Track Assignment

Track Assignment

This article discusses how to arrange your recording or mixing tracks. Every input into your mixer / recorder goes to a varying amount of tracks.

In the case of the Sound Devices 664, all inputs get their own track which is recorded and the ability to send to 4 mix tracks. If you just have a mixer like the Sound Devices 302 then you will only have 2 tracks at all times, a left and a right mix track. Track Assignment therefore varies depending on equipment so lets look at a basic scenario and then work our way up.

Then at the bottom cover how to consistently label your tracks for actors to give post an easier logic to understanding who is on which track.

Sound Devices 302 Track Assignment

The Sound Devices 302 has 2 outputs and no ability to record internally. This means your going to have to send the sound somewhere if you want to record it. This is either via a Zoom handy recorder, Camera or professional class recorders like the Sound Devices 744t.

But on a SD302 you have 3 inputs but only 2 outputs. This means you have to mix the tracks (input sources together) so your options are:

- Hard Left - The tracks panned to the left will appear on the Left channel of the stereo file or 1st mono file in a multitrack recorder - Center - The tracks panned to the center will appear on Both channels of the stereo file or as 1 and 2 in a multitrack recorder. - Hard Right - The tracks panned to the left will appear on the Right channel of the stereo file or 2nd mono file in a multitrack recorder

Between the 2 tracks that you output you are basically making a stereo file that will be split and used as separate mono files in post. Unless you are trying to record stereo atmospheres. On film production you always record dialogue and effects in mono. You will want to keep your boom track separate from your radios because radios are more likely to make noise or get interference. On the SD302 pan the boom to the left and radios to the right.

You have 3 inputs on the SD302 and the standard way to assign inputs like a boom is to have it first or last. Input 1 = Fader 1, Input 2 = Fader and Input 3 = Fader 3, keeping the boom either on input 1 or 3 will help you remember where it is and because it moves around different sources like actors then it is usually faded more than radio mics as a generalisation.

So to recap: If on the SD302 I had 1 boom and 2 radio mics you would -

- Plug the boom into input 1 or 3 for easy reach and use - Pan your boom to one side (generally left) and your radios to the right - As the people talked on radios you would fade the one that was talking up and the other one down to help reduce noise - If both are speaking over each other than you would have both faded up.

The drawbacks of only having a mixer is that you can't record individual tracks for post production to use, so everything will be on you to deliver the best mix you can.

Sound Devices 664 Track Assignment

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Above are 2 screenshots of my Sound devices 664 (click to enlarge) These pictures show the different configuration like for the Sound devices 302 with the boom as input 1 or input 6. This is again a good consistent way to organise things for post production. On the 664, the mix tracks are always at the top.

The Sound Devices 664 allows you to record all the inputs into the mixer / recorder which is given the term ISO tracks. These are individual inputs recorded without being mixed. In this setup post production will use your mix as a guide for your ISO tracks. This is because ISO tracks will be cleaner since they are not mixed with other sources, even if they are the same type.

For your mix track you would just assign your tracks like you would for the 302.

Track Assignment for characters

In terms of which radio mic track should go to who, the call sheet will offer some guidance as all characters are given a number, one being the main character and works up in numbers I.E extra parts with 1 line at 243. This means that your main characters in the scene will always go as track 2 and then working down to the people with smaller parts in the film.

That concludes this sections on Track Assignment. If you feel the article hasn't been clear then please contact me on