Community member Tiny du Preez sent in a question to the podcast that I felt was better suited to be an article. In his question about audio post production workflows he also has something to say about the issue of which DAW is best, having been a Nuendo user for many years. Over to you Tiny....
I have been using Pro Tools now for the last year, after migrating from Nuendo 7.5. I had been using Nuendo since its inception largely because the studio I was working for back then just did not have the budget to invest in Pro Tools at that point. Later on, when they did have the budget, I was so accustomed to Nuendo, that I kinda stuck with it. When I became independent, I also did not have the budget to get a proper setup, so I carried on using what I had, until I made a call last year, that it would be in the best interest of my small business, if I made the switch to Pro Tools.
In our community of audio friends here in South Africa, there is a constant debate over which DAW is the best between the two. I stand firm in saying that it really isn't about the tools, but rather the operator. An experienced post engineer should be able to pull off a mix, no matter what you give them to work on...
I am really keen on seeing more audio post for television and film material, but there just doesn't seem to be any discussion forums or groups or websites on this topic. (probably because I am not looking in the right places). Is there anyone out there that can steer me in the right direction? I would also like to chat to someone about setting up a template for a basic tv with M&E busses. I just can't seem to get my head around that one. Yes...M&E has literally only now become a deliverable at our national broadcaster. So I am trying to figure out how to set up a template that is easy for the junior guys to work with.
A Start To Some Answers
Thanks Tiny for this and we can certainly help with some of your questions. Back in April 2014 we asked the question 'To Dip Or Not To Dip? That Is The Question - Audio Post Workflow Tips' which came out of the perennial debate in post production workflows about when and where you should dip your stems, especially the Music and Effects (M&E) track sometimes called a DME in drama production, which is an essential component for international re-versioning of programmes.
In this free video tutorial, Mike Thornton talked to Mike Aiton who explains and demonstrates why he works the way he does. Why and where to dip the various stems and how the workflow and requirements have changed with file based delivery of the finished mixes. Mike also walks us through his preferred session template format and gives us an insight into how he works as an independent audio dubbing editor and mixer.
An M& E track is short for Music and Effects. It is usually everything except the voiceover or commentary in documentaries. In Drama post production it can be it is called a DM&E and s everything except the on screen voices. This is because in drama all dialog needs to be removed. But has the side effect that it takes away a lot of sound effects. These then need to be re-recorded by Foley artists. You end up with a Fully Filled DME–For TV productions.
Back to documentaries, it is everything in the production except the VO and M&E tracks are important because international sales generate more revenue for the production, or if you are in a territory that is multilingual then you need to be able to easily produce different versions for different languages.
The mistake people often make is to mix the primary language version. Mike Aiton's advice is to mix the M&E first. If English is the primary language when doing foreign language re-versioning you can run into the problem that UK English is one of the most succinct languages. Because international re-versioning has to be done on a budget, for Mike Aiton, how and where you dip is key. He strongly advocated that you don’t dip the music or FXs where the VO will go on the tracks themselves as this will mean when you do the M&E version without the VO everything dips for the English version, and because other languages often take longer to say the same thing, you have to put in fades to chase the dips burnt into the M&E mix and that takes longer. If you set up your session so that you do the dips on a dedicated M&E track which is actually in the primary language session and not in the M&E session then re-versioning is much quicker and easier to do which saves time and therefore money.
So Mike's advice is to produce the International version first, to dip under sync sound, but not dip under Voiceover. Then do your primary language version from that. That workflow makes it easy to do the international re-versioning
Thanks to Paul Maunder for arranging a session to demonstrate with and producer Rob Hallam from Big Tank Productions for allowing us to use one of his episodes from a series called Truckworld TV to use in this video. Thanks to Mike Aiton for taking the time to prepare and make this video with us and to Gwen for providing us with a French voiceover to demonstrate the issues with foreign language re-versioning.
We did a series on the audio post production workflow over 12 parts with guest experts explaining each step of the workflow.