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From the Editor: So Many Ways to Play the Game

Every single month, in putting together issues of "Mix," I am reminded of just how many and varied styles there are to bring music and sound to life.

Every single month, in putting together issues of Mix, I am reminded of just how many and varied styles there are to bring music and sound to life. One month we might feature Chris Mara and Welcome to 1979 on the cover, recognizing the all-analog chain and the purity of his commitment. The next month it might be the new 120-fader Avid S6 two-position re-recording console at Sony Pictures Studios, where the dialog, music and effects files passing through the board on a blockbuster film might never have existed outside the digital domain, outside of conversion for playback.

Every story is different. There are as many analog-digital hybrid means and workflows to produce sound as there are producers and engineers. The one common thread is that most engineers have settled into a comfortable embrace of a hybrid means of production. One of the coolest things about the professional audio industry is its total reverence for both boutique, analog front ends and processing, coupled with the most advanced digital effects and control technologies. We love the Foundation, and we love the New.

That notion really hit home in putting together this month’s issue.

Danny Kortchmar & The Immediate Family, by Robyn Flans, Aug. 3, 2018

First, Robyn Flans’ cover story on Danny Kortchmar & The Immediate Family. Take a look at that cover. Those are some of the finest musicians to ever walk into a studio, and they helped to define an entire era of sound. They’ve played individually and together with the likes of Jackson Browne, The Eagles, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby Stills & Nash, and on through Vince Gill, Iggy Pop and so many others. They’re still in-demand session players. They still kick it.

So I jumped on it when Lisa Roy, our industry’s connector of people who should be connected, called to invite me to Bogie’s in Westlake Village in June to see the boys together on stage. Danny Kortchmar, she tells me, had been asked by a Japanese label to put together an album of his hits, both those he played on and those he wrote or co-wrote for some of the biggest artists of the day. His first thought was to call in his friends, both to play and to provide guest vocals.

One of those friends was Niko Bolas, one of the finest engineers this industry has seen, whether back then or today. His first real session back in the mid-’70s, under the guidance of his mentor Val Garay, included many of these same players. When they got together at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters Studio for three days of tracking, mostly first and second takes, Bolas was at the beautifully reconditioned Neve 8078, humbly stating that his job was just to get out of the way.

After completing the record, the band debuted at the Bogie’s show, then flew to Japan for ten sold-out nights and a record release, before coming back to play Bogie’s again on July 1. There might be a mini-tour forthcoming, who knows? The album will be available in the States later this fall. What a bunch of players.

And then the second story. Just a few weeks ago I got in touch with Cheryl Ottenritter to profile her new Dolby Atmos mix suite at her audio post facility in Silver Springs, Md., just outside of D.C. A music major from Auburn, Ottenritter cut her teeth in the machine room at Henninger Media Services, went to New York and mixed national spots, then came back home and eventually opened her own shop. She started as a composer with pen on paper, got into engineering through Cubase, learned on one of the very first WaveFrames, then AudioFile, Audio Vision, and finally Pro Tools. Self-taught almost entirely along the way, always looking ahead.

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When she first heard Dolby Atmos in 2013, she knew it was the future. Now she’s the first to install a near-field Dolby Atmos mix suite in the large and broadcast-heavy D.C. post-production market. She is building out two new Atmos rooms as I write this, and she has invested in a Streambox so that she can both work remotely and stream 4K video with 5.1 audio (soon to be Atmos) for client review. Staying ahead of the curve.

It’s a wonderful world we live in. Now if Dolby—or L-Acoustics, d&b, Flux::, Avid or some other company—would bring the immersive experience to a Danny Kortchmar & The Immediate Family show, we would come full-circle. And I’ll bet it would be a good show.