January 16, 2020
So you've recorded and edited. Now it's time to mix the elements together.
You've got all of the elements. The field recordings. The narration. The natural sound. The music.
You also were careful to record room tone.
The room or rooms where you were recording. What do they sound like when no one is talking?
Whether it's a fan or some electric buzz or some other sound you don't notice - you need to capture it.
Somewhere in your mix you're going to have to insert a pause.
The listener needs a break.
You've just made a big point that you want to have sit there for a moment so you have to put in something. Maybe it's music. But the cut to music can't go from that room to nothing or it will be abrupt. The music has to run over the room tone for a moment so that the transition isn't jarring.
We sometimes forget the importance of nothing.
In mathematics, the invention of 0 was huge.
In written language, the space between words was an amazing device that allowed more people to understand documents.
So much harder.
There's a pause in the music and you look up.
When I was first learning to edit, I would edit out the noisy breathing of some of the commercials I was cutting.
And then you learn that maybe it sounds a little better, but the listener holds their breath while they listen.
Clients would give us add copy where we'd have to read at breakneck speed to get all the words into a 30 second spot.
We'd advise them to cut the number of words in half and then their message would be heard.
Some would. Some wouldn't.
You hear it in the mix.
You look down at your calendar and see all that you have to accomplish today.
Oops. You've written down the meetings but not allowed for the time it takes to get from one meeting to another.
Even so. Suppose you have. What if you had fewer meetings in a day. Think of how much more you could get done.
So my third word is Mix but it's really to remind me to add the slack back into my day.
It's not like I won't take that time anyway. It's not like my mind won't wander and I won't waste time.
Build that time in.
That room tone where I close my eyes and just rest.
The pause that helps me hear the music.
The whole story can't be a high speed chase. If our story is to mean something, at some point we have to get somewhere.
We need the 0s, the spaces between words, the gaps in our calendar, the rests in our music.
We need the room tone.
When we add it in, what we record and edit shines.
We smile and play it back again.
We mix it down to disk.
And then we start again.