquitesimpleactually.Ido90percentoftheworkin10percentofthetimeandthe

final10percentin90percentoftheremaining.ThereasonforthisisIwanttogetmybalanceasfastaspossible.

ThisallowsmetothinkaboutwhatIcandotoextendthemixratherthantryingtofixthemixforthemainpart.I amafirmbelieverthatthespectralandpositionalbalancemustberight.ThefirstthingIlooktoistomove instrumentsoutofthewaywiththeposition.Iusealotoftechniquestoachievethiswidening.Oneofmyfavorite tricksistomakeuseoftheHaasEffect.So,ifIhaveaninstrumentthatisstereointrackbutabitmonoinsound,I

delayonechannelofthattrackbyusuallybetween150and250samples.IusethetimedelayplugininProTools

forthis.Whatthisgivesmeisanapparentshiftinthepositionofthesoundinthestereofieldwithoutdoingapan.

Whenyoudoapanyouaretakingtheinformationinthatchannelandfeedingittotheother.Thisdoesn’thelp

muchandratherthanmakingitwide,itmakesitnarrowandshiftedtotheotherside.Usingthetimedelay

method,Icanmovethingsoutofthecenterwithoutsacrificingthelevelonthechannel.Theearsandbraindothe

restofthework.Thisisthemaintrickinmyarsenaltohelppositionthesound.Ialsodon’tusethecenterchannel

alotasitnarrowsdownmymix.Instead,IreducethecenterpercentageonthepannerinProToolsandspreadit

acrosstheLeftandRightandusetheHaasdelaytechnique.Thisgivesmealotofspacetoplacetheother

instruments.

OnceIgetalltheinstrumentsplaced,Iadjustthelevels.IveryrarelyEQorcompressindividualtracksunlessitis reallyneeded.IbuildmysessionwithstemsthroughAuxesandVCAs.TheAuxesaretheonesthathavetheEQor thecompressionorharmonicexciteronit.Nottheindividualtracks.Thishelpsmefocusonthemixmuchfaster,

andwhenyouaredealingwithmorethan1000orsometimesmorethan2000tracks,thissavesalotoftime.

Otherwise,youcouldgoontilltheendoftimetryingtofixthingsindividually.Ialsomakesuremybalancesare rightfromthemomentIrecordmyorchestra.Thistoosavesmeanenormousamountoftimeandalsoratherthan tryingtocreateanorchestralperformancefromfaders,Ihaverealpeopleplayingit.Itbringsahumanelementinto

themixandcreatesanotherwaytohavethedynamicsright.ThisisalsowhyImentionedaboutthe90percent

workin10percenttime.

Ialsohavea20percentrule.WhenyouareEQingorprocessingsomething,doittoase̙ingyoulikeandthen

backitoffby20percent.Thereasonthishelpsiswhenyouareaddingtracksovertracksandeverythingis

processedtoa100percentsatisfaction,theoverallsoundusuallywon’tbe.SoIbackoffandletthetracksinteract

togivemethe100percentmix.

FM:Ihaveheardandnowsawyouexceptionallyfastinge̙ingamixdone.Doyouhaveastem

masteringprocess?Howdoyoudothis?

AM:Iampre̙yfastinge̙ingmybalancescorrect.Oncethatisdone,itisreallyeasyformetodiveintothemix

elementsandchangeorcorrectwhatIfeelisnotsi̙ingwell.Irarelychangethemixfromthereference.Thereason

isthatreferenceiswhateveryoneisusedtoandwhatthedirector,musiccomposer,produceretc.approve.IfI

changedrasticallyfromthat,itmaynotsitwellinthewholemixofthemovie.Iamafirmbelieverofnot

convincingaclientofsomethingtheydon’tneed.IknowIamintheservicebusinessandmyjobistohelpthe

clientgetagoodrepresentationofhisideasinthecleanestandbestmanner.Itisnottoimposemyideasona

creativelevel.Thisisveryimportanttometomaintainagoodrelationshipandcommunication.

