Prime Survival Pt IV - Mixing
Updated: May 23, 2020
My intention with 'Prime Survival' had always been to mix a 5.1 surround sound field. The first scene I worked on, like the music, was 'Scene 16.' Using the visuals as a guide, I found sounds of a stream, trees, and general forrest sounds to begin building the field. Working with the film, I took the stream and kept it quiet in the first shot as it was nearby (but unseen) and then panned it in the next shots as the camera moved past it, following the raptors. Little moments like this, even if they're subtle or almost imperceptible, help build the truth of the moment.
This is the video from before. It includes the break down of SFX and Music for Scene 16.
The fronts got MOST of the action. Most of the scenes filmed had some usable onset sounds which, without the voices, could be used as a basis for the front channels. This, along with a good amount of the Left/Right foley, occasional dialogue movement, and dinosaur sounds filled in the front channels. The hope was to create as much of a stereo image with these sounds and allow them to tell the story spatially. Knowing that the rear channels would have more infrequent action, I modeled their mix on how most surround sound mixes of the time were designed. This meant the rears were truly there for creating an ambiance for the environment, echoes of dinosaurs singing or roaring, and with occasional channel bleed from the fronts. The last channel I worked on was the center. The center contained all the dialogue, centered foley moments, and specific dinosaur moments. The final rush, however, to complete the project meant that although the center channels sounds existed, they were not mixed down except as part of the final output.
Over the years I had collected hundreds of sound effects from the films, video games, ambient environment CD's, and even the produced LucasFilm SFX Library. Here you can see just a mere part of one of my folders containing sound effects for the Velociraptor. With this library of sounds, I worked to give 'Prime Survival' and its characters a full voice and reality in its sonic experience. Despite all this, the mix would still eventually be ruined when we premiered it online. Remembering that this is back when YouTube was still very new, we learned after uploading the video to youtube that the sound for the entire project was crushed and over boosted by YouTube's algorithms. This meant the audio would occasionally have distortions--especially in the louder segments--and that the effectiveness of any surround mix would be lost in the flattening process. (But more to come on this later!) With the sound field developing, a few of the scenes scored, and the themes decided upon, the final step was building the final score! continued on Pt V...