Post Magazine

February 2013

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U N S U N G [ Cont.from 35 ] ing clients who ordered sushi for lunch. I went from the slow, vibe-y feel of working with a band to the fast-paced, stressful environment of the ad world. Pro Tools was actually the instrument that took me from one side of audio to the other." Pony Sound started out as 501 Audio, which was part of 501 Post in Austin. After years of being under the 501 umbrella, Roberts decided to move the studio to a new location and rebrand it as Pony Sound. "Big models of the one-stop-shop, the audio and offline/ online editorial houses, started to implode as budgets started shrinking three or four years ago. What we noticed is that our big mothership of 501 Post was imploding as we were exploding." Pony Sound has three 5.1 audio suites running Pro Tools 10.3.3 with Mountain Lion 10.8.2. All the suites have their own iso-booths, though only five percent of their voiceover records happen in Austin. Most of their recording happens via ISDN. Pony Sound offers ADR, sound design, recording/editing, 5.1 mixing and music services primarily for broadcast clients. Since 90 percent of the sessions at Pony Sound are :30 national TV spots, Roberts has been closely following the changes in output level spec for broadcast for the past 18 months. By the time the CALM Act came into law, Roberts had already tested various plug-ins that monitored output level. In the end he chose the Nugen Audio VisLM-H ( "We are making sure that we are outputting broadcastcompliant levels. It doesn't matter what you're mixing, or what you're working on, if your levels aren't compliant, your spot is going to get kicked back." The Nugen Audio VisLM-H ($559) is a loudness metering plug-in that is fully compliant with the ITU-R BS.1770/1771 metering standard. It offers true-peak level monitoring, realtime metering, loudness history and logging, and it works with mono, stereo and 5.1 channel setups. It's cross-platform, and it supports Avid's new plug-in format, the AAX Native platform. Since Waves is not supporting the new Avid AAX platform, the Waves plug-ins that worked great in Roberts' old TDM systems are now causing latency issues in his new Pro Tools 10.3.3 systems. "It's been an interesting stance that Waves has taken. I've been a loyal follower of Waves since day one. For this now to be happening, on such a new platform of Avid's, and since I've upgraded to new hardware, it's made me look to other companies like Nugen, to get the types of tools that I've been using for years. This has really taken the focus off of Waves in my space at least. I'm looking to other companies to see what is out there, new companies that are developing for Avid and their new platform." Roberts recently used the Nugen VisLM-H plug-in to monitor the output levels of a national ad campaign he did for Zales. The TV spots had two interesting dilemmas where the meter was concerned. First, Roberts explains, the loudness measurement is taken from the lead anchor element, which in broadcast is typically the dialogue. The Zales spots relied heavily on music, where the singer was the lead element. The second issue was the length of the spots. The :15 spots were too short to measure the LKFS because it needs 42 Post • February 2013 Post0213_042-43-Jump.indd 42 A U D I O G E A R time to measure the effect of the loudness. "The announcer comes in with maybe four words at the end of the spot, but the singer in the band is singing for the first 12 seconds. We really honed in on how to work vocals in a band into an announcer at the end and to even it out," he says. For Roberts, it's essential that 100 percent of the TV spots that come out of Pony Sound are being run through an LKFS meter. To help him keep track of his mixes, in this current climate of audio post houses, video post houses and finish post houses being separate, he makes it a point to note in the filename that the audio had been run through an LKFS meter. "We put '-24 LKFS' in the filename. Meaning that the spot has been run through the meter, it is QCd, and ready to go. But if that goes to a video house, or an online finish house, and they fail to pan my left channel to the left, and my right channel to the right, and they pan them center, they're making the mix mono.That boosts the entire audio +3.5 dB, throwing us back out of spec." Roberts keeps tabs on where the mix is sent, and follows up with the facility to make sure the audio is panned hard left and hard right in a true stereo format to keep the LKFS meter in spec. Educating his clients about the new measurement spec has been challenging. "It can be hard to explain this new process to producers and creatives.There are some interesting algorithms put in there that are measuring a lead anchor of a commercial, except there isn't always a lead anchor. It might be a singer, or sound effect. Most of the time we just let them know that we are mixing into the LKFS spec at -24dB, and when they start telling us to turn things up, at some point we have to start turning things down. That was the way we were mixing before, but now we're bringing our mix down about -3dB overall." UBER AUDIO Owen Peterson is the owner/supervising sound editor of Uber Audio ( in Orem, UT. Before opening in January 2011, Peterson handled the audio post for TV shows like Brain Surge for Nickelodeon, American Ninja Warrior for G4, and Showhouse Showdown for HGTV. Uber Audio is a collection of independent editors and mixers who collaborate online to complete projects. As a supervising sound editor, Peterson acts as a liaison between his Utah clients and the editors in LA. He does sound design at his home studio on a Pro Tools LE 8 system, and for a Dolby 5.1 final mix he flies to LA and rents a dub stage. Peterson likes to keep his Zoom H4 ( close at hand, to capture sounds anywhere he goes, like a camp fire or an interesting bug, even elevator buttons. "It's nice to have a decent quality mic on hand, instead of recording sounds on my cell phone all the time." The Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder ($279) is an easy-to-use, portable digital recorder. It can record WAV files at 24-bit/96kHz, or MP3 files with a bitrate up to 320kbps. The Zoom H4 has a lot going for it. According to the Samson Technologies site, it has two built-in electret condenser mics in an X/Y pattern for stereo recording. The Zoom H4 is also a multi-track recorder. It has a 4-track record mode, and 2 XLR- 1/4inch high-impedance phone inputs. It can also act as an audio interface, allowing the user to record instruments and vocals to their computer. In addition, the Zoom H4 comes with a copy of the cross-platform Cubase LE, a 48-track DAW for editing, mixing, and mastering. The Zoom H4 is no longer manufactured. Peterson is currently working on The Shadow Cabal, a film directed by John Lyde.The fantasy/adventure film is based on a videogame called Saga. Since it's a fantasy film, there are lots of Orcs, Elves and monsters. Peterson was hired to do the Orcs vocal design for the film. In one scene, the main Orc is crossing a large body of water, and he's being tempted by a group of mermaids. To create the Orc sound, Peterson used his Zoom H4 to record the sound of purring. "I tried to use grunty, lion-type growls but they sounded too angry. I decided to use my sister's cat purring, but it's kind of hard to get a cat in the studio to be in that kind of mood. So I followed the cat all day with the Zoom H4, and finally got the cat to purr. I recorded that to use in the scene. After I pitched it down, the cat purr sounded more appropriate.The Orc sounded happier, and not so angry, that the mermaids were hitting on him." B I G S T A R [ Cont.from 37 ] tor, Apple Final Cut Pro, Maxon Cinema 4D and Sitni Sati Fume FX. While the creative minds at BigStar are keen with technology, it is storytelling, branding and ideas that are most important to them and their clients. "Technology is not what forms lasting relationships with brands," concludes Norton. "Ideas and stories always come first, and we see technology as a means to an end. It's fun to do and create on a daily basis. The true magic is in the idea generation and connection with viewers." BigStar is a Mac-based studio that calls on Creative Suite and other tools. 1/25/13 7:33 AM

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