Pro Mixing: Modern Music Mixing with System 5 and Pro Tools

Modern Music Mixing with System 5 and Pro Tools

In a recent article, I talked about how and why top TV and Film composers rely on the Avid System 5 hybrid-mixing console with Pro Tools HDX to efficiently deliver great sounding soundtracks. It probably doesn’t seem like a big stretch that an entirely digital console and integrated digital workstation can deliver very complex modern scores with orchestral elements and synth pre-records mixed in surround that inspires composers to say things like:

“Almost every major film and TV composer who has their own studio and is delivering big wide (stem) mixes…they’ve all got the S5. And there’s a reason…it’s got incredible amount of adaptability. It does what people in our position need it to do, which is: work fast, work steady and then give options to quickly spit out wide mixes. There’s no other piece of gear that does it better than S5.”

– Christopher Lennertz

But what about top producers/engineers mixing hit records? Mixing Hip Hop, R&B, Pop and Rock hits… Surely you must be talking about an analog console with a digital workstation or even a classic 2-inch analog tape machine, right? Some would say that the traditional large format analog consoles have some magic that happens in the circuits to produce that hit record recipe. Some have said that a digital console lacks that magic and it’s summing is sterile. But owners of the System 5 and the S5 Fusion would say otherwise…

“Some people will argue that vinyl sounds better than a CD. But that’s subjective… If you want to hear hiss and lack of high end (or warmth) – that’s your preference. But at the end of the day, if you start with full pristine frequency response of digital, you can go wherever you want from there. And that’s the beauty of it… Give me all of the quality and all of the frequencies. I’ll decide what I want to distort, I’ll decide what I want to pull in and pull out. And ultimately I will achieve that sound of 2” tape if I so choose and that’s where I need to take this record. You can get there almost in a better way…

With all the quality and flexibility you get with Pro Tools (and S5), you can take your mixes to other places and you have infinite possibilities. You can always go back to that world of distortion if you so choose. That’s to me is the most important thing. That’s why I will always stand by mixing in a digital environment.

Sure there’s other consoles – but I’m in a system where Pro Tools is talking to my console and vice versa… That alone gives me an advantage over everyone else out there that is just mixing with another console (without an S5) or just with Pro Tools. Those two things stacked together are like ‘I’ve got everything now’. The shear flexibility of the S5 is one of my favorite things…

– Noah “40” Shebib, producer, mixer, songwriter

Drake, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Alicia Keys

There is nothing quite like this desk [S5 Fusion] in the world. What you can do on here daily surprises me… The sound of the console is undeniable, the punch and sound of the console is a very true thing. It’s different than (our older) SSL was, but in a lot of ways for me it’s better. We aren’t locked into one sound, which was a very particular sound and not so subtle where everything is going to have that element across your mix. What we’ve done is add a whole bunch of outboard options to add a little of that color if the client wants that… But the console has a distinct sound of it’s own, it brings it’s own characteristics to your music, but not so much in an intrusive way that forces itself upon you. Our clients really love it.

From a purely business point of view when we had the old analogue desk, our electric bill was incredibly high. The next month after we installed the S5 Fusion, the electric bill came and it was literally two thirds less than it had been the month before and the only thing that changed was the console.”

– Andrew Koss, owner/producer, Tainted Blue Studio; New York

“Being an analog man at heart, the System 5 convinced my soul to embrace the ultimate digital console. Its unprecedented flexibility with EUCON, its outstanding sonic performance, and its ease of use make the System 5 the perfect choice for our Studio 1.”

– Ronald Prent, creative director, Wisseloord Studios, Netherlands

Avid Pro Tools Software Download

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

Compose, record, edit, and mix with Pro Tools—the award-winning professional’s choice for music and audio post production. Now you can try the entire creative toolset free.


