Just looking for your guys’s thoughts on something. I know there are a lot of different opinions on loudness, mastering, etc, but I find myself questioning my own workflow sometimes.
First of all, I actually went to school for recording and sound reinforcement, and currently work full time in the industry. I’ve had this job/position for almost 9 years. My time is equally split between commercial installations, live sound and video production, and post production. In college, I was actually Pro Tools Certified (v5.5 - 6) but like many of you, found that I REALLY like Cubase much more than the so called “industry standard”.
We do a few live event recordings where we do a 3-4 camera video shoot all ISO’d and multitrack record the performances using a Soundcraft Vi4 → Cubase with an RME HDSPe MADI card. It’s a dream come true to have 64 ins/outs all show up with ONE fiber cable.
The nature of one of these performances is a bunch of sketches mixed with parody covers of pop songs. It’s essentially a musical of all original and parodied material. I fill up about 50 tracks… half wireless mics and half band inputs. The video is edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. I handle the audio in Cubase (currently 6.5).
My workflow is that I cut out each of the music numbers each to their own project so I can mix them all independently. Songs are often different styles of music so they get mixed in different ways. It keeps me from being lazy and using the same settings for every song. It also prevents me from having to automate everything. I bounce these masters (with mastering processing) back to the “Master Session” using “insert at origin” and everything is perfectly in time. I mix and master these like I would for CD. They’re normalized/limited to 0.2 dB, but not squashed so much it sounds like radio.
For the dialog, I go through the tedious process of cutting out all audio where someone isn’t speaking. Breathing, mic bleed, noise… it makes a difference. I master all of this so speech levels are approximately the same loudness throughout the 2-hour show. These get routed through a mastering group, where those song masters do not. Then I have to blend them together so the volume levels between dialog and songs sounds natural.
My question to you all is… how do you manage loudness? I have Waves plug-ins and do use PAZ and WLM, but those never result in readings as accurate as my ear. I think the differences between dialog and music is so great that if I followed WLM, I would be turning up and down the volume constantly if watching the Blu-ray or DVD.
My to do list is to extract the audio from some musical Blu-rays just to see how those studio mastered discs come out in comparison. Obviously, those aren’t recorded live so there is likely going to be major differences.
I should also point out that I usually handle the audio side of this project ins about or less than a full week, where I know this is the type of project I could EASILY spend more than a month on. In short, I aim for good results, but need them quickly.
I’m open to thoughts/suggestions/comments on the topic!