Movie scores and 5.1 audio

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JosephMoore, Feb 17, 2003.

  1. JosephMoore

    JosephMoore Stunt Coordinator

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    I've always felt that movie scores should be spread more or less equally across all of the available channels. In my mind, the music is not directional ... it's not coming from anywhere on screen, it's a dissembodied background of sound. It seems that the norm, though, is to mix the score across the front very much like a traditional stereo recording. So, two questions:

    1) What are some examples of movies in which the score makes significant use of all of the channels?

    2) Does anyone else agree with me on this, or am I smokin' crack?
     
  2. jonathan_little

    jonathan_little Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't noticed many modern movies with the score mixed to "stereo," but here are some 5.1 score mixes I've noticed for one reason or another:
    • Anything mixed by Dennis Sands - I think this guy is the best scoring mixer in the business. He mostly records Alan Silvestri's scores, but he's recorded for other composers as well. The Mummy Returns and Independence Day are two of his recordings I highly enjoy.
    • Many scores mixed by Bruce Botnick - Air Force One is a score that sounds great in 5.1 on DVD.
    • Shawn Murhpy's Men in Black - The main title sequence sounds really great. Check out the french horns in the rear left channel.

    Well, that's a short list of some of the better 5.1 score mixes that immediately come to mind.
     
  3. ToddJ

    ToddJ Second Unit

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    I think that the instruments should be heard in each channel separately, for the most part....otherwise, what is the point.....the Metallica S&M dvd set is an often overlooked example ...(even though it isn't a musical score from a movie)
     
  4. jonathan_little

    jonathan_little Stunt Coordinator

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    An orchestra with 100 members is going to sound better (in my opinion) with the orchestra appearing to be coming from the front with some reverb in the rears capturing the room it was recorded in. Extra-wide imaging by throwing all of a specific section of the orchestra into a single channel with a 'dry' close-miked sound is going to sound unnatural and distracting. I have a CD of Miklos Rozsa's old El Cid re-recording (1963) that has such a weird gimmicky sound because of its very wide stereo imaging. It sounds so fake when compared to recordings that didn't try to be so extreme in their channel separation.

    It would be interesting, though, to have a five channel disc "introduction to the orchestra" that demoed different parts of the orchestra in their own channels. For instance, there could be a "brass" section on the disc that placed the tuba in the left rear, trombones in the right rear, french horns in the left front, and trumpets in the right front. The rest of the orchestra could come from the center channel, making it easy to identify the sounds of the different brass instruments. Then there could be similar demos for the strings, woodwinds, percussion, and other instruments. Does anybody think there is a market for that? [​IMG]
     
  5. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    There is nothing especially "natural" about stereo, at least not stereo with any degree of separation. When you are at a concert (rock or classical or anything else), you are basically hearing wide stereo only if the miking and speaker systems are designed to allow for that...otherwise, if you were listening to these performances unmiked and in a room with perfect accoustics, you would perceive mono, or at most very narrow stereo, unless you were sitting in the musicians' laps. The whole concept of hearing two or more completely discreet channels of music through headphones or speakers is quite artificial. How many of us actually sit in the middle of an orchestra or band during a performance? Personally, I'm a big stereo nut and usually enjoy wide separations, but I do so knowing it is not an accurate representation of a performance as heard from the perspective of someone listening in an public venue.
     
  6. Ryan Wong

    Ryan Wong Stunt Coordinator

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    Hei JosephMoore, I have some good examples here for you:

    - Robbie William Live at Albert Hall. All the instruments are spread over different channels, like you are sitting in the middle of the orchestra.

    - Fantasia 2000 and E.T. -- very good showcase for "wide stereo", like you are in the middle of a hall watching the concert.

    - Moulin Rouge! and The World is Not Enough and so on... -- Musics are mixed in 5.1 channels, sometimes the sound will coming out from the real channels. (especially moulin rouge!)
     
  7. JeremyFr

    JeremyFr Supporting Actor

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    My big fat greek wedding actually made good use of the rears for the scoring of the music, about the only thing in the movie that used the rears though[​IMG] hehe.
     
  8. BruceLongee

    BruceLongee Agent

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  9. jonathan_little

    jonathan_little Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm listening to the Dolby Digital 5.1 English track (track 2) from the widescreen transfer on the "Deluxe Edition" released in 2002. Probably all of the Dolby Digital versions, and I think there are at least three of them, have the same audio track.

    I've gone back and listened again to this piece again (and again) and I still think there is a good presence in the left rear, but I guess it's mostly reverb from the louder brass notes. There does seems to be more presence in the rear than I've noticed on other recordings.
     
  10. BruceLongee

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    Cool - I'll have to give it another listen.

    I also find that Mission:Impossible 2 has a fantastic sounding score - you really feel immersed in the sound.
     
  11. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Jumanji is a great example of a quality 5.1 score mix. A lot of the percussion like drums and other "jungle" rhythms are placed in stereo in the surround channels. Pretty neat and atmospheric.

    I've noticed with quite a few orchestral score recordings that they just duplicate the same stereo recording as the front in the rear at a lesser volume. Maybe it's a bit different because the orchestra was recorded in 3-channel and the rears are a blended 2 channel version. What I call fake 5.1 music

    I love scores where they mix the choral parts with the choir wrapped around you. It seems to pull you into the moment more.


    Dan
     

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