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Gareth Cousins Scores a Hit with Pro Tools | HDX for “Suicide Squad” Soundtrack

For those trying to break into the pro audio industry, working at the world famous Abbey Road Studios is the ultimate dream. For score mixer, producer and recording engineer, Gareth Cousins, it’s reality. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Cousins’ credits include mixing the scores to Gravity, Fury, The Hunt and most recently on the score, audio and soundtrack for the DC Comic action-thriller, Suicide Squad. Providing the creativity needed to tackle big film score productions to pop hits, Cousins relies on Avid Pro Tools.

“I mix exclusively using Pro Tools | HDX and recently expanded my current mix rig to HDX3 to meet the demands of working on Suicide Squad. I find I can configure Pro Tools to do everything I used to do using a large console or faders, and a whole lot more, due to the seemingly limitless routing potential built in to the software.”

For Cousins, the release of Pro Tools 12 was another step forward for Avid, in addition to the extra power provided by a third HDX card. To some, having the option to utilise 768 audio tracks seems extreme, but on Hollywood-scale productions it’s become more of a necessity as audiences’ expectations of an impressive movie soundtrack have increased.

“Over the years, the audience have developed very sophisticated ears when appreciating a movie score and soundtrack. Music producers – in this context, it would be the composer and score mix engineer and team – need to create immersive, original music of the highest standard. This can’t all be done ‘in the box’, so Pro Tools becomes our interface to the real world, where we record the live musicians, and complete the external processing, edit and collate all that material in one place.”

Cousins went on to explain that it’s not just modern audiences that are expecting more, but his clients too: “They rightly expect the very highest standards, but also need a huge amount of flexibility, in terms of delivery options, which of course have to be maintained over many music cues, each probably being delivered multiple times as the film evolves or is edited.”

Thinking about the big challenges facing him as a score mixer today, Cousins said: “Flexibility and speed are paramount. As a basic starting point, the technology I use needs to work flawlessly, sound fantastic and not place any limits on my imagination. But beyond that I need to be able to make very quick changes to mixes and instantly recall any session with the whole mix intact, make the adjustments, and bounce those off and send to my client. I need to trust a system that will work seamlessly every time, and Pro Tools never fails to deliver.”

Having worked in the industry for three decades, Cousins has seen Pro Tools evolve throughout his career: “What has changed most is the ability to work quickly, between multiple cues and even across multiple projects. With each generation of the software the processing power and functionality has increased, to the point where the only real limit is the user’s ability to think up original new ideas and processes.”

As one of the mostly highly-anticipated films of 2016, it’s unsurprising that Suicide Squad has climbed into the top 50 all-time domestic box office rankings since its release earlier this year, with the accompanying soundtrack debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 in the US. Having crafted audio for film many times across his career, Cousins was in his natural environment, using years of Pro Tools experience to play the role of score mixer for the DC Comic live-action hit.

“The final score for Suicide Squad was mixed entirely within the box. However, in order to get to that position a lot of pre-mixing was completed in advance – this involved processing sounds outside of Pro Tools using an array of gear I had gathered over the years, some old, some new, which all helped create a really unique sound.”

The music programming of the score was an element that Cousins was particularly proud of: “The composer, Steve Price, had been experimenting with a lot of interesting sounds in the score and at some point he and I talked about using a music box. I found an old Victorian music box, took it completely to bits and recorded everything I could think of and put it back together as a new playable virtual instrument.”

He continued: “We then used a lot of analog processing on the resultant instrument and ended up with something that gave the film shedloads of character. I found it incredibly evocative and expressive, and loved the writing Steve did with the music box. To me that sound will always remind me of the Suicide Squad score.”

With Suicide Squad scoring great success at the global box office, Cousins had time to reflect on the industry into which he made his first steps back in 1986: “We are in the most exciting time for media creation since I started my career in music. The possibilities for creating and manipulating music and sound are endless.”

“We have over 100 years’ worth of electronic instruments, recording devices and processors that we may be lucky enough to re-discover and utilise. And above all, music for film is the one place where all these instruments, techniques and equipment can be brought together with the only limit being the imagination of the creator.”

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Iain Archer: Making Career-Defining Moments with Pro Tools | HD

Hailing from Northern Ireland, songwriter, producer and artist Iain Archer has seen great successes both in front of the microphone and behind the scenes in the studio. With a passion and longstanding dedication to his craft, Avid Pro Tools is a key tool within all areas of his work, winning him multiple industry awards and accolades.

After the release of his first two albums to critical acclaim in the mid-90’s, he released Flood the Tanks in 2004, and followed up with Magnetic North in 2006, co-produced with David Kosten (Bat for Lashes, Everything Everything). His most recent album, To the Pine Roots, was released in 2009.

