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Melodic Metal with Nightwish

Nightwish from Finland is one of the seminal bands that invented and defined the “Symphonic Metal” genre—a combination of orchestra, huge choir layers, metal riffs, and operatic vocals. Formed in 1996, Nightwish achieved recognition outside of their home country with their 1998 album “Oceanborn”, and have since gone on to sell more than 8 million records and achieve more than 60 gold and platinum awards. Kimmo Ahola has been mixing FOH for Nightwish on Avid VENUE consoles for over 10 years, and chose dual VENUE | S3L-X systems at both FOH and Monitors for their latest tour. We sat down with Kimmo Ahola to find out more.

 

IG: Kimmo, tell us about your long history with VENUE consoles up to the current Nightwish tour…

KA: I have been working with VENUE consoles since they came out – actually since 2005 when we got the first D-Show console. Before that I used to tour with Midas consoles, but even then I was using a Digidesign Digi 002 for lead vocals so I was already working with Pro Tools plug-ins at that point. On previous tours we used VENUE SC48 or Profile and hired consoles for our tours, but in certain places like South America, it’s quite hard to get anything you want. You can say, “Can I have an SC48 or Profile?” and you get a Yamaha LS9…(laughs). When I heard that the light and compact S3L-X was coming, it was something that I had been waiting for a long time – there’s slightly less processing power than on a Profile, but I don’t use many plug-ins, so I can accept that.

Kimmo Ahola mixing FOH at Nightwish.

IG: How easy was it to adapt to the compact surface of the S3L-X after using bigger consoles?

KA: It was easy. Even with the SC48 or Profile, I can run the Nightwish show with only 16 faders, that’s enough for me. I’ve worked with Pro Tools in the studio since around version 3, always using the mouse, so there can be some days when I don’t use any encoders – I do it all with the mouse. The rest is just levels and panning and so on. The console is small, yes, but 64 inputs and 32 outputs is more than enough for me. We use just over 40 channels for the band and the rest are for ambience mics and talkbacks.

 

IG: What do you like most about the VENUE S3L-X system?

KA: The sound is the most important thing for me, but with this system we can also fly everywhere. When we go to Australia and Japan, where venues are smaller, we cannot fly with a Profile because it’s too heavy. Of course we could rent them, but it’s so much easier to bring your own system. We have all the stage cabling and everything already in place. Plus, this system is so compact and so easy to use.

When the band first saw this console they were a bit surprised, but I have been with them for 11 years and they trust me. They said, “OK, it’s your choice”. I don’t care about the size! When we first started using the S3L-X there weren’t many bands touring with this console. We did some major festivals in Europe and some of the headlining bands came over and said, “What the **** is this, are you going to play with this?” But then they saw and heard the show and said, “Hm, OK, maybe we should think about using this as well.” Also, my guys in Finland say they don’t want to remember the times they had to ask six guys to lift the monitor console over to some case.

S3L-X used at FOH and monitors of Nightwish.

IG: Let’s talk about the current tour – what is the main challenge of mixing Nightwish?

KA: The band has that really big and dense sound – there are lots of live channels, plus big orchestral and choir sounds coming from the Pro Tools playback. People might think there is a lot more coming from playback since the sound is so big, but there are no drums, no bass, no guitars, no keyboards – that’s all live. We only use backing tracks for the things the band cannot play like the orchestral sounds that are taken directly from the album recordings. The biggest challenge is to keep it loud and clear so that it stretches the whole bandwidth up from 30Hz to the very top, with lots of dynamics. I don’t want to run the system really loud across everything ­– I don’t have enough headroom on the PA and I can’t go up when I need to. There are a couple of really big orchestra hits, so dynamics are the most important thing.

 

IG: How is the show laid out on the consoles? Is there a general rule about how you always set up your show?

KA: For mixing the Nightwish show I only need one layer. It contains everything I need – all the drums, snare reverb, bass and guitar VCAs, keyboards, backing tracks, bagpipe player, vocal channels, vocal reverb and vocal delay. This is the main view all the time. The other layers contain the signals I normally don’t adjust separately at the show like all the backing tracks or the individual sound of the drums. We have individual time codes for each song, so I’ll put individual snapshots with Chase MTC, and I don’t even need the set list – there’s something like five seconds of pre-roll time code so I can see what song is coming. It’s nice and simple.

 

 

IG: How do you us Pro Tools in your setup?