Pro Mixing: Pro Tools | S6 Software v1.3 Update Now Available

Pro Mixing: Pro Tools | S6 Software v1.3 Update Now Available

Pro Tools | S6 owners with Avid Advantage support now have access to the latest software update (v1.3) for S6 consoles. It includes a number of new and updated features, but also improves on system overall stability and network connectivity robustness. Here’s a look at what’s new.


Customize Momentary Control Value display times – You can customize the length of time these values are displayed before they revert back to track or parameter name.


Layouts Improvements – Improved Tracks page with Layouts is an integrated single page. The Tracks screen now includes a consolidated view of the Tracks and Assign screens, as well as new commands and menus that simplify the creating, storing, and editing of Layouts in your projects.

  • Specify strips to store in Layouts, Delete All Layouts from Edit popup, and Automatic storing of Layouts – a timesaver and simplification for building and naming layouts
  • You can now store Knobset views in Layouts… like the slaves on VCA’s for instance or EQ, Dynamics mode, Sends mode, Pan Mode, etc.


Auto-Spill VCA on Attention – You can configure VCAs to automatically spill to the left or to the right of the Attention Track Fader (on the Automation Module) when a VCA is ‘attentioned’.


Sends and Inserts Knobs Reversed – The Sends/Inserts Knobs Reversed preference lets you configure Knob Modules to display slots in either of two ways, “a–j” or“j–a.”

  • When enabled, slots (a–j) are displayed from the bottom knob, up (slot “a” appears on the knob closest to the operator, “b” above it, and so on). This is the default setting.
  • When disabled, slots are displayed from the top knob, down (slot “a” appears on the knob furthest from the operator, with “b” below it, and so on). This matches the Pro Tools Mix window.


Soft Keys improvements include being able to:

  • Recall layouts on the Soft Keys
  • Recall and focus workstations from the Soft Keys
  • New ICONs on the Soft Keys for Layouts and Workstations
  • Enabled Soft Keys for Automation Module Transport, Numeric Keypad, Locate, and Wheel
  • Custom re-map transport keys
  • Program Key Strokes to Soft Keys: Alpha, numeric, Function, arrow, and other keys from the computer keyboard (including OS modifier keys) can be included in a Soft Key definition.


Support for GPI I/O Triggers – you can now add external triggers and switch control for Talkback, Stop, Play, Record, Dim & Cut. You need to wire a D-Sub snake to send these triggers from S6.


Display Module Enhancements

  • Added Waveform Link spec to EUCON so that 3rd party EUCON DAW’s can support scrolling waveforms in their apps.
  • Group ID and Group color indication from Pro Tools are now displayed on the display modules (only for enabled groups).


Expand Mode Enhancements – Expand mode now works with a Process Module only (if you don’t have a Knob module on that group of 8 channels). Expand Mode does not work on a Process module if you have a knob module attached.


Unified EUCONtrol version – you can now use one version of EUCONtrol software to run your Artist Series controllers, S3, 5MC-Pro and System 5 on the same workstation. This is particularly useful if you work in a facility that has multiple rooms and different surfaces you move your workstation between.


Version 1.3 also improves on system overall stability and network connectivity robustness. It is included in the first year Avid Advantage support for S6 owners.

Pro Mixing: Music Composers for TV and Film Look to System 5 and Pro Tools to Deliver Compelling Scores

Pro Mixing: Music Composers for TV and Film Look to System 5 and Pro Tools to Deliver Compelling Scores

When you stop to think about what one of the coolest jobs in the world would be, being a film and TV composer has to be high on the list. But they really do have very challenging gigs and I’ve seen it first hand on many big movies that I’ve freelanced on over the years (including The Spirit, Collateral, Star Trek Nemesis and Solaris). Composers have to write, record and mix a ton of cues each with dozens (if not hundreds) of tracks in a compressed timeframe, compressed budget and still find a way to be creative. They are on the hook to deliver great sounding cues that match the film and most importantly, what the director is looking for. To do this, they need reliable, repeatable and efficient workflows. Their studios often contain a writing room and a separate mixing room to work in parallel – (for instance, the composer could be writing cues for reels 5 & 6 of the show while his crew is mixing to deliver cues for reels 1 & 2).

