Ugh! My poor ears! Trying to bounce back and forth from film to music

Holy shit!!! What happened to my ears??? I Just pulled up an incoming cable TV mix from a regular church client that was recorded this morning, worked for about 30 min and have to take a break to reset my ears. I got my back from my Sunday gig, rushed an hour and a half long print down to a film director in Dallas TX, and then got to work while I’m waiting on notes back from the film studio.

No wonder some film mixers are complete shit when it comes to mixing music records. I officially sucked at doing the later for about 30 min here. I started building the music like anything else, went to set levels for the kick, snare, bass and overheads, made a bunch of wrong ass EQ moves and was like WOW…what am I doing?? Everything sounded SO different coming off that film, and I’ve been in “close enough…move on! Go Go Go” mode with this film, I wanted to be like ‘meh’ and skip over the problems and bring in the guitars, but had to think for a sec and remind myself that you can’t do that in music. So I had to solo the drums again, and think …ok…what’s wrong here. Why does this snare sound like shit?? And fix it before moving forward.

If I stayed away from music long enough, I’m wondering I’d start to loose some of the critical listening skills that I’ve been pushing myself to build. I wonder if your attentiveness to the mix details musical elements like a lush string section or a gorgeous sounding boys choir would start to deteriorate. Song after song, you start to refine your instinct on how to process sung vocals opposed to spoken ones. There’s so much detail in how to tune the EQ and compression in a snare drum to really jive with a kick and the room mics, that I wonder if it goes away when you stay outside of music for too long.

Your skill in audio are cumulative? Are they not? If you’re a gymnast that’s so out of shape you can barely do a handstand, you may as well forget about doing backflips on a balance beam…right? I wonder if audio is the same way.

I used to think that I could never lose my guitar skills until I started putting all my time into recording, mixing, writing and playing other instruments. I’ve been playing guitar since I was a young kid, after a few years of neglecting guitar I was surprised that I lost my sharpness, speed and some stamina. It’s a bit like riding a bike though…, you never lose your ability completely…, only just a fraction, depending on how much you’ve neglected it and depending on how good you were while at your best.

The more technical, intricate physical abilities are the first to erode but the mind definitely regresses also. It’s a bit like riding a bike …except riding a bike is MUCH MORE basic, so it’s much easier to retain those skills…Unless you were a world class stunt biker.

Music sound and video sound are soooo different. The expectations in dynamics and tone just aren’t the same. I think that’s because film is generally mixed for a more controlled environment, where music is mixed to sound as good as possible good on everything.

Dolby Digital has their dynamic range settings so that you can compress it if the playback environment needs it, but disables it when it’s not needed. Music doesn’t have that luxury, unfortunately.

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