KA: I use Pro Tools 12 here at FOH to record all the shows for possible DVD use and Virtual Soundcheck. And we use backing tracks and time code running from another Pro Tools system on stage. Everything follows the time code ­– video, the lighting console and of course my FOH desk. And I have something like 190 snapshots on the console which are synced to it. Sometimes I wonder if I am digging a big hole for myself, if there’s something wrong with the time code I’m lost! But after 70+ shows the setup is very stable – we adjusted the Pro Tools backing tracks after the first 15 shows which is quite easy with “Clip Gain”. It can be dangerous though, when you have a tool like this and you know can do something more, it can be endless – after every show you can change this and this and add more snapshots (laughs).

 

IG: Do you use the S3 surface separately to mix or prepare the shows?

KA: Sometimes when I haven’t had time to make all the snapshots before a show, I took the console and the engine to my hotel room to make the Virtual Soundcheck –it’s so easy. On this tour I spent one day checking the guitar sounds in a backstage room, so I had this system and speakers and spent three hours listening to the show and fixing the sound before we started the soundcheck.

“The sound (of the S3L-X) is the most important thing for me, but with this system we can also fly everywhere.” 

—Kimmo Ahola, FOH Engineer Nightwish

IG: Is there any special treatment on the lead vocals?

KA: There’s a McDSP multiband-compressor on the lead vocal and an Avid EQ7. On the last couple of shows I discussed with the system engineer that I might change this to an McDSP active dynamic EQ AE400, which might be better for the lead vocals. We use Shure Beta 58 as a vocal mic, which goes very well with the drums and all the noise on stage.

 

IG: Are there any signals where you need more extreme processing?

KA: Only when we do something a bit special. For example, I call the snare reverb ‘my sound’ – all the sounds decay a little bit over six seconds but the trick is where the gate is. With the release time, you can adjust exactly how long you want the snare reverb. So for instance, if you have a medium beat song and you put the reverb at say two seconds, when it’s RT60 it drops 60 decibels in 2 seconds, so you need to put it on for that much longer so you can hear the snare reverb. But when the reverb itself is six seconds you can just cut when you want. And it doesn’t sound ‘gated’ – you can’t do that with hardware reverbs or with a single plug-in.

VENUE | S6L Now Available

The next stage in live sound is here—with the award-winning VENUE | S6L system, you can take on the world’s most demanding productions with ease.

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Sunrise Avenue on Tour with Triple VENUE Systems

In March 2016, Finnish rock band Sunrise Avenue hit the road accompanied by a 35-piece orchestra for their sold-out “Live with Orchestra Wonderland 2016” Tour through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Sunrise Avenue played songs from almost all of their albums, including hits such as “Hollywood Hills”, “Kiss Goodbye”, “Forever Yours”, and “Fairytale Gone Bad”.

Supporting the band were engineers Mikko Salonen (FOH), Tuomas Hollmérus (monitors), and Petri Pihlainen (orchestra pre-mix), as well as system tech Timo Liski. The band invested in dual VENUE | S6L systems for the “Live with Wonderland Orchestra 2016” tour to handle FOH and monitors, as well as a VENUE | S3L-X system to handle the orchestra pre-mix.

Mixing another sold-out show on the “Live with Orchestra Wonderland 2016” Tour

At front of house

Mikko Salonen has been mixing front of house for Sunrise Avenue for more than ten years, and he was excited to take the new S6L out for the tour. Mikko records every show to Pro Tools, and uses the previous night’s recordings for Virtual Soundcheck at the next gig. He worked in close collaboration with Petri Pihlainen, who used the S3L-X system to create a pre-mix from 24 orchestral microphones, covering seven 1st violins, seven 2nd violins, four violas, four celli, and two double basses. All violins, violas, and celli were mixed in stereo, while the double basses were mono. Stem-mixes were used for recording and for monitors, while a stereo mix of all strings was sent to the S6L for the main FOH mix. Although the sound on stage was quite loud, he was able to capture the orchestra with astonishingly good quality.

Mikko Salonen, FOH Engineer for Sunrise Avenue

Pihlainen is also the CEO of Oy Laatu-Ääni Ab, a Finnish rental-company, who has been working in the pro audio industry for decades. “We used to have a VENUE | Profile at the company, so when I first heard about the S6L, I immediately knew I wanted to own this console!” said Pihlainen. “With Avid, I can always rely on long-term product cycles, so I know it is a good investment. When I have to sell an older Avid desk, it still has significant value on the second hand market. Beyond financial aspects the sound of the new S6L is a huge improvement compared to older digital desks.”