“Almost every major film and TV composer who has their own studio and is delivering big wide (stem) mixes… they’ve all got the S5. And there’s a reason…it’s got incredible amount of adaptability.”

Chris Lennertz composing on Cubase and Pro Tools

“It does what people in our position need it to do, which is: work fast, work steady and then give options to quickly spit out wide mixes. There’s no other piece of gear that does it better than S5.”

—Christopher Lennertz

Chris in his mix room with System 5

Workflow That Sounds Great

Whatever the composers choice of composing MIDI Digital Audio Workstation that they write on: Logic Pro, Cubase, Digital Performer or Pro Tools, there will be many ‘pre-record’ sounds (synths, samples, etc) and tracks that are generated on that rig that will live all the way to the final mix. They can stay fluid as MIDI and virtual instruments in the host application or (more likely) get printed off as audio files for Pro Tools playback on the scoring stage where a real orchestra will replace the ‘mock-up’ strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, choir, piano, etc. Those real instrument recordings are recorded (usually at high sample rates) into a Pro Tools | HDX rig and then brought back to the studio, cleaned up (alongside the pre-records) and prepped for mix.

That's me at Fox Scoring

My Pro Tools scoring rig at Fox Studios

So any one cue will be likely made up of hundreds of tracks and sounds, often completely changing from moment to moment within the same cue and will likely have incredible dynamic range from quiet to loud, all playing from multiple DAW systems, (unlike a traditional pop/rock song mix). Having a console that can handle these multiple systems, offer integrated DAW control (through EUCON), as well as great DSP mixing, summing and automation, offer a ton of headroom, a great set of EQ’s and Dynamics, easy digital patching, intuitive surround panning, flexible monitoring and being able to quickly deliver wide stems for options in the final film mix is critical.  Why do composers have to deliver wide stems? This allows the filmmaker and dubbing mixers to have the most control in the final mix to blend the music parts with the rest of the soundtrack. All of this is why many of the world’s top composers choose Avid System 5 as their console of choice. It becomes a critical centerpiece in their mission to deliver a great sounding music score.

What Do Composers Think of System 5?

Hear what composer Christopher Lennertz (Supernatural, Revolution, Horrible Bosses) says about his path to becoming a successful composer and how his System 5 console plays an important role in his success in this video interview we recorded at his Los Angeles based studio.

Across town is a colleague who also came from Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control camp of successful young composers: Trevor Morris (Immortals, Olympus Has Fallen, Vikings) and he also relies on Pro Tools HD systems with a System 5 console.

“The S5 handles everything we’ve thrown at it. It’s comfortable too… big enough, but not too big. It’s all centralized and easy to work with the layers in the center of the board and my mixers really love the format.”

—Trevor Morris

Trevor Morris at his composing rig

Trevor mixes on his System 5 console

Trevor says: “I had experience with the System 5 in the past working with other composers before I owned one and there’s a certain intangible magic to it. Film music is a very three-dimensional thing, it has height and width and depth, more so than stereo pop music. To hear what the S5 does with that – there’s a clarity to it, it just opens up – it’s undeniably the best sounding digital or analogue console for me, for what I do with the language of Film and TV music. I can’t even describe how it makes me so happy to hear the returns on what I’ve worked so hard writing, come together and go to the next level. It never gets old – I love mixing!”

“And the S5 handles our massive track counts really well. With a big feature film we have a whole Pro Tools rig for just the orchestra, a second Pro Tools rig for pre-records like synths, percussion and guitars and then a third Pro Tools rig for printing stems and video playback and the S5 handles everything we’ve thrown at it. It’s comfortable too… big enough, but not too big. Gone are the days of the 100 plus channel big ‘wheel your chair down to the first channel’ analogue desk. It’s all centralized and easy to work with the layers in the center of the board and my mixers really love the format.”

