Tag Archives: Sony Pictures Post

Sony Pictures Post adds home theater dub stage

By Mel Lambert

Reacting to the increasing popularity of home theater systems that offer immersive sound playback, Sony Pictures Post Production has added a new mix stage to accommodate next-generation consumer audio formats.

Located in the landmark Thalberg Building on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, the new Home Theater Immersive Mix Stage features a flexible array of loudspeakers that can accommodate not only Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro-3D immersive consumer formats, but also other configurations as they become available, including DTS:X, as well as conventional 5.1- and 7.1-channel legacy formats.

The new room has already seen action on an Auro-3D consumer mix for director Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters and director Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven in both Atmos and Auro-3D. It is scheduled to handle home theater mixes for director Morten Tyldum’s new sci-fi drama Passengers, which will be overseen by Kevin O’Connell and Will Files, the re-recording mixers who worked on the theatrical release.

L-R: Nathan Oishi; Diana Gamboa, director of Sony Pictures Post Sound; Kevin O’Connell, re-recording mixer on ‘Passengers’; and Tom McCarthy.

“This new stage keeps us at the forefront in immersive sound, providing an ideal workflow and mastering environment for home theaters,” says Tom McCarthy, EVP of Sony Pictures Post Production Services. “We are empowering mixers to maximize the creative potential of these new sound formats, and deliver rich, enveloping soundtracks that consumers can enjoy in the home.”

Reportedly, Sony is one of the few major post facilities that currently can handle both Atmos and Auro-3D immersive formats. “We intend to remain ahead of the game,” McCarthy says.

The consumer mastering process involves repurposing original theatrical release soundtrack elements for a smaller domestic environment at reduced playback levels suitable for Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD disc and digital delivery. The Home Atmos format involves a 7.4.1 configuration, with a horizontal array of seven loudspeakers — three up-front, two side channels and two rear surrounds — in addition to four overhead/height and a subwoofer/LFE channel. The consumer Auro-3D format, in essence, involves a pair of 5.1-channel loudspeaker arrays — left, center, right plus two rear surround channels — located one above the other, with all speakers approximately six feet from the listening position.

Formerly an executive screening room, the new 600-square-foot stage is designed to replicate the dimensions and acoustics of a typical home-theater environment. According to the facility’s director of engineering, Nathan Oishi, “The room features a 24-fader Avid S6 control surface console with Pan/Post modules. The four in-room Avid Pro Tools HDX 3 systems provide playback and record duties via Apple 12-Core Mac Pro CPUs with MADI interfaces and an 8TB Promise Pegasus hard disk RAID array, plus a wide array of plug-ins. Picture playback is from a Mac Mini and Blackmagic HD Extreme video card with a Brainstorm DCD8 Clock for digital sync.”

An Avid/DAD AX32 Matrix controller handles monitor assignments, which then route to a BSS BLU 806 programmable EQ that handles all of standard B-chain duties for distribution to the room’s loudspeaker array. These comprise a total of 13 JBL LSR-708i two-way loudspeakers and two JBL 4642A dual 15 subwoofers powered by Crown DCI Series networked amplifiers. Atmos panning within Pro Tools is accommodated by the familiar Dolby Rendering and Mastering Unit/RMU.

During September’s “Sound for Film and Television Conference,” Dolby’s Gary Epstein demo’d Atmos. ©2016 Mel Lambert.

“A Delicate Audio custom truss system, coupled with Adaptive Technologies speaker mounts, enables the near-field monitor loudspeakers to be re-arranged and customized as necessary,” adds Oishi. “Flexibility is essential, since we designed the room to seamlessly and fully support both Dolby Atmos and Auro formats, while building in sufficient routing, monitoring and speaker flexibility to accommodate future immersive formats. Streaming and VR deliverables are upon us, and we will need to stay nimble enough to quickly adapt to new specifications.”

