Newbie question regarding Film Scoring

Ray

Member
Hello! I'm very new to the Film Scoring realm and I'm mostly learning by myself.
Is volume automation the only way you can lower the soundtrack volume / turn it up everytime someone speaks or stops speaking? (mostly for documentaries).

I'm asking because it's tedious work.

Many thank you's!
 

thorwald

Member
Hello,

If the score does not accommodate for dialog, which you sometimes can't avoid, e.g. in action cues, volume automation is one way of doing it.

You can make your life a bit easier if you use a compressor, the aggressiveness depends on the dialog/sound volume levels.

Another, perhaps a more effective solution these days is using a match eq, which makes sure that the frequency range of the dialog is unmasked.

Either way, you are right, it is tedious work, but so is everything else if you'd like to create something high quality, I think.
 
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Simon Ravn

Senior Member
Ray, as a composer it is not your job to mix the music according to the dialogue. Actually you should never do volume automation of your music since you never know if something will change, if your music will be moved etc. So leave that to the audio engineer at the end.
 
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Ray

Ray

Member
Hello,

If the score does not accommodate for dialog, which you sometimes can't avoid, e.g. in action cues, volume automation is one way of doing it.

You can make your life a bit easier if you use a compressor, the aggressiveness depends on the dialog/sound volume levels.

Another, perhaps a more effective solution these days is using a match eq, which makes sure that the frequency range of the dialog is unmasked.

Either way, you are right, it is tedious work, but so is everything else if you'd like to create something high quality, I think.
Will look into the match eq, that sounds like a life saver.

Indeed, I am aware of the effort that needs to be put into high-quality content, you are right!

Thanks a lot for the input!
 
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Ray

Ray

Member
Ray, as a composer it is not your job to mix the music according to the dialogue. Actually you should never do volume automation of your music since you never know if something will change, if your music will be moved etc. So leave that to the audio engineer at the end.
Great to know! Thank you! :)
 

thorwald

Member
Will look into the match eq, that sounds like a life saver.

Indeed, I am aware of the effort that needs to be put into high-quality content, you are right!

Thanks a lot for the input!
My pleasure. I did not mean to be condescending when I pointed out that everything high quality is tedious, this remark was meant to be more informative than anything else really, since I don't know what you're well-versed in ☺

Just to clarify, as mentioned, unless you are required to, e.g. they hire you as a composer who also doubles as a sound engineer for the final mix and master, don't worry about the final sound. Be sparse when you know that a dialog is coming up/going on, but this phase is more about instrumentation and the complexity of a passage, rather than about having to use automation/plugins, for you as a composer.

Still, from a sound engineers standpoint, these techniques are good to know, hence my previous reply.
 
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RonOrchComp

Active Member
Is volume automation the only way you can lower the soundtrack volume / turn it up everytime someone speaks or stops speaking? (mostly for documentaries).
The key here is orchestration. The great film composers and orchestrators know how to get out of the way of dialogue, how to set up getting out of the way, and how to go back and forth.

I am sure that there is some mixing involved, that the mixer moves faders and lowers the music here and there, but it starts with the arrangement and dynamics (p, mf, etc).


See what the music is doing there? It breathes, allowing room for the dialogue. Notice how it's not this:


You have to write and arrange appropriately. If you find yourself having to take the volume WAY down when the dialogue enters, you are most likely not writing and arranging properly.
 

JonS

Active Member
The key here is orchestration. The great film composers and orchestrators know how to get out of the way of dialogue, how to set up getting out of the way, and how to go back and forth.

I am sure that there is some mixing involved, that the mixer moves faders and lowers the music here and there, but it starts with the arrangement and dynamics (p, mf, etc).


See what the music is doing there? It breathes, allowing room for the dialogue. Notice how it's not this:


You have to write and arrange appropriately. If you find yourself having to take the volume WAY down when the dialogue enters, you are most likely not writing and arranging properly.
I disagree, the music gets in the way in both.
 
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Ray

Ray

Member
My pleasure. I did not mean to be condescending when I pointed out that everything high quality is tedious, this remark was meant to be more informative than anything else really, since I don't know what you're well-versed in ☺
I didn't think of it as such! No probs :)

Be sparse when you know that a dialog is coming up/going on, but this phase is more about instrumentation and the complexity of a passage, rather than about having to use automation/plugins, for you as a composer.
This advice is everything I needed, really! Thank you so much! :)
 

tonaliszt

Active Member
Send everything to a new audio track (including reverbs, effects, etc). Then you can automate that fader's level to match the dialogue.

The idea that you shouldn't do this is some kind of misconception about historical film scores and the realities of scoring in a DAW (say you score an episode in one project file, obviously you will want to adjust this balance while you are working).
 
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MOMA

Stockholm, Sweden
Working with stems anyone? A good way of delivering tools for the pros in the final mix, to handle the balance – where and when there is need for some room in the arrangement, for sound effects or dialogue.
It would be great to hear from a pro engineer describing stems and the task of handling the end product!
 
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NoamL

Winter <3
John Williams is a master at action scenes with dialogue.

In this action scene from TFA check out how the skeleton of the whole cue is built around that fast 3/4+5/8 pattern which mostly uses the lighter instruments, and the tutti heavy brass come in and out of the cue around the dialogue. The heavy brass NEVER overlaps important dialogue. Look at 2:04 for instance, they drop right out on Rey's line. This allows the score to be dubbed in with relatively mild volume moves.

JW's consideration of dialogue extends to harmony as well. When there's a dialogue exchange, the music goes into a holding pattern, it usually doesn't modulate or do anything else that requires listener attention.

 
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Ray

Ray

Member
The key here is orchestration. The great film composers and orchestrators know how to get out of the way of dialogue, how to set up getting out of the way, and how to go back and forth.

I am sure that there is some mixing involved, that the mixer moves faders and lowers the music here and there, but it starts with the arrangement and dynamics (p, mf, etc).


See what the music is doing there? It breathes, allowing room for the dialogue. Notice how it's not this:


You have to write and arrange appropriately. If you find yourself having to take the volume WAY down when the dialogue enters, you are most likely not writing and arranging properly.
Thanks a lot! Very useful input!
 

JonS

Active Member
in the way of what? There's no dialogue in the second video.

Anyway, I disagree the music gets in the way of the dialogue in the first.
First of all I adore the LOTR movies. It's really towards the end of the first movie when the music is in way not the second movie. I love Howard Shore's score to LOTR movies too, but sometimes his music is right on top of the dialogue, not necessarily his fault but hey, this might have been done intentionally and something the director wanted.
 
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Illico

Samuel Le Tonquèze
I usually used an in-chained compressor to compress music tracks with the SoundFX or Dialogue audio track detection.
 
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Ray

Ray

Member
John Williams is a master at action scenes with dialogue.

In this action scene from TFA check out how the skeleton of the whole cue is built around that fast 3/4+5/8 pattern which mostly uses the lighter instruments, and the tutti heavy brass come in and out of the cue around the dialogue. The heavy brass NEVER overlaps important dialogue. Look at 2:04 for instance, they drop right out on Rey's line. This allows the score to be dubbed in with relatively mild volume moves.

JW's consideration of dialogue extends to harmony as well. When there's a dialogue exchange, the music goes into a holding pattern, it usually doesn't modulate or do anything else that requires listener attention.

Thank you so much! Very useful info!