Mixing is all about striking the right balance. For Dick Figures The Movie, we worked with Tom Marks (Sound Editor/Sound Mixer) of Black Rock Audio who created a Dolby Certified 5.1/2.0 mix which can be played in theaters as well as Bluray, DVD, and on the web. While some mixes can last as long as six months, Tom prepped the movie in just a week and we sat own with him for only three days to make it ready for final delivery.
Here's how it works: editorial delivers all of the dialogue, music and sound effects to the mixer whose job is to improve the elements individually before balancing them against each other. Using ProTools, dialogue is equalized (EQ) to sound as crisp and clear as possible. Low-frequency (the .1 in 5.1 surround, the sub-woofer), panning and effects are added to the sound design to give them more power and dimension. The different stems of music (brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion, etc) are layered into the mix, rising and falling as dictated by the emotion of the scene. It's a very delicate, and technical, process to make sure all the elements work in harmony to tell the story.
This stage of production is tremendously rewarding as you can manipulate the auditory landscape with minute precision. However, listening to the movie on a mix stage for days on end at 85 decibels (the same audio level as a theater) can be exhausting. You are literally bombarded by sound, especially in a movie like Dick Figures where there are gun battles, explosions, car chases and fist-fights aplenty. Some ear-shattering explosions we listened to dozens of times at full volume to make them sound just right. Imagine the loudest sound you've heard in a theater, one that ripples through your bodily organs and threatens to tear your chair from the floor, on repeat, over and over again. It's a thrill when a scene finally hits the proper dynamic range and everything sounds just right but until then it's like being punched repeatedly in the face.
The mix for this movie was an incredible experience. Not only did I get to work with my friends and brother, but it was the first time Ed and I were able to sit back and enjoy the movie like audience members. We are immensely proud of the entire Dick Figures team and all the fans who made this movie a reality. While there are still a few minor tweaks and a final render to be made, the movie is 99.99% done which is a wonderful feeling. We can't wait to see (and hear) what the fans think.
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