“After the release of a couple of my solo records, I started to use my time and knowledge of Pro Tools to collaborate with other artists and bands within my realm of music. At this point I started playing and writing with Snow Patrol.”

Archer saw chart success with Snow Patrol’s hit Run, which reached UK No. 1 in 2008, and is an Ivor Novello Award winner for his work on their breakthrough multi-platinum album Final Straw. In 2013, he was nominated for another Ivor Novello Award for his work with British indie breakout star, Jake Bugg, and his song, Two Fingers. He also produced and mixed Bugg’s popular singles Lightning Bolt and Taste It, among others, from his debut and the subsequent self-titled No. 1 album.

 

More recently, Archer has seen massive success collaborating with BRIT Award winning singer/songwriter James Bay. “James and I co-wrote his hit singles Hold Back The River, Craving and Best Fake Smile and I also produced a radio version of Hold Back The River that was used for airplay outside the UK.  I also had the privilege of winning a second Ivor Novello Award and a Grammy Nomination this year for my part in the multi-platinum single, Hold Back The River.”

Today, Archer spends the majority of his time working with other artists as a songwriter and producer. Using Pro Tools to collaborate, he creates everything from scratch from writing the song, to recording, arranging and mixing to develop and shape new material.

“I self-produced my third album in 2004 and started to use Pro Tools more and more extensively. It really opened my eyes to more of the production side of what I do. I’ve always liked that I can use Pro Tools very simply without having to navigate around too much, and that’s down to good inherent design by Avid.”

Thinking about how he continues to utilise the industry’s leading DAW to bring both his own sound, and that of other musicians to life, Archer said: “I’ve been using Pro Tools for almost fifteen years now. I have HDX running on a Magma Express Box to an Avid Pro Tools | HD I/O 16×16 interface and a 192.”

“I’m always working on the move, so I love that I can plug my laptop into the whole rig and record, but still edit and shape things when I’m travelling. I’ll often be doing substantial comping, so being able to view and select audio from the playlists changed my workflow entirely. Elastic audio is also massively beneficial.”

Archer went on to explain the dramatic change in the technology that has shaped his career path over the past decade: “I’m not sure I’d be producing records if I hadn’t had access to music editing software. That was the turning point for me, where I could shape and mould audio without having to always verbalise something to an engineer or producer.”

“I love the fact that access to music software means people from the grass roots up get under the hood of what it is to record and mix. That’s when you start to really appreciate how challenging it is to make good records. It’s also an opportunity to innovate outside of the pressures of a recording budget and that freedom alone is significant – then all you need to have is the imagination and the ideas.”

After huge successes with both multi-platinum selling artists like James Bay, Jake Bugg and Snow Patrol, Archer discuss the innovative and time-saving benefits of Pro Tools that help simplify his workflow: “Collaboration is pretty much what I do. It’s integral. I’ll write a song with an artist, produce it, work closely with an A&R and management team on a practical and creative level, involve a great mix engineer and then see it through the mastering stage with a mastering engineer. All of this is highly collaborative.”

Archer’s story began with a guitar and a spark to make music he loved. Pro Tools is the yielding tool that continues to help him create, innovate and collaborate. “We all depend on one another’s skills to make it work. But the collaboration with the artist is the apex of the whole thing, and it’s about helping them see their vision through, and connect with their audience in a really genuine way.”

“I love the breakthrough eureka moments where synergy takes over – where all the disparate pieces and ideas come together to make something much greater than the sum of the parts. But I also love standing in the crowd at a gig and watching everyone sing a song that means something to each one of them, and knowing that you’re suddenly connected to everyone because you’ve helped create it.”

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Gorilla Post Hits New Heights with Avid NEXIS Investment

Gorilla Post, based in the heart of Dublin city in Ireland, is a creative post house with an edge. Founded by Barry Reid in 2009, it specialises in offering a full range of post-production services for the TV and film industry.

In 2014, Gorilla expanded its operation and moved to a larger facility in Merrion Square, the heart of Georgian Dublin. With two superb recording studios complete with surround sound capabilities, three sound editing suites, three editing rooms, a dedicated graphics department, and a large grading and finishing suite – its geared up to tackle any creative brief that comes through the door.

Backed by state-of-the-art Avid technology, Gorilla has built its reputation on continuous investment and adapting to produce great work. On a daily basis the team drives their creative forces into TV programming, commercials, documentaries, animation and film – going above and beyond to achieve special results.