So,onceIhavemystemsandlevelssetandmysoundsweredone,Iproceedtodoafinalmasteringonmystems.I

usetheKramerTapefromWavesandManleyEQfromUADtoachievethis.Ialsouseatinybitoflimitingwith

theFabfilterPro‑Ltotakecareofthepeaks.Imakesurenottodeliverstemsthataretoohot.Thereasonis,when

thedubbingmixertakesmymixandputsitonthestage,heneedstohavealeewaytoplaywiththefader.Ifmy

mixesaretooloudandhehastopullthefaderwaydown,thentherearenotalotoffinerideshewillbeabletodoat

thatfaderlevel.So,Imakesuretoletthemhavethatspacetoplaywith.

IalsolistentomymixesonthedubstagewhenIcan.IhaddonesomefilmswithAndyNelsonwhoisawonderful mixer.Webothfeltthatthesurroundswereabitlow.SowhatIendedupdoingwastohavemysurroundsat

RemoteControlsetto79dbSPLandthefrontsto85.Thisgivesmysurroundsa3dBboostwhenitreachesthe

dubstage.(Theirsurroundsarecalibratedto82).Ialsodon’tautomateorridetheindividualinstrumentsalot

unlessitistocreatedynamicsinthepasses.Thereweretimeswhenwehadtomatchthereferencemixexactlywith

themovementsinthestrings.Forexample,Hanshaddoneanamazingstringsectionthathehadprogrammed.The

directoralsowantedtheorchestralrecordedstringstomatchthoseexactly.Itwasn’taneasyjobatallbecausethe

rideswereprogrammedandwereverydynamic.OneoftheguysatRemoteControlmanagedtofigureoutawayto

convertHans’VelocitymovementsinmiditoProToolsfadermovementsandwemanagedtomatchitwithme

polishingthemix.So,therearetimesthatthingscanbecomechallengingandamixisalwaysaboutfindingthe

bestsolutionintheleasttimepossible.

FM:Howareyoursessionsmadeandthetracksdeliveredtothemixstage?

AM:BythetimeIhavemymixesdoneandsenttothemixstage,theyjustreplacethetempmixaudiostemsinthe session.TheeasiestwaymyassistantJohnChapmanhasfoundwastorenameallthedeliverablewavfilestothe

exactnameofthecuestheyhadinthetempmix.So,iftheyhadperc1,perc2,strings1etc.,hewouldnameitinthe

samewayanddeliverwavfiles.Thereasonisthattheycansimplyremovetheexistingwavsinthestageanddoa relinkbyname.Thiswouldhelpthefilesautomaticallyfallintoplacewithoutthemusiceditorhavingtoreworkthe entireedits.Also,iftheypreviouslydidtheeditsonthestage,thisnewclipwouldjustfallintoplacewiththeright

way.Itmaynotwork100percentofthetimebutdoes80percentandthathelpssave80percenttime!

Recentlyforamovie,wedeliveredallQuadStemsfortheSamples,5.0fortheorchestralscoreandaseparateLFE

trackbecausethat’swhatwasneededintheDubstage.ItisimportantformetobeabletodeliverwhattheDub

stageneedsbutatthesametimeIhaveagoodrelationwiththedubbingmixersothatthemixesdon’tgohaywire

andtheintegrityofthesoundismaintained.

Regardingmysessions,Ihaveasessionpermusiccue.Idon’tcombinecuesinonesession.Thishelpsmefocuson thesoundandalsoIdon’thavetoworryaboutwhatislaterinthesession.Itsavesmefromautomatingatonof parameterswithinthemix.SohowIdoitis,IhaveasoundthatIbuildforasectionorcue.Johnthenmakessure theAuxesandsendsareallsetfortheremainingsessionssothatIdon’thavetorecreatethesounds.Ican’tsay thatIbeginwiththefirstcueinthefilm,asusually,thatisn’twhatthemainsoundofthemoviemightbe.Iwatch themovieandlistentoallthecuesandbeginworkingonwhatIthinkwouldbethemainpart.Ithenprogressfrom

thereintothedifferentcuesandsessions.So,ifamoviehas95cues,Iwouldhave95sessionswitheachversion

editedandsyncedtopicture.Oncethemixisdone,Johnthencombinesallthestemsreelwiseandmakesthefolder

fordelivery.Thismethodalsohelpsuswithbeingabletodeliverchangestothemixwithoutchangingstemnames

sothatit’smucheasierforthemixstagetomanagethosecuesinthesessionintheheatofthemix.

