Tag Archives: Dolby Atmos

Mix Sound For Film Event a Virtual Hit

The seventh annual Mix Sound for Film & TV event moved to an online format.
The seventh annual Mix Sound for Film & TV event moved to an online format.

Culver City, CA (November 4, 2020)—With the coronavirus pandemic still limiting in-person gatherings, this year’s seventh annual Mix Sound for Film & TV event moved to an online format while retaining much of its popular programming. Hosted, as ever, at Sony Pictures Studios, the virtual event successfully recreated the physical experience with nary a glitch during its two-day premiere.

As it always has, the event gathered the interest and input of top players in the industry. Held by Future PLC (parent company to Mix and PSN), sponsors included Apple TV+, Clear-Com, Dolby, PMC, Sony, Netflix, Genelec, Grace Design, Krotos, Meyer Sound, NTP Technology, Nugen Audio, OWC, Pro Sound Effects, RSPE Audio & Video Solutions, Shure, Sound Particles and Wholegrain Digital Systems, while event partners included the Cinema Audio Society, Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance and Motion Picture Sound Editors.

One annual highlight is the Opening Day keynote address. Walter Murch, the only person ever to win Oscars for both sound mixing and film editing, for The English Patient, predicted that one day the two jobs will become one. Murch, who was at the forefront of film’s transition to non-linear editing, observed that the technology made the process “easier but relentless,” eliminating the long pauses that previously came with rewinding film and changing reels.

Offering his opinions on mixing in Dolby Atmos, Murch advocated for dialog to remain anchored to the center channel, regardless of where those speaking appear onscreen; the brain compensates, he said. Some mixers change the audio perspective with Dolby Atmos to match the visuals, which is fine when there are no edits, but “weird,” he said, when cutting between two people talking. “It’s a matter of taste, I guess,” said Murch.

Oscar-winning sound/film editor Walter Murch shared his insights on the future of both professions during his opening day Keynote address.
Oscar-winning sound/film editor Walter Murch shared his insights on the future of both professions during his opening day Keynote address.

Sound designer and re-recording mixer Ren Klyce, presenting the Day Two keynote, spoke about his transition from music to sound. “From a very early age, I was taught that music is sound and sound is music, if you open your mind to it being that,” he said. His first job working to picture, he recalled, assisting a filmmaker on an animated short for Sesame Street, was all about city sounds as music.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended everyone’s lives, and various panel discussions offered insights into how audio post practitioners are using existing technologies and adopting new platforms to work remotely. The single biggest challenge with working from home, it seems, is internet bandwidth, which can vary wildly according to each individual’s circumstances.

For many, moving chunks of video and audio around has become a grind. “You have to plan for it,” said Sean Massey, MPSE. “It’s become part of your day.”

That said, cloud-based solutions for collaboration and tasks such as ADR have become essential. Panelists recounted their initial attempts at ADR when work-from-home orders first came down. Initially, productions had actors record lines wild into their iPhones at home. The process quickly evolved, with productions sending out microphones and mic preamps for actors to record into their laptops or other devices.

But some actors have absolutely no idea how to use microphones, including which end to speak into, it seems. Plus, added Gabriel Guy, CAS, “You have to do a screenshare to make sure they hit record.”

New York post shop Parabolic now offers home ADR recording packages for clients in the U.S. and Europe, including a choice of microphones, and Delux has launched its similar One Dub system. The sound team also now takes remote control of the actor’s laptop, said Mendell Winter, MPSE. Using a combination of dedicated remote collaborative and asset-sharing platforms such as Sohonet’s ClearView, Evercast, PIX and Zoom alongside Source-Connect and other remote recording workflows, managing ADR from home now feels just like a stage session, panelists reported.

One remaining bottleneck, however, is loop group, which has become much more time consuming. Cleaning up noise issues, now multiplied by the number of individual mics being recorded by the group, and correcting the latency on each dialog track, adds significant editing time, participants reported. Todd-AO’s Absentia DX software got a shout-out from several panelists for its dialog noise-cleaning capabilities.

With COVID-19, playback and notes sessions are also remote, and use some of the platforms previously mentioned platforms by necessity. “We were afraid of weird notes because of what people were listening to” at home, said David Fluhr, CAS. Netflix solved that problem by sending everyone the same model headphones, he said. Netflix has also been holding playback sessions on its platform, streaming directly to each participant’s location at a scheduled time, Fluhr added.

