Mix Magazine Immersive Sound Conference

Keynote Address:

Randy Thom is Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound. He has been nominated for 14 Oscars, an Emmy, and a Grammy. He won Academy Awards for The Right Stuff and The Incredibles. Randy has received Career Achievement Awards from the Motion Picture Sound Editors and the Cinema Audio Society. After working in Public Radio Randy began his film career as an assistant to Walter Murch, recording helicopters, guns, and flies for Apocalypse Now, as well as assisting in the film’s 9 month mix, after which Ben Burtt hired him to work on The Empire Strikes Back. He was Production Mixer on Return of the Jedi, Rumblefish, and Never Cry Wolf; and has worked at Skywalker Sound for over 35 years. Randy has written numerous articles on film sound, and has been the leading proponent for the idea that sound design should begin in pre-production. His essay “Designing A Movie For Sound” is used in film curricula at universities around the world.

Immersive sound—Taking Hollywood by storm and rapidly spreading around the world, Dolby’s Atmos and Auro Technologies’ Auro-3D advanced surround sound formats are impressing audiences with fully enveloping, more natural sound environments for cinema and home theaters. And audiences love it! Speakers in the ceilings, all around the room. Music and effects like you’ve never heard them! Not since the advent of 5.1 discrete surround in the early 1990s has there been a more exciting technological breakthrough in film sound production and playback. And it’s just getting started.

The Creative Opportunities of Immersive Sound: Effects Editing and Mixing

With the ability to place individual sounds precisely in a theater, and all the attention paid to the “height” channels and ceiling speakers, sound editors and mixers have seemingly unlimited possibilities to move vehicles and gunshots and door slams around the immersive field. The trick is to not be distracting and to remember that it’s all about supporting the action on screen. Leading re-recording mixers and sound designers discuss techniques they’ve employed for effective use of effects in the immersive sound field.

Technology and Workflow: Audio Production/Production for Immersive Sound

It was a much simpler time when “workflow” meant all sounds going into one speaker. In 1952, the number of channels increased to 7, with some of them assigned to multiple speaker sound arrays. Now, the path from source recording to re-recording to playback in a theater has grown into a complicated maze of routing, panning and busing possibilities. This panel will focus on the challenges facing both mix stages and re-recording mixers in adapting their workflows to today’s immersive sound formats.

Formats: The Technologies Behind Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D and DTS MDA

For the first 60 years of stereo film mixing, changes in format were primarily located in the projection booth. The carving of the movie theater into a three-dimensional sound space for immersive formats has entailed adding speakers in varying locations, with a significant additional cost to existing systems. This panel will feature proponents for the three leading systems, who will explain the philosophy behind their layouts and how they integrate into the workflow of post-production sound. Additional perspective will be given by engineers from Hollywood studios who have retrofitted their mixing stages.

The Creative Opportunities of Immersive Sound: Music and Dialog

Sound effects received most of the early attention, but once music editors and re-recording mixers started working in immersive sound formats, they found that sometimes subtle movements in the music and dialog mix could open up the field for better imaging and clarity. Leading re-recording mixers and editors discuss track preparation and techniques they use to create a more realistic and immersive total sound experience.