Sound Mixer Maurizio Argentieri Relies on Futureproof Metric Halo Interfaces
for Critically-Acclaimed Sophia Loren Film, The Life Ahead
SAFETY HARBOR, FLORIDA: The Life Ahead stars celebrated actress and octogenarian Sophia Loren in a performance that many are predicting will earn her yet another Oscar. Critics have hailed The Life Ahead as one of the best films of the year, and it has already earned numerous awards and a nomination for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Foreign Language Film and Golden Globe win for Best Original Song by Dianne Warren and Laura Pausini. The movie-loving masses agree: The Life Ahead peaked within the Top 10 Netflix streaming films in 37 countries. Recently, the Motion Pictures Sound Editors (MPSE) nominated The Life Ahead, for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature for the 68th Annual Golden Reel Awards. Veteran sound designer and mixer Maurizio Argentieri has the worked on the project from conception through the final mix, including on-set dialog recording with his trusty, rock-solid, Metric Halo ULN-8 and 2882 interfaces.
“It was a joy to work with such an iconic actress as Sophia Loren,” Argentieri said. “She was very friendly and extremely accommodating of requests from the sound department. Her son, Edoardo Ponti, directed the film and was a real collaborator and a real part of the sound team. He loved thinking about sound and we worked closely and developed a friendship. Edoardo’s interest and enthusiasm for sound was a source of inspiration. I got involved in The Life Ahead at the stage of pre-production planning. I went on to record sound on-set, design sound in post-production, supervise the dialog editor and the score, and create the final mix.”
Argentieri has had his Metric Halo 2882 for going on twenty years and Metric Halo continues to support it with periodic updates to keep its interface hardware and firmware current while the audio circuitry continues to deliver year in and year out. At seven years old, his Metric Halo ULN-8 recently got its first hardware and firmware update and is now, like the 2882, using Metric Halo’s latest 3d technology. Argentieri uses the 2882 to input his rig of Lectrosonics lavalier microphones at line-level and Shure Axient® Digital lavaliers via the digital input in ULN8. Shure Axient Digital allow him to make microphone adjustments on the transmitters remotely. That’s a time- and hassle-saver in any situation but is especially useful given requirements for Covid-19 social distancing. Argentieri uses the ULN-8 also for two channels of Sennheiser MKH 80 large diaphragm microphones run through two channels of Manley tube preamplifiers. The six remaining ULN-8 channels employ Metric Halo’s ultra-low noise microphone preamplifiers for custom-built double-MS microphone rigs for surround sound ambience and sound effects.
“With Metric Halo’s MH Link technology, the two interfaces have zero latency and appear as one in my computer,” Argentieri said. “Whereas other engineers might use a portable recorder, Metric Halo effectively gives me a portable studio, and that makes a huge difference. The monitoring quality with the Metric Halo headphone preamps is excellent and gives me a pleasant experience all day long. More importantly, I can record all of the tracks raw, leaving any processing decisions for post-production, while also processing, mixing, and mastering the tracks to create rough a stereo mix that goes with the dailies. These days, people all around the world are reviewing the dailies, and they review them on anything from professional monitors to smartphones. The processing, mixing, and mastering uses Metric Halo’s onboard DSP to give them the kind of compression, equalization, and impact the director and other decision-makers are expecting of the final mix. I’ll even throw in some Metric Halo HaloVerb to add ambience for scenes that really require it, like churches.”
Critically, Argentieri uses the Metric Halo DSP to determine if any issues with the lavalier mics can be compensated for in post-production. If they can be, he can rest assured. “It’s a huge opportunity not to stress people out or waste time changing things on set that can be fixed in post,” he said. But if something crosses the borderline, he can send a boom operator to make a physical adjustment.
Not only does Argentieri’s Metric Halo rig sound fantastic, but it is also more than tough enough to stand up to the rigors of location filming. “It’s been in so many situations with dust and humidity and all the things you’re not supposed to mix with electronics,” he laughed. “While filming The Life Ahead, we got stuck in a huge thunderstorm. I normally work under a pop-up roof, but the rain came down so hard that the roof collapsed! A ton of water got all over everything. My computer died, but both the Metric Halo ULN-8 and 2882 came out fine. I
swapped out for a new computer and was recording audio on the rig the very next day!”
He continued, “In addition to building the very best interfaces, I love the people at Metric Halo! With other companies, if you have an issue or a question, you call or email the company. With Metric Halo, if I have an issue or question, I call or email a person. Specifically, I call [co-founder] BJ [Buchalter] or Jon [Stern]. They are very present, and they deserve a lot of appreciation for this. They have put a lot of energy into building a Metric Halo community.”
ABOUT METRIC HALO
Based on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Metric Halo provides the world with award-winning software and hardware recording, processing, metering and analysis solutions.