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April 2013

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A U D I O [ Cont.from 42 ] draw from a library for a language that doesn't exist." Kimmel started work on the series in the first week of December and won't be finished until the beginning of May. Since he is given the entire season all at once, he doesn't work on it one episode at a time. Instead, he is working on different pieces of many episodes at one time. "Even though we might be mixing Episode 1, we're creating a creature in Episode 7 and going over some ADR on Episode 5, and then we have to check if we can fix something in Episode 9. There is a lot of juggling on this show." Kimmel uses spreadsheets to help him keep track of where he is on each episode. By keeping the spreadsheets up to date, he can quickly see what needs to be mixed, or what creature needs to be done, or if he needs to go back and update an episode. Since the dragons are CG, their detail is rough in the beginning. As the visuals improve, and more detail is added to the skin and body movement, the sounds for the dragons need to change. "We could be finished mixing an episode, but some of the visual effects won't be final, so we move onto the next episode. Once we get updated visuals for the previous episodes, we have to hop back on it and update and tweak our sound." The series is mixed in 5.1 at Todd AO in Hollywood by re-recording mixers Onnalee Blank and Matt Waters. Since they mixed the previous season as well, they were very familiar with the project. "I was very happy to get them back," says Kimmel. "They definitely helped me to get started on the right foot since they knew the show from last season. They've been great." This is Kimmel's first season on the series. While he admits to feeling a little overwhelmed at the beginning, after getting all 10 episodes at once, he also was extremely excited to start work on the show. "You chip at it piece by piece and you get through it. It's really exciting. It looks amazing so we have to make it sound amazing.Yeah, there are a few challenges but it's very rewarding." SCANDAL They call it, "Scandal-pace." That's how fast the dialogue moves in the ABC series Sandal, a political drama centered around Olivia Pope, an ex-White House communications director, and her crisis management firm. That fast pace sets the tone for the whole show. ShondaLand, the series production company owned by the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, directed the actors to talk as quickly, and with as much intensity, as they can. Stephen Fitzmaurice, re-recording mixer who handles the dialogue and music on the show, says, "They also talk right on top of each other, which from a mixing standpoint, is a challenge because you want the audience to be able to understand every word the first time." Clear dialogue is always a priority, but when the dialogue is moving fast for the entire 43 minutes of program material, it's essential that every word is understandable. "We don't want people hitting the rewind button trying to understand what was said," he explains. F O R T V S E R I E S While Fitzmaurice has many noise reduction tools at his disposal, he feels that great editorial work is the best solution for most dialogue issues on Scandal. Supervising sound editor Kathryn Madsen credits that work to dialogue editor Dave Cowan. "He just does a great job editing the dialogue, to make it as good as possible before it even hits the dub stage," she says. Some shows may shy away from ADR, but not Scandal. The ADR and sound editorial teams are key players in getting the dialogue as clear as possible. With so much ADR, Madsen says, "There is the danger of losing some dialogue somewhere, so I go through and make sure nothing has been left out, nothing is missing." She goes through the entire episode line by line before it gets to the dub stage to make sure that nothing was left out after the ADR and dialogue edit are complete. There are times when ADR isn't an option, like when the actors are performing difficult emotional scenes. "You just don't want to force an actor to loop a long section of a difficult performance, or for a scene that is really difficult for them to duplicate," Fitzmaurice says. "If our sound editorial team can help us find solutions first, then I can use our noise reduction tools much more effectively." On the dialogue, Madsen finds that water is her biggest battle, either from rain, rain machines, or in shower scenes. Fortunately, with all the ADR they do, she is confident in the actors' ability to give great performances. "They are fantastic loopers," she says. "With Scandal-pace, it helps to be good at ADR, and Tony Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant, he's the best looper I have ever worked with in my career. He is amazing. I don't even have to touch his stuff. He is perfect." Though Scandal is a political drama with fast-paced dialogue, it's not all hushed whispers and intrigue. There are many opportunities for sound design moments in the show. David DiPietro, re-recording mixer who handles the sound effect and Foley, likes that Scandal provides him with an opportunity to be creative. "Oftentimes in one-hour dramas, there isn't a lot of time for sound moments, but the picture editors on Scandal, Matt Ramsey and Greg Evans, have done a terrific job of integrating those," he says, recalling the opening of one episode, where the camera is passing through Olivia Pope's offices, and the televisions are on in all the rooms. "The process of making the soundscape, where we hear the same futzed television, except it's happening in different rooms and then it all comes together, is one of the reasons that I do this job. We don't get into sound so that we can clean up messes and try to get out of it as quickly as possible, we do it so we can be creative." Scandal often uses video montages to transition between scenes, or to recap events in the show. For example, Fitzmaurice notes in Episode 208, a montage was used to express the First Lady's emotions after the president was shot in the head. "We are in the emergency room with the First Lady and we have to go through this big traumatic scene where she's going through what happened in the previous episode in her head while we're also looking after Fitz and figuring out what is going on. There is a whole lot of fragmented dialogue pieces that come through with a lot of sound design elements. I would credit the picture editors with creating more sound moments this year that maybe weren't as prevalent last year." Typically, the audio team has five days to complete the ADR, Foley, effects, and dialogue edit, before it's sent to the dub stage for a two-day final mix. Though, they have been asked to edit and mix an entire episode in three days, Fitzmaurice and DiPietro try to work as efficiently as possible to get the job done. The Scandal team at Westwind Media: Stephen Fitzmaurice, David DiPietro and Kathryn Madsen. In order for DiPietro to get all the sound effects and Foley in place for the final mix, he has to have good communication with the sound editors. "I always get so much material to work with, so if I get to the dub stage and I already know where things are, it makes my job much easier and much more efficient." Picking-up reoccurring sounds, like the signature Scandal camera clicks, and also the reverb and EQ settings from Season 1, has helped him to keep a consistent sound between the two seasons. Says DiPietro, "We tend to flashback to older episodes quite often, so a lot of that comes back." For Season 2, DiPietro was hired to mix the sound effects and Foley, a position he took over from Fitzmaurice. He used Fitzmaurice's Season 1 templates as a starting point for Season 2. Fitzmaurice now mixes the dialogue and music, a position he took over from the newly retired Larry Stensvold. They had been working together for the past 15 years. Having worked together on Season 1, Fitzmaurice adopted a number of techniques from Stensvold. "As a great mentor and friend, Larry took me through what he did, and I try to take what was done, and adopt parts of that. At the same time, I try and bring my own style to the show." Scandal is mixed in 5.1 using an ICON D-Control with Pro Tools HD 9. Fitzmaurice likes the flexibility the ICON provides. Since the control surface is very customizable, he is able to get to the things he needs quickly. "One of the wonderful things about the ICON is you can put specific things on the knobs in front of you. Also, having everything automated is a huge help workflow wise, because that means you aren't spending time trying to figure out how to get in and out of your mix when you need to make changes." Scandal is mixed at Westwind Media (www.wwm. tv) in Burbank, which has worked on Grey's Anatomy — also created by Shonda Rhimes. Post0413_034-36, 38-40,42,51-AudioRAV5FINALREAD.indd 51 Post • April 2013 51 3/26/13 7:42 PM

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