Sound Gun Ep#4: SOUND MIXING - Official Discussion


For the final installment of the Sound Gun series, @Kevin_Senzaki talks about what goes into creating a decent final mix.

And lucky for you, for EXTRA CREDIT you can try your hand at mixing the final scene of the Sound Gun! Play around with the different levels and see how it can change your perception of the scene. Download the video and the separate audio files here, and share your own mix below!


Sound Designing the Unseen Character - OFFICIAL DISCUSSION

The audio files I’ve made for you guys are called “stems” - they’re mix-downs of multiple tracks, condensed into a lower number of files, so you’ll find a bunch of different things on each track. I tried to provide enough separation to let you guys get straight into doing a mix, learning how volume level affects how different elements play in a film, without bogging you down with thirty-plus individual tracks.

Since Sound Gun is meant as an introduction, my hope is for you to have an opportunity to play around and experiment, and also hear some of my material (like foley and sound design) in a cleaner, more direct way, so it’s in a way a summary of all the episodes. At the same time, being an introductory set of videos, I didn’t cover more intermediate mix techniques like using a compressor or a limiter, which, while not essential for this exercise, is something I touch on a bit in this other video, if you’re so inclined and would like to get a bit more (advanced) sound advice:

Just a heads up, I’m going to be traveling a lot during this week into next, so I might take longer than usual to reply - maybe even a couple days! Don’t worry, I’ll respond to everything, it might just take me a little longer than usual.


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I seem to recall that Audacity allows you to adjust your selection for the start and end to happen on points where it crosses the 0 line to avoid clicking noises. Is this something that people do for video too, or are there downsides to this I’m not aware of?


It sounds like you’re referring to a limiter, which is definitely useful and recommended. I chose not to touch on that too much in this video, since the way limiters work can vary a lot from program to program, and I felt that “volume level makes a huge creative difference” is the core lesson that should come before limiters and compression.

On the flip-side, I’d be more than happy to try and help Google solutions if you and anyone else wants to learn a bit of basic limiter/compressor use. Just tell me what program you’re using, and I can help Google the relevant pages!


I was under the impression that limiters and compressors where more about managing dynamic range. I was just referring to a selection tool that allows you to select samples with a near 0 value (“Find zero crossings” in Audacity) so that you don’t have any clicks in the audio due to a transition from a high value sample back to 0.

But thinking about it more, it occurred to me that the techniques you explained are probably easier (I doubt there’s even a “Find zero crossings” tool in something like After Effects or Premiere), and give more control anyway.


Ah okay, gotcha! My goal with the Sound Gun is to introduce basic principles that will work cross-software on just about anything, so not all programs have automated functions that help clean up audio. If you understand how to do it by hand, that will always work. Time-saving techniques etc. are definitely stuff I want to get into in more advanced videos as we go, though.


I’m not sure if this is how I’m supposed to post it, but here’s my attempt at the “Extra Credit” thing.
It’s not very creative, but I just couldn’t resist doing it!
If you don’t get it: Raiders of the Lost Ark :smile:


Hahah yep, that was the intended reference for the scene, and early on in the editing, I actually did use audio from that sequence to help find the pacing. As you found out, there’s some pretty similar edits between Raiders and Sound Gun :stuck_out_tongue:

Did you have the opportunity to put all the stems into a timeline and try mixing them?


Oh awesome!!

I listened to the stems, but I only ended up using the “music” one at the start of the video.


The intent is for you to drop all the stems in (aligned to the first frame), and as a total sum, they comprise all the audio in the actual Sound Gun short. However, since the elements are divided up, you can use volume to emphasize which elements you choose, which is the basic core of what mixing’s all about.

Totally down with your take on it, but just in case that wasn’t clear, that’s what all the stems are for!


Alrighty I’ll keep that in mind! :smile:


Here is my sound mix work. It’s a little rough, but I made sure that the audio didn’t peak. But there might be another skip in there…


Nicely done! We definitely had some subtle differences between your mix and the one I did, and I think your mix turned out great! It’s clean and you were able to avoid any peaking!

Skip-wise, I only noticed it on the additional music cue at the end (which I loved, btw :smile:). My guess is the skip may be coming from the song being at a different sample rate than the rest of the audio stems - film audio is done at 48 kHz sample rate, but music is typically at 44.1 kHz. The slight skip may be caused by that. For your reference in the future, there seem to be some options available for free if you search online for “audio sample rate converter.”


Thanks! I’ll try searching ‘audio sample rate converter’ up, but I’ll also look in the effects library in Final Cut Express.


n00b question here, but how does audio have “frames”? I know that video has frames per a second, because cameras take several pictures in rapid succession. Do microphones work the same way?


Audio doesn’t have frames, it has sample rate. Functionally, this is the same thing though: for the image in film, a camera takes a certain number of images per second (say, 24). For audio, the typical film sample rate is 48,000 samples per second (think “slices” of sound, just like how each frame of a movie is a single image that blends into motion). This is referred to as “48 kHz” for short (48,000 hertz, or 48 kilohertz).

If you’re referring to my previous post in this thread where I mention sample rate differences, think the difference between TV and film (TV is “conventionally” 30 fps, while film is “conventionally” 24 fps), and mixing the two can cause weird compatibility problems at times. Same goes for audio. For whatever reason, film audio standardized to 48 kHz, while music (starting with CDs) standardized to 44.1 kHz.

Video editing programs will typically limit your audio editing to frames by default, but this is a function / limitation of the video editing software only - it doesn’t actually reflect how audio “works.” I edit in Pro Tools, which is an audio-specific program, and I have the option to toggle between freely placing audio (basically on a 48 kHz scale), or I can snap to a “grid,” which lets me nudge audio frame-by-frame, like in a video program. That’s useful when compensating for say, a change in the picture edit (so you want to move everything in frames), but compared to how audio actually works, it’s a fairly crude standard.


Hey I’m trying to open the sound files folder, but it’s not working. While the video I have plays fine, the audio files folder will get stuck on loading. I can’t tell if this is my computer’s problem or there’s something funky about the files. Any help here?


Can you provide as many details as you can? Your operating system, and what software you’re using? Have you unzipped the files properly? The audio files are WAV files; have you tried searching online to see if there’s any format compatibility issues with your specific editing software? Also, have you tried re-downloading the files? Occasionally downloads will goof up, just in general.

I’ll be traveling tomorrow and won’t be able to reply for a couple days, so please use the @ feature to call out [Lauren] or [cherish] if you can’t resolve the issue!


Whooo sounds!!! Am I the only who couldn’t find the file of Lauren and Eli arguing at the end?