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audio Is this mix too crowded? (All VI's)

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by EricWatkins, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    This is actually a year old, but I am rehashing it for a new project and I took the time to remix it and use some newer. ( to me) techniques and tools. I'm just worried about it being too loud and too crowded by the end. I'd like some opinions. Thank you!

    View: https://soundcloud.com/eric-watkins-composer/pens-to-lens-trailer-mix-5

    View: https://soundcloud.com/eric-watkins-composer/pens-to-lens-trailer-mix-4
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nice imaging, nice choice of samples, "crowded " is a subjective term... it's dependent on the song. For something orchestrally "big" like this, the parts seem to work well with and off of each other.

    So, no, I wouldn't call it a crowded mix per se', as I can hear everything; there's nice definition and clarity, and what I do like about this - and what I find to be rare among the sample-based composer crowd - is that you have incorporated actual parts for each instrument, instead of random sections that are built solely upon some cool synth sound you found while scrolling. This is what nearly always seems to bother me the most about sample-based instrumental compositions such as this one. So many "composers" seem to base their songs around a sound instead of an actual part for each instrument... I suppose it could be described as a a randomness.... you have managed to compose a piece where there are definitive parts for the instruments. The parts aren't random. They work on both an individual basis - and perhaps more importantly, on a "collective whole" as well.

    There are a few things that bother me a little bit about this recording from a technical POV....

    1. I really don't like the fake/sampled cymbal swell. It sounds fake to me. I would have much rather heard this part recorded using a real cymbal with mallets, using a nice mic, or perhaps even mic'd with a stereo array.
    The majority of sampled cymbals out there have always bothered me... and, yours did too.

    2. You have what sounds like a bit too much low-mid in the french horn. It's a bit muddy and muffled. I would consider sculpting out somewhere around (or between ) 180 to 300 by a few db... not dramatically, just enough to attenuate the "mud"... and maybe experiment with adding a db or two around 2-3k to get a bot of "bite".

    3. I'd also like to hear a bit more "silk" - top-end presence on the choral sample - off the cuff, I'd say somewhere around 6k - 12k...? Maybe adding a little bit of "air" in those upper ranges on the choral track will help to define it a bit more.

    Are you using any type pf gain reduction on the master bus? Compression or Limiting or Band Sensitive Reduction of any kind? It sounds a bit "choked" when everything comes in towards the end, and it's squashing the dynamics and pulling away from the intended climax.

    This compression may be part of the original sample - if it is, there's not much you can do about it - but, if you did in fact add your own GR to the master bus, I'd back off on it.
    Orchestral stuff is very dynamic, and you should take advantage of that by letting these parts swell and soften accordingly. By clamping down on the mix with heavier amounts of gain reduction - especially at that climactic part near the end - you're squashing the life out of the performance.

    Sometimes it helps to listen to and study other pieces that you like, that are somewhat similar to your own in style and sound...

    Off the top of my head, I'd say definitely something epic, maybe like LOTR or something? Listen carefully to how the orchestra is recorded and mixed. I'm sure there is most certainly some type of gain reduction somewhere, but it's not overused ( and, in those million dollar studios, they are also using very high caliber gear, that reacts and sounds far differently, and in most cases, far superior to your basic run of the mill VST or RTAS plug in processor.)

    Not a bad job on the whole... although you have to be careful when using sample-based orchestral sounds... in so many cases they have things like reverb, or delay, or doubling, or even GR as a part of their inherent sound, and when you also start adding similar effects and processing yourself during the mix, it's very easy to over-process these samples.

    IMHO of course.

  3. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Hey Donny, thank you for taking the time to comment. Between the time I had posted this and the time in which you replied, I had already made another mix and I think I did indeed address some of what you had mentioned, especially in regards to adding some air to the choir. That has been a real challenge to find the sweet spot.

    I do indeed actually write every part and think it through as best I know how to. I am not a classically trained composer or orchestrator but I have been working diligently within the school of hard knocks for a decade and a half now.

    There is a very very light (1-2 db) of master bus compression with the IKM White compressor and I also did a little bit of fader automation to bring it down toward the end. I am all about wonderfully dynamic music but I also fear people not hearing the beginning and being blown out of their seats by the end. Just thinking practically for the theater, perhaps over thinking or over compensating but thank for pointing it out.

    I ended up just low high-passing the horns a little for separation and clarity.

    I like Howard Shores stuff but I was trying to be a little more, oh....trailer-ish as far as hyping the highs and lows and such. Hopefully I left enough in the middle and lower middle to not sound like it has a hole in the mix.

    I'll replace the link to the latest mix. Thank you again for taking the time to really go through it. It is greatly appreciated!
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Nice to hear you're back, Eric. And especially to hear your front. And all around.

    Well... it was fabulous! An expert job of writing, arranging and the proper use of quality instrumental samples. Done in the true grandiose Hollywood style magnificence one expects to experience in an action drama film. In fact... it ended too quickly and missed the last great crescendo, dripping with a bodacious choir. So repeat the last couple of measures and add in the big bombastic choral group... And you'll be there man.

    That cymbal burst, was too linear in the burst. It needs to be more logarithmic as it builds too quickly. Then it'll sound just fine and not sample phony.

    I need to talk to you. 202-239-7412 and leave me your number and best time to return the call, please.
  5. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Hey thanks Remy! Man, I know too many great composers and I will always feel like I am 2 steps behind but I really appreciate the positive feedback. I do feel like I am slowly but surely getting the hang of some stuff :) Left you a message, thanks for reaching out :)

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