Audiovisual Montage

1.4 Sound mixing phases and montage

The boundaries between the previously separate functions of cutter and sound mixer are more fluid nowadays than in the past. Ideally, the editor is not only involved in the montage but also in the mixing process. What happens otherwise is what editor and sound designer Walter Murch laments: Most of my colleagues don’t know who will work on the sound and under what circumstances. They feel a little insecure and when editing tend to locate everything very precisely so that the sounds that are added later can only fill the gaps. That is the most thankless task for the sound editors. They become junior partners, forced to be dependant on the image. It is much more interesting to treat the sound as an equal partner, sound in the widest sense of the word, for example dialogue, music, or sound effects.[2]

The work steps can also be differentiated in the sound mixing. In the premix several sound tracks of the same kind (original sound, wild sound, ADR, Foley, SFX, atmo, and archival sounds) are added together. The final mix then brings all the premixed tracks together with the music tracks.

Here, a rough mix is initially produced as a complete yet still preliminary mix, in order to gain an impression of the audiovisual whole in advance. In the final mix, all sound-relevant film information — such as re-recording, original sound, dialogue, noises, atmo, and music — are mixed together in a special mixing studio to form a soundtrack, a dramaturgical and content-based whole made up of tone color and volume in consultation with the stage direction, sound design, montage/editing.

Depending on the format of analysis, different versions of the mixes are created in this process. Thus the IT-mix (international track) serves as an extra mix without speech for international sales, allowing dialogue replacement in the appropriate language (see ADR).[3] The TV-mix as a television-specific mix generates a level that is adjusted to suit the end device and may for copyright reasons (e.g., further use on the internet) contain other musical components.

In post-production, the montage structures the images and sound within the timeline of the film on different tracks and is thus also an appropriate accompaniment to the sound mixing phases.

While up until the 1990s the different sound levels were fed into different sound reels that were synchronized with the image reels after much careful planning, today’s editing software uses parallel horizontally aligned timeline-windows that not only provide an improved clarity of the arrangement but also allow for technically easier and compositorally more complex sound mixes in advance during the montage process.

Before the start of the actual montage, in the division of labor within the film industry, sound cutters align the original sound to fit the image, and the sound editor adds additional sound effects, music, and dialogue (voice-over as commentary or as a narrative voice from the off). Finally, picture look describes the status of the montage in which the visual editing is finished to the exact frame and will be changed no more, even if in the sound a few changes can still be made.

Original sound without dialogue, wilde sound, atmos, and SFX are delivered mixed separately from the music. If dialogue has been cut from the original sound track, these audio gaps must be filled to some extent with Foleys on location.  

Workdescriptions from this text
Workdescriptions from other texts

People: Walter Murch