Sony took the opportunity to present its new 360VME (Virtual Mixing Environment) throughout the two-day program. Check PSN’s December issue for a full report on the technology, which virtualizes the dub stage for remote work using headphones.

Mix Sound for Film & TV • www.mixsoundforfilm.com/2020

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Dean St. Outfits for Dolby Atmos Music

Dean St. Studios in London has outfitted Studio 1 with 17 PMC loudspeakers, including PMC’s flagship IB2S XBD-A active monitors, to enable mixing for Dolby Atmos Music.
Dean St. Studios in London has outfitted Studio 1 with 17 PMC loudspeakers, including PMC’s flagship IB2S XBD-A active monitors, to enable mixing for Dolby Atmos Music.

London, UK (October 8, 2020)—Dean St. Studios in London has outfitted Studio 1 with 17 PMC loudspeakers, including PMC’s flagship IB2S XBD-A active monitors, to enable mixing for Dolby Atmos Music.

Previously closed for refurbishments undertaken by Veale Associates during the coronavirus pandemic, Dean St. Studios is reopening its doors to provide artists the chance to create dynamic and immersive tracks in Dolby Atmos, taking their music beyond the restrictions of stereo and mono to a platform that provides a whole new way to create and listen to music.

Rolling Stones Exhibition Gets Atmos-Infused PMC Setup

The Dolby Atmos install features PMC IB2S XBD-A monitors covering left and right main channels, an IB2S-A monitor for the center channel, 10 discrete Wafer2 loudspeakers for surround and height channels and four sub2 subwoofers. The Dean St. Studio’s set up exactly replicates the PMC system initially designed for Universal Music and installed two years ago at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. The install reportedly exceeds the standard Dolby requirements.

Dean St. Studios has welcomed a roll call of music artists through its Soho doors to record some of their biggest hits. Icons such as David Bowie, Adele, John Legend, Lady Gaga and Paul Weller are just some of the names to have stepped foot in the studio.

Jasmin Lee, managing director at Dean St. Studios, said: “I have grown up in the music industry and have seen a lot of advances and change over the years, but nothing excites me more than Dolby Atmos Music. This is a game changer for artists in terms of how they can create their music and engage with fans. I have listened to tracks in our new Dolby Atmos mix studio and my mind is just blown by it. This is music like you’ve never heard it before. We have a proud history of working with some of the world’s most successful artists and we can’t wait to offer them this new more immersive format which I’m sure will unleash a whole new creative journey for them.”

Dolby Laboratories • www.dolby.com

PMC • www.pmc-speakers.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Snapsound Takes Its Shot with Atmos

Snapsound's Dolby Atmos-capable mixing room
Snapsound recently upgraded one of its four rooms for mixing in Dolby Atmos, outfitting it with Meyer Sound speakers, an Avid S6 M10 controller and more.

North Hollywood, CA—Zach Seivers went to school to pursue his dream of telling stories through film but found that sound was his true calling. In 2006, straight out of film school, he started his own audio post company, growing the business from one to four rooms before recently adding to his storytelling tools with an upgrade to Dolby Atmos mixing capabilities.

Seivers set up Snapsound in an office tower in North Hollywood in a deal with a documentary filmmaking client. “I was able to bring equipment into a room that they traded with me. I said, ‘I’ll be an in-house guy for you guys, but I want to be able to pursue my own clients.’ And they were cool with that.”

He still maintains a working relationship with the company but has since leased his own space in the building, initially focusing on non-theatrical content, primarily for broadcast. “We built three 5.1 nearfield rooms and a voiceover/ADR recording space. Eventually I stopped recording dialogue and repurposed that room as a fourth nearfield room. If I was doing any projects with a theatrical destination, I partnered with a facility like Deluxe” in Hollywood, he said.

Working with an acoustical designer, Seivers value-engineered the rooms to get good, basic acoustic treatment and isolation in the studios at minimal expense. “I didn’t know how long I would be in the space,” he explained. “Now it’s been over 10 years, but I knew I would never be able to take those physical investments with me if I had to leave the building.”

Instead, he said, “I decided to put the emphasis on digital tools to account for any acoustical issues. We worked with Trinnov and brought the DMON [monitoring processor] into all of the studios. That was a game-changer.”

