Adapting to artistic needs
Nestled in an artistic haven located just a half an hour west of Lower Manhattan, Storybook Sound works with independent musicians, filmmakers and producers to help them elevate the sound of their projects. To ensure that Storybook captures each artist's vision and to create a collaborative, dynamic process to achieve the perfect sounding mix, studio owner and engineer Scott Anthony uses NUGEN Audio's Halo Upmix.
"I understand what it's like to be an artist and have vulnerabilities and fears regarding how work is being presented."
Halo Upmix is part of Anthony's advanced production workflow at Storybook, in a studio designed by George Augspurger specifically for surround mixing and mastering. Anthony's production setup includes NUGEN's ISL 2 True Peak limiter and MasterCheck Pro loudness and dynamic tools, which have been high in rotation for mastering projects. He also uses Dangerous Music's ST-SR monitors, and HEDD Type 07 and 05 monitors.
"I understand what it's like to be an artist and have vulnerabilities and fears regarding how work is being presented," says Anthony, who himself plays bass in his band Fond Farewells. "I love working with independent artists, producers, labels and adapting to different formats and artistic needs."
"Halo's ease of use and broad capabilities made me confident that I could guarantee that any mix from 5.1 back to stereo was going to accurately represent the mixes an artist was seeking."
30 years of experience
Anthony leverages his 30 years of audio production experience in both music mastering and film audio post-production. He works with new music, such as mastering for the Grammy-nominated band Yarn, and also does archival work like remixing tracks by Unicorn, a legendary 1970s British band produced by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. He works regularly on indie film and documentary projects, such as his recent 5.1 mix for A Winding Road: A Ramble with Richard Thompson, a documentary about the folk legend by filmmaker Edmond Deraedt.
Anthony's technologically rich setup allows him to consistently produce exceptional sounding audio. He starts his process by setting the project's biggest elements, such as isolating lyrics, dialogue and vocal levels in the same space before diving into the tone and style the artist is looking for. Every project is unique, and he aims to maintain the artist's vision throughout the entire process.
"Within minutes of demoing Halo Upmix, I immediately recognized how it would allow me to produce advanced audio masters, regardless of a project's unique challenges," says Anthony. "Halo's ease of use and broad capabilities made me confident that I could guarantee that any mix from 5.1 back to stereo was going to accurately represent the mixes an artist was seeking."
When an indie filmmaker comes in with a project with a rough stereo mix, Anthony organizes the audio into a few general categories (dialog, music, effects, etc.). He then uses Halo Upmix on each of these stems to begin organizing a surround mix with a different preset for each need, such as dialogue in the center and the LFE channel for soundscapes, but not necessarily music. Halo's color code feature that highlights particular sound channels, simplifies the process for both Anthony and his clients, and allows for higher-quality results.
"Within minutes of demoing Halo Upmix, I immediately recognized how it would allow me to produce advanced audio masters, regardless of a project's unique challenges."
"The layout, interface and metering are really intuitive, and immediately makes complete sense to the client as well as the engineer," says Anthony. "The ability to color code the various speaker sources allows the client to not only hear what I'm doing, but also easily see how I'm getting there. They are visually assured we are providing them with a full surround mix and it makes it easier to collaborate."
While completing the final 5.1 surround mix for A Winding Road: A Ramble with Richard Thompson, Anthony was provided with an opportunity to test the adaptive abilities of Halo Upmix. Though the film had been completed in stereo, Deraedt suddenly landed the opening slot at the Doc'n Roll Film Festival at Picturehouse Central in London, requiring the film to be quickly upmixed to surround in a short timeframe.
The film's widely varied use of sound presented another hurdle, as it included concert footage intermingled with several unique audio and video montages delivered with moving stereo pans. With Halo Upmix, Anthony was able to upmix the concert footage to create a similar experience to a surround album project, leaving music out of the LFE and allowing for the bass management software systems to flow naturally. When concert audio was used under narration or other soundscapes, Halo Upmix allowed for free movement in the LFE to create a more dynamic audio experience.
"The mix of these elements was critical to the feel of the film and the Halo Upmix handled the transition to surround brilliantly," adds Anthony. "Consistency is extremely important to me; I want to deliver sound across different environments with a good result. The Halo Upmix has the tools I need to provide my clients with the most well-rounded and professional soundscape."
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