At 2/13/13 06:08 PM, BenjaminSquires wrote:
Should music written for film be mastered at all? I understand that the soundtracks released for purchase are mastered but I believe the music actually used in the film is not. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't really know a lot about the subject and that's why I'm posting this new topic.
Hey Benjamin (great name btw),
Mastering is sort of a misnomer. The term comes from creating a "master" copy of some sort of media, most often a vinyl record or a tape. Mastering was a job that required a lot, often requiring the engineer to live mix the entire album during it's transfer, trying to insure that the songs on the album had similar sonic qualities to each other.
A lot of people these days take it to mean the last bits of mixing one does to a track, or the tweaking one does to the entire track rather than the individual stems or elements that make up said track, but that's really not what it means, and in my humble opinion I think that's a rather unhealthy way to look at things, especially film music. This is not to say that you shouldn't have that final step to make your track pop more, but think of it as your final stage of mixing, not as some mythical process that will make your track instantly sound better. (I've run into this far too often)
Now to the actual question:
If you are writing demo music, music that people will listen to to see if they want to hire you or not, I highly recommend some sort of dynamic compression/limiting. You need to grab their attention at ALL TIMES, and brickwall limiting has proven an effective way of doing that.
For film music that will be mixed into the film, your focus should be on balance with the rest of the film. On the dub stage the order of priority of sonic elements is as follows: 1. Dialogue 2. Sound Effects 3. Music.
This is almost without exception, and if you mix your music in such a way that it doesn't interfere with the first two elements, you're likely to hear more of it in the final mix! This means that you really want to avoid compressing ALL your music across the board, because all-too-often someone will say the music is too loud and the engineer will drop the volume of the entire music track.
This is not to say that you shouldn't do something to make your music stand out, and the "mastering" process is a great stage to establish your own sonic palette! I'm not even against compressing things, just make sure everything is mixed AFTER you make your final sonic adjustments.
Sorry for the long-winded reply, good luck!