Letters to Mix

PRODUCTION MASTERS In the December 2003 issue, you published an article on the sound work involved with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
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In the December 2003 issue, you published an article on the sound work involved with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It was an interesting article, except for the fact that you only gave a cursory mention of the seven months spent recording original dialog and sound effects during production.

Your magazine did miss out on some very interesting recording and mixing facts for your readers. Even though only “49 percent” of the dialog recorded on location made the final mix, pains were taken to build an ADR stage at Fox Studios Rosarito so that dialog obscured by jet engines, fans and wave machines could be recorded immediately and substituted. Multitrack sound effects were recorded at sea aboard the frigate Rose under various sailing conditions, including storms. Hydraulic gimbals were engineered to quietly move a 225-ton set around on the head of a pin. Master music tracks were recorded at the fabled Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood for on-set playback in scenes involving Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany playing Boccherini, Buxtehude and Mozart. Finally, time was spent on the Galapagos Islands recording indigenous animals in their natural habitats.

The latter must have been a first for any major motion picture. There were some unique tricks and systems developed for this picture, but what really made the sound on Master and Commander work so magnificently is that we all worked together as a team under coach Peter Weir.
Arthur Rochester


I enjoyed reading “The Beatles' ‘Let It Be…Naked’” in your January issue. Who in our business isn't fascinated with how those recordings were done? But it does strike me as odd that the premise behind the new mixes was [to retain] what the four of them (plus Preston) played or had intended to be presented, yet what we hear now are edited pieces of “best takes.” This practice is certainly not new to recording, but it is striking when such care [is taken] to present what they sounded like as a group, when, in fact, they did not sound that good without the comps.

This is much like the paradox of recording orchestra with state-of-the-art mic pre's and hallowed halls. Everyone's in time and tune, but few except those involved know the extent of editing that goes into producing a classical release. It's staggering.

While recording [requires] an awful lot of magic-making, one can't help but wonder if we in this business don't fool ourselves once or twice too often along the way.
Eliott James
Wateree Studio, Atlanta


How about doing an article about the poor quality support that companies are giving for their software? When I buy a piece of hardware, if it didn't work, it went back to the store. Now with all of the new software, if you have a problem, it takes an act of God to get any help.

[Here are] two examples I am suffering through at this time. I purchased Nuendo 2.0 for my Mac G4. It played for a moment and then stopped and then played and then stopped. I tried for more than an hour to get through to Steinberg on the phone. Busy. Busy. I finally called the Canadian support number and got some help. The support tech walked me through a new download, but it still didn't solve another problem that I have.

Today, I purchased Audioease's Altiverb in the Netherlands. When I went to the Web page to answer the challenge/response question, there was no page! I tried over and over. I sent an e-mail. No response. I telephoned and got a voice message.

Someone needs to hold these companies responsible for customer support. These two programs I mentioned cost $1,700 between the two.

I think that even though it is kind of “biting the hand that feeds you,” these companies [are] accountable for the stuff they sell.
Ken Roberts


I've always enjoyed the “Bitstream” column; I've found it extremely informative and helpful on many occasions at key moments.

I'd like to make a comment about your most recent Mix articles [November and December, 2003]. The column was about Open Source solutions. Thanks for driving this train in your discussions, by the way!

The comment I take a bit of exception to was something to the effect of “I have a friend who just gave up trying to get a Web server up and running on Linux and went to M$/IIS because it was so much easier to setup.”

I have to agree: Certainly, it is much easier to deal with GUIs and get an M$/IIS box up and running. However, if the user isn't super-proactive about patch updates, They will be more likely to contribute to the propagation of new Web-related viruses, worms, etc.

This doesn't mean Apache is impenetrable, but as an Open Source product, it is tested for exploits. In accordance with your theme, you ought to have suggested to this person to:

  1. Install Windows, get IIS running.
  2. Install Apache on the Windoze box, get familiar with the configuration files, including restricting.
  3. Install Linux on a test machine and follow the tutorials and its easy-to-follow GUI defaults for installing the OS.

There is so much documentation for Apache and Red Hat OS that one really has to spend a little time and will have Red Hat up and running, serving Web pages via Apache more efficiently and more securely than an M$ implementation. (The box won't have to be rebooted when it gets into a state of funk, either!)

Of course, once the box is up and running, one needs to find out about how to harden the OS, the Web server and turn off all unnecessary applications.This is probably the most intimidating part, because Linux runs many programs with the default install that are particularly vulnerable and ought to be turned off. The server should only have apps listening that the user requires!

The main point I'm hoping to make is that you gotta keep driving this Open Source Train! Don't let someone who wants to run a simple Web server on Linux fail and revert back to M$!

I can't yet get away from running Logic on Windows because I can't afford a Mac! I've [got] too much riding on my M$ gravy train! I don't mind paying developers for a kick-ass app like Logic and plug-ins if I can run it on my own custom kernel!

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