LeftandLeftSurroundandRightandRightSurround.SincetheseareobjectsandnotpartofthebedinAtmos,it

givesthemixawiderangletotheorchestralrecordings.AndlikeIsaidbefore,Iamallaboutawidermix.Ialways

strivetogivespaceintherecordingsandthemix.AlthoughinmyroomImonitoritbysendingittothe

surrounds,Ihavebeenvisitingandtalkingtomyfriendswhoaredubbingmixersandhavenowgottoapoint

whereIcanunderstandsonicallywhatwouldbegoodthere.

FM:Afilmmixcangetreallyintenseandheated.Doyoufindyourselfinsuchsituationsandhowdo

youcalmyourselfdown?Thiswouldbeaveryrelevantquestionformanyofus!

AM:Likeeverything,amixcanbeaveryenjoyablethingandaveryexhaustingthingatthesamemoment.You

wouldsometimesfindyourselfworkingtowardsthedeadlinenotknowingifyouwouldmakeit.Ikeepreminding

myselfthatitwouldbeokandwewouldmakethedeadlinewithoutcompromises.Ilettheadulttalktotheinner

childinme.Thisisveryimportant.Asacreativeandtechnicalperson,youcanundergomassiveamountsof

pressure.Thesecanjustbefrompeopletryingtomeetdeadlinesorchangingtimeframesbecauseofthingsnotin

ourhands.Itdoesn’thelptobestressed.Itrytobreatheandcalmmyselfinsituationslikethis.Ialsocallupand

talktofriendsthatItrustandrelyonforadvice,orjustachattocalmdown.It’salsogoodtobesillysometimesas

thatcantakeyourmindofftheloadandresetittogobacktoworkinginfullcapability.Weallhavethattime,tobe

honest,butit’salsoabouthowwemanageitandmanageitwiththeclient.

IalsotrytotakebreaksasoftenasIcanbetweenmixes.Butthattooismooddependent.IfIaminthezone,Imix

aslongasIcanbecauseIusuallyforgettotakeabreakandIalsodon’twanttobreakmycreativeflow.Ithenend

uprememberingmybackhurtsandIneedtogetupandstretchorso.Andremember,stretchingisnotbreaking

yourknuckles!

FM:Doyouhaveareferencemixforsurroundyouusewhenyougotoanewroom?

AM:Notreally,no.Idon’thaveareferencemixforsurroundsasIalmostalwaysendupworkinginmyroomin

RemoteControlandIknowthatroomverywell.ButifIhappentotravelouttootherstudios,Iwilltravelwithmy

speakers.Iknowthattheroommaytranslatedifferently,butIknowmyspeakersandwouldtakeamixthatIhave

workedwith.

FM: Howdoyoulistentootherengineer’sworksespeciallyinthefilmworld?Doyouendupjust

FM:Howdoyoulistentootherengineer’sworksespeciallyinthefilmworld?Doyouendupjust

watchingthemovieorhaveaccesstothescoretolisten?

AM:IhavehugerespectforengineerslikeDennisSands,ShawnMurphy,SimonRhodes,AlSchmi̙andmany

more.Theimportantthingistohavearespectforeachother.Thisopensuppathwaysofcommunicationand

collaboration.Sooccasionally,wewouldcalleachotherandtalkaboutthesessionsorevenhelpeachotheroutif

needed.ThenIgettoknowwhattheyaredoingandexchangenewideas.Infact,AlcalledmeforhisBigBand

recordingandIgotalotofideasaboutmicingfromthat.Forexample,Ineverusedtoclosemic.Butafterwatching

Aldoit,Imightstartdoingittoo.Itisalsogoodtoconstantlyupdateyourselfwithwhat’shappeningaroundyou,

whetheritspluginsortechniquesormixesorevenjustideas.Thisiswhatkeepsyouinspiredandfreshtotryout

newerideas.

EngineerslikeGaryChesterandEdSpriggmentoredme.IlearnedalotfromGary.Hetaughtmetobefastandbe

abletocommunicateeffectivelywiththeclient.OneofthefirstthingsIlearnedwastobeabletocreategood

headphonemixesfortherecordingartistes.Whentheyhaveagoodheadphonemix,theygetinspiredandgivea

muchbe̙erperformance.Itisalsoimportanttoreadtheroomandthepeople.That’sthefastestwayto

communicate.EdSpriggtaughtmetechniquestousetheroomforthesound.Heusedtohavewaysofusingthe

roomforcompressionandbringingoutthesoundnotonlyfromtheinstrumentbutalsotheroom.Thiswasabig

lessonformeandIstillusealotoftechniquesthatstemfromit.Ialsolearnednottojudgemyself.Idomybestand

letitgo.IfIkeepthinkingwhetheritisgoodornot,andsecond‑guessing,Iwillneverbeabletofinishthemix.I

needtobeabletobehappyandunderstandIhaveputmybestintoit.

