As Levels Audio Post owner/mixer/sound designer Brian Riordan prepared for the fifth-season launch of American Idol, the Emmy-nominated Fox TV smash that he mixes weekly in stereo and 5.1, he wanted to make the Dub Stage, the room where he handles the show's post-production, more efficient. Not only did he want to better serve his clients, but he also wanted to streamline the studio and maybe catch a few extra hours of sleep. Well, he hasn't gotten any more rest, but he has met the other two goals by upgrading to a 32-channel Digidesign ICON D-Control integrated console environment.
Levels Audio owner Brian Riordan pauses in front of his new ICON.
“Prior to installing the ICON, I was using a ProControl with Edit Pack,” says Riordan. “The D-Control's Custom Faders, dedicated EQ and dynamic encoders, and XMON monitor section all enable me to finalize my mixes quite a bit quicker.” Levels Audio received the ICON during a brief period of down time around the holidays. Riordan had about a week to get familiar with the control surface before the start of season five. Despite a new level of efficiency, he still works 'round the clock from the time the edit locks until he delivers DVC Pro HD master with multiple mix formats and stems for the Tuesday night broadcast.
Aside from Fox's second-most-watched show ever, Levels Audio Post handles a variety of music production, sound design and audio post for television and film from its three studios; the Dub Stage, with its Stewart 16-foot Microperf Projection Screen (THX-approved), is the largest. The other rooms — Studio C and a penthouse control room with voice-over booth — offer ProControl surfaces, and all three rooms feature Pro Tools|HD Accel rigs equipped with dozens of plug-ins. Reason, Soundminer, Ableton Live, Acid and other programs are well-represented, as is a laundry list of outboard gear and signal processing.
Lead mixer Connor Moore occupies one of these rooms to work on programs such as The Bachelor and Viva La Bam, while mixer/sound designer Brian McLaughlin handles post-production for independent films and various other projects. Riordan handles the lion's share of television music shows, including the MTV Movie Awards and MTV Video Music Awards, the Radio Music Awards, the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Jamie Foxx: Unpredictable NBC concert special. The Dub Stage's new ICON suits his music-heavy lineup. “The control surface is great for post,” says Riordan, “but it's also a very musical console, which allows me to easily work in both media.”