A Scoring Mixers Point Of View

Alan Meyerson is a leading scoring engineer who has been using System 5 consoles to mix and control multiple music tracks from multiple Pro Tools|HDX systems for many years. “I work in Hybrid mode, with some tracks controlled by the System 5 DSP and others within Pro Tools using EUCON. I prefer to use the ‘hardware’ channels [controlling the System 5 DSP engine] for trimming my overall balances and stem levels, and the DAW channels for the component orchestral and other tracks.”

Scoring Mixer Alan Meyerson

System 5 at Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Studios

Recent film-scoring projects for this busy music engineer include Man of Steel (with composer Hans Zimmer at Remote Control studios), Despicable Me II (with composer Heitor Pereira), Pacific Rim (with composer Ramin Djawadi), White House Down, and The Smurfs II.

“I like the familiar sound of the System 5’s DSP engine for orchestral balances—the EQ and dynamics sections within the System 5 are great sounding—using channel returns from 200 to 300 tracks replaying back from one of my several Pro Tools|HDX rigs. That DSP/DAW hybrid approach also leaves more core power for all the Pro Tools plug-ins I like to use on component elements. I also prefer to keep my prerecords very wide with multiple passes of orchestral tracks, so that I have plenty of options during the final 5.1- or 7.1-channel mix of the score I’m working on.”

Pro Mixing: How Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer Will Files Creates Inspiring Feature Film Soundtracks on the Avid MediaCentral Platform

Pro Mixing: How Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer Will Files Creates Inspiring Feature Film Soundtracks on the Avid MediaCentral Platform

It’s IBC time again! It was one year ago at this show when we announced the revolutionary Pro Tools | S6 modular control surface. A lot has happened in that year, including three big software updates to answer customer needs and there’s another update just around the corner.

It was also at IBC 2013 that we unveiled the Avid Everywhere vision and the Avid Customer Association was formed.  Avid Everywhere is really about leveraging integrated technology to allow content creators to collaborate better, be more efficient and more creative (and ultimately connect them better with consumers). And while there are some really cool things coming with cloud collaboration, Avid Everywhere exists today with the Avid MediaCentral Platform. That’s a big name for the integrated technologies and products that our customers use every day and leverage to gain the most efficient and creative workflows they can. Pro Tools 11, Pro Tools | HDX, Pro Tools | S6, System 5, Media Composer, VENUE, ISIS shared storage and Sibelius are just some of the products on the platform. The way they work together and the ‘special sauce’ that integrates the workflows are things like EUCON protocol, Satellite Link/Video Satellite, VENUE Link, Sibelius notation in Pro Tools, DNxHD video and many more. It’s also an open platform that allows third-party developers to add functionality, an example of which is our fast-growing AAX audio plug-in developers.

Avid MediaCentral Platform

I love when I get the opportunity to interview and talk to successful people who are leveraging Avid Everywhere and the MediaCentral Platform right now—people like Sound Supervisor, Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer Will Files. Will is an engaging, young superstar in the film sound business and a real renaissance man.  He was profiled in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Crafts: The Next Generation” 2007 issue as one of “the brightest and most talented 35-and-under artisans” in the industry. Check him out in this recent interview we did at NAB 2014 in April, right before the big summer blockbuster release he supervised and mixed called: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He talks about his approach to feature soundtracks and doing it with the integrated tools of the Avid MediaCentral Platform.

“The huge advantage I’ve found with working entirely in Pro Tools – 100% Pro Tools mix – is that I can take it from facility to facility… It’s letting me maximize the amount of time I spend with the clients and on the final stage.” —Will Files

You can also watch the recent Secrets from Inside Bad Robot webinar that includes Will’s contributions to help design an audio mix workflow with Media Composer surround sound functionality at Bad Robot for the film Star Trek Into Darkness.  There are Pro Tools rigs for sound design and music editing and they contribute surround sound files to Media Composer video editorial, but it was J.J. Abrams desire to carry a really good temp mix in the video editorial process that drove them to create this evolved workflow. Bad Robot with Will Files is another great example of a customer who leverages all of our products across the MediaCentral Platform: Media Composer, Pro Tools, ISIS, Artist Series controllers, Satellite Technology and more….

