Q2 2023

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By Rob Feld N ew York-based Sound Lounge was founded in 1998 by sound mixers. It has remained a specialty shop, expanding from its early commercial au- dio focus to include film, television, digital campaigns, gaming, and emerging me- dia. The company has grown to occupy a significant space in the New York post-pro- duction landscape. Its team — including supervising sound editor Steve "Major" Giammaria, ADR Mixer Pat Christensen, and dialogue editor Evan Benjamin — was recently nominated for an MPSE award in Outstanding Achievement in Sound Edit- ing (Broadcast Short Form) for its work on FX series "The Bear." The series leans hard into the rock 'n' roll, dish-clanging world of a family-owned Chicago sandwich shop kitchen with some impressive sonic assaults. The sound-out- front vision for the series, which includes the nominated episode seven that was filmed as a single unbroken shot, provided a string of challenges for the team. They credit their company's artistic focus for enabling a lot of their success, as well as the fact that so many employees enter the company at the dawn of their careers, work their way up through various departments to learn capabilities and find their own pas- sions, and then stay after getting promoted from within. Recently, developing technologies have decreased the need for clients to come in to work in their Manhattan studios—a process only accelerated by remote work during the COVID pandemic. CineMontage: You're in a highly compet- itive market with growing technologies that leave clients less constrained by geo- graphical proximity, yet you have grown while staying niche and independent. Steve "Major" Giammaria: I think there's value in being strictly audio-focused. It is nice to be able to offer producers a package deal with finishing, picture, dailies, VFX, etc. But we do one thing, we do sound. In my career here, I've come onto a lot of shows starting on Season Two and I think that's because the producers got stuck with somebody on a package deal that they wound up being unhappy with. So, then they come around and decide to find the right fit. CineMontage: Do you find more opportunity or competition with clients' ability to work remotely? Or do you think it's a wash? Giammaria: I think the convenience of it is nice, but I think it's kind of a wash. You have the ability for people to attend sessions virtually who normally couldn't because they're somewhere else. But then you also have a lot more people "in" the session who maybe shouldn't be there. The flexibility that comes with that also means that nothing's ever locked and nothing's ever done, which is … fine. But I much prefer people in the room collaborating together. My least favorite workflow is posting a Quicktime for somebody to watch later and send notes. The middle ground of a ClearView or something more interactive is good. The problem is how are they listening to it? If we know ahead of time there's going to be a remote review component, we try and get everybody the same headphones. CineMontage: Which raises the question of how you mix knowing that the ultimate audience will be watching and listening on myriad devices. Giammaria: I think according to the latest Netflix stats, 72 percent of people still watch streaming content in their living room. Evan Benjamin: The clients I work with d o n ' t s e e m t o g o a n y w h e r e e l s e . I ' m actually starting something with someone I used to work with who moved to L.A. 15 years ago. I figured that was that but all of a sudden, he reached out. I asked if he was going to come to New York for it and he's still pondering it. Being in New York wasn't even a fundamental decision for him, which I thought was interesting. In the past, the logistics of how we work together geographically would have been key. Pat Christensen: In the broad picture, who was using Zoom four years ago? People would want to Skype in to ADR sessions so the audio never sounded good. But now, instead of [audio recording sample rates] being limited to 32 k [kilohertz], you've got 48 k and everything sounds pretty darn good. Then we'll send my secondary monitor, which has the picture on it, out a The Right Mix NEW YORK'S SOUND LOUNGE HAS WON ACCLAIM FOR ITS WORK ON FX'S "THE BEAR" 28 C I N E M O N T A G E F E A T U R E FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Jeremy Allen White in "The Bear." P H O T O : F X

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