The following is a guest contribution from Academy Award-winning re-recording mixer and sound designer Myron Nettinga. Myron’s film credits include ‘Black Hawk Down’, ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1&2’, ‘The Fighter’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and the upcoming ‘American Hustle’.
Avid Pro Series Dymamic Plug-ins
For over ten years now I’ve been working primarily on Avid and Euphonix products, mixing mostly in a virtual environment. The seamless integration and efficiency, particularly through the EUCON protocol is fantastic.
Two main components of my film mixing templates are a good channel compressor and a limiter for bus/stem outputs. The key feature of any compressor or limiter is transparency, followed by ease of use and visual feedback. Pro Compressor and Pro Limiter are superior to all other competitors in this.
I use the Pro-Compressor on individual source channels to control overly dynamic elements. For Dialog it could be abrupt yelling or screaming, for Music it could be percussive stingers, and FX this could be a big crash or explosion.
My standard setup for Dialogue is a 3db knee with 3:1 compression, 30 ms attack, 120 ms release. I’ll dial in the threshold to be just slightly below the peaks, compressing the momentary peak dynamics of the track down 3 to 6 db. I find this to bring the DX down to a more workable range of dynamics that help keep it in the “pocket” while still maintaining good transient response on consonants.
A more subtle use could be on a background track of birds where an individual bird keeps “popping” out of the track. Dialing down the threshold fairly hard with a compression of 6:1 and fast attack can take the bird from being up front in the mix to a distant perspective, great especially if you want to have an off-stage POV.
Pro-Limiter is an absolutely phenomenal limiter and is hands down the best limiter I’ve used on film mixing. My primary use is having one on each stem output during the final mix to control any unsuspected transients from overloading the output bus to the recorder. From the controlling transient peaks to ultra hard limiting of a track, it’s transparency is unequalled and has set a new standard for limiters to reach for.
The most recent movie mix “Getaway” I used it extensively on my FX Stem. I’ll usually start with a peak limit of -1db from clipping with a threshold of -2, which will take just the occasional peak and contain it from clipping the buss.
But at times I will go more extreme with the treatment, dialing down the threshold to really “sit” on the track, hard limiting the entire track to a narrow dynamic range. This is where the Pro-Limiter outshines any other limiter on the market.
Colorization is virtually undetectable; it’s truly a transparent Limiter with no pumping or breathing to color the track.
There are three matched plug-ins in the Avid Pro Series – Compressor, Limiter and Expander and they are available in both AAX Native 64, and AAX DSP 64 for efficient use of HDX. They are available for trial so you can check them out just as I did to see how they compared to both the Avid Channel Strip, which is the System 5 set of processors, and other dynamics you normally use for post mixes. I am used to working with the System 5 so i know its dynamics section. These plug-ins are similar to the System 5 in some respects, so that’s probably why I really managed to get them to do the job so quickly, but they definitely go beyond what’s possible with other dynamics I have tried, including the Avid Channel Strip.