Re-recording Mixer

  • Re-recording Mixer

In the post-production process for film and television, the re-recording mixer is responsible for pulling together the complete soundtrack, and refining that audio for technical and aesthetic quality. He or she combines the efforts of the sound effects editor, Foley artist, music editor, and dialogue editor into one cohesive sound product that seamlessly accompanies the images on screen.


Duties

The re-recording mixer, formerly known as the dubbing mixer, is usually hired at the start of post-production and works under the direction of the supervising sound editor. This person works closely with the larger post sound department, producer, and director to expertly fuse together the numerous audio elements that complete a film or television show. His or her first task is to mix a soundtrack for audience previews of the show. With all sound effects and dialogue complete, the mixer refines the audio, combining the various separate tracks. Finessing the audio includes adding crossfades and balancing the volume of the score underneath the dialogue, as well as ensuring that dynamic sounds are neither too soft nor too overpowering. At this stage, music in the film is usually part of a temporary soundtrack produced by the music editor and music supervisor, and may not make the final cut. Mixing is performed in a dubbing studio, which typically houses a large mixing console and theater-style projection screen, as well as limited seating for viewing rough cuts.

Following audience previews, the movie or TV show will likely endure further picture editing passes, as well as additional audio editing. When the director and producer have locked the picture, meaning that they have approved the final visual edit, the re-recording mixer may then create the final mix. This will include the final musical score and any newly looped dialogue or sound effects. Once again, the audio is balanced in the dubbing studio with the input of the director and supervising sound editor, as well as the sound designer. The soundtrack is smoothed and balanced, and the number of tracks is reduced further and mixed to 5.1 surround sound specs, the industry standard. The duration of the editing process will vary greatly depending on the size and type of production, but can require as little as two weeks or as many as 12.

Skills & Education

A college degree in film and television production with an emphasis on sound editing and mixing is recommended for this career, and courses in recording arts and music production are also beneficial. The re-recording mixer must be proficient in the use of multiple dubbing consoles, as well as audio editing systems. Knowledge of recording consoles and audio software applications is helpful. This career requires an individual who understands the artistic and technical concepts of sound design and audio balance, and is capable of creatively mastering a soundtrack that will produce an emotional response complementary to the visual action. There is no standard formula for mixing a great audio track; it takes intuition, experience, and technical know-how to perfect.

What to Expect

A re-recording mixer is generally employed full-time or part-time by a post-production sound studio, but may also work on a freelance basis. On television shows and short-format productions the re-recording mixer may wear several hats, acting as the sound designer, ADR editor, or any combination of additional roles. Conversely, large projects and big-budget films may employ a small team of mixers who divide the work of producing the final mix of music, sound effects, dialogue, and Foley sound. A path toward this career may begin in any area of post-production sound. Internships or apprenticeships are available at independent companies or major motion picture studios. With several years of professional employment in this role, a re-recording mixer can seek advancement as a supervising sound editor or sound designer, or establish his or her own studio.

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