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From the Editor: That Sound-for-Picture Thing

It’s all about audio, as it always has been, and as it always will be.

Even though I wrote the page, it didn’t occur to me until I was proofreading this month’s Table of Contents that perhaps for the first time ever—certainly in the 31 years I’ve been here—the monthly print edition of Mix doesn’t have a single feature story related specifically to a music recording project. “Oh, no!” I thought. “There’s one day to go! Am I going to have to start ripping up pages? This is Mix. The recording industry magazine. We have to have a record project.”

Then my breathing slowed down and I figured all was okay. We have plenty of content for music recording professionals. There’s Iron Maiden live, David Byrne on Broadway, a couple of speaker reviews, plus a ton of products we rated Best of Show from the recent AES convention. And we just got a piece in on the making of the new Tom Waits tribute album, along with a story on the making of Celine Dion’s new album ready to go for the January NAMM Show issue. We’re okay.

Plus, we have a cover story on an amazing rebirth of San Francisco’s premier audio post house, One Union Recording, rebuilt into a five-studio powerhouse with two 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos rooms, five Avid S5 consoles, seven full-blown Avid MTRX systems and more brand-new Genelec monitors than you’ve likely seen anywhere at one time. It’s cutting edge, it’s secure beyond belief, and it’s Atmos. It’s a good audio story.

Plus, we have two stellar features on films that will likely fly under the radar amid the flurry of titles released during the holiday season, though each features an excellent immersive soundtrack. Jennifer Walden brings us the story of the sound design behind The Aeronauts, Amazon’s first theatrical release, in development in England these past two years. The eight-minute clip shown in September at Mix Presents Sound for Film, in Dolby Atmos at Sony’s Cary Grant Theater, stole the show. The care and attention that went into the original recordings, the Foley, the sound design and the Atmos mix definitely shows on the screen.

Meanwhile in Peter Jackson’s WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, compiled from raw footage in Germany in 1916 and now held by the British Museum, Matt Hurwitz tells the story of how the team created a complete immersive soundtrack, including the foundational voice tracks, from material that didn’t exist. The footage was obviously shot MOS. The period sound was re-created, and it’s both accurate and enveloping. War is loud, and it can be scary. All told through sound.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in all things sound for picture. In late September, Mix hosted a hugely successful event at Sony Pictures Studios, with a foundation based on immersive sound. Tommy McCarthy, head of audio post-production, says he can’t find enough editors or rooms to fill the demand in content.

Studio designers around the country are all building 7.1.4 and 9.1.6 near-field immersive studios. Carl Yanchar, who designed One Union Recording, on this month’s cover, just completed a 12-Atmos-room facility in Woodland Hills, Calif., for an established pair of Hollywood sound designers.

Companies like Avid, Yamaha/Steinberg, Dolby, DTS, Focusrite, iZotope, Sound Particles, Meyer Sound, Genelec, JBL, Audeze—they’re all developing products to address the sound-for-picture market. And audio networking protocols have entered the vernacular throughout the post-production chain; even production sound mixers are talking about Dante.

All of this benefits the music recording industry and will continue to do so in the years ahead. The recent demand for 3000-plus Dolby Atmos Music titles from UMG by the end of the year tells you all you need to know about where this is all heading.

So, no, I’m not sweating the fact that there is not a music-recording-related feature in this month’s Mix. It’s all about audio, as it always has been, and as it always will be.