S3L-X fits perfectly into the tight space next to the stage

Petri Pihlainen handles the orchestral pre-mix

Talking monitors – an interview with Tuomas Hollmérus

Tuomas Hollmérus has been responsible for Sunrise Avenue onstage sound since 2007. During the “Live with Wonderland Orchestra 2016” Tour, all musicians used in-ear monitors, and Hollmérus provided 18 separate stereo-mixes and four mono-mixes to the musicians.

IG: Tuomas, how was your feeling switching from an older desk to the new VENUE | S6L?

TH: The rehearsals for the tour lasted nearly two months, so I had a lot of time to get accustomed to the console. I´ve been working with Avid products for the past ten years, so switching to the S6L was quite easy for me—there are lots of similarities to the Profile. Just considering the high channel count required due to the 35-piece orchestra, the new S6L is the perfect solution for all of our demands. My monitor desk is completely packed: All 64 inputs on my Stage 64 I/O-Rack are being used as are the local console inputs and the AES/EBU I/O. The S6L is capable of handling high channel numbers with ease.

“My mixes sound more transparent than ever—all the instruments have room to breathe.” 

– Tuomas Hollmérus, Monitor Engineer

IG: How do you approach the mixing a show of this complexity—do you handle a lot of that in pre-production?

HT: There are lots of things going on during the show, so I use a snapshot as a starting point for every song. There are some signals to which I have to pay special attention. For example, there is one microphone that is situated close to the front of the stage and is used by different horn-players for their solo-parts. I’ve copied the channel within the S6L multiple times with parameters dialed in for each player, making it easy to recall the right setting at the right moment.

 

IG: What onboard processing are using for this tour?

TH: Currently I don´t use any third-party-plug-ins—I’m completely relying on the internal effects of the S6L and the bundled plug-ins from Avid. The effects work really well for me; the reverbs and compressors do their jobs absolutely fine. Recently some of the horn players came to my desk to tell me that the reverb sounds fantastic in their in-ear systems.

IG: Now that you’ve had some time with the desk, what are some of your favorite features?

TH: I really enjoy the workflow. Four touchscreens make things a lot easier for me—really fast access to all relevant parameters is now possible. Often it’s only pressing two buttons, and most times hitting only one button gets you where you want to be.

Also the S6L sounds completely different to all previous models. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the preamps or the internal summing, but when I mix a ton of signals together for the in-ear monitors, it feels like there is a lot more space now. My mixes sound even more transparent—all the instruments have room to breathe. I am perfectly happy with the new console and recommend it to anyone who is into professional live mixing. I don´t get paid by Avid for saying this, but the VENUE | S6L is simply a really good console!

VENUE | S6L Now Available

The next stage in live sound is here—with the award-winning VENUE | S6L system, you can take on the world’s most demanding productions with ease.

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Musikmesse 2016: Meet our Guest Artists Set to Take the Avid Stage in Frankfurt

During Musikmesse 2016 in Frankfurt, Avid will be in Hall 9.1, Stand C21 with its latest audio technology innovations, as well as presenting some very special guests who rely on Avid solutions to create great music and incredible film soundtracks.

Marek Pompetzki

Marek Pompetzki is one of Germany’s top music producers, whose credits include Astronaut (Sido feat. Andreas Bourani), the most successful German song of 2015. Marek will appear on the Avid stage to discuss the production of the song and will bring along a Pro Tools session of the song to show some mixing techniques.

Watch the German language YouTube interview with Marek and his producing partners Paul NZA and Cecil Remmler.

Martin Haas

Martin Haas and his colleague Moses Pelham are pioneers of the German hiphop and R&B scene. Avid is pleased to welcome Martin to talk about the production of the new album by leading German soul/R&B artist Xavier Naidoo, AKA Kobra.

Ansgar Frerich

Ansgar Frerich is a mix engineer working at Berlin-based postproduction house Basisberlin, which in 2015 won the most prestigious German film award, the Deutscher Filmpreis, for the postproduction and sound design of the hacker thriller Who Am I. Ansgar will present an overview what audio post-productions actually means and will bring a Pro Tools session with some sound design, Foleys and mixing examples from this award-winning film.

Watch Ansgar discuss the making of ‘Who Am I’ in this German language YouTube video.