Regarding the choice of a mixing controller for the new room, McCarthy says that he is committed to integrating more Avid S6 control surfaces into the facility’s workflow, witnessed by their current use within several theatrical stages on the Sony lot. “Our talent is demanding it,” he states. “Mixing in the box lets our editors and mixers keep their options open until print mastering. It’s a more efficient process, both creatively and technically.”

The new Immersive Mix Stage will also be used as a “Flex Room” for Atmos pre-dubs when other stages on the lot are occupied. “We are also planning to complete a dedicated IMAX re-recording stage early next year,” reports McCarthy.

“As home theaters grow in sophistication, consumers are demanding immersive sound, ultra HD resolution and high-dynamic range,” says Rich Berger, SVP of digital strategy at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “This new stage allows our technicians to more closely replicate a home theater set-up.”

“The Sony mix stage adds to the growing footprint of Atmos-enabled post facilities and gives the Hollywood creative community the tools they need to deliver an immersive experience to consumers,” states Curt Behlmer, Dolby’s SVP of content solutions and industry relations.

Adds Auro Technologies CEO Wilfried Van Baelen, “Having major releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment incorporating Auro-3D helps provide this immersive experience to ensure they are able to enjoy films how the creator intended.”


Mel Lambert is principal of Content Creators, an LA-based copywriting and editorial service, and can be reached at mel.lambert@content-creators.com. Follow him on Twitter @MelLambertLA.

Quick Chat: Sony’s Tom McCarthy talks about new MPSE role

By Randi Altman

Tom McCarthy is an Oscar-winning sound supervisor (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and industry veteran who comes from a line of industry veterans. In addition to his role as EVP of post production facilities at Sony Pictures Studios, he was recently elected president of the MPSE (Motion Picture Sound Editor).

So why did this already busy man take on this additional role? Well, as he explains it, it is a way to give back to an industry he loves and that is in his blood. Let find out more about McCarthy and what he hopes to accomplish as MPSE president.

Why is this new role with MPSE so important to you?
My family has had a wide range of careers in the movie business. I spent my childhood in my father’s picture editorial room. I had an uncle who was a cinematographer and another uncle, Milo Lory, who was a sound effects editor. Milo won an Academy Award for Ben Hur. The movie industry has been a major part of my life and provided me with great memories and an amazing career. It is simply time to give back to an industry and community that I have been so blessed to be a part of.

What do you hope to tackle first?
The Motion Picture Sound Editors has been in existence for 63 years, promoting the art of sound and supporting its membership. It is my hope to expand its membership offering by increasing awareness and by creating new events and seminars to stimulate collaboration and mentoring of new talent. The board is considering the name “Sound Advice” for these events.

They will be hosted at different studios and facilities. I have already reached out to the management at many facilities for their support, and they have been extremely receptive. In addition, I have started to reach out to technology companies to sponsor an event where their hardware and software solutions can be presented and tested on-site by MPSE members, a kind of one-on-one NAB where companies share their tools and answer questions from the membership.

So educating and sharing information?
We are also considering the possibility of opening up a chat room on the MPSE website where members can ask and answer questions about new tools and hardware solutions, better ways to create sound elements or recordings, the ins and outs of gaming sound, and so forth. It would be a support mechanism for our membership. It would also allow students and up-and -coming talent to gain valuable knowledge early on in their careers, creating a stronger talent base for filmmakers and gaming producers. In that regard, it is my hope that sound editors in areas outside theatrical and television entertainment will increase their involvement in MPSE and provide their knowledge and experience to the organization.

Times are changing. So are the distribution methods and digital devices that share entertainment around the world. The MPSE needs to evolve with these changes and our current board is ready to do so. Most importantly, it is time for our community to share our knowledge and collaborate better to nurture new and upcoming talent. It is important for our professional members to mentor our student members.

