Creating Surround Sound Mixes

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Rick L. asks:

Just got your video tutorial on using submixes. It answered a lot of basic questions, and is fairly easy to understand. However, I do have a quick question. Well, not so quick, I guess.


A new broadcast client of ours wants to create a highlights show out of hours of custom 5.1 surround programming. Most of it is a direct 8 channel feed, but there are some packages I will create with new music and Interviews. They have sent me QT files with a DVCPRO HD codec (720p/59.94), with 8 mono channels, and some QT animations with just 6. I think the setup they want is this based on a DVD handed to me to use as a guide-

CH.3-ANNOUNCER/Center track
Ch.4- LFE
Ch.5-Copy of Ch. 1@ -10 dB
Ch.6-Copy of Ch.2 @ -10 dB

I’ve been told to supply them with a QT file with 8 discrete mono channels for each segment, and an OMF project file so they can actually do the mixing and surround panning in Pro Tools. So I am not doing the final mix.


OK, so far, so good, I have set up my sequences with 8 discrete mono channels, and think to myself, all I need to do is keep the tracks consistent throughout. But here are my questions:


I am racking my brain over which is the better, easier way to deal with the audio. ..It seems like a job for Soundtrack Pro. Do I create 8 separate sub-mixes for each track and assign each audio track to a sub-mix? Then export as mono stems.? That way I can plan on adding additional tracks of music and NATSOT and assign to the correct sub-mix


Is there a way to assign an audio track, say the NAT SOT, to more than 1 sub-mix, so that it can be used for Ch.1 & 2, 5 & 6 and 7 & 8 at the same time? Or is that something I have to do after the fact?…Am I making any sense here?…


And what about that LFE track?…do I even deal with that? Or is that better left to the pro tools mix session? I don’t wish to come off as ill-prepared to these people, so I am hesitant to ask newbie questions.

Larry replies: Rick, these are not newbie questions!

FCP does not support submixes. Only STP does.

The order for surround tracks is:

Ch. 1 – Left Front
Ch. 2 – Right Front
Ch. 3 – Center
Ch. 4 – LFE
Ch. 5 – Left Rear
Ch. 6 – Right Rear

I would set your tracks in that order, then add your two additional tracks below them. Otherwise, any professional audio mixer is going to have to spend time reorganizing your project.

You can’t send an FCP track to more than one output. In other words, no submixes. If you need multiple tracks to output to the same track, you can do that. But you can’t take one track and split it out to multiple outputs. Also, you can’t do a surround mix in FCP.

In general, lay all your tracks into the timeline, then send the whole shebang as an OMF file to your audio post house for mixing.


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