If you’re at Musikmesse, don’t miss your opportunity to meet these great artists at the Avid Stand C21 in Hall 9.1 (All times are subject to change):

Marek Pompetzki

Friday April 8

3:00 pm

Saturday April 9

3:00 pm

Sunday April 10

1:00 pm and 3:00pm

Martin Haas

Thursday April 7

5:00 pm

Friday April 8

11:00 am

Saturday April 9

11:00 am

Sunday April 10

11:00 am

Ansgar Frerich

Thursday April 7

3:00 pm

Friday April 8

1:00 pm

Saturday April 9

1:00 pm

Avid at Musikmesse 2016

Join us in Frankfurt for Musikmesse, Hall 9.1, Stand C21, and see first-hand how and why Avid’s audio tools are making music everywhere.

AVID AT MUSIKMESSE




Avid Pro Tools | S6 Helps Germany’s Rotor Film Pilot a Course into the New Era of Immersive Audio

The Pro Tools control surface is part of a sophisticated, 18-months-in-the-making film and TV mixing facility located in Babelsberg, Potsdam.

For passionate cinéastes the name of Babelsberg Film Studio will require no introduction. Widely acknowledged as the world’s oldest largest-scale film studio with a history that stretches back to 1912, Babelsberg’s recent credits include The Bourne Ultimatum, Cloud Atlas, The Hunger Games, Bridge of Spies and numerous other box office hits.

The media city area surrounding the studio is home to a number of influential production and post-production companies—not least Rotor Film Babelsberg. A leading provider of sound post services, Rotor Film’s current offer encompasses sound mixing, stereo and surround sound design, editing and re-recording, ADR and dubbing, and project management. The studio also offers 4k colour grading at full DCI specifications using a FilmLight Baselight TWO grading system.

The company’s blend of expert personnel and cutting-edge technology has led to its engagement for a string of high-profile projects, including the recent likes of Juliette Binoche-starring movie Clouds of Sils Maria and cult cold war TV drama Deutschland ‘83. Now Rotor Film is preparing for a new era of surround and immersive audio production with a recently revamped mixing stage that has an Avid S6 control surface at the heart of its design.

“This was a complex project and one that has been in development since the second half of 2014. But over time it became clear that the Avid Pro Tools | S6 control surface was going to give us all of the flexibility and ease-of-use that we required,” explains Rotor Film’s Technical Director, Christoph Engelke.

Future-facing design

There is no aspect of the 400sqm room that isn’t impressive! Equipped with both Dolby and Auro-3D immersive sound technologies, the infrastructure allows mixers to work in 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos. In what is said to be one of the largest Meyer Sound cinema monitoring systems ever installed, no fewer than 69 speakers made by the US manufacturer are included in the Rotor Film installation.

Devised to make it easy for personnel to both mix and screen films, the 200-seat room features an Avid Pro Tools | S6 control surface, along with a total of four Pro Tools stations running HD11 and HD12 version software. But although Pro Tools has been a fundamental part of Rotor Films’ workflows for many years, Engelke confirms that the decision to deploy a 64-fader S6 was the result of a careful process of deliberation about the room’s current and likely future requirements.

“We had been using a Harrison console in this room, and at one time we did think about adopting a ‘hybrid’ approach of using a large-format desk alongside the Pro Tools systems,” he says. “But it became clear to us that many mixers now are demanding to work on the S6 – it is what they feel most comfortable with – and that in a more general sense there is a movement away from the traditional consoles.”

Cost-efficiency and the ability to “go back and do fixes at the latest possible stage of a project – something that is happening more and more these days” also informed the selection of the S6. “We decided to dispense with the legacy desk altogether and move ahead with just the S6, which we connected to the Pro Tools systems via external MADI routing,” he explains.

This set-up also allows engineers to move quickly and easily to smaller editing rooms if there is additional work that needs to be done later on. “It’s tremendously flexible and that is very much a prerequisite for working successfully in film and TV audio now,” comments Engelke.

Standard-bearer for post

The ability to customise the surface with the controls required by Rotor Films’ personnel and receive extensive visual feedback as a mix is progressing are among the benefits of the S6 as referenced by Engelke, who also alludes to the contribution made by Hamburg-based integrator Digital Audio Services GmbH to the successful completion of this ambitious project.

“We now have a tremendous facility that really sets us up well for the future of TV and film audio mixing as immersive productions start to become more popular,” he concludes. “The Avid tools are a big part of that future – Pro Tools is of course the standard for post-production, but we are already receiving great feedback about the S6 and its capabilities. Now we are beginning to turn our attention to a proposed new ADR stage that will again feature Pro Tools systems… but the full details on that will have to wait until another time!”