Hope to see you either at IBC 2014 on the show floor orAvid Connect Europe on September 11th at the Future of Pro Mixing workshop!

“This building is the inspiring intersection of art and technology, one without the other would be nothing… it would be just half of a whole. But by putting them together and by having the incredible products that people at Avid make – we’ve been able to raise our game in a way that is actually kind of spectacular!” —Ben Rosenblatt, Producer, Bad Robot

Pro Mixing: How Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer Will Files Creates Inspiring Feature Film Soundtracks on the Avid MediaCentral Platform

Will Files at Bad Robot creating some sound design elements in Pro Tools with the Artist Control

Music: Inside the Studio with Remix Master Dave Audé

Music Creation Webinar with Dave Audé

Back in February – I had so much fun interviewing Dave Audé on the art of Re-Mixing with Pro Tools. Dave is a larger than life artist, re-mixer, DJ and producer -(truly he stands over 6’ 5”) and he has a fantastic personality. He allowed us to be a part of him building a re-mix track for an artist and share many of his tips and techniques. The webinar we did – where he answered questions live on camera had over 4,500 people attending – which tells me that people are really interested in learning about music creation and re-mixing with Pro Tools from a pro. Below is a 20-minute excerpt on YouTube or you can register for the free full version of the webinar.

“Going from Pro Tools 10 to Pro Tools 11 with HD Native has been the most solid Pro Tools system I’ve worked on yet. It’s been a wonderful experience…” —Dave Aude

His rig is a Pro Tools HD Native with HD Omni interface and Pro Tools 11 HD on a 2011 Mac Pro loaded with about 20 gig of RAM. He drives everything from his mouse and MIDI keyboard, in a very simple setup. Here’s the top 12 tips he gives that we cover in the full webinar.

  1. Color Code Tracks (With built in Pro Tools Colors) and Stay Organized
  2. Print MIDI as Audio as you go – Hide and Make Inactive Midi parts
    • Why? Audio is more easily manipulated, edited, processed
    • Why? You are not carrying all the processing needed for the big synths virtually
  3. Sidechain Processing is great way to make sounds more interesting. He shows the Nicky Romero VST plug-in making a plain string sound pump in sync with the beat*
  4. Mix as you go – start making level changes, automation and plug-in choices as you are building the track. Why mix later?*
  5. Favorite Vocal plug-ins: MCDsp ML4000, Chris Lord Alge Waves Plug-In, Soundtoys Micro Shift*
  6. Favorite Master Fader Plugs: Waves Max Volume 2, Izotope Ozone 5, Waves L3, Waves Renaissance De-Esser – everything is about getting more level!*
  7. Dave also uses outboard Empirical Labs Distressors on his Master Bus insert to get more level and a little bit of that analogue sound
  8. Get your room/studio balanced right. More important that checking your mixes elsewhere to find EQ problems. Dave has calibrated his room with mics and an outboard EQ to have a ‘flat room’*
  9. Mix Secret Weapon – Dave partners with a mix/mastering second set of ears. In other words – he gets his tracks mastered with more than just stems (the full tracks). *
  10. If you can – go Mid Field speakers as opposed to popular Near Field. It will save your ears in the long run. Don’t always listen at loud volumes.*
  11. Automate Level Changes on your Master Fader – you can give your song a bump in various sections.*
  12. Do a ton of mixes – success will not come over night. Keep finishing songs and develop a body of work*

*Not in the excerpt – see the full webinar and QA session to hear more about these tips


You can also check out some of Dave’s mixes on SoundCloud.

