Ten Things Which Will Kill Your Film – from an Audio Perspective: Part 2

Ten Things Which Will Kill Your Film – from an Audio Perspective: Part 2

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This continues our 3 part article on ten things which will kill your film.

#4: You Don’t Understand Human Hearing.
The human psyche is ALWAYS lying to you about what you hear. It actually has you believe that your sensitivity to

Your Brain Is Always Lying To You!

Low, Mid and High frequencies is the same throughout the hearing spectrum. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, whether you believe in evolution or creationism in 2017, Tweet: the mind is most sensitive to the consonants of the spoken voice. As a result, most filmmakers mix their movies without taking this into account, and it’s why when watch 95% of independent movies in a festival, they all sound tinny and lack power or body. The frequencies which the mind is sensitive to make even the best “mathematically correct” mixes feel like they were mixed to rip off the hair on your head. Hollywood mixes take this into account, and it’s one of the reasons why people like listening to big-budget movies: those mixers know how to manage “loudness contour” and manipulate mixes so that listeners psychologically “like” their mixes better than yours. To the extent that a filmmaker doesn’t understand this (or their re-recording mixer), is the extent to which their audience will have extreme difficulty immersing themselves in the content of the film.

#5: Your Movie is Too Soft.
Everything is moving to internet delivery, and until the government puts into place loudness rules (which may be very soon), soft mixes will always seem less “likeable” than loud ones. It’s how the brain works, and there are many studies and research which prove that louder is better to the mind (not necessarily to the ear). Dr. Barry Blesser, Ph.D, an academic and lecturer on the subject has written one paper about an actual organ in the ear which, when hit with loud low frequencies, sends out a pleasure response. You can read the document here  http://www.blesser.net/downloads/eContact%20Loud%20Music.pdf. Of course, for theatrical, DVD and broadcast, the law and the rules apply, but on the internet the sky is the limit, and since the average attention span of a user of the internet is roughly 2 seconds, studies have shown that even a 1 decibel difference will have a majority of people like the louder program material than the softer – even if it’s the same program material. Want to compete in the internet market? Tweet: You’d better know how to make your mixes louder than your competition.

#6: You Use Faders to Mix Your Film.
It’s natural. Most people who have never studied the affects or nature of audio in multimedia believe that making

Faders are almost never the right choice to fix a mix problem.

sounds louder or softer – or panning them around the stereo or surround field – is the way to make a mix work. Just make the dialogue louder than the music, and the sound effects not drown the music, and you’ve got a good mix. Nothing can be further than the truth. In fact, Tweet: moving faders is one of the most unimportant aspects of mixing all of your precious audio elements into the immersive and dramatic whole which you’ve dreamed of. If you have no knowledge of compression, equalization or the concept behind the 3-D positioning of audio in a mix, you’re lack of knowledge will force you to have to make terrible compromises which will have your audience lose energy and flow in your film at brutally critical places.

#7: You Let Your Editor Mix Your Film.
Now, I love editors. They’re usually incredibly generous people who really understand how to tell a story. The trouble is, they usually have little to no idea how to put the audio elements of a film together in a professional and moving fashion. Worse, they invariably have no idea how to use the standard tools of the audio trade nor do they have the right mixing tools to implement them. With the exception of Sony Vegas, there is NO Non-Linear Editor on the market which will afford you the ability to do a professional mix. Any editor who attempts to convince you of this, to the extent they try, is the extent to which they have no idea how to mix your elements professionally. Sadly, it is incredibly difficult to get audio out of an NLE these days, and I understand why editors want to keep audio in their timelines. Not to mention that directors are recutting their “locked” picture up until the day before delivery. Therefore, “conforming” separate audio timelines to updated “video” timelines is horrifically painful. Nevertheless, without the appropriate tools applied to your audio, it’s impossible to get the Hollywood impact your picture deserves. Your editor either doesn’t have them, or doesn’t know how to use them. If they do, they’re an incredibly rare find indeed. Pay them more.

In the last part of this article, we’ll cover music, dialog and the most brutal killer of all.

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