Barry Reid, Managing Director and owner at Gorilla Post Production spoke on how Gorilla do business. “We specialize in TV and film post production. In TV, typical projects including factual, entertainment and lifestyle genres. We also regularly work on large animation series, most notably Puffin Rock, which was acquired by Netflix and adapted for 60 different languages worldwide. On both seasons Gorilla handled voice recordings with Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, sound design, mixing and online editing. The common denominator amongst the entire operation is that we rely on Avid systems across every workflow.”

The full-service production and post company is already leveraging cutting-edge Avid workflows to accelerate production and dramatically enhance collaboration at every step of the creative process — from ingest and editing, to sound design and mixing, to color correction and finishing. But Gorilla’s new level of speed and efficiency would make some major studios blush thanks to its most recent investment in an Avid NEXIS | E2.

Hailed as the world’s first software-defined storage platform that enables true storage virtualization for any media application, this powerful system delivers unmatched flexibility, control, and extensibility to Avid MediaCentral Platform applications.

“With all of our Avid centric workflows at Gorilla, NEXIS was an easy choice. Our decision was based on the continued reliability we’ve always experienced with Avid products,” Reid explains. “Secondly, the bandwidth is so fast, meaning any edit suite in the facility – be it offline, grade, mix or finishing suites – can access large dailies/transcodes which are regularly being loaded from our ingest station with minimal downtime. It’s hugely beneficial.”

“Looking at our business roadmap and forecasting for any future technology investment’s, Avid NEXIS will allow us to expand, and accelerate workflows by mixing and matching engines to form virtualizable pools of storage to streamline. It’s the only storage solution that will grow with us at every stage of our developing business,” explained Reid.

Thanks to the Avid NEXIS storage platform allowing teams easy on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable storage resources, Reid summarizes “We pride ourselves on our extremely high standards and measure success by the amount of repeat business we get from returning customers. NEXIS and all of our Avid workflows are helping us uphold that level of satisfaction to both our clients, and to our employees using the systems.”

 

Gorilla Post NEXIS storage was supplied by Avid Elite reseller Tyrell.

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Avid Showcases Breakthrough VENUE and MADI innovations at PLASA 2016

PLASA 2013 London

At the upcoming PLASA Show, running from 18-20 September at London’s Olympia, Avid’s arsenal of award-winning live sound innovations for audio professionals will be out in force. Joining Avid reseller SSE Audio Group on stand J20, visitors will have the opportunity to get hands on with our latest live sound audio consoles and software.

Taking centre stage is the live sound powerhouse, Avid VENUE | S6L. The fully modular, scalable live sound mixing system delivers best-in-class functionality for a range of live sound mixing applications, including front-of-house, monitor, broadcast, theatre, and more.

With two VENUE | S6L consoles on display loaded with the brand new version of VENUE software, VENUE 5.3, live sound professionals can learn about the new features the update has to offer. These include the ability to record and playback up to 128 tracks to and from Pro Tools over Ethernet AVB with no separate interface required and new multiple layouts, allowing the engineer to instantly recall any mixture of input and output faders either by snapshots or 24 manually triggered soft keys.

These provide live sound engineers with the most powerful and streamlined way to record and playback performances for archiving and performing Virtual Soundchecks.

Also on show is the MADI-192 Option Card which brings industry-standard, high-channel MADI connectivity to VENUE | S6L systems. With this easy-to-install audio interface card, engineers can easily add high-channel, high-quality MADI connectivity to VENUE | S6L. They can also send and receive up to 64 channels of 96 kHz audio per card between S6L and any MADI audio device, such as an external audio mixer, recorder, or processor, including Waves SoundGrid systems.

The MADI Option Card makes it easy to support the largest live audio productions. Each card can provide up to 64 channels of bi-directional audio channels at 96 kHz. Install up to four MADI cards in the E6L-144 or E6L-192 engine for up to 256 channels of bi-directional audio.

Additionally, VENUE 5.3 delivers the much anticipated Multiple Fader Layouts functionality and range of control surface workflow enhancements empowering live sound engineers to navigate more efficiently and mix faster.

For those who need some expert advice, leading FOH engineer and Avid live sound specialist, Robb Allan will be on hand at PLASA discussing the latest innovations and current industry trends. After spending the past summer back on the road again with Massive Attack, Robb will showcase how Avid’s technology continues to deliver new and exciting dimensions to touring and live sound.

 

 

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Lauren Johnstone Wins the University of Salford Student BAFTAR Award for Best Editing

The School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford has been celebrating student success for many years with the BAFTARS (BA Film and Television Awards). This year Avid is very pleased to support the award for best editing. Lauren Johnstone, a student from the course BA Television and Radio, is the proud award winner and tells us how she used Media Composer to edit her project.

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