FM:WhatdoyoudodifferentlywhenyoumixforTVorVideoGames?

AM:Itisnotabigdifferencetoday.Forexample,ImixedthescorefortheTVseriescalledDareDevil.Itwashuge funandIlistenedtothemonmyheadphoneaswellasmylaptopinadditiontothestudiomonitors.That’sbecause Ineedtocheckhowittranslatesinthesemediumstoo.ItrynottokeepalotoflowendsintheTVmixes.Thisis justsothatIdon’tenduphi̙ingacompressorwithsignalsthataren’treallyheard.Oneofmytechniquesistouse MaxBassonforthelows.Whatthisdoesistocreateanapparentlowthatwillbetranslatedverywellonsmall speakerstoo.Videogames,ontheotherhand,havescoringsessionsthatareasbigasfilmsnow.Forexampleon

Halo,werecordedorchestralmusicsomeofthecueswithmultiplepasses.Theyweredonein96kHz.Ideliverthe

stemstothegamingteamthatthenmakeuseofthoseforcreatingthein‑gamescoreandfindinglooppointsetc.I

don’teqorlimitthembeyondwhatIdoforfilmscores.Theywouldsoundasgrandasafilmscore,asIspendthe

sameamountoftimedoingit.

FM:Speakingoftime,howmuchtimedoyouspendonamix?

AM:Thatvariesaccordingtothemoviebutonanaverage,IcompleteaReelofamixin2days.(Areelis20

minutesofthemovie).Ialsoknowthatthebeginningreel,thenreelnumber3,and4,andthenthefinalreelsare

theonesthathavethemostwork.Itislikeaperformancewiththerestsandthedynamicswithinit.Ispendthe

timetosetupmysoundsfirst.Oncetheyarethere,themixeshappenmuchfasterbecauseIknowwhatIwantto

achieveandcanproceedaccordingly.Remember,notallprojectsareequal.Therearechallengingonestoo.Butin

theend,Iknowthatallofthiswillbetotallyworththeeffort.Thatisimportantbecausethechallengesand

strugglesarewhatyouwillrememberwhenyouhaveanamazingresultintheend.

FM:Iamnotarecordingengineer,butIstillshouldaskyouaboutyourtechniquesofrecordings.

Especiallyknowingthatyouareknownforhavingsomeofthebestorchestralrecordings.Howdoyou

achieveit?

AM:Irecordeverythinginsurround.Ihaveanideaofthewaythescoresoundsinthetemponesandtheyare usuallyinquadorsurround.Ialsorecordsoloinstrumentsinsurround.Butifitwerejustaguitarthat’s strumming,Iwouldn’trecordallthemics.Iwouldstillrecordtheroomthoughasthatiswhatgivesmethe characterandplacementofthesound.ThereasonIrecordlikethisisbecauseIwanttogettheorchestrasoundand placementthewayitis.Isometimesdochangethepositioning,ifIwanttoexperimentwithsomeuniquesounds. Solikeintheearliercaseofafilm,boththeorchestraswereplacedinthesameroomandweremicedinsurround, andinaddition,theroomwasalsomicedinsurround.Thisgivesmeaverygoodimagingoftheorchestra.Idospot

mictheviolinsandthehorns,butIrarelyendupusingit.IhaveaDeccatreeataround12feetheightandanother

at8feetheight.Ihaveadditionalwidemicsatthe8feetheightbutaround12feetwidefromthatDeccatree.Ilike

tolookattheorchestralrecordinginlayersofheights.Thishelpsmeachieveareallygooddepthinthemix.For

space,Icanblendinthe12feetandforthebodythe8feet.ThewidesaresometimessenttotheAtmosScreenWide

speakers.IowntheGracePreampwith32pre’s.Ilikethembecausetheyalsogivemetheabilitytoremotecontrol

theprewiththeGraceremote.OnceIdomyrecordings,Ikeepthepaninanarcacrossthescreen.Thishelpsme spacialisetheorchestraandtheplayersandhelptoglueittogether.OnceIachievethis,Icanblendinthesamples

togivethegritandpowerthatitneeds.Iownmorethanabout70micsnowandIamamicgeek!Mycurrent

favoritesaretheMojaves,theFleaM50s,andafewothersthatIlike.