Pro Mixing: Inside the World of Emmy-Winning Re-Recording Mixer Frank Morrone at Technicolor Toronto

Frank Morrone, Technicolor Toronto

I recently sat down with Frank Morrone on a sunny, summer morning to discuss his experience mixing the new hit TV showThe Strain on FX Network at Technicolor Toronto (Canada). The show has racked up some really big numbers in it’s first few weeks while Frank has been mixing ahead non-stop for the last few months on the S6 surface and with Pro Tools HDX and Pro Tools HD 11 software. This article is part one of two discussing Technicolor’s state-of-the art facility with the latest Avid Pro Mixing solutions.

Technicolor Toronto

Technicolor Toronto

Technicolor Toronto

Frank is always good for a smile and a laugh…

I’ve been lucky to know Frank pretty well for the last 10 years now – as I was the product specialist helping him design, install and get up on the ICON and Pro Tools HD rigs for the hit show LOST. Frank is not just a mixer, he’s also a passionate advocate and leader for the industry. He has served as a Governor for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and is currently President of the Motion Picture Sound Editors. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Motion Picture Editors Guild.  Additionally, he is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Recording Academy and has served on the Board of Directors for the Cinema Audio Society.

“Consumers today expect and demand a theatrical experience from (modern) TV shows…”

TG: Could you speak to the level of expectation for soundtracks today? Are consumers demanding a bigger, higher quality experience from all media?

FM: Consumers today expect and demand a theatrical experience from (modern) TV shows. Shows are broadcast with High Def (picture) and 5.1 (audio) so we are very conscious of delivering a high level of quality for the consumer and our clients. The shows live on with the 5.1 Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming versions as well, where people want a great experience.

TG: With that in mind, what are the big challenges facing you as a professional mixer today?

FM: The challenges we face in mixing for television today are that track counts continue to get bigger, our budgets are getting smaller and the schedules are getting tighter… we’re basically asked to deliver a (high quality – theatrical) 5.1 mix in a fraction of the time than we would have with a feature film. Days as opposed to weeks. Having a streamlined workflow is the key to efficiently delivering that mix.

I was really excited to join the Technicolor worldwide team because to me, they really represent a modern, forward thinking company that wants to invest in the technology and facilities needed to deliver modern streamlined workflows and foster an environment for a great client experience and great results.

Technicolor Toronto

“Every time Avid has released the product, they’ve listened to us… and have responded to that.”

TG: Could you speak to the evolution of sound mixing and over the last 15 years and how has Avid helped shape that evolution?

FM: Initially I started mixing in film and television back in the days of mag film and analog consoles and so I never take for granted the power that Avid and Pro Tools has brought to our workflows. I’ve worked on traditional (analogue and digital) mixing consoles and you end up writing two sets of automation because besides automating the console, I like to use a lot of the plug-ins (such as reverbs and noise reduction) in Pro Tools, so you’re carrying along two sets of automation with every session. The great thing about working (entirely) within Pro Tools and S6 is that the automation stays intact wherever you go and it makes it seamless to move from one studio to another.

We didn’t have the demands on us that we have today and Avid has provided us with a means to get the job done and deliver high-quality results. It’s been an evolution that’s been ongoing… Every time Avid has released the product, they’ve listened to us, to what the needs of mixers, editors, music engineers and composers are and have responded to that.  Every release that they have put out there has been a tremendous help because they do listen to what we need and they deliver.

Technicolor Toronto

“…(S6) really has been well thought out and laid out ergonomically for us to have everything we need at our fingertips and I find that I work much faster. It’s been a real treat and a joy to work on…”

TG: Can you talk about how you came to the Pro Tools | S6 solution and how you think S6 changes the way you mix (compared to the previous solution)?

FM: When we started mixing LOST many years ago – we knew right away that the ICON and Pro Tools HD was the way to go to deal with the huge track counts and streamline our workflow. It was a tremendous tool for us to use on that show and I loved it.

