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Mix Presents Sound for Film: The Art of Sound Design

Truth, honesty, courage, risk, inventiveness…these were the types of words that keynote speaker Mark Mangini, a three-time Academy Award-nominated sound designer/re-recording mixer, used to describe what lies at the heart of film sound design, whether straight-ahead or mind-meld inventive. The art of sound is the art of storytelling, he explained.

Mangini, a principal in Formosa Group, kicked off the second annual “Mix Presents Sound for Film” event at Host Sponsor Sony Pictures Studios, in Culver City, Calif., September 26, setting the tone for this year’s theme: “The Art of Sound Design: Music, Dialog and Effects in an Immersive World.” Mangini also closed the show by introducing a VIP screening of Mad Max: Fury Road in Dolby Atmos, in the William Holden Theatre; he was sound designer and co-supervising sound editor, with Scott Hecker, on the film.

In between, more than 400 attendees were treated to a series of Master Classes on Immersive Sound by Dolby, DTS DSpatial, AID and Auro Technologies, to go with expert panels on Music, Dialog, Effects and Mixing. And in the hallways and mixing stages at Sony, leading manufacturers and organizations in film sound showcased their technologies and talents.

Avid showed the world’s largest S6 console, recently installed in the Kim Novak Theatre; Dolby showcased its new broadcast and cinema tools; JBL built a truss in Stage 17 to display its midfield Atmos monitoring system with its 7 Series monitors; Meyer Sound introduced its first new near-field monitor in 25 years, the self-powered Amie; DTS showed its new MDA Creator tools; and Yamaha/Steinberg-Harrison announced a strategic partnership to develop software tools for film sound.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way the event turned out,” says Tom Kenny, editor of Mix. “Sony has been an incredible partner from the outset, and they have always emphasized that while it’s at their facilities, it’s about the entire film sound community. This year we were excited to have Formosa Group and Warner Bros. team up as sponsors of the VIP party, Music panel and the screening of Mad Max. Then to have Dolby, DTS, Auro, Yamaha, Meyer Sound, RSPE, Avid and all these other sponsors return from our inaugural event shows that there is a great interest in the new technologies and techniques infiltrating film sound. The audience had full exposure.”

It was also the second straight year that Mix and Sony worked with Event Partners MPSE and CAS, two long-standing organizations serving the editors and mixers of the film and television sound communities. The MPSE sponsored and moderated an expert panel on Sound Effects: How Far Can You Go?, while the CAS sponsored and moderated an expert panel on Dialog: From Set to Screen.

A few highlights from the event included:

Music Panel: From left, Andy Koyama, Bill Abbott, Joseph Magee, Steven Saltzman, Will Kaplan and moderator Dennis Sands kicked off the Expert Panel series with a roundtable on Music: Composing, Editing and Mixing Beyond 5.1, wherein they discussed the soundtrack’s integration into the sound design and the potential (with warnings) of music to extend beyond the screen. Sponsored by Formosa Group and Warner Bros. Post Production Services.

Dialog Panel: Sponsored by CAS, The Expert Panel Dialog: From Set to Screen included, from left, Lee Orloff, Teri Dorman, CAS President Mark Ulano, moderator Jeff Wexler, Gary Bourgeois, Marla McGuire and Stephen Tibbo. Tips and techniques were revealed from production through the edit and on to the final mix, with an emphasis on how they all strive to keep the production track and work with post to form the basis of any sound design.

Sound Effects Panel: In the world of Immersive Sound, supervising sound editors and sound designers get a lot of attention. The MPSE sponsored the Expert Panel on Effects: How Far Can You Go? which included, from left, Mandell Winter, Scott M. Gershin, moderator David Bondelevitch, Gregory Hedgepath, Richard King and Will Files. Workflow and innovative storytelling proved to be the main topics for working in Immersive Sound.

Mixing Panel: The final Expert Panel of the day, sponsored by DTS, was dubbed Mixing: Immersive Sound, Film and Television and featured, from left: Greg Watkins, Martyn Zub, Jeremy Peirson, moderator Tom Kenny, Onnalee Blank, Mike Minkler and Matt Waters. Mixers are sound designers, too, echoing the theme of the day, and the audience heard the whole range, from Game of Thrones to the upcoming The Hateful Eight.