About your sound mix…
It’s not enough that your independent film looks like a real movie—it has to sound like one, too. That’s why the sound mix is so important.
If your sound mix is lacking, your audience will find it difficult to engage with and connect with your film.
Your sound mix is just as important as the visuals in your film—maybe more important. If you don’t believe me, watch a movie you’re unfamiliar with and mute the audio. Can you follow the story?
Now try listening to a film with your eyes closed. I’ll bet you’ll have no trouble following the story.
You can’t start thinking about the sound mix at the end of the project. During pre-production, be sure you take the time to plan and budget the sound mix for your film.
You’ll do the sound mix for your film during post-production. In the sound mix process, you combine the dialog (including ADR), ambiance (what the location “sounds like”), music, and sound effects to create the audio soundtrack for your film.
Can you do the sound mix yourself?
You might be able to do it yourself or you can hire a professional. It depends on your technical abilities and the budget.
If you are going to use a sound mixing facility, get in touch with them as early as possible, before you begin filming, to find out what they are going to need from you to do a proper mix. For example, you need to record “room tone” for every location in your film so it can be used during the mix.
Ask the sound mixing facility what you can do to make the process go as smoothly and quickly as possible.
The more prepared you are, the faster the mixing process will go. This will make it less stressful for everyone and less expensive.
Professional sound mixing services can be expensive. I would ask if they can work with you on pricing. Some facilities offer more affordable options for low-budget independent projects. Don’t be afraid to ask.
If you are going to do the mix, learn as much as you can about sound mixing for film. Lynda.com has sound mixing courses using Logic Pro, Pro Tools, or Audition. I recommend taking those courses even if you’re mixing with Audacity, GarageBand, or some other tool.
There are other film sound mixing courses available online. Find them using your favorite search engine.
You can also find some good instructional videos for free on YouTube. If you have the time and interest, you can learn how to mix your film yourself without spending much (or any) money.
If you have a great sound mix for your indie film, your project will have an edge over most of the other indie projects in the market. Your film will sound like a “real” movie.
Bonus: What is verisimilitude and why do I care?
Verisimilitude is the “lifelikeness” or believability of a work of fiction. (from Wikipedia)
Adding little audio details to your mix can make your scenes seem more realistic. For example, a director friend of mine often adds a few seconds of the sound of dogs barking (from off in the distance) for interior scenes she shoots in suburban homes.
When people watch an interior scene and hear those dogs barking in the background, they are pulled right into that scene. The sound triggers memories of all the times they’ve been inside a house and heard dogs barking outside.
Small audio details like this, carefully added to the mix, can really help sell those scenes and make them more believable.
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