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rerecording mix, they' d laugh."
At the mix all the tracks--singly called elements--are adjusted in volume and tonal quality relative to each other and the image. (At some mixes the music editor and effects editors may be sitting at the "pots" controlling their subsets of tracks.) During the mix the director and/or picture editor will decide with the mixer which sounds should be emphasized. A composer can find that a particularly inspired fugue has been dropped in one scene in favor of sound effects or dialog. However much effort the composer and effects editors may have put into their creations, their efforts are sub-sentient to the ultimate dramatic impact of the overall sound plus picture. Asked what makes a good mixer, Bochar says, "The best mixers, like Richard Portman, Lee Dichter, and Tom Fleischman have the ability to leave their egos at the door. No one has to lay claim on the track. Mixing becomes an experience, as opposed to a job and drudgery. When those moments hit, it just Soars."
The top mixers are orchestrators who create a sonic texture. You can' t have wall-to-wall noise, says Rydstrom; like music, the sound effects have pitch, rhythm, and pace which must be varied to create interest and may be manipulated to raise and lower dramatic tensions.
The mixer also has to equalize, blend, and balance the tracks for the seamless, invisible style that characterizes Hollywood style cutting. Thus, at a minimum, the mixer must match sounds created by dozens of technicians in different times and places. The engine roar of a 1954 Chevy may include sound obtained from a stock library, recorded on the set, and augmented with new recordings during postproduction. It may have been "sweetened" with synthesized sound. But it has to sound like one car.
Mixers have a number of tools. Equalizers and filters, for example, can boost or decrease the intensity of low, middle, or high frequencies in order to make dialog or sound effects match those that came from microphones and sources with different characteristics. Filters are also used to eliminate unwanted steady frequencies, such as the buzz of an air conditioner. In dealing with image size, the mixer adjusts perspective (determined mainly by the ratio of direct to indirect or reflected sound), which can be manipulated through the addition of artificial reverberation.
Great rerecording mixers are artists as much as technicians. The mixers' console is their palette: they have an infinite number of choices for blending. Their tools can be used in expressive ways. For example, an annoying voice can be adjusted to sound more screechy, or the roar of an approaching truck can be made more ominous. At the mix some of the many sound effects are heightened and others are lowered or eliminated. Sounds can be
6/24/04 7:55 PM