Audio/Music Production for Visual Media
Authored by John Whynot
Course Code: OMPRD-694
Level 6 (Proof of a Bachelor's Degree Required)
Are you prepared to enroll in this graduate course?Take the self-assessment quiz to check your readiness for this material.
This course is an in-depth exploration of the tools, techniques, workflows, and creative considerations in producing audio for film, television, and related media. You will explore the history of film as a medium, through the development of technology for synchronizing audio to moving picture, to modern-day practices in audio post-production. You will also explore the process and technique of creating sound for picture. You will gather, craft, edit, and mix sound effects, backgrounds, and Foley that would be applied to visual media. You will prepare for and explore techniques for managing a large ensemble recording session for recording score. You will learn the process of submitting audio stems to the final mix, and learn the final mix itself.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Create sound for picture, applying audio post-production skills
- Gather, craft, edit, and mix sound effects, backgrounds, and Foley
- Prepare for and explore techniques for managing a large ensemble recording session for recording score
- Prepare a film mix “pre-dub,” submit audio stems to the final mix, and complete the final mix itself
- Create a film clip with your own custom-created soundtrack, using the techniques presented throughout the course
Lesson 1: Storytelling with Sound: The Anatomy of a Soundtrack
- See a Dog, Hear a Dog?
- Why Sound?
- Terminology in Filmmaking
- Workshop: Terminology in Filmmaking
- The Development of Sound in Cinema—A Brief History
- Assignment 1: Spotting “Once Upon a Time in the West”
Lesson 2: Actors Talking! Introduction to the Technology
- The Specific Problem of Location Sound
- Camera, Actors, Sound: The Location Audio Team in Detail
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: Microphones
- Equipment on the Film Shoot—Special Case: The Boom Microphone
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: The Nagra
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: Multitrack Recorders
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: Timecode
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: The Clapper
- Equipment on the Film Shoot: Carts and Bags
- Sounds Other Than Dialogue
- Outside Noises
- Actions by the Actors
- Assignment 2: ADR Spotting Notes for “You Got Nothin’: Café Scene”
Lesson 3: In-Depth Location Audio and the Dialogue Edit
- Picture and Sound Are Completed Separately
- Workflow for Film: Division of Labor after the Shoot
- About Telecine
- The Sony U-Matic Video Machine
- Workflow for Digital Cinema: Quite a Bit Simpler
- Digital Video Files Are Huge
- Other Media: Sound Created Entirely in “Post”
- About Synchronization
- Sync in Audio Post
- SMPTE Timecode
- Analog Synchronizers
- SMPTE Code and Pro Tools
- Typical Challenges Faced by Dialogue Editors
- iZotope RX: The Magic Bullet
- Assignment 3: Cleaning Up Audio Clips
Lesson 4: Environments & Backgrounds: Creating the Static “Reality”
- Where Are We, and What Does Where We Are Sound Like?
- Whose Experience Is This, Anyway?
- The Problem(s) of Non-Dialogue Location Sound
- Some Sounds Don’t Belong!
- Finding, Designing, and Editing Environmental Sounds
- Assignment 4: Spotting Document for Backgrounds/Recordings of Environmental Sounds
Lesson 5: Performing Reality: A Look at Foley
- Foley: A Definition for Us
- The Sounds Made by Characters’ Bodies
- Bringing Human Action to Life
- Feet, Props, Movements: Subdividing the Work and Managing the Tasks
- Audio Puns
- We Can Edit Sound Effects from Libraries. Why Perform Them?
- The “Music and Effects” (M&E) Mix
- Laying Out Your Pro Tools Session to Prepare for Foley Recording
- Assignment 5: Creating Sounds with Foley Techniques
Lesson 6: Finding Reality: Sound Libraries, Collections, and the Outside World
- Editorial Artistry: Pro Tools Wizardry
- Takes on Pro Tools Mastery
- Happy Hunting Grounds: Sound Effects Libraries, Haystacks, and Needles
- Putting an Effect Together
- Perspective Cuts
- Library Management
- Some Examples of How Sounds Might Be Worked Up
- Assignment 6: Sound Effects for a Car
Lesson 7: Warping, Mangling, Massaging, and Preparing Sound Effects
- Out of Nowhere: Sound Effects from Synths
- Warping and Mangling: Overview
- Creating a Style through Effects
- Movement in Space: Doppler Effects
- Focus on Distortion Effects
- The Problem with Level-Maximizing
- A Little Crazier
- Into the World (The Cinema World, That Is)
- Building the Session and Delivering to the Mix
- Assignment 7: Distorting Your Layers and Using Your Body to Create Sound
Lesson 8: Music? Why Is There Music?
- Do the Characters Hear It? Score, Source, and “Scource”
- The Role of Music in Film
- Score: Working or Not Working?