IalsohavesometechniquesthatIuseintherecordings.Forexample,Idon’tmeasureandplacethemicrophonesin thespace,butIknowanapproximationforthisandIusuallyamright!IsometimesmictheCelliortheFrench

Hornwith2spotmicsaround1feetawayandpanthesecondmicintheoppositedirectioninthemixafter

loweringitaround8dBorso.ThisgivesanincredibledepthandplacementverymuchliketheHaaseffecttrick.I

sometimestakethespotmicofthewoodwinds,feedittoareverb,andhavethatreverbplayfromspeakersplaced

nearthewoodwindpositionandrecordthatintheroommic.Thisgivesmethetonalityandbodyofthewoodwind

androomtothechoir.Iusuallyusesmallcapsulemicsforrhythmicpartsandlargecapsuleswithali̙le

compressiontogetabigsound.Isometimeshavethecellosplaythehigherharmonicstogetana̙ackandcolorfor

thestringsection.Attheend,IalwaysstartmymixfromtheDeccatreeandroommicsandaddthespotsonlyifI

needtoo.Icreatemyreverbsfromtheroommicsasanextensionoftheroom.

needtoo.Icreatemyreverbsfromtheroommicsasanextensionoftheroom. FM: Howdoyouplaceyourmicsandhowdoyoupantheminthemix?

FM:Howdoyouplaceyourmicsandhowdoyoupantheminthemix?

AM:Whilerecording,IhavetheDeccaTreeataround12feetheight.Thenaround10to12feetonthesidefrom

those,Ihavetheouters.TheypickupsoundsthathappenoutsidetheimagelikeFrenchhorns,Bass,Violas,and BackViolinsetc.Theyalsohelptoreinforcetheimageandsomaketheinstrumentsglued.Idoitatthesameheight whileothersmaydoitatadifferentheight.InHollywood,thereisatendencytomaketheimageabitlargerthan life.Therearemanywaystodothis.SometaketheleftandrightoftheDeccatreeandpanitextremeleftandright. Theythentakethewidemicsanddothesame.SomewillpantheDeccaTreeinabitsoyouhavetheleftandright

ataround10o’clockand2o’clockposition.Theythenpanthewidetotheleftandright.Thisisalsogreatbutin

myexperiencedoesn’tworkreallywellwithactionfilms.ThereareotherengineerswhokeeptheDeccaLeftand

Rightattheleftandrightpositionsandpanthewidemicsabitoffthescreentosayaround20percentintothe

surrounds.Inmyopinion,thisisproblematicbecausemosttheatersthatyouseearen’treallywellcalibrated.Soif

thedelaysofthesurroundsarenotsetcorrectly,thatcausesalotofissuesinplayback.Iamnottalkingabout

DolbyAtmos,buttheregularsurroundmix.

WhatIdoistokeeptheleftandrightoftheDeccainabitandthewideattheLeftandRightposition.WhatIthen doforthesurroundsisIhaveasetofmicsatthesameheightoftheDeccatreebutfacingtheoppositedirectionand pointinginsuchawaythattheyformashapeofastarwiththeDecca.Thisgivesmeaverygoodimageformy

soundsandhelpstobuildthesoundscapearoundme.WhatIalsodoistoadd2additionalmicsataround16feet

orhigherthatIsometimesuseasmysurrounds,sometimessendittothefrontandsometimesuseitformyreverb

feeds.

