Film & TV Audio Post Production FAQ

Questions about the Audio Aspect of Film & TV Post Production & QC

We get many questions about Television & Film Post Production, this Film & Televison Audio Post Production FAQ will help answer them. You can find out more detaled information about other aspects of QC & Video Post at our category specific FAQ pages.

Q: I need to have a Music & Effects (M&E) track for my show; what is that?

A: An M&E track contains all the same audio except for the dialogue that exists in a full stereo mix. When you watch an M&E track, you will see the lips moving when characters speak, but no dialogue comes out of their mouths. Creating an M&E track is done for the purpose of dubbing the movie into other languages. The new language is added to the overall mix, and the file is then re-exported to contain the new dialogue track.

Q: My M&E tracks were rejected for missing effects; what do I do?

A: This means that some of the sound effects that were present in the original mix are not in the M&E mix. This includes everything from footsteps, hand taps, doors opening and closing, etc. Missing effects will occur if, during filming, the effects picked up by microphones are the only effects in the mix (not in other tracks). As the dialogue is removed from M&E, those effects will also be removed and must be re-added. Often, a Foley studio will be needed to add effects that cannot be added from a stereo mix track. We have experience at adding missing effects to M&E tracks, even without any source material.

Q: I need to deliver a 5.1 mix with my movie; how is this done?

A: There are many types of audio configurations that a distributor, sales agent, or network may require. Aside from the stereo mix and stereo Music &effects track (described above), the next most likely other audio set you will need is a 5.1 mix. 5.1 is a 6-channel mix used for home audio systems. 5.1 must contain six separate tracks with two sets of stereo pairs, and two mono tracks.

The first two tracks are called 5.1 Left, and 5.1 Right; these correspond to the two speakers in a 5.1 mix that would be in the front on the left and right sides. In a "true" 5.1 mix, these tracks would have all the music and effects, but no dialogue. The Left / Right tracks are a stereo pair and must be in stereo for the mix to be correct. The third track is a mono-only track called "Center," which is of course the center front speaker in a 5.1 mix. The "Center" channel is the dialogue track. The fourth track is also mono and is called LFE, (Low Frequency Effects) and contains the bass sounds. The LFE speaker is essentially a subwoofer, and is usually up front and below the other speakers. The Final two tracks (numbers 5 and 6) are called Left Surround / Right Surround; these are the speakers in the back of the room giving the "surround" effect. They are a stereo pair and often contain the same tracks as the Left / Right pair at a lower volume level. A creative sound mixer can move the effects around, having some only in the front or back for a true "surround" experience, but his is not necessary. All six tracks must be in sync, and also be in sync with the other audio tracks in the feature.

Q: How do I go about making a Music & Effects track (M&E) and a 5.1 mix as well?

A: Qualified audio personnel can make audio mixes needed from your original audio stems, known as DM&E stems, which are Dialogue, Music & Effects. These are the individual audio files that went into the mix for the stereo tracks. If these files were made correctly with the dialogue isolated to an individual track, it can be removed and a new mix made without it.

Often however no pure dialogue track exists as the effects that were recorded through the microphones (footsteps, touching, wind, etc.) are contained only on the dialogue track; no additional Foley editing was done. In these cases, we can make a new M&E track for you from scratch. In order to do this, we would have to re-create some of the effects that are on the stereo mix track on an audio program. The stereo mix and stereo M&E track should match exactly, except for the presence of dialogue.

L.A. Post can also use sound editing techniques to create a 5.1 mix, including the LFE track. We can also re-output all the files as a new, completed master file.

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