Mixing a Short Film with Logic Pro
Illustration by John Hersey

Using EQ to enhance your mix


From:

Mixing a Short Film with Logic Pro

with Scott Hirsch

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Video: Using EQ to enhance your mix

As you're mixing your movie, you'll enevitably come acrosss situations where just adjusting the volume isn't enough to make the sound sit right in the film. In this movie we'll explore using equalizers as tonal shaping tools to make the sounds work better. We can begin by using equalizers to get rid of any unwanted stuff that might be clouding up our mix. There's a lot of information in our tracks that's outside the usable frequency spectrum. I'm talking about low rumbles, wind noise, and hiss that exists either well below, or above, the usable frequencies of the voice. We could effective put a global channel EQ on our auxiliary dialogue stem track to deal with all of this.
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Watch the Online Video Course Mixing a Short Film with Logic Pro
1h 24m Intermediate Mar 27, 2013

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In this course, explore a powerful round-trip workflow between Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro that helps sound editors to quickly mix dialogue, sound effects, and music for film. Author Scott Hirsch frames the lessons in a way that appeals to filmmakers of all levels, as well as professional and amateur audio mixers. He starts with exporting your tracks from Final Cut Pro and taking advantage of the film and video templates in Logic Pro, which makes project setup a snap. Then discover how to consolidate and edit dialog, fix noise problems and background hum, and add special effects. Finally, explore how to use automation and EQ to enhance and match your final tracks to the picture.

Topics include:
  • Setting up your project
  • Exporting audio and video
  • Editing dialogue
  • Fixing hum and broadband noise issues with processing
  • Synchronizing sound effects
  • Automating volume
  • Printing the final mix stems
Subjects:
Audio + Music Video
Software:
Final Cut Pro Logic Pro
Author:
Scott Hirsch

Using EQ to enhance your mix

As you're mixing your movie, you'll enevitably come acrosss situations where just adjusting the volume isn't enough to make the sound sit right in the film. In this movie we'll explore using equalizers as tonal shaping tools to make the sounds work better. We can begin by using equalizers to get rid of any unwanted stuff that might be clouding up our mix. There's a lot of information in our tracks that's outside the usable frequency spectrum. I'm talking about low rumbles, wind noise, and hiss that exists either well below, or above, the usable frequencies of the voice. We could effective put a global channel EQ on our auxiliary dialogue stem track to deal with all of this.

Type Cmd+2 to enter the Mix window. Here in the dialog stem aux track, we can call up the channel EQ just by double-clicking on the EQ window. You could do this for any track by the way, and it's the same as inserting the channel EQ plugin on that track. Then you get a visual reference of what kind of EQ is on your track. Now this grayed-out icon on the top left is a high pass filter, it lets the high frequencies pass and cuts out the low frequencies where you tell it to. Let's click it in, then we'll increase the frequency to around 75 hertz. We can also take the edge off a little of the high with a similar icon on the right, this is called a low pass filter.

It lets low frequencies pass, and it cuts out high frequencies. This will help with any hiss we have on our tracks, so we could pull the frequency down to 15 kilohertz. But we have to be a little more careful here about removing too much high end, so let's leave the slope to be more gentle at 6 dB per octave. Now, remember, this EQ is going to be global for all the dialogue tracks in the film, since they're routing through this aux. But some tracks need even more EQ love to sit right. Let's take, for example, Mr Dalton's voiceover track that was added as a dialogue replacement during the beach dream sequence. Let's take a listen.

Now as you can hear that recording sounds good, but it doesn't really quite sound like that he is on the beach. It sounds more like he is on the studio or something, which is where they recorded the dialog replacement, right? So we'll use a channel EQ on this track, in this case, to tonally shape the sounds so it matches the scene better. Let's insert a channel EQ on the dialogue 11 track. Let's also solo the track. Now here we need to make the voice less booming, and also a little less present in the high end. We can click analyzer to see a real-time readout of the frequencies, check this out.

>> The sand, well the water and sand mix, chemistry stuff. But that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is the lines. >> The boomy stuff I'm referring to is in the lower mid frequencies. Now on the low shelf control, second from the left, we can move the frequency up to around 300 hertz. Then we can reduce the gain to about minus eight decibels. We'll then do the same thing on the high shelf band. Adjust the frequency to about 7,500 hertz and pull the gain down to minus six. Finally let's crank the output gain up four DBs to compensate for any lost volume.

Now let's take a listen to this track with the EQ. >> The sand? Well the water and sand mix. Chemistry stuff. But that's not the exciting part, the exciting part is the lines. >> Alright, let's unsolo the track, and during playback, I'll push the bypass button on the plugin so we can hear before and after our EQ moves. When the bypass button is lit, the plugin is inactive. Here we go. (MUSIC) >> The sand. Well, the water and sand mix, chemistry stuff. But that's not the exciting part.

The exciting part is the lines. >> The lines? >> Yeah, the lines. Here, let me show you. You want strong lines. (MUSIC) >> So there we go, now his voice sounds a little more glued to the reality of the scene, as if he's on the beach with the child. Going forward, you'll want to use these times of EQ treatments wherever any element isn't sitting quite right in the mix, and just pure volume adjustment isn't doing the trick.

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