Pro Tools | S6

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Patrick Eckerlin: On Tour with PUR and VENUE | S6L

Over the last almost 30 years, Patrick Eckerlin, a former keyboarder, has made quite a name for himself in the German music business. He started working with PUR in 1995—one of Germany’s most successful pop bands with eight platinum albums to their credit—and has been mixing front of house for them since 2001. In addition to PUR, Patrick has worked with Herbert Grönemeyer, Die Toten Hosen, and Lenny Kravitz, in addition to working as an in-demand freelance sound engineer.

Patrick first mixed PUR on a VENUE | Profile system in 2013, and after more than 30 open-air and arena shows later, he’s more enthusiastic than ever about the system’s sound quality and Virtual Soundcheck capabilities. In December 2015, PUR was the first major German act to tour with VENUE | S6L, and we checked in with Patrick to see how it went the first time out with the new system.

Patrick Eckerlin at FOH with PUR

Avid: Patrick, what are your biggest challenges touring with PUR as an FOH engineer?

PE: When using a center stage night in night out, the venues’ size can be a huge challenge due to the 360° configuration. We play in the biggest arenas in Germany with audiences ranging from 12,000 to 17,000 fans. Having a consistent listening experience, even in the last row, is one of our primary goals.

When mixing a German band, speech comprehensibility is always the top priority. If everything sounds great but you don’t understand a word of what the singer is singing, there wouldn’t be much appreciation in Germany. That’s not only the case with PUR, but also with other German bands like Silbermond.

With the constantly changing instrumentation between PUR’s songs, one would theoretically need 60 open channels all the time. Therefore, programming snapshots for the console and plug-in settings are a must.

Avid: How did you decide on VENUE | S6L for this tour?

PE: As a longtime satisfied user of Avid’s VENUE | Profile, I can’t think of a realistic alternative to the S6L—it was the logical next step for me. Since I can just export files from my Profile, transitioning to the S6L was very easy. We worked with [sound company] 8days a week for this tour, and discussed using S6L early on.

When Wolfgang “Schabbach” Neumann and Frank Müller [CEO of 8days a week] confirmed that I’d be receiving the console even before starting the rehearsals with PUR, it was set. This gave me a few more days to get to know the console before the tour started.

 

Avid: How comfortable were you taking out a brand new console?

PE: I’ve taken this risk before, going on tour with a new console. I was optimistic that everything would be just fine, because I never had any problems with the Profile. I also received excellent support from Avid and their German distributor, S.E.A.

Avid: How was the switch from the Profile to the S6L?

PE: Frankly, after a few hours working with the S6L, it felt like I’d never had another console. Anyone familiar with the Profile will be able to work on the S6L without any problem.

 

Avid: What do you like most about the S6L?

PE: Visually speaking, the S6L is very well made and exactly what I’d expect from a console in 2015. It provides a very good overview of the individual channels, a lot of information in terms of input, EQ, dynamics, and routing. For me, the last point is more important than almost any other. With the S6L, I can immediately see which tracks are routed where. And the sound is fantastic.

 

Avid: Having mixed a tour with S6L, what are your “must have” features?

PE: The “input” button that allows me to have 32 input faders in a single bank—that’s just great. I also think the Universe Screen is amazing. It lets me quickly place a specific channel on a fader without having to change the whole fader bank each time.

Since I first used the Profile, I don’t want to ever lose the Pro Tools integration. I record every show, and the previous evening’s recording is always my reference to adjust the PA system for the next show.

“After a few hours working with the S6L, it felt like I’d never had another console. Anyone familiar with the Profile will be able to work on the S6L without any problem.”

Avid: How did you set up the show on the S6L?

PE: I work with snapshots per song. In the automation I have mutes, faders, plug-ins and AUX-sends. Channels such as main mic, spare mics etc. are not programmed in the automation. On a tour with a stage in the round I also take the panorama into the automation.

 

Avid: Are there certain sources that require particular attention?

PE: Yes, Hartmut’s voice [PUR’s lead vocalist] isn’t without its challenges. Among other things, I sometimes use Virtual Soundcheck to play short text phrases in a loop to tweak parameters like the center frequencies of my two de-essers. Furthermore, the multiband compressor requires a bit of time to dial in properly. I used to use the Waves C6, but on the S6L I use the new Pro Multiband plug-in.

Avid: What other plug-ins are you using with PUR?