You are clearly a believer in education and sharing information. Can you talk about how that has helped you in your career?
It doesn’t happen enough. People want to protect themselves and their careers. I hope we can change that. It is one reason that I ran for president. But this goal will not be realized unless our membership becomes more involved in the organization. Everyone must contribute to make big things happen. Our board wants it. Our membership wants it. I believe they have wanted it for a long time. It just needs a push. I strongly encourage our members — new and old — to get involved, to join the board. New ideas and fresh management is needed for the organization to evolve and diversify.

What is something about the MPSE that people might not know about, but should?

The MPSE organization is more than sound editors who work in features and television. It is a professional organization of sound supervisors, designers and editors, who are also re-recording mixers and Foley artists. Our talent supports and creates sound for all multimedia products, including features and television, and for a gaming industry that is increasing in size by leaps and bounds. Its membership is worldwide and offers anybody interested in entertainment sound the resources to expand their careers.


You started in this biz as a hands-on audio pro, do you ever get the itch to do that again?
I have to admit that it was difficult at first to turn my artistic hat in for an executive position. I still throw in my two cents on a soundtrack when asked and, yes, even sometimes when not asked.

I have been in my management role for roughly 22 years and I have enjoyed every minute. I learn something new every day about the business side of entertainment and try to incorporate that knowledge with my creative background. It helps to round out my decision-making and do what is best for filmmakers and the studios as a whole. Having the creative and business background is extremely helpful in running a post facility. I hope to use my creative knowledge and business experience to expand and strengthen the Motion Picture Sound Editors.

Sony Post adds mix team of Steve Pederson, Daniel J. Leahy

Sony Pictures Post Production Services has added re-recording mixers Steve Pederson and Daniel J. Leahy to its audio post staff. Pederson and Leahy have worked as a team on a number of motion picture projects, including the Antoine Fuqua film The Equalizer, which, as independents, they mixed on Sony Pictures’ Cary Grant Stage last year.

They are currently mixing Fuqua’s latest film, Southpaw on the Sony lot. Upcoming projects include HBO’s True Detective and Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven.

Pederson’s career includes tenures at Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and Todd-AO. He won an Academy Award for Best Sound in 1996 for Apollo 13 (shared with Rick Dior, Scott Millan and David MacMillan), alongside one other Academy Award, three BAFTA and two Emmy Award nominations. His credits include Rock of Ages, The Blind Side, Hall Pass and Schindler’s List.

Leahy’s career spans 30 years and includes work at Todd-AO, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios, and as an independent. He won Emmy Awards in 2010 and 1999 for The Pacific (shared with Michael Minkler and Andrew Ramage) and The Rat Pack (shared with Michael C. Casper and Felipe Borrero), respectively. Other notable credits include The Boy Next Door, Olympus Has Fallen, Training Day and The Fast and the Furious. One of his first credits as re-recording mixer came on Back to the Future.

Pederson and Leahy (pictured above L-R) were impressed by how Sony has grown and modernized its sound facilities. “While the creative concepts of our craft haven’t changed through the years, the way we achieve those concepts has changed dramatically,” Pederson explains. “Sony has embraced changing technology without losing sight of the basics that keep filmmakers confident they’re being taken care of. To work in a progressive department that sits on a historic movie studio lot in a great West Side location made it an easy choice!”

The sound of ‘Fury’ Part II: Tiger 1 Tanks

By Jennifer Walden

It’s rare for a director to stop a shoot for the benefit of the sound team, but then again it’s not every day that you have a rare WWII Tiger 1 tank on the set… the only operable Tiger 1 tank still in existence. Bringing in the real tank shows just how important authenticity was to Fury director David Ayer, who had the actors’ uniforms made from cloth that WWII soldiers would have worn. Fury follows a WWII Sherman tank crew that undertakes a deadly mission behind enemy lines.

Fury’s Ayer didn’t just have an eye for detail — he had an ear for it too. He wanted a soundtrack that communicated the individual character of each tank, from the engines to the treads. “He asked everyone on set to be quiet as we recorded the Tiger 1 tank,” reveals Eilam Hoffman of Sound 24, a post sound studio based within Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. England.  Continue reading