It's been six years since AES came to San Francisco, nearly an eternity in the technological timeframe. That was the show where Studer unveiled its 24-track ADAT system and Digidesign debuted Pro Tools|24 Mix and entered the world of Windows, while the ribbon mic renaissance began with AEA's R44C RCA reissue and newcomer Royer Labs' R-121. Meanwhile, that year's beige 333MHz Apple G3 would set you back $3,000 — once you were on the waiting list. In terms of both pro audio and the world at large, much has changed since 1998.
Fortunately, much about San Francisco — this place we call home — has not changed. In what we refer to as “The City” (and its surrounding environs, from Silicon Valley to Napa Valley), some 10 million people live in the coolest place on Earth. This is a city with a vibe, a feel, a pulse and — dare we say — a soul. It's a walking town, a shopping town, an eating town and a place that's always catered to the arts and entertainment — a statement just as true today as in the Gold Rush/Barbary Coast days of 1849 or Haight-Ashbury of the swinging '60s.
With that in mind, we present a focus on the creative force that has always been part of the San Francisco sound — then and now. That live rock 'n' roll sound was borne out of names like McCune and Meyer and Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead. A fiercely independent, non-Hollywood film movement rose from the likes of Coppola, Lucas, Zaentz and Murch, while Dolby Stereo forever changed the movie-going experience.
Springing out of the San Francisco peninsula, a technology revolution gave rise to Ampex, HP, Apple, Digidesign, CCRMA, SGI, Sun, Adobe, Intel, Google, Yahoo and eBay. On the studio side, artists were attracted to the world-class facilities of Wally Heider, The Automatt, the Record Plant, Music Annex, Fantasy and now flock to newcomers such as SF Soundworks and Studio 880. There's so much to say that we ran out of space — go to www.mixonline.com for “Online Extras” and bonus materials.
Also in this issue, Mix's Larry Blake chats with 2004 TEC Hall of Fame recipient George Lucas about his years of pushing the envelope in image and sound creation. American Graffiti wove multiple narratives backed by contemporary music, all played via onscreen sources — a cinema first. As the rest of the industry moved toward electronic scores, Star Wars revived the popularity of the large symphonic score, while the film jumpstarted Dolby Stereo, leading thousands of theaters to upgrade with multichannel sound. Lucas founded THX to provide performance standards for home and cinema playback. Other Lucas-driven innovations include SoundDroid, which — 10 years before Pro Tools — offered picture interlock, multitrack recording, synthesis, editing and mixing via touch-sensitive screens and moving faders. Lucas continues to invest in Lucasfilm divisions such as ILM, Skywalker Sound and the Letterman Digital Arts Center, a new 23-acre production complex going online in 2005 in San Francisco's Presidio.
There is lots more, including our not-to-be-missed annual AES New Products Guide, spotlighting hundreds of debuts you'll see at the show. For those who can't make it, we'll provide complete AES coverage next month.
See you at AES!