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Rethinking Production

Part 7 of 7: Production with Surround Sound By Jeff Wilson
Digital TV is here. And you know what that means. Soon Downtown Chevrolet and Harvey's Superette are going to want their commercials done in high-impact Surround Sound.

The good news is that some music library companies, like FirstCom Music (for instance) are committed to developing Surround music libraries for use in your production work.

The Layout

To do production in Surround, we have to rethink the way we do some things. Instead of a stereo music bed, we will now have a six-track Surround music bed. And instead of panning the voice and effects into stereo, we will be panning them into Surround.

One thing that doesn't change is the goal of production - - to turn out good sounding material as fast as possible. To this end, we will construct a mixer just for this purpose.

On the input side of the mixer, we will have:

six channels to accomodate the Surround music bed
one voice channel
and say two channels for FX.

So we need a mixer with six input channels, connected to nine empty tracks in our track window.

We won't be doing anything with our six music bed tracks other than connecting each of them to the right Surround buses (going to each of the Surround speakers), and maybe adjusting the level of all six at once. So we want to hard wire each of the six tracks to the appropriate Surround speaker. It's easiest to do this by using the "Lock" feature.

Using the "Lock" feature

You can lock each Surround panner to one speaker by right-clicking on the panner, and selecting "Lock To". Once you have locked a panner, it will show a little lock icon on the red ball.

Locked panner

Do this for the five surround channels (left front, right front, left rear, right rear, and center). Additionally, with the center channel, you will need to grab the "Center Blend" shutter with the mouse and pull it all the way in (to the center).

"Center Blend" shutter

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