The layout and equipment complement, including JBL 4328 speakers, was designed to be identical in every room: “The DMON allowed us to fix the more complex problems and matched the sound of each of the rooms so much more closely than we were able to do without it.”

The monitors have since been upgraded to JBL 708s. All four rooms have also transitioned from Digidesign Control 24 surfaces to C24 desks over the years.

As the momentum behind Dolby Atmos built in recent years and the essential tools became more readily available to independent facilities, Seivers decided it was time to take the plunge. “Netflix embraced and pushed delivery in Atmos. That was the catalyst for me as a business owner,” he said.

Related: Netflix Unveils Audio Streaming Improvements, by Steve Harvey, May 2, 2019


He contacted Chris Bolitho, sales director at Vintage King Audio in Los Angeles, about upgrading Snapsound’s Studio A. “I’ve known Chris for a long time,” said Seivers. “He quickly connected me with Miles [Rogers, cinema/studio development manager] at Meyer and introduced me to Jose Castellon [senior studio and cinema design engineer] at Dolby. VK is very hands-on and has a very personalized service. And they have a wonderful guy on their staff, audio consultant and technician Frank Verschuuren. It’s nice to have that level of support.”

Snapsound's Dolby Atmos-capable mixing room

Seivers had heard Meyer Sound’s Acheron Designer cinema speakers in sound designer and re-recording mixer Will Files’ room at Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA. “It’s a relatively small room, but they had such a huge, theatrical sound, and resolution, detail and color,” he recalled.

With the Acherons, “You can emulate a theatrical sound, and I’ve increasingly been moving into more theatrical work,” he said—a move that led to installing three Acherons for LCR coverage in Studio A. “The way the sound moves in the room is so much more dynamic that I’m able to make choices that I have found translate better from a small to a big room. If I’m going to another facility and four-walling a large stage, I want to minimize the amount of time I spend translating the work to that room.”

Meyer’s UP-4slim speakers support the Dolby Atmos side and overhead zones. “I like that they have more than enough power, the resolution is fantastic, and they have a really interesting look. I also like that they’re extremely modular and easy to install—and remove. And we didn’t have to deal with cutting holes in the ceiling.”

Related: COVID-19 Can’t Stop Pro Audio Retail, by Steve Harvey, June 25, 2020

Studio A’s spec was barely compliant with Dolby’s criteria for Atmos Home Entertainment Studio certification, he said. The room just squeaked through. “Because our room has a sloped ceiling, the rear overheads were right on the edge of what Dolby considers their minimum spec. They’re very careful with when and how they make concessions, since the point of the certification is that it is a standard. But we were so on the edge that they were willing to be flexible. They balanced that with the other aspects of the room.”

Signal transport between the Pro Tools system and the Dolby Atmos RMU—both running on Mac minis—and the Avid MTRX controller is via Dante. To continue taking advantage of Trinnov’s optimization technology, Seivers also upgraded Studio A’s DMON to a Dante-enabled version capable of handling the new 7.1.4 speaker configuration and communicating with the MTRX.

He also swapped out Studio A’s C24 for an Avid S6 desk. “I love the reaction of the faders,” he said. “As simple as that sounds, that was the biggest reason I wanted to invest in it.” The S6 is popular for mix-to-picture rooms, but Seivers initially resisted the upgrade because of the expense. “But there’s a little bit of a future-proofing aspect because the S6 is built with Atmos in mind,” he said.

As it turns out, there’s an active used console market through online portals such as UK-based Resurface, including for the component parts of Avid’s M10 version of the S6, which doesn’t include the display screens. That’s fine by him, said Seivers, who finds the displays distracting. “I’m looking at the image on the screen and not Pro Tools or the board displays. You can get an M10 at a fraction of the price of a new M40 system, so I ended up buying the S6 used.”

Now, like everyone else, Snapsound is facing an unpredictable future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s super strange, but we’re creative people and we can be creative in ways beyond our craft,” said Seivers. “I’m confident that people are going to find ways to tell stories no matter what.”