PE: Currently I mainly use the Avid Pro series plug-ins and the Sonnox Live Bundle. From Sonnox I mainly use the EQ and the de-esser for vocals and TransMod for drums.

 

Avid: Would you recommend S6L to a colleague?

PE: Definitely—I warmly recommend it to everyone. Many of my colleagues are jealous that I’m already using it. In my opinion, it’s the best console on the market right now.

VENUE | S6L

VENUE | S6L Now Available

The next stage in live sound is here—with the award-winning VENUE | S6L system, you can take on the world’s most demanding productions with ease.

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Konken Studios: an Epic Cinematic Experience

Konken Studios in Hamburg are one of the most renowned German addresses when it comes to the sound mixing for TV and cinema productions. Countless movies and TV series, both German and international alike and ranging from the 1990’s movie “Kleines Arschloch” to the latest season of the “Weissensee” TV series, were mixed here. Owner Stephan Konken has been managing the studio that carries his name for almost 30 years – and successfully so. Thanks to his expertise, he has not only only take the Nika and Golden Eagle award home, but can also look back on a nomination for the Amanda award. Just recently, he was also been nominated for a prestigious Golden Globe for his work on the movie GETT. But even though Konken Studios have been among the top players in the market for a long time, they, too, had to adapt to changing prerequisites in the industry:  Ever tighter budgets and deadlines as well as an increasing number of re-recordings in the course of a mix made it obvious that their older AMS Neve DFC console – although proven and tested – just wasn’t up to the job anymore, resulting in the purchase and installation of a modern Pro Tools | S6 system. We sat down with Stephan Konken and asked him to tell us about his workflow and his first experiences with Pro Tools | S6.

Time for new solutions

“I had been thinking about replacing my AMS Neve DFC console for quite some time. For my productions, I need a tool that is powerful and can be deployed universally. In addition, it has to be flexible enough to handle projects of any size and to be well-thought-out in terms of maintenance. My old console had served me reliably for 15 years, and the sound quality was still great, but the workflow was far from state-of-the-art. Relatively quickly, S6 emerged as a promising option, but as a first step, I wanted to find out if it really matched all my requirements. After many phone calls and a lot of consideration I teamed up with (German reseller) SMM in the spring of 2014 in order to develop a concept. We went through all aspects of TV and cinema mixes and created several possible workflows. In May, Mike Hofer and I thoroughly tested all the critical points with a demo console for five days. At the end of the day, it was obvious to me that the S6 would mean I would really have to change my workflow, but that it would also have a lot of benefits – and that was the crucial factor for me. As a result, SMM installed two new Pro Tools HDX systems including a 24 fader S6 in our central control room in December 2014.”

 

Behind the scenes – video interview with Stephan Konken (in German)

The S6 ist put to the test

“Now, a couple of months and movies later, I’m comfortable with it, and I’m actually having a lot of fun with the console. Fairly quickly, I stopped thinking about the interface. Thanks to the ergonomic design of the S6 I was able to find my way around the setup, and despite having to adjust to the new workflow, I was back to my former working speed in no time. The first stress test for the S6 came with the production of the third season of Weissensee, a very popular TV series in Germany. With more than 80 incoming sound tracks and about 150 channels, I really depended on a streamlined workflow. At first I thought that I would need more faders or joysticks, but relatively quickly, this proved to be a false conclusion as I can work really well with the touchscreen. I particularly like the scrolling waveform display directly above the channel strip – you can let go of constantly looking at the edit screen and focus on the console and the mix. In any case, the link-up between Pro Tools and S6 is one of the most important factors for the switch. The interaction takes place in the most intuitive way. ”

 

“In any case, the link-up of Pro Tools and S6 is one of the most important factors for the switch – the interaction takes place in the most intuitive way.”

Stephan Konken

Old habits, new efficiency 

“At first, I created my set-up in the same way I was used to from my old console. I constantly had to roll around with my chair in order to be able to operate all the faders.  Thanks to the conceptual design of the S6 I’m now always sitting in the sweet spot, which is great. At first, the buttons on the S6 seemed really small to me, but they are well illuminated and thus easy to tell apart even in the typically dark mixing situation. Right now I’m considering if it might make sense for me to get an additional fader module – I could place my master faders there. I really like the thought that, thanks to the modular concept, I can adapt my S6 to future requirements and workflows. When I start a new project, I always base the setup on my masters. I use it as the initial point and then adjust from there. The inputs are organized into groups and routed onto correspondent stems, sorted by dialogue, foley, ambiences, effects and music. For international productions, there are additional parallel tracks, for example for dialogue variations. The reverb/hall returns are also being assigned to the stems.

