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OT: final mixing and mastering of film score....hints?

No looping content hence OT. (there IS some looping in the music Im discussing, but thats not to point.

Background: I am in the middle of producing my first "proper" film score. (Scoring music for short corporate films is my day-job, but this is ART!) Not a big production (ok a very small production, in France) so no budget foe calling int some professionals.

I am pretty happy (musically) with the score so far. And prettu happy with the sound choices and sampling I have done. Its mostly orchestral in  genre, but quite minimal, with a few uses of unusual instruments, to weird it up a bit.

My question regards the final stages I am approaching now. In order to give it a "live" feel or less programmed feel, both in terms of final programming tweaks and eq/effects tweak. What Hits or Tricks would some of you Prs use.. I know some of you are either extremely advanced in recording techiniques (per etc, who I would like to thank for almost 24 hour email service when Ive been stuck with things.) or professional composers (Daniel Im thinking of here now.. I think.. terrible with names).

Things I doing right now..:
1. tweaking attack times on strings... the first attack of a legato section can be a long attack but sounds more natural on follow up notes to have little or no attack.
2. Moving "top" lines of string sections to be there own solo instruments, the string parts were all written with a generic ensemble patch, but its better to move the highest musical melody line to a solo viola or solo violin patch.
3. indivisually increasing amounts of velocity of notes.
4. My sample allows for slight random variations in pitch and volume (pitch can get a bit far out, but is ok in sections)

Any more "live making" techniques?

The next process (that I am terrible at... always use to use an engineer for) is mixing.. I really want to make all the music sit well together, I expect that the Film Director will drop the music VERY low in the mix ofr my tastes, and often what tends to happen with my mixes, is that one hears ONE instrument stick out above the films mix. Do I REALLY want to slap a big old compressor on the end.. It ruins the mix for me! And the music sounds good loud.. how can I avoid this instrument seperation... I feel its This problem, that (if im not careful, I dont think Im in this ball park yet ) can make a good piece of music start sounding all  er.. "General Midi- ish"

Reverb?? I usually like to use as few different reverbs as possible, just one short one, for increasing the size of instruments, and one Hall reverb to emulate that all the instruments are in the same room. Is this the right approach?

Any other tips of tricks.. ( feel like theres a  professionals trick Im missing here) Like someone with say " Well Mark, you HAVE cut the whole mix at 1k havent you? and boosted the Sub?

Its very hard to guage, the film dialog mix is terrible at the moment, all different levels (even jumps from left to right haa ha.. with lots of background noise (wind in trees mostly)

The final job is to score music ontop of a song that an actress sang live on set... yikes.. no click track microphone walked all the way around her following the camera... think Im gonna have to go to Paris and get her to dub it.

All hints n tips will be very much appreciated..


Mark Francombe
twitter @markfrancombe