NEW YORK, NY - Creative Group, the industry's premier full-service post production facility, recently delivered the audio mixes and video editing of comedian Robert Klein's latest HBO special, "Unfair and Unbalanced," which premiered Saturday, June 12, at 10 p.m.
Creative Group's audio mixer Mike Fisher and video editor Eli Tishberg, along with music mixer Thom Cadley, provided HBO with a final product that captured the heart and soul of the legendary comic's eighth television special.
The performance is a unique blend of political satire, musings on aging and original songs-a Robert Klein trademark. Known for integrating music into his comedy routines, Klein performed several songs with the 47-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, which proved to be one of the biggest challenges for the Creative Group team.
"The orchestra is made up of an elite group of musicians and Robert performs with them several times, so it was our goal to make the audience feel like they are right there experiencing it all," says Fisher. "We had to make sure the laughs were heard, as well as the music. Thom Cadley was great, he came in and mixed the songs in 5.1 stereo and made them sound amazing."
Fisher, who along with Cadley worked almost entirely using Pro Tools, mixing on a D-Command (Avid) console, also praised the use of 5.1 for the audio mixes. "Capturing the comedy and the live audience's reaction in surround sound gave the special such a wide open feeling," he explains. "When viewing at home, you really felt as if you were in the audience and Robert was up on that stage right in front of you. We wanted the audience to feel as if they were right there sitting in that first row center seat where they could see and hear everything, including the crowd laughing around them."
While Cadley and Fisher worked on the audio, Tishberg was just down the hall working on the video editing, allowing the team to interact more efficiently as they worked to deliver the final 5.1 mixes with the final video. Having everyone in one facility was a major reason producer/music director Bob Stein turned to Creative Group for the project.
"Creative Group is one of the few facilities that can even offer the possibility of doing everything under one roof," says Stein. "Plus, it has a top-flight staff that I was very comfortable with. Audio post-production is always a big part of Robert's shows and Mike, who I've worked with many times, is great at mixing comedy. He absolutely understands the needs of comedy audio, while Thom and Eli, who I was working with for the first time, both did a great job! If there was a question, it was great to be able to just walk down the hall."
As for the video editing, Tishberg had his own challenge of making sure that when Klein played alongside the orchestra, the footage resembled a true professional musical performance, as that is exactly what it was-with a comic spin.
"Robert's brand of comedy music is well-performed, well-composed music that happens to have funny lyrics," explains Stein. "The comedy lyrics always work much better if everything looks [and sounds] like it's a real piece of music, so I always ask my directors to shoot it as such. When it comes time for editing, that feeling is there even though you need to focus on Robert because, after all, he's the star; and we need to see him on screen. Creative Group worked all of it in perfectly."