RTAS in Avid MC to Improve Dialogue and Music Playback
by Stuart Bass, A.C.E.
I have found that often my tracks will sound good in my room through my nice speakers but when the show plays through smaller TV speakers, consumer amplifiers or is recorded to DVD it becomes distorted. In order to fix this it is necessary to add compression to the tracks. Compression is common in all audio applications from broadcast to live performance to aid in clear reproduction.
This is my timeline. I put dialog on A1 & A2. Both of these tracks get compression. There is an audio plug-in called Bombfactory. It a peak limiter which is helpful on tracks heavy with explosions or gun shots.
This is the compression/limiter. The two key controls are the ratio and the thresh (threshold).
The RATIO is usually is set to 3 or 4. This is the amount the limiter will reduce loud noises.
The THRESHOLD is the level at which the limiter is triggered. If you set it to 0dB it wouldn’t do anything. A light compression would be around -5 to -10. A heavy threshold at -20 or so flattens everything. This is helpful if you have screeching actors.
Incidentally, I have used compression on music tracks to help separate them from dialog tracks. By limiting the dynamic ranch of some music it will fight the dialog less. This is trick used often in commercials.
I reserve track 8 for bar and coffee shop ambient music. To help the music feel like its being played on a house system, I add slight reverb to it. The key settings are:
MIX – set to 50% of the signal getting reverb.
Room 1 and medium – seems to be the least offensive.
This is not a great reverb tool. It sounds artificial.
Another filter that is helpful is too EQ out the high end to simulate distance.
My only experience with sound goes back to mixing commercials in the analog days. If anybody has any suggestions for different settings or improvements I would appreciate the comments.
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