Today I thought I would explain how we had plans of prepping the session for the mix. Remember, these will change later on as we delve deeper into the mix but thats the fun right? Where we think we have a plan and it changes! (Not unusual though!)
It is important to know the thought behind preparing a session for mix. Usually we get the sessions from the sound designer and the Music Composer and then we re-route it to our comfortable bussing structure that we as mixers are used to. For example, there will be a dialogue Buss, Dia reverb busses, Foley, FX, Ambience, Score, song and crowd. Of late the FX and foley are also split into more wider stems like FX, Design 1, Design 1, Footsteps, Incidentals (taps, doors, cloth etc) and so on. This time too, Justin and I followed the same principle, but we had also come up with some ideas that are unique to this. I think we are the first to figure this out, but then if there is someone reading this who has done this before, then by all means this is a coincidental thought and not plagiarism!
The Mix Room
What is very unique about Futureworks Parel is that it is a Premiere Atmos Mix stage. The Only one in India and the first in the world. Now, what this means is that it has 5 screen speakers instead of 3. (You can read more about it in this blog post.) This is the layout in this case.
As you can see in the above picture, just behind the screen we have Left, Center Right in gray color and two more in green color which I will call Left Center and Right Center. Does this screen layout look familiar? If yes, it is because this is similar the Screen layout of the SDDS format. It is a very accurate representation of the screen and gives more resolution to the pan. But there are two issues with this.
1. The green speakers (Left Center and Right Center) are objects and not part of the bed.
2. The SDDS format has only 2 surrounds while Dolby Atmos has 4 surrounds (Left Side, Right Side, Left Rear and Right Rear.)
So, my thought was how can we combine both the SDDS for screen and 7.1 HD for Surrounds into one single Pan motion in Pro Tools? Thats when a unique thing in Pro Tools struck me.
11.1 Pan in Pro Tools
Dont confuse this with the 11.1 in Auro 3D. That is 2 sets of 5.1s placed one above the other. (Actually it is a 5.1 and a 5.0 above it with the Voice OF God or VOG channel in the middle.) The 11.1 in Our Mix session for Bombay Velvet is different and not standard. It is laid out as Left, Left Center, Center, Right Center, Right, Left Side Surround, RIght Side Surround, Left Back Surround, Right Back Surround, LFE that makes 9.1 and then 2 overheads that makes a total of 11.1. So, we have a unique Set of resolution. How did we create this?
The first idea I had was to have the SDDS and 7.1 formats and then cut tracks into whichever is needed. But Soon I realised thats a lot of additional work with no benefit. Then I saw the option of FMP in Pro Tools.
What FMP is is Follow Main Pan. This is part of a Send and what it does is if you have a pan in an audio track, it will make the aux follow the same pan. Then it struck me that if i create all tracks with the main output to SDDS and also have a send to 7.1 HD with FMP on that send, this means when I do a pan in the main pan, it will be simultaneously sent to the bus.
Combining the different 7.1s
In the above Picture, the Left Pan window is the main track output and the Right Pan window is the send with FMP on the top enabled in Orange. This means as you can see, any pan position in the main output is reflected in the send too, So, my next step was to make a set of Auxes that Route the L C and R of the main output to the L C R of the Bed. I would then discard the surrounds of that and instead use the surrounds of the send to the bed surrounds. (Note that the send is Post fader and also at unity so my levels are not changing.) My next step is to create a subpath for the Lc and Rc and route that to an object that is panned to that position using the atmos panner. This is how a template would then look.
In this, if you see, Track no 1 is the main audio track routed to an SDDS output format. Track 2 is a routed to 7.1 HD in case we need that. Tracks 3, 4, 5 and 7 are what split the outputs. 3 and 4 combine to give the bed. Track 7 is the Lc Rc Subpath of the SDDS which is panned with the Atmos panner to those positions. Although it looks complex it really isnt once you have these auxes in place. Then anything will be routed to this and will be far more easier to pan and achieve the changes which previously wasn’t possible at all. The biggest strength that this method has is that when you pan beyond the center line, the audio no longer is removed from screen, which you will remember is a challenge from 7.1 HD.
I will leave you with this one technique for today. I think it will take some time to get this but once you do, you will find how useful it is.
Till next time! Have Fun!