Some of the plug-ins are indispensable. I often use PhoenixVerb, iZotope Ozone and Insight. When it comes to the limiter or the multi band compressor, I rely on the Avid Pro Series plug-ins because they deliver excellent results. I like to place them on the touchscreen so I can access them directly there. In addition, I use the expand mode on the knob modules for many effects because it enables me, for example with the master limiter, to control the input gain directly at the knob of the respective channel strips. Mac Pros with HDX cards serve as workstations, and my stem recorder is the current Mac Book pro with an HD native system.”

Looking at the big picture 

“Irrespective of the technical aspect, for me there are three decisive factors for a good sounding mix: the intelligibility of the dialogue, the creation of clear and defined spaces and a conclusive, homogeneous overall picture of the sounds. We mixed the current movie in a 7:1 format, and I paid particular attention to using the panning in a very subtle way as this corresponds best with the movie’s story.

Here at Konken Studios, I feel we have really benefited from the switch to S6, and that we are well prepared for the future and upcoming change processes in the industry. Even though my old DFC is still standing in a corner of my studio, I haven’t once been tempted to reinstall it.”

 

Behind the scenes – mixing with Pro Tools | S6 at Konken Studios

Pro Tools | S6

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Choose a pre-configured S6 system or build your own. Speak with our experts to determine the best fit for your workflow and business.

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Sofia’s Nu Boyana is Becoming a One-Stop-Shop for Movie Magic

Visiting Nu Boyana Film Studios is like a trip through time and space: From a busy street scenery in Manhattan straight back to the cobbled roads of ancient Rome—including very authentic looking splashes of gladiator blood in the amphitheatre. It’s not until you really touch the walls that you realize it’s all completely fake.

From the streets of Manhattan…

…to the ancient Rome.

Located in the hills above Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria with a splendid view across the whole city, Nu Boyana Film Studios is a thoroughly modern, creative and expanding full-service film studio. And it’s huge: It’s 13 stages and 40,000 square meters of backlot are owned by the Hollywood independent, Millennium Films, and Nu-Image.

Ivo Natzev, the studio’s Head of Sound, has been working at Nu Boyana since 1999 with a credit list of 120 film projects as a sound engineer, location mixer or re-recording mixer.  We asked him to talk about the impressive new Dolby Atmos mixing stage which hosts an equally impressive 48-fader Pro Tools | S6 console and three Pro Tools | HDX systems.

Nu Boyana's speciality: historical dramas…

…and action movies.

“Both the video and audio sides of our production facilities have been making significant investments in technology and infrastructure recently, and on the audio side we’re proud to have completed the first project in our new Dolby Atmos mix room.

The room itself was a happy accident. We already had three edit rooms, an ADR and Foley room, plus a good-sized Dolby Digital / SR mix room. However, the studio wanted a new preview theatre, so I suggested we make it an Atmos room from the outset as a future proofing step. It wasn’t a big leap from that to making it mix-capable as well.”

Ivo Natzev, Nu Boyana's Head of Sound mixing on Pro Tools | S6

“[S6] gives us the fantastic visual control over mix automation from Pro Tools, with the extra advantage that we don’t have to manage two lots of automation—for both Pro Tools and a console.”

—Ivo Natzev

Advanced visual control

“Rather than go for a big, traditional console for the room, we invested in the Avid S6 modular control surface, plus Pro Tools HDX. This gives us the fantastic visual control over mix automation from Pro Tools, with the extra advantage that we don’t have to manage two lots of automation – for both Pro Tools and a console.

We’ve started with a healthy 48 faders in the system, with an M40 Master Module and one Pro Tools HDX system. However, we recently bought another two Pro Tools systems so now we can use one for dialogue and music, one for effects and backgrounds, and another one as a recording machine. The next step will be to add an additional Master Module and more faders to the frame so we can run a dual operator system. I like the fact you can add new modules whenever you need to – the system can scale and expand to meet the needs of specific projects.

The whole Atmos system uses digital audio distribution throughout, with matrixed distribution network of two lots of 64 channels for Dolby Atmos projection and mixing, plus 5.1 and 7.1 – more than 130 inputs to 54 monitor speakers.”

