Friday, April 23, 2010

Delivering 5

So all this time I've been making movies, overseas buyers have just not cared about surround mixes. And domestic buyers have been very reticent to deal with surround mixes. We go to a lot of trouble to make the surround mixes work and we actually create the stereo mixes from the surrounds but nobody has ever really wanted them (even if we foisted them on a couple domestic distributors, basically complaining 'till they used the surround mixes -- I think in both cases it was the first time they released a DVD in surround.)

But now! Now we actually have a buyer who wants surround mixes. An overseas buyer, yet! And our North American distributor wants them too! So it's a new way for us. And a new day dawning.
By the way, I'm one of those mix engineers who doesn't provide a ".1" track as in "5.1". I provide "5.0". What that means is that I don't provide an extra subwoofer track.

I can see why you might want a subwoofer track if you were delivering in analog (especially using optical tracks). In the digital world the advantages become lessened to the point that I don't want to deliver (or mix) that .1 track.

Here's what happens: all 5 of your speakers (Left, Center, Right, Left surround, Right surround) split out all their low-frequency information to the subwoofer. So you hear what you get when you're mixing. But if you add special low-frequency-only information to another it might get ignored. Some decoders just ignore the ".1" track. Or, it might get played back 10dB lower than you expected, or 10dB higher. The way different systems work and are calibrated are a bit all over the place about that. Not every living room is THX certified.

So we mix in 5.0. We know what's happening in the low end and we keep it there! ;-)

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