The following is a guest contribution from Academy Award-winning re-recording mixer and sound designer Myron Nettinga. Myron’s film credits include ‘ include Black Hawk Down, Kill Bill Vol. 1&2, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook , American Hustle. Recent releases are Disney’s “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” and Dreamworks Animation’s “Penguins of Madigascar”.
I have been working in a virtual mixing environment with Pro Tools and the Avid range of consoles for many years. In October 2013 I wrote an article on Avid Blogs about how I use the Pro Compressor and Pro Limiter plug-ins in my audio post work. I’ve been using the Avid Pro Series of products since they were introduced, and have been very impressed with how they have performed over that time period, so when the new Pro Series plug-ins were introduced, I knew they’d be worth checking out. After using them, the Pro Multiband Dynamics and Pro Subharmonic plug-ins are a definite must have in my standard setup. True to the Pro Series of plug-ins, the transparency in processing is the best in their category I’ve used. Let me start by looking at the Pro Multiband Dynamics, in the next article I will focus on the Pro Subharmonic.
Pro Multiband Dynamics
I’ve added the Multiband Dynamics to my standard setup in several areas. On individual DX channels I may need to narrow into a particular band of frequencies for compression/containment on mid frequencies only, leaving low frequencies alone, reducing the “pumping” effect you get when the entire broadband of material is compressed.
One of the simplest applications is De-essing, removing the problem sibilance in speech (see settings opposite). I can adjust the bandwidth easily on both sides to effect only the area containing the sibilance, range of compression, and ability to bypass processing on the other bands makes it straight ahead. The smooth and transparent action makes it great for Dialogue. With the real time spectral analyzer I find focusing in on problematic areas much quicker than your typical sweeping to locate target frequencies.
I especially like the SLOPE function. It basically adjusts 2 compression parameters at once. Starting at the lowest value of 0% it sets a 1:1.5 ratio, with a soft knee. As you move the value up, it moves all the way to 1:20 ratio with hard knee. I found it to be very natural and smooth.
I also use it as a general multiband compressor to contain peaks in each of the bands. I will typically use about 3db of range, with slope at about 20%, a 45 ms attack on the low band, getting progressively faster attack on each higher band. The release is generally around 80ms. My thresholds usually follow my same approach on the overall compressor I use (Pro Compressor) having the threshold to be just slightly below the peaks, compressing the momentary peak dynamics of the track down 3 to 6 db. I will usually leave the Algorithm as “SMART”, finding this Pro Series setting to add virtually no unwanted coloring or pumping. I find this to be a good starting point, then dial and adjust as needed.
Multi-Format up to 7.1
Another GREAT feature is the use of Multiband Dynamics on Multi-Format busses up to 7.1! It’s not the typical “add the same processing across all channels” like most others. The multi-channel capabilities give you options of linking stereo pairs, All channels, or All channels EXCEPT the LFE. I find this really useful, not only on master stems, but on individual pre-dubs that may have significant LFE that I want to keep separate from processing.
Keying Individual Bands From Other Tracks
The individual keying feature of each of the bands is also a very cool feature. In particularly crowded scenes (i.e. lot’s of dialogue with MX or FX going full throttle) I will key the lower mid and/or hi mid band of the FX or MX from the dialogue track with just slight knock down. It can help provide just enough room for dialogue to pop through with out compressing the full band of MX or FX.
For FX I’ve included an example (see opposite) on a recent project where there were a lot of explosions (Red tracks) with metal debris and stress (Blue tracks). I wanted to duck the metal sounds during the initial attack of the explosions, so I set up a “KEY” aux send from the explo predub, setting the multiband on the Metal predub’s key input to the “KEY” buss. Putting each band in key mode and adjusting accordingly. I put the linking to “ALL (no LFE) to maintain special panning of the metal without affecting the LFE of that predub (which in this case was nothing). Setting up the Keying in Pro Multiband Dynamics is incredibly easy and very effective.
Using it on multichannel pre-dubs or stems I can contain the peaks, targeting specific bands with a very natural and transparent sound. On FX, I tend to use the PEAK compression algorithm. It contains transients typical in FX better, but when in doubt, I default to the SMART mode. It just does a great job no matter what you put through it! GREAT for smoothing out peaks on stems and the real time spectral analyzer is an added plus.
I like the included Multiband Splitter plug-in but haven’t had chance to use it yet, but am sure I will find a need for it now that it’s available!
Download the Free Trial
Pro Multiband Dynamics is a powerful 64-bit AAX plug-in that enables you to compress and/or expand audio with precision by separating sound in four frequency bands and choosing how it’s processed when levels go above or below the threshold. Download the free 14-day trial today.FREE TRIAL