Join Christopher Brooks for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting signal flow, part of Pro Tools: Filmscoring.
Let's talk about Signal Flow. The Repetition of channel and bus assignments used to be time-consuming hard work. Pro Tools makes the process of setting up a mix, easy and flexible. If you're mixing with a console, then you should start by assigning sequential mono outputs of the tracks that you'll be mixing to through that console. Pro Tools makes these assignments quick. Let's take these Brass tracks, for instance. I'll highlight the Brass, hold down Shift+Option+Command and select an output.
You'll notice that it goes from that output sequentially to all of the tracks that are highlighted. By this time, you should have a pretty good idea what kind of stems you will need. If you have been diligent during the writing and recording process, you'll have kept your sessions in groups and families of instruments, making the assignments and determinations of stems easier. Let's create some stems tracks. Most stems do not have to be 5.1. Generally, I only use one or two for Percussion and possibly synths.
Anything that I think or know will contain any pant rattling lows that is. The rest can be 5.0 or even Quads. Often I record and mix guitars with no center. So Quad is perfect. Here's a little trick in creating different kinds of tracks at the same time, hold down Shift+Command+Down arrow. I am going to create two 5.0 stems, and a Quad.
Let's name these. Now, let's assign them some inputs. Here's the Strings. We're going to use the bus. There is a 5.1 bus for Strings. The perc again. Here is the Brass. Let's assign the input for the Synths and for the Guitar. Because you're probably being mixing for quite a while before you'll actually print your stems, you want to monitor through them.
So make sure under the Track menu, that Input Only Monitoring is selected. This is a new feature in Pro Tools 8. You'll noticed that it toggles between Auto Input, which is input only when you're stopped and Input Only Monitoring, which is what we're set to right now. Input Only Monitoring means that you can hear the tracks while you're rolling, creating your mix before you print it. If you are mixing some or all of your tracks in the system, not using a console, assign them to the correct stems.
Let's take our same Brass tracks. By holding down Shift+Option, we'll select the same output for all of the highlighted tracks. And we're going to use the Brass 5.1 output. You'll notice, because their Mono tracks they've assigned 5.1 panning. You should set this up in the image in which you would like to see the Brass. The next thing we want to do is create a 5.1 Master. New Track > 5.1. Now we want to feed that Master with our stems, so let's highlight the stems and select Shift +Option again and the bus 5.1 mix.
Let's assign the stems to our mix. By holding down Shift+Option, this will assign all the stems to the same output, in this case it will be the bus. It only assigns like tracks, so you'll notice that these 5.0 in this Quad need to be assigned separately. I can do both of the 5.0s together, and then I have to do the Quad separately. The next thing we want to do is set up our Stereo Fold down. Let's create some Mono Aux-ins.
We need five of them. I don't usually include the sub in my Stereo Fold down. Let's assign these all to the Stereo out and pan them appropriately. Left, center, right, left and right. We'll lower the center by three dB because it will be going equally to both left and right speakers. This is a stereo, remember. And then let's lower the surrounds by 6 dB. That will give the flavor of the surrounds, but won't overwhelm the mix.
This is just a rough starting point. As you actually make your Stereo Folddowns, you might want to tweak this a little. Now let's set up their inputs, again, holding down Shift+Option+Command. That will make them sequential. We'll start with the Stereo Fold down bus left and have left, center, right. Left surround and right surround, exactly what we want. The last thing we need to do is to create a New Stereo track that will be our Stereo Fold down. We'll assign the Stereo input, and the output is all set.
If you're finding yourself running out of voices, there are a few ways to get a few back. If you are carrying spot mics from an orchestra recording session, you may not need them, make them inactive. If you have dialog, sound effects and tap music, make them inactive too. Remember though, you may need these for reference at some point. So you may have to get creative with activating and inactivating tracks. If you're still tight, consider submitting, or bouncing sparse or like tracks. Most of all, double check all of your routing.
This can be is can be tedious work that should be done first thing in the morning, just after your coffee. I can't tell you how many nights I've spent trying to figure out why the triangle was coming out of the Strings stem.
- Importing and displaying video for scoring
- Setting up inputs and outputs
- Working with picture sessions and OMFs
- Importing MIDI data such as tempo and meter maps
- Matching tempo and beats to existing music
- Using Elastic Audio
- Printing guide stems from cue sessions for use in live recording
- Exploring Pull Up and Pull Down
- Multitrack recording
- Mixing tracks
- Preparing for final dubbing