The brand new Dolby Atmos mixing stage at Nu Boyana with Pro Tools | S6

Attracting new clients from around the world

“We’re sure that the new room will help bringing new business to the studios. We are becoming a desired destination for filmmaking and are attracting productions from all over the world. There are very compelling financial benefits in bringing a production here, with professional crews, all kinds of equipment, lower production costs, lower tax, guaranteed VAT refunds, and now – a post-production service. Nu Boyana is a one-stop-shop for movie magic .

Our investment in creative facilities will also no doubt have a positive effect. The idea is to bring mixers from all over the world to be able to work here, and that’s another reason why we decided to go with the S6 – it’s very versatile and very intuitive. Our first film mixed in the studio was Septembers of Shiraz, starring Salma Hayek and Adrien Brody, and was mixed by Gary C. Bourgeois.  Gary is a traditional DSP console mixer but didn’t have any problems with the S6. He learned very fast and was very happy with the system and you can see his comments about mixing on S6 in an upcoming Avid Pro Mixing Blog here on Avid Blogs. We also have another Hollywood project coming up, Criminal, starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones.

The studio as a whole is set to grow further – we are not just audio or just video, but can facilitate the whole film production cycle. It’s a nice proposition – clients can arrive with a script and leave with a finished product.”

Movie Magic at Nu Boyana Film Studios

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Anastacia

Behind the Scenes: Anastacia

Anastacia’s 2015 Resurrection Tour is “all about the music,” as she makes clear at the very beginning of the gig. Backed by a tight band, Anastacia delivers an energizing mix of soul, pop, and rock styles packed with all of her old and new hits, effortlessly moving between uptempo electronic and rock numbers as well as intimate ballads throughout the performance.

Responsible for bringing Anastacia’s sound to her fans is FOH engineer and long-time VENUE user Gerard Albo, who has worked with artists including Amy Winehouse, Patty Smith, Corinne Bailey-Rae and many others.

“The main challenge of mixing Anastacia is to conserve the dynamics of the band and to contain her powerful voice”, explains Albo. “And the S3L-X does a great job on that—the dynamic range and the sound are superb.”

In this Behind the Scenes video, Gerard Albo talks about the production of the current Anastacia Resurrection Tour and shares his insights and techniques for mixing such a dynamic artist with VENUE | S3L-X.

 

Get inside the Mix of Anastacia

Sign in to part 2 and follow Gerard as he runs through all the signals and microphones on stage, and mixes one of Anastacia’s biggest hits, ‘Sick and Tired’.

WATCH PART 2




Inside the Post Production and Film Score of German Hacker Thriller ‘Who Am I’

The postproduction videos of the successful German movie “Who am I” were already a big hit on YouTube. In order to round up this video series, Avid hosted a “Making of” event at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF) on April 28 where the makers of the movie provided inspiring insights into their workflow.

For audio and video professionals as well as students in this field, there is probably nothing more exciting than looking over the shoulder of renowned industry experts while they are at work – the perfect reason for Avid to host a “Making of” event at the HFF in Munich. For this matter, Avid invited editor Robert Rzesacz, sound designers Daniel Weiss and Florian Holzner, composer Michael Kamm and mix engineer Ansgar Frerich from BASISberlin. The main focus of the event was the presentation of the entire workflow from rough cut and sound design to film score and final mix.

All the videos from the “Who am I” postproduction can be found on YouTube (in German).

Prior to the evening event, students from HFF, the SAE Institute and the University of Music Munich (Musikhochschule München) were invited not only to an interactive audio Q&A session, but also to an editing masterclass. Both of these special sessions were received very positively by the students who entered into lively discussions with the artists.

Avid application specialists Michael Bleser and Lars Kischkel kicked-off the evening event, which turned out to be informative and entertaining at the same time. The opener was a panel discussion with a subsequent introduction of the various segments of editing, sound design, film score and re-recording, rounded off by some Q&A. Each member of the production team gave insight into his work and described the close collaboration among the various team members from rough cut to final mix. It was especially interesting for the audience to hear about the close collaboration with director Baran Bo Odar who managed to create a procreative workflow by combining his very distinct ideas about the movie with the willingness to integrate suggestions from the team.

The event concluded with an informal get-together that allowed guests to ask the experts many more questions in a relaxed atmosphere. In the end, most of the attendees seized the opportunity to watch the movie (again). And to see this fast-paced hacker thriller with the eyes of someone who is privy to insider information made it even more exciting.

In case you missed the event in Munich, you can now just go to Avid Germany’s YouTube channel to look over the experts’ shoulders.

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