Audio post-production refers to the creation of a soundtrack for moving images. Even before films could even have sound, they were accompanied by live music. These days audio post-production has expanded to include TV and video games.
Audio post-production involves several different techniques; a project may require all or only some of these techniques. They include production dialogue editing, mixing, automated dialogue replacement, music composition, and editing, sound effects design and editing, and Foley mixing and editing.
What Does That All Mean?
Production Dialogue Editing: Dialogue editors prepare audio for mixing. They also find the correct takes for the audio, synch the audio with the visuals, and remove extraneous noise from the dialogue.
Mixing: Also referred to as dubbing, mixers oversee balancing all the various elements of the audio for the final mix. This is primarily done by the dialogue mixer, but depending on the size of the production, they may be assisted by a team.
Automated Dialogue Replacement: Also known as ADR, it involves adding voice-over narration, replacing unusable audio, or adding additional audio to a film. This audio is recorded in a studio while the actor watches the edited video. This audio is then synced to the film.
Music Composition: Music in film generally falls into two categories: Score and source. Score is background music created by a composer. While source music is music that is physically played in the universe of a film. Like when the characters are listening to music from a speaker.
Music Editing: Music editors help composers with preparing a film’s dramatic underscore. They make sure the music is in time with the visuals and create the final synchronization.
Sound Effects Design & Editing: Sound designers and editors create all the non-musical noises that are used in film. They also make sure that the sound effects are properly lined up with the visuals.
Foley Mixing & Editing: Foley refers to the creation of sound effects with physical objects in a recording studio. Foley artists also make sure the sound effects are synched to the final movie.
What do Sound Mixers do?
A production’s mix team oversees the recording of live dialogue while the camera team records video. A mix team will usually consist of a boom mic operator, a cable handler, and a digital recorder operator
Shooting on Location
After dialogue has been recorded on location, the mix team will synch the day’s recorded video and audio. Making sure the footage is properly digitized and helping prioritize an editing list.
After Shooting is Done
Most of the audio post-production is completed after the film has been shot. All the footage gets synched with audio and is narrowed down into an editor’s cut, from which the final cut will be formed.
The Locked Cut
The locked cut refers to the finished final cut of a film. Most post-production is done after the locked cut is created. Once the film is locked, sound effects and music can be added. The audio team will meet and watch the film to see where the music needs to go. They will also check for scenes that need ADR, where sound effects are needed, where Foley will be needed, and what sound design will be needed. This process is referred to as “Spotting”
What Happens After Spotting?
After spotting, the sound editors will create all the needed sound effects. They will then synch the effects with the film. The sound team will frequently check in with the director to make sure their vision is being realized.
Once the dialogue, music, and sound effects are completed, the sound team will edit all of it together. As well as making sure all the sounds are at the appropriate levels.
Once the mix has been completed and approved, there’s one more step to go, Printmastering. This combines all the aspects of sound into a final soundtrack. An optical or digital soundtrack can be created for release. This is also when the M&E (music and effects) track is created. This track has all the film’s sound, but without any English dialogue, so that the film can be dubbed in other languages. Television productions generally don’t undergo Printmastering.
Optical soundtracks are usually used as a backup for the digital soundtrack. An optical soundtrack is carried on the optical track of a film’s print.