Hey fellow creators!
This week we had the pleasure of hanging out with cinematic mixing and mastering engineer Joël Dollié and got the opportunity to ask him a few questions. For those that don’t know, his talents have been utilized by companies including Ghostwriter Music, SPM Music Group, Sonic Symphony, Cavalry music and more. His mixes can be heard in trailer campaigns like “Loki’’ (TV Series), ‘‘Abominable’’ or ‘‘The Chosen’’.
Joel’s works also include productions by electronic media giants Ubisoft and Riot Games as well as major artists like Grammy winning producers ‘‘Cubeatz’’, Gryffin, Simon Khorolskiy and many more. Spitfire Audio’s acclaimed BBC Symphony Orchestra sample library is showcased using demonstration tracks mixed and mastered by Joel.
His passion for music production includes sharing his knowledge and skills to those striving to take their music production skills to the next level. His eBook – Mixing Modern Orchestral Music – provides an inside look at Joel’s mixing concepts and methodologies and discusses modern techniques for processing contemporary orchestral and trailer-oriented music.
For the same purpose of educating the novices, he also created a mixing course called Mixing Cinematic Music on the Master The Score education platform which explores modern ways to mix orchestral and hybrid music.
Check out some of Joël's Work!
What was that singular moment when you realized that going full-time was possible?
I would say that it is when I did the accounting for the last month of 2018 and I realized that it was a bit more than the French minimum wage – then I thought to myself: ‘’If I don’t mess up and keep working hard on this mixing thing, I should be ok’’. At the time, I was still a student and I was studying English literature and civilization but that was the plan B, definitely not my dream job. I believe that I dropped out of university shortly after. Going full time is a scary thing and I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you have a backup. It’s too easy to get caught in stories of people who mention risking everything and making it, but that completely overshadows all the failures. It’s really about balancing risk and reward.
What would be the biggest piece of advice you would give to an up-and-coming mixer or composer who wants to increase the quality of their tracks?
A few things. First of all you have to mix a lot otherwise your brain/ears just won’t sharpen themselves magically. Theory is only part of what makes a good mixing engineer, but you can know lots of techniques and not apply them optimally. We all use the same tools as they are easily affordable, but what differentiates new mixing engineers from veterans is experience. It doesn’t matter if they lost some hearing in the treble, their experience makes up for it.
My second piece of advice would be to listen to reference tracks that you enjoy, not necessarily in the same genre you compose in, but tracks that feel good to you mixing wise, then analyze what’s going on, especially the tonal balance, dynamics, etc. You will probably notice that the best sounding tracks have some things in common.
The last one is to not spend time worrying about things that don’t really matter, such as ‘’should I get this plugin’’, or over ‘complexifying’ your processing chains when good EQ, panning, levels and reverb are probably 90% of your mix.
What are some of the most common myths about mixing orchestral music?
That you don’t need to do any processing. An orchestra doesn’t mix itself. Good orchestration definitely helps in making an orchestra sound nice and tonally balanced, and a good hall and great recordings definitely means you will use less reverb in post, but there are still plenty of things that can be improved with mixing. For instance, the mid-range, treble colour, low mid clarity, if the track is composed with libraries you will need to ‘’match’’ the rooms a little bit, say you have a smaller sounding library that needs to blend with a bigger sounding one.
Raw recordings can sound good just like a raw vocal can sound good but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enhanced. An orchestra needs mixing. I think this myth comes from the fact that the processing you might do on great well produced orchestral tracks will be a bit more subtle than what you might do on a pop vocal, of course.
With that said I’m still going to boost 6db of treble on these pristinely recorded abbey road horns. Just kidding.. Or am I…
Check out Joël's work on The Division 2 trailer!
What’s your favourite part of the process when mixing music and why? What’s your least favourite part and why?
My favourite part is probably when I’ve done most of the mix and I compare back and forth with the level matched reference track. You can just hear the combined result of all the decisions you’ve taken and unless you messed up big time, it should be way better. That’s pretty satisfying.
The least favourite part has to be the very beginning. It’s always a bit scary to do the first mixing move in a brand new project. It can feel a bit daunting but it’s not that bad though.
What’s the coolest project you’ve ever had a chance to be a part of? Could you explain the process a bit?
Definitely the mix I did for KSHMR’s live show animation soundtrack. During his concert, he plays an animated story and the soundtrack for this is orchestral/hybrid, Composed by Daniel Stockdale. What was cool about this project is that the video was already done so I was able to import it in my mixing project. I was basically watching a cartoon while mixing and it really made the process quite a bit more satisfying. I think I understand film composers now!!
It is not too uncommon to get to see some material before working on a project but it is usually not super finished.
And of course, seeing a video of the concert and hearing your work play on a big screen with thousands of people watching is a great feeling.
Thanks for joining us In The Studio with Joël Dollié
If you want to learn more about Joël and all his courses on mixing then you can find more info in the links below.
Mixing Cinematic Music Course:
Joël’s YouTube channel:
Thanks for hanging out!
– Shawn from Cinematic Tools