Snapsound • www.snapsound.com
See Snapsound’s portfolio of work: www.snapsound.com/portfolio

Vintage King Audio • www.vintageking.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Missed Opportunity Returns to Rob Burrell

Grammy-winning mix engineer Rob Burrell recently converted a space in his Nashville-area home studio into a Dolby Atmos mix room.
Rob Burrell set up his mix room with four Avid S1s and a Dock, all fitted with Amazon Fire HD10s, along with Focusrite’s RedNet 16Line as the brain and backbone of his Dolby Atmos setup.

Spring Hill, TN—Early in his career, Rob Burrell had to decide between making records and making movies. Fast-forward a couple of decades and Burrell can now indulge his twin passions under one roof following an upgrade of his home studio to an 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos mix environment.

Not that Burrell was unable to mix both sound-to-picture and music projects during the intervening years. In fact, he said, he became the go-to guy in Nashville for 5.1 projects almost as soon as the technology allowed. “As soon as surround was possible on the Mackie Digital 8-Bus, I set up five speakers and went for it,” he said.

Having chosen to move to Nashville, which he and his wife felt was preferable to Los Angeles for the large family they planned to raise, Burrell thought he’d scotched any chances of getting his foot in the Hollywood door: “I was mad because I didn’t want to have to pick. I’ve always been a big fan of both—I grew up a musician and a lover of film and storytelling.”

He lost no time in establishing a reputation in Music City, working with the likes of Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Michael W. Smith and Michael McDonald. Since 1994, he’s engineered and/or mixed a host of Grammy-nominated and Grammy- and Dove Award-winning albums, bestsellers and Billboard 200-charting projects.

Burrell Builds for Dolby Atmos, April 21, 2020: Grammy-winning mix engineer Rob Burrell recently converted a space in his Nashville-area home studio into a Dolby Atmos mix room.

“By the late ’90s, I had an opportunity with some of the artists I was doing records with to do their live DVDs in 5.1,” he reports. That was soon followed by a slew of 5.1 remixes of studio recordings for Sony, he said.

As a result, Burrell’s studio has been able to handle 5.1 projects since the ’90s and 7.1 projects for the last several years. Because he had been keeping an eye on Dolby Atmos since its introduction in 2014, he was ready to pull the trigger on an upgrade when the tools became available for independent and home studios last year, he said. “As soon as Pro Tools and the Dolby renderer software happened, I knew it was going to be a piece of my future.”

Rob Burrell on the Focusrite Pro Podcast
Click image to listen to Rob Burrell on the Focusrite Pro Podcast Focusrite

Burrell installed eight JBL 306P MkII speakers for the surround and overhead zones around his room, which is 16 feet wide and 22 feet deep. A pair of ATC SCM50ASL speakers sit at left and right, while an ATC SCM20ASL supports the center channel. “The 20 is an incredible match to the 50s. The front speakers also use a dual Bag End subwoofer setup, so I have accurate, distortion-free extension,” he said.

Since the studio is in his basement, he couldn’t raise the 9-foot ceiling, but that’s plenty of height, he said. “Dolby has a lot of tolerances in their math for placement options, so I experimented for a long time before I chose my final angles and positions. I wanted translation to headphones in music, and the music mix experience and the film and TV experience to all work in my room.”

He did all the integration work himself, getting to grips with Dante networking and optimizing Pro Tools. “I’m a fanatic for workflow. It has always been crucial that whatever tech I choose can melt away once it’s set up and just become an extension to making music.”

Because mixing has been Burrell’s main occupation for the past 15 years, he has never needed to upgrade Pro Tools beyond HD Native, he said. Indeed, when he upgraded from his TDM rig, HDX had a reputation for “voice-stealing,” limiting the number of voices available when jumping between DSP and Native plug-ins, he said—a problem that was magnified when working with surround buses. “HD Native didn’t have that problem. I knew my 256 voices would be a true 256 voices.”

Then, having added Focusrite’s RedNet 16Line as the brain and backbone of his new Dolby Atmos setup, he reported, “One day I went into lab coat mode and ran it in Thunderbolt 3 mode. When I ditched the HD Native card and went to Thunderbolt 3, my CPU headroom had a 25 percent gain. Once I realized the stability of the system and the headroom, I sold the HD Native card.”

Valencia Builds Largest Educational RedNet Installation, May 14, 2018: Facilities for Valencia College’s Sound & Music Technology program are connected via Focusrite RedNet.

