If you are watching TV in France on a Sunday night, it’s highly likely that you will be listening to Captain Video’s audio work. Many of France’s most popular documentaries and news magazines are mixed in its two sound studios, including Les Routes de l’Impossible (France 5), Zone Interdite, Capital, Enquête Exclusive and 66 Minutes (M6), among many others.
In Captain Video’s studio B in Paris, sound engineer and head of the audio department Raphaël Guérin tirelessly mixes all types of programmes, from documentaries and magazine shows to advertisements to feature-length dramas. films. Television is fast-paced, and only seasoned sound engineers with cutting edge tools can deliver quality products within such tight deadlines. Raphaël’s biggest daily challenge is indeed time – he often has to carry out three days’ work in two days, striking the right balance between creativity and practicality, depending on the format and the client’s requirements. His mission? “Create the best soundtrack within the set deadline.”
In that context, the arrival of an S6 M10 with 16 faders to replace the Pro Control was necessary. To Raphaël’s mind, moving to the S6 was the “next logical step”, as the previous setup had become obsolete, particularly in terms of compatibility with Pro Tools 11. “It was time for a change,” he says.
“Now with the S6 and Pro Tools HDX, I have no power limitations.”
“I like the S6 for its touch and feel, it is also a lot quieter and the handling is much more fluid overall,” says Raphaël. “The touch-sensitive jog and controllers are also super-handy.” The power and integration of the S6 with Pro Tools HDX also makes a huge difference: “In terms of power, I used to work on a Pro Tools HD 2 system and often reached the limits of its capabilities,” he explains. “I had to wait before, but now nothing is holding me back, especially when it comes to plug-ins.”
The move from the software version of Pro Tools HD 11 (with an additional Blackmagic card for the video) has also changed the game, particularly thanks to the Bounce Offline feature. “[Bounce] Offline has spared me some evenings!” Raphaël says. “For instance, if I have to export a 52-minute soundtrack and the client calls me up and wants it immediately… it’s now possible.”
“[Bounce] Offline has spared me some evenings.”
Plug-ins to save the day
Documentaries and magazine shows often suffer from poor audio quality from their sources, requiring a lot of processing such as denoising. To that end, Raphaël uses iZotope’s RX extensively. “There used to be sound engineers on set so the sound wasn’t too dirty but it’s no longer the case, so we can hear the neon light next door, the buzzing of the fridge…” he says. “iZotope has become an essential pack in 2015.” Regarding plug-ins, Raphaël enjoys the recent development of AudioSuite plug-ins and finds the handles very useful: “I can now leave my AudioSuite chain on screen, apply a set of processes on my region, and stretch and shorten my selection whilst keeping the effect, it’s really useful.”
An optimised workflow
As every minute counts, Raphaël’s workflow is also designed to save time: he usually receives a QuickTime (H.264 or ProRes) video file and the PT11 video engine maintains processing power, regardless of format. He then launches his Pro Tools template, imports and organises his sounds, activates/deactivates his plug-ins, which he pre-inserted according to his sources, and starts to automate his whole mix straight off. “The time when we used to mix our directs and then the music is well and truly over, for most programmes. I hit play and automate all my tracks and plug-in parameters, everything all in one go.” For the final master, he uses a VU-meter and Dolby Master Meter.
Avid thanks Raphaël very much for his warm welcome!