- Tipping the Gag
- Other Functions of Music in Film
- The Composer’s Process
- The Music Team
- Developing and Producing the Music
- Preparing and Conducting a Scoring Session
- About Click Tracks
- Assignment 8: Listening to Score
Lesson 9: How to Mix Film Music in One Easy Step
- The Totally Non-Intimidating Craft of Recording Orchestras
- Preparation Steps
- Prepping Click Tracks
- Reference Audio Other Than the Mockup
- Getting to the Scoring Stage
- Prepping the Stage
- The Main Event
- Monitoring in the Booth and on the Stage
- What Are “Stems” in Film Music?
- Stemming It Out
- How Will the Music Play with the Other Audio?
- Wide and Deep: 5.1 and Beyond in Score Mixing
- Assignment 9: Mixing in Stems
Lesson 10: Data Coming and Going: The Flow of Information
- Keeping the Story Straight: The Most Important Metadata
- Location Data Capture
- Whoa, Whoa, Whoa; Back Up a Minute!
- Data Protection from Theft
- What Is a Predub? Perspectives on Interim Deadlines
- Making Commitments: How Many Options to Deliver
- Advanced Tools for Conforming to Picture Changes
- Some of the Automated Conforming Tools in Action
- Special Case: Preparing Music for the Dub
- Assignment 10: Conforming to Picture Changes
Lesson 11: Toward and Beyond the Final Dub
- Deliverables: What Do They Want?
- Dolby Atmos: An Overview
- The Dub (a.k.a., the Main Event)
- The Predubs Are Done; Now on to the Final Mix
- A Modern Dubbing Workflow
- Synchronization and Satellite Link
- Who Is in the Room?
- The Scalable Mix: Facilities of All Sizes
- Smaller Stages
- After the Dub: Print Mastering and Multiple Formats
- Assignment 11: Creating a Dub Mix
Lesson 12: Beyond Technique and into Art—Beyond Art and into Business
- Where Is All This Work Going?
- How Does It All Translate?
- Paths and Destinations in Audio Postproduction
- The State of the Business
Proof of a Bachelor's Degree
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Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
- Completion of Creative Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for Music and Visual, Sound Design for the Electronic Musician, Critical Analysis of Music Production Techniques, Music Production: Maximizing Emotion through Performance, Arrangement, and Sound, and Advanced Mixing Techniques or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.
- Take the Audio/Music Production for Visual Media self-assessment to determine your level.
- Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures: A Guide to the Invisible Art, (2nd Edition) by John Purcell (Routledge, 2013)
- Pro Tools 12.7.1 or higher (Intro or Artist editions not sufficient)
- iZotope RX 7 Elements or higher
- Audio interface
- XLR microphone and cable
- One of the following studio monitoring options (both recommended):
- Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as necessary cables
- Over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR-7506, Philips SHP9500, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, etc.
- One of the following portable recording options:
- Portable field recorder (recommended option)
- Smartphone with a microphone attachment
- iLok USB required to use Pro Tools offline. iLok Cloud (free) may be used instead, but requires a continuous internet connection while using Pro Tools.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Author & Instructor
Grammy-winner John Whynot's first major feature-film score mixing credit was The Last of the Mohicans, which won the 1993 Academy Award for sound. He has since mixed and programmed dozens of feature film scores, including Austin Powers I and II, Ronin, Stigmata, and The Breadwinner.
A composer and songwriter, his original compositions have appeared in feature films, television movies, national advertising and video games. He has extensive experience in all musical idioms and styles.
His Grammy- and Juno-award-winning career as a producer/engineer includes projects with Dave Matthews, Lucinda Williams, Blue Rodeo, Kathleen Edwards, Loreena McKennitt and Colin James
A multi-instrumentalist, he has appeared on stage or television with Bruce Cockburn, The Band, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Doug Sahm, Amos Garrett, Kathleen Edwards, Carole Pope, Corey Hart, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
In his hometown of Toronto, where he was constantly seen on stage playing in literally dozens of bands (guitar, keyboards, saxophones), John frequently found himself in the producer’s chair in the studio. He was driven by a fascination with recording and an increasingly obvious talent for working the boards.
His move to Los Angeles in 1989 spurred a shift into film scoring. Within a short time he was brought into a project with composer Trevor Jones, who immediately hired him to program synths and mix the score to The Last of the Mohicans. Being a mixer who can read scores and relate to musicians as a musician has kept him working in film music ever since. He has also mixed and/or programmed scores for George S. Clinton, Elia Cmiral, Andrew Gross, Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna, John Debney and others.
In 2014, John accepted an offer to become an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in its vaunted Music Production and Engineering Department. He is now dividing his time between teaching and mixing in Boston and producing and mixing in Los Angeles.
Recently, John has been mixing album projects for B3-Berlin, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, JW JONES, mixing the scores to the Amazon series The Last Tycoon and the Netflix mini-series Alias Grace and the feature films The Breadwinner and The Man Who Invented Christmas for Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna. He is also creating a new Minor in Audio Post Production at Berklee College of Music. Read Less
When taken for credit, Audio/Music Production for Visual Media can be applied towards these associated programs: