Using Dolby Atmos to improve audio postproduction workflow


I’ve been working with Dolby Atmos for a while now and have developed a good stable workflow through the audio postproduction process. Here's a project that goes through production stages from music programming, Fx and sound design edits, Atmos mixing to multi-format delivery.
Let me to take you through the 4 templates I use to make up a fluid workflow.

01 Music programming template

My music template is adapted from Christian Henson and Jake Jackson’s work on the Spitfire orchestral templates. The idea is to write and arrange parts from the start with stems in mind. Each ‘stack’ or track grouping can be sent to a stereo stem (with reverb) or to 4 or more individual ‘Iso’ tracks without reverb and effects. I have found that 12 stems is a good number for exporting music to a dub-stage or to a Tv final mix. All the bussing is already done in the template.

Orchestral part of the template

The orchestral parts are sent to the first 5 stems (woodwind, brass, keyboards, percussion and strings), leaving 7 non orchestral stems available for Synths, effects, guitars, drums, etc.

Here is a screen save of a stack :

At the top, the print folders are open showing the stem and individual track prints
Then you have source material midi tracks and audio loops etc.
Below that you have the monitoring and routing section. Here you can send to reverb / effects for the stem and send sources directly to individual print tracks. Also each stack has its own ‘Track visibility’ memory locator for easy navigation.

02 Music mixing template

This template matches the music template and is based on 12 stem prints. All reverb, LFE and effect sends are already routed to the correct stems.
For the source material, I have 2 main folders, Orchestral and “Media” or non orchestral tracks. I separate these because you might be working with orchestra samples or a mics from a session and you treat orchestral music very differently to non orchestral tones.

Template for mixing to 12 stems and also to a full mix.

Here is a screenshot of my print tracks recording folder. The full mix and stems record to 7.1.2 and stereo downmix simultaneously. The Masters (the master faders below the print clips) are used for mastering each individual stem before the print.

03 Effects edit template

 Much of the work I do is Fx editing and this is a relatively small TV style Fx template for cutting background atmospheres and Fxs. Usually I’d edit Foley and sound design at this stage but there is very little foley in this trailer and I edited most of the sound design while working directly on the music. All the big design sounds are in tempo with the music so it made sense to do this at the time. I have to say sound design has become a grey area as usually I work on this in the Fx edit, but now I’ll often get music files with sound design embedded.

If you’re a composer, please be sure to make separate stems for any sound design you’ve created, it makes the final mix process so much easier. You can even make SD high and an SD low stems.

04 Atmos mix template

This template works in tandem with the Atmos renderer and I have divided the renderer tracks into Narration, Dialog, Effects and Music zones which don’t change from project to project. This makes playing back masters so much easier.
On the Pro Tools side, essentially I have 6 subgroup busses that are sent to the 4 Atmos beds (Dx, Fx, Mx and Narration). Here I’m using 3 beds and you’ll notice that the Fx, FOL and BGs are all sent to the Fx bed.
Each Fx group has 3 or 4 objects assigned to the last couple of tracks in that grouping. These objects have predefined group metadata which will allow me to export the stems as re-renders at the delivery stage.

This particular project does not need a huge number of tracks. The Dialog is pre mixed and I’ve used 6 groupings for Fx tracks and 3 for background ambiences.
Below is an image of the 7.1.2 stems printed in the mix template. Many stems are not actually sent to the Mx bed, they're sent to what I call “mix zones”. Most of the objects playing in the renderer in the image below are fed by these mix zones. This is the step where your 7.1.2 mix actually becomes an Atmos mix.

Music stems sent to Atmos "mix zone" objects

And you can see how the stems are distributed around the room :

05 Delivery

I printed a real-time Atmos master, made an ADM file and imported it back into a Pro Tools “Print-master” session. On larger sessions, I've occasionally had metadata problems when exporting directly to an ADM file. For the sake of security, I take the time to make a real Dolby Atmos file set. I just think this is best practice.
Now you can export what you need. I usually export a full mix and Dx, Fx and Mx stems in 7.1, 5.1 and stereo. You can also work on R128 TV leveling restrictions in this session and it is a good session to deliver because everything is ready to go whether it's BluRay, TV or DCP. Also all time-codes are in sync with the video.


And that’s it, a comprehensive post-production workflow from music programming to delivery using Atmos to mix and create deliverables efficiently.
It will save you a ton of time if you map out your production pipeline and spend some time setting up templates to serve each step along the way.
And of course, if you need this kind of work, I'm open to offers !

Dernière modification lesamedi, 16 mars 2024 17:08
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