Now, he added, “I’m doing everything with a Focusrite interface via Thunderbolt 3 on a 2018 Mac mini. It’s Pro Tools Ultimate with the Atmos renderer on the same rig.”

Down the road he may need more horsepower for object-heavy Dolby Atmos mixes, but that will mean forking out for a costly new Mac Pro. “Until I see if the Atmos investments that I’ve made are going to pay off, I’m not going to make that decision—it’s another $10,000 or $11,000.” But for the moment, he said, “I freeze this track or commit that track to free up processing. It hasn’t become prohibitive yet.”

Burrell’s 40-channel D-Command surface served him well for years, but now he has four Avid S1s and a Dock, all fitted with Amazon Fire HD10s instead of iPads. He’s a tactile mixer, he said, after years of working on 80-fader SSL desks. “I really play a mix like an instrument. I love rolling up and down the console and tweaking balances.”

After years of having the Pro Tools monitor out of his field of view, he now has it center-front, but down low. “I ‘see’ the height and depth of my mix; I visualize it floating in the air. My brain has a finite amount of CPU power and my eyes will take more CPU power than my ears if I engage my eyes, and I don’t want my eyes stealing from my ears,” he explained.

Over the past 15 years, while Burrell has been focused on mixing, he has also seen some film projects roll in. “About 2005, indie filmmakers started contacting me. My first few clients, I said, ‘I don’t do film, but I’m a film junkie and I think I know what I’m doing with audio. If you want to learn with me, let’s do it together.’”

To date, he said, “I’ve done four full-length features and close to 30 or 40 shorts and documentaries, all indie and local.” A few have been released on Netflix, he said.

“So I’ve been able to have my cake and eat it, and be able to make records and make movies. I don’t have to choose!”

Focusrite • pro.focusrite.com

Rob Burrell • www.robburrellmix.comSoundcloud link • Twitter @robburrellmix

Dolby • professional.dolby.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

DGA Gets Emotional Over New Sound System

The newly renovated DGA Theater in Los Angeles sports a Meyer Sound Acheron system chosen by filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael Apted.
The newly renovated DGA Theater in Los Angeles sports a Meyer Sound Acheron system chosen by filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael Apted.

Los Angeles, CA (June 4, 2020)—A total renovation of the Directors Guild of America’s flagship 600-seat DGA Theater in Los Angeles included installation of a Dolby Atmos immersive sound system encompassing more than 70 Meyer Sound cinema loudspeakers.

To translate its creative concepts into design specifics, the DGA committee engaged the Gensler architectural firm, which in turn assigned audiovisual specification and engineering to Tom Schindler, senior vice president at the San Francisco-based Salter consulting firm.

“We first measured the acoustics of the room, but this element was well done with the original design,” said Schindler. “Background noise and reverberation both were well within standards, so the critical factor came down to loudspeaker selection.”

60 Seconds with John McMahon of Meyer Sound

Working in consultation with Dolby engineers Jose Castellon and Gary Meissner, Schindler drafted a comprehensive performance specification with options for different loudspeaker manufacturers.

Drawing on their unique perspectives as filmmakers, the Guild committee members insisted on a live audition in order to make a final decision. Meyer Sound and one other maker brought in front screen channel systems for a comparative listening session attended by director Michael Mann and another key member of the committee, director Michael Apted.

“Both systems were technically spot on, but Michael Apted and I picked the Meyer Sound system because of a difference in emotional musicality,” says Mann. “You can listen to two or three sound systems and, even though they are technically very close, one sounds emotionally more musical than another. These are the kinds of decisions any of us on the committee would make if they were being made on a film. It was great to be able to think and execute the same way in designing how the film is exhibited.”

Anchoring the five front screen channels of the system are five Acheron 100 loudspeakers, each paired with an Acheron LF low frequency extension loudspeaker. The main LFE channels are handled by 12 X-800C cinema subwoofers, aided by eight 750-LFC low-frequency control elements for surround bass management. Surround channels are assigned to 22 HMS-12 and 32 HMS-15 self-powered surround loudspeakers. A Galaxy 816 Network Platform supplies processing for the front screen channel systems.

Integration and installation of all audio and video systems was contracted to Diversified’s media and entertainment group under the guidance of director of engineering Adam Salkin and project manager Eugene Tuzkov.

Meyer Sound • www.meyersound.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com