In a single word, the name “Disney” evokes the entire history of the film production and post-production industry. As if to underscore this heritage, the groundbreaking animation marvel Fantasia, which introduced stereo cinema sound to the world upon its release in 1940, was in part remixed for its commemorative re-release in 2000 in the very same Disney Main Theater that the original was mixed in six decades earlier.
During that time, which spans the era of modern media, Buena Vista Sound at The Walt Disney Studios, situated on a luscious Burbank campus, has continually anticipated the changes in media sound, remaining consistently ahead of the technology and expertise curve. Three of the company’s four main dubbing stages, and its many audio editorial suites, have been brought fully into the digital domain. For instance, Room 6 was upgraded in 1996, outfitted with an AMS Logic 2 console and Sony 3348 digital multitrack and Tascam MMR-8 dubbing recorders. Stage A had its own renovation in 1999, with the addition of an AMS Neve DFC three-position film mixing console, as well as the JBL three-way theatrical monitoring system; the same technology platforms will grace Stage D after its renovation this year.
The comprehensive array of services at Buena Vista Sound includes a fully equipped ADR suite, which utilizes both linear and random-access recording media, and offers ISDN access to voice talent from Burbank to Bombay. The facility also offers access to the full range of services under the Disney production and post-production umbrella, including full telecine and transfer capabilities, all of which have been upgraded to full digital operation. Projects that move through the complex are tracked by a central management system, which updates status from post-production through archiving.
In fact, if there is an overarching concept to Disney’s unparalleled heritage in the media industry, it has been the company’s ability, under the leadership of Senior Vice President of Post Production and Technical Operations Chris Carey, to implement and manage media operations. For instance, the DFC console in Stage A is configured to be able to be run as either a two- or three-position platform, able to shift easily between video and film work. The most recently installed DFC console offers the maximum possible DSP power available – for up to 300 inputs.
“We paid a tremendous amount of attention to the ergonomics of the facility,” explains Terry Porter, Executive Director of Creative Operations for Buena Vista Sound. “On the one hand, we moved toward the digital renovation that is still ongoing here in a very aggressive manner. But on the other hand, we also did so in a very careful and calculated way, examining all of our options, watching technology trends develop in the industry, choosing the best of what’s available at each step, as well as learning from each of our own previous upgrades. We’ve learned what works in post-production and what doesn’t. And our clients have experienced the benefits of that approach to the business of post-production.”