Now,theDeccaTreesareM50s.Iusethembecausetheyhaveaveryinterestingfeature.Theyaresmallcapsule

micsandeverybodythinkstheyarelargeones.Infact,theyarethesamecapsulesintheKM54s.Thiscapsuleis

builtintoalucitesphere.Thehighfrequencieshitthediaphragmdirectly.Whathappensatlowerfrequenciesis thattheyradiateintothesphereandformakindofomnidirectionalpa̙ern.So,thisiscardioidforhigher

frequenciesataround5kor6kandkindofomniforlowerones.Thisgivesaverygoodimagingaswellassize.Iuse

theonesfromFleaforthis.Thewidemicsaresetinawidecardioidandthesegiveasenseofthespace,definition

andpositioning.SomuchthatwhenIdon’tturnonanyothermic,Iknowwheretheorchestrapeoplearesi̙ing

andIgetasenseofthesize.Nowforthesurrounds,Iusehyper‑cardioidmics.Thereisaveryinterestingeffectthat

Igetwhenthebacklobescrosseachother.Theleftmic’sbacklobegetsabitofthecelliandtherightgetsabitofthe

violin.Ilikethisinteraction.Itcreatesabitofrandomnessthatisphasecoherentyetwillnothurtyouatthefront

andstillwillcreateasizeattheback.Ijustknowthisfromexperience!

Mynextheightisataround8feetandisanoverallLCRmic.Thisisprimarilyforthestringandthebassandthe

ideaistogetsomepresencebeforethespotmics.IusetheMojavesforthisandalsohaveanadditionalmic

sometimesbehindandinfrontofthebassforanicewarmlowend.Atthatsameheightare2RoyerRibbonmics

abovethewoodwinds.Theseareinfigure8.Isetitupsothattherejectionistowardsthestrings.Thisgivesme

additionalspaceforthewoodwinds.Iliketheribbonsbecausetheyhaveaverywarmcharactertothesound.Atthis

height,IalsohaveaBrassoverallmicandafrenchhornoverallmic.Now,Iamalmost95percentdone!When

usingspotsIuse4forthestrings.Onefrontandonebackforthefirststringandonefrontandonebackforthe

secondstrings.Violasarepannedleftandrightwithoutusingthecenterchannelataround11and1position.For

Celli,Iuse1micfor4playersandaddmoreiftherearesolos.

Ikeepchangingmicsandexperimentingwiththem.ThisisanongoingprocessthatIfeeldoesn’thaveanend!

FM:Whatadvicewouldyouliketosaytotheupcomingengineers?

AM:Don’ttryandconvincesomeoneofsomethingtheydon’twant.Theymaylikeitinthebeginningbutwill

comebacktoyoutochange.Remember,youareintheservicesbusiness.Youneedtogivetheclientwhattheyneed

tomakethemhappy.Soovertime,youwillgetasenseofwhattheylikeandhowmuchyoucanchangearound.

Butifyougofartherawayfromtheinitialconcept,youhaveabiggerchancetolosetheidearatherthanenhanceit.

Youalsoneedtogetitrightatthesource.Ispendalotoftimethinkingandhoningmyrecordingskillsandmicing

techniques.Youneedtoknowyourmics.Youneedtoknowwhatitdoesforyou.Onceyouknowthatyoucanwork

yourwayquicklyindensetracks.Thisisveryimportantwhendealingwithcomplexsessions.OnceIgetmy

recordingsright,IrarelyuseindividualEQsandCompressiononthechannels.Thishelpsmemixfasterand

simpler.Remember,simplicityisapowerfultool.Intoday’sworldofpluginsandemulations,Idon’tthinkIwould

adviseyoutospendmoneyonoutboardhardware,butIdefinitelywouldthinkit’sagreatideatoinvestinmics.

ThisisthesimplicityandthewarmthofoneofHollywood’smostsoughtaftermixengineer.Thisisalso

whatkeepshimonthetopofthegameandthefirstchoiceofcallformanycomposers.Thiswasindeed

arealhonorandprivilegetohaveyousharethesetechniqueswithus!Ihaven’twri̙enabouthowhe

usesplugins,histechniquesinshapingthesoundtocreateuniquedesigns,etc.asthosearethingsyou

wouldratherhavewhenyoulearnitfromthemasterhimself.InfactheadovertoMixwiththeMasters

toseesomeamazingvideosinregardstothis.

AllphotoscourtesyMixWithTheMasters

‑FM

thoughtson“FilmScoremixingwithAlanMeyerson”

said: 1.americanmag

July28,2016at7:08pm

Beautifulinterview.Welldonepleasekeeponwithyourcontent.Ialwaysreadthewholeemail

beforecomingtotheblog

said:

July28,2016at7:19pm

Thankyou!Willdo!