Delivering underscore mixes
Covering an editor’s requirements with underscores makes life easier and may be the difference between your track getting sync’d to picture or not
Underscores are ‘stripped back’ versions of a main mix which offer an editor a series of musical alternatives. These can prove useful in all kinds of contexts. If a couple of characters have been introduced with a ‘main mix’, using this again (when they reappear) would make thematic sense. However, if this second scene is dialogue-heavy, running the main mix, complete with top line, might sound too cluttered. Underscores can be useful in other contexts too. Sometimes an editor might love everything except the brass; in fact, she might dislike the brass so much that she’d prefer to use a different track altogether because of it. Knowing that a brass-free underscore exists might make all the difference. Cover your bases, maximise your chances. Start by printing a ‘main mix’. Always check with a client if they want mixes ‘clean’ from an output chain of effects, or ‘mastered’. Our main track contains a piano lead and surrounding textures – high/low strings, synth pulses, electronic atmospherics and a sub hit. It’s common for clients/publishers to request a mix without a top line or melody as this immediately makes it easier to use a cue under dialogue. We mute the piano line and run off a mix which is far more ambient and unobtrusive as a result. Editors like electronic and acoustic elements separated, whether you’re providing stems or underscores. So print the piano and strings as an ‘acoustic mix’. Printing an electronics-only mix would be wise too, giving the option to fade one mix up under the other.