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Mastering delivery levels and dynamics

From: Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

Video: Mastering delivery levels and dynamics

Let's talk a little bit about final delivery levels and how limiting plays into that. In audio for video work, it's common for final bus compression and limiting to occur right in your final print master session. In this video, we'll discuss some options for preparing your mixes in terms of dynamics and levels before you send them out into the world. By the time you are print mastering, you should have some idea of what market you're listening for as you mix. Remember, you should have calibrated differently for theatrical film mix versus a TV or broadcast mix. That said your final mixes can usually benefit from some bus compression and limiting before you do the final print master.

Mastering delivery levels and dynamics

Let's talk a little bit about final delivery levels and how limiting plays into that. In audio for video work, it's common for final bus compression and limiting to occur right in your final print master session. In this video, we'll discuss some options for preparing your mixes in terms of dynamics and levels before you send them out into the world. By the time you are print mastering, you should have some idea of what market you're listening for as you mix. Remember, you should have calibrated differently for theatrical film mix versus a TV or broadcast mix. That said your final mixes can usually benefit from some bus compression and limiting before you do the final print master.

One way to accomplish this is to put in aux track with the finishing limiter inserted on it between your stems and your final mix print track, such as I've done here. I've got my a dialogue bus, my effects bus and my music bus all using multiple output destinations to go to their respective stems, print master stems, and the final mix stem. Now before it gets the final mix stem, where it's all combined, I've additionally sent them through a MIX sub bus track and that track has a limiter on it. It has the L360 surround limiter.

So what limiting setting do we use? There are no tried and true settings here, but in general you can view limiting this way. Internet and commercial broadcast work can have the most limiting as you want the message to pop and a large dynamic range isn't as crucial. So here is an example setting for that. I've got a pretty low threshold. So I am going to be compressing it quite a bit and the out ceiling is up there a bit. So it's going to be a lot louder with this limiting on. But again, dynamic range isn't as crucial here, so this will just make it loud and proud. Television, DVD, and other broadcast mixes can benefit from some moderate limiting and often there's a cap on the final output, like say at -10 or -6.

A limiter can really help you realize this goal. You'll need to check the delivery requirements of where you're sending your work to verify if there's a cap like this. But I have a setting in here that would work for say a -10 cap. So I am going to load that up and you'll see what that looks like. This would be set for a broadcast delivery spec that has a -10 cap. So I have got that on the out ceiling, and then I've got another additional almost about 3 dB below that of limiting going on. So there is some limiting and there's -10 out ceiling cap on this limiter to help you realize the broadcast delivery spec like that.

Finally, theatrical film mixing can have the least amount of limiting and therefore, you can have the most dynamic range and the highest headroom. Here is an example of limiter setting for a film mix. You can see here a threshold is a lot less and the out ceiling is a lot higher. So I am allowing for more headroom for this type of mix with this limiter. Remember, when you are limiting, you can't rely too much on these limiters. Your mix should translate to these dynamic levels by itself and this limiter should just be helping you realize your ultimate goals with how you mixed it to begin with.

Another way to approach using limiters is to actually put a separate limiter on each mix bus. So your dialogue bus would have its own limiter, your effects bus would have its own, and your music bus would have its own. So I am doing to deactivate the mix sub bus to show this. So I am going to hold Ctrl+Windows button and Command+Control and click on the plug-in to deactivate it. That's a quick key combination to deactivate any plug-in. And I am going to reactivate the ones I've made on each bus. Control+Command+click, Control+ Command+click, Control+Command+click.

So in this case, I've got a separate limiter on the dialogue bus. For example, here I am just compressing the center channel a little more and I've got a separate one on the effects bus where I am compressing the surround outputs a little bit just to tuck those in and I've got a separate one on the music bus which isn't limiting very much at all because some of the music, say, for example, is already mastered. So I don't want to limit that too much since it's already been limited pretty heavily by its own mastering. So using limiters on each respective bus is a great way to control specifically what goes on, on those kind of buses.

But it does still have its own set of drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that you aren't really controlling the whole combined mix. So be careful what limiting settings on one stem does to the other stems. The only way to really understand how your mixes will translate is to get them out there into the world. You should listen to as much material as possible and compare your own mixes to them. All this calibration, limiting, and pointers we've gone over should only come second to your own ears and your own experience.

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This video is part of

Image for Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools
Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

51 video lessons · 9218 viewers

Scott Hirsch
Author

 
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  1. 6m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      40s
    3. Using this course with Pro Tools 10
      1m 57s
    4. Relinking audio files
      2m 33s
  2. 18m 37s
    1. Understanding the new audio for video features in Pro Tools 9
      5m 17s
    2. Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9
      5m 19s
    3. Understanding the audio components of a finished video
      5m 22s
    4. Understanding the audio production workflow
      2m 39s
  3. 25m 10s
    1. Understanding video formats, SMPTE timecode rates, NTSC, and PAL
      6m 21s
    2. Understanding video formats, codecs, and pull-up/pull-down
      5m 16s
    3. Setting up your Pro Tools session for video
      8m 44s
    4. Exporting OMF and AAF files
      4m 49s
  4. 32m 14s
    1. Importing OMF and AAF files
      8m 8s
    2. Importing and the DigiBase browser
      4m 0s
    3. Conforming the OMF import to your template
      6m 51s
    4. Setting up groups and windows
      6m 2s
    5. Spotting film and using markers
      7m 13s
  5. 52m 55s
    1. Organizing the dialog tracks
      5m 0s
    2. Optimizing the dialog in the first pass
      4m 30s
    3. Using room tone
      4m 10s
    4. Creating fades to smooth out audio edits
      5m 4s
    5. Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds
      7m 12s
    6. Sweetening and hard effects
      6m 52s
    7. Processing tips for sound effects
      8m 46s
    8. Bringing emotion to the mix with music tracks
      5m 33s
    9. Leveraging clip-based gain in Pro Tools 10
      2m 51s
    10. Exploring AudioSuite enhancements in Pro Tools 10
      2m 57s
  6. 15m 29s
    1. Preparing the session for foley and ADR recording
      9m 19s
    2. Recording ADR and editing with VocALign LE
      6m 10s
  7. 45m 5s
    1. Noise-reducing hums, rumbles, and buzzes
      8m 11s
    2. Eliminating crackles and digital clicks
      5m 30s
    3. Taming plosives and sibilance
      6m 10s
    4. Reducing broadband noise
      9m 26s
    5. Conforming to video changes
      8m 36s
    6. Pitch shifting for effect or utility, TC expansion
      7m 12s
  8. 56m 19s
    1. Setting up for stereo mixing
      5m 11s
    2. Calibrating levels using an SPL meter
      7m 2s
    3. Mixing with automation
      11m 4s
    4. Advanced mix automation
      8m 0s
    5. Automating plug-in parameters
      9m 22s
    6. Mixing with reverb
      7m 20s
    7. Ducking techniques
      8m 20s
  9. 42m 4s
    1. Setting up a surround mix template
      11m 14s
    2. Calibrating for 5.1 surround mixing and bass management
      9m 2s
    3. Mixing and spatial techniques for 5.1 surround
      14m 9s
    4. Downmixing, encoding, and using Neyrinck plug-ins
      3m 38s
    5. Automating techniques for 5.1 surround mixes
      4m 1s
  10. 10m 6s
    1. Print mastering and stem mixes
      5m 47s
    2. Mastering delivery levels and dynamics
      4m 19s
  11. 5m 29s
    1. Backing up your final project
      5m 29s
  12. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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