Mixing the Film Score
Authored by John Whynot
Course Code: OCOMP-588
This course takes your mixing skills to the next level and includes a thorough exploration of stereo, surround, and immersive mixing, and delivery-to-client specifications. We will explore advanced reverb applications, as well as techniques to mix different sample libraries with live recordings. You will do extensive listening to prepare your aural analysis skills prior to implementing these techniques in your own mixes. We will also address when, why, and how to engage a professional mix engineer. You will learn how to “mix to the dub” and develop sensitivity to the ultimate needs of the final film mix.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Create stem mixes (submixes)
- Efficiently design and customize DAW templates for stem creation
- Listen critically to film music mixes
- Use reverb, delay, and other processing effectively for various mixing situations
- Effectively mix multiple different sample libraries with live recordings
- Deliver to specs, including 5.1 and other surround delivery formats
- Mix so that the music contributes optimally to the final film mix experience
Lesson 1: Mixing: A Brief History and “The Art”
- The “Art” (or the Craft) We Call “Mixing”
- A Brief History of The Mix
- Course Goals
- Assignment 1: Cue Mix Analysis
Lesson 2: How to Mix: Sonic Metaphors
- Metaphor 1: Divide the Pie
- Metaphor 2: Troubleshooting the Crowded Mixspace
- Metaphor 3: Visualizing in the Spectrum
- Metaphor 4: The Flying “V” (Hierarchical Mixing)
- Assignment 2: Applied Metaphors and Mix Analysis
Lesson 3: EQ: A Surgical Pie-Knife
- Surgery for the Simple
- Wielding the Scalpel in the Midrange
- Another Method of Finding the Suck: Pushing Your Track Off the Cliff
- Assignment 3: Focus on EQ
Lesson 4: You Are Hear: The Effect of Your Workspace On Your Mix
- Your Writing Room: The Most Influential Piece of Mix Equipment You Have
- Your Speakers: You Want Love From Them!
- Headphones: Your Own Little World
- How Do We Know What We’re Hearing?
- Assignment 4: Listening Analysis
Lesson 5: EQ: Both A Scalpel And A Paintbrush. Reverb: Size and Space and/or a Timbral Effect
- EQ-ing in Color
- EQ is Tone, EQ is Volume
- EQ Characteristics
- Reverb, Delay, and Other Racket We Like
- Assignment 5: EQ and Reverb
Lesson 6: The Orchestra: Live or Sampled?
- Laying out Orchestral Instruments in the Stereo Field
- The Real Orchestra: Wow! That’s a Lot of Microphones!
- Combining Your World with Orchestral World
- Reverb Redux
- Assignment 6: Listening Analysis
Lesson 7: Time For Some Technical Talk: Headroom, Levels, Metering, and Signal Flow
- The New World of Level-Setting
- Metering, Gain Staging, Master Faders, and Loudness
- Stem Mixing and Overall Level
- Assignment 7: Master Level Control
Lesson 8: Power and Energy: Compression, Limiting, and Bottom End
- Compression as an Expressive Tool
- The Limiter: Make Your Mockup Louder
- Low-Frequency Impact: EQ and Enhancement Way Down Low
- Saturation and Other Evidence of Loud Things Happening
- Assignment 8: Limiting
Lesson 9: Mockups Redux
- About Writing Levels Versus Mixing Levels
- The Sound of Mockups is Doubly Important
- DAW-Native Tools for Toughening Up Your Mockup Mix
- Assignment 9: Mockup Mastering and Analysis
Lesson 10: Mixing to Stems
- Stems Play Multiple Roles
- Keeping Your Stem Mixes Sanitary
- Consistency versus Flexibility: And a Word about Outboard
- Assignment 10: Stems
Lesson 11: More Mechanical Stem Talk Combined With Format Talk
- Delivering to A Score Mixer
- Delivering to Your Music Editor
- Direct to the Dub
- Checking, Confirming, QC and the Offline Bounce
- Assignment 11: Deliverables
Lesson 12: Upgrade Paths: Ways to Spend Money and Improve Your Mixes
- Surround Monitoring
- Investing in Monitors
- The Hardest Nut To Crack: The Geometry of Your Writing Room
- Forward From Here
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Completion of OCOMP-507: Orchestral Mockups in Film Scoring or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.
Graduate level skill and understanding of film scoring is required. Students should be able to demonstrate advanced facility in their DAW of choice (Pro Tools, Cubase Pro, Logic Pro, or Digital Performer). If not using Pro Tools as your primary DAW, a working knowledge of Pro Tools is also essential.
- Avid Pro Tools 2018.12 or higher is a hard requirement for this course (Pro Tools | Ultimate is recommended).
- One of the following DAWs is recommended in addition to Pro Tools:
- Steinberg Cubase Pro
- Apple Logic Pro
- MOTU Digital Performer
- This course requires studio monitors. In addition, studio headphones are highly recommended.
After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
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 (available in the course when joining your first chat)
- 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