Sound Mixing Tutorial
Posted by: San Francisco Film Society
Sound editing and mixing are integral to creating a believable and immersive film experience. High level audio mixing in post-production can lend a sense of polish to an amateur film. Audio post-production often involves:
Dialogue editing: Fine-tuning lines spoken by actors in case of speech defects
Automated dialogue replacement (ADR, looping, dubbing): Re-recording dialogue in case of unsalvageable audio recording (e.g., onstruction work in a key recording moment)
Voiceover recording: Recording narration to best capture the speaker’s voice and tone
Sound design: Enhancing original audio with sound effects and filters
Foley recording and editing: The process of recording and editing custom sound effects that are highly synchronized to image
Music editing: Editing or synchronizing a soundtrack (prerecorded tracks or custom composed music) to events in the film
Mixing: Finely adjusting the levels, stereo/surround panning, equalization, and dynamics of all the tracks in a program to focus attention on important audio cues and dialogue and to make the other sound effects, ambience, and music tracks blend together seamlessly
It’s possible to do your audio editing within your video editor software, but you’ll have more flexibility if you export your soundtrack and edit it in a program specifically designed for editing audio. Once you are finished editing your video, export the sound as a .wav file, and open it your audio program (for more information, consult our Audio File Formats Tutorial). When you are finished editing, you can import it back into your video timeline. Remember to lock the picture on your film before exporting your soundtrack and not to make any time-based changes to your audio file. If you change the timing, your video and audio pieces will no longer match.
While professional-level programs like Pro Tools are available for purchase, freeware programs like Audacity are more practical and economical for classroom film projects. If you teach your students to edit a movie soundtrack in Audacity, you might find out a month later that they’ve just recorded and mixed their first album. It’s that good, and that simple.