With LOST we had 7 computer monitors (for the 7 HD Systems) in front of us to get the visual feedback we needed.  Now with the S6, I have the TFT (Meter) displays and all the information is streamlined right in front of me. I can get at it with a lot less clutter. And I really love the scrolling waveforms because when I’m doing my dialogue premixes I can see when a piece of dialogue is coming in on a track and if I need to raise my Fader because of the (relative) size of the incoming waveform.  To be able to also see my metering, my compression and my EQ curves right next to the scrolling waveform are just great features and they really get you into a rhythm when you’re working. It’s a rhythm and efficiency that you could never get before.

Another big difference for me between the ICON and the S6 is the use of real estate. Avid has really maximized the space that you have on the desk and you get a lot of functionality in a much smaller space. The S6 is a tremendous improvement – it really has been well thought out and laid out ergonomically for us to have everything we need at our fingertips and I find that I work much faster. It’s been a real treat and a joy to work on the new S6.

TG: And how was the transition from ICON to S6 for you?

FM: Moving from the ICON to the S6 was virtually seamless, just a few hours really.  Once you’re familiar with working and mixing within Pro Tools HD and it’s automation, the ICON and the S6 are just an extension of that and it was a very easy move.

TG: Could you talk about the transition from Pro Tools HD to Pro Tools | HDX?

FM: With the release of the (Pro Tools) HDX cards there was a huge advancement in the power that we gained, it helped us get much higher track counts, much more DSP power and it sounds better too, the difference was noticeable and we’re really happy with the move. What took 7 HD systems onLOST is now 3 HDX rigs: (1 for Dialogue/Music/Group, 1 for FX, BGs and Foley and 1 recorder for all the stems). It was a huge advancement that really helped our capabilities to work more efficiently and streamline our workflow.

Technicolor Toronto

Frank using the Master Touch Screen

TG: What stands out to you as the most compelling features of S6?

FM: Between the HDX cards and the S6 console – we have a very powerful combination.   Some of the features that the S6 offers (and now especially with the latest release of software version 1.2),  I can basically use the touchscreen or the VCA’s and VCA spill and the Layouts to get at any of the tracks I need quickly. Those are all powerful tools. But if I had to pick just one – I love the touchscreen; it’s a great, great feature! I find that I am constantly going to it and being able to scroll through tracks or go to EQ’s or the surround panner – and it just really allows me to work very quickly and efficiently. It’s also fun – that’s the best way to put it, the S6 is a lot of fun to work on.

“Pro Tools is the lifeblood of our industry.  The more proficient you can get on it – the more valuable you become…” 

TG: Can you describe your experience with the Avid team on supporting your sale and installation.

FM: The overall support from Avid has been phenomenal. When we (at Technicolor) ordered, (really the first dual operator S6 in North America), we needed to know that we were going to have the support to get our show (The Strain – on FX Network) up and running under our tight deadline. They were fantastic in supporting us, getting us up and running and they were available to us when we needed them. And that’s important with any product – it’s only as good as the people standing behind it and they did an exceptional job.

TG: Any advice you would give to students or young mixers who want to do what you do?

FM: My best advice to someone wanting to get into the film and TV mixing industry starts with: Pro Tools is the lifeblood of our industry.  The more proficient you can get on it – the more valuable you become to a facility. Mastering Pro Tools and the surfaces like the S6 will make you a huge asset to any studio looking to hire someone.

Be sure to check back for part two of the blog post where I interview the chief (technical) engineer and the manager of sound services for their impressions on designing and implementing the S6 and more… Until then!

Customize Your Own Modular Control Surface with the new Avid S6 ‘Configurator’

Avid S6 Price Configurator

Los Angeles Avid pro audio reseller RSPE has made a very cool way to construct your perfect S6 mixing desk in the virtual realm. By choosing a custom configuration, you are able to start with an empty frame size of your choice and then from there, you are able to play with the arrangement by dragging down modules, blank panels, producers desk and or meter displays. You can always re-drag around to change the layout or clear it all and start again. It really helps you visualize the possibilities for the very modular and customizable Avid S6 control surface. Heck, you can even share your dream config on social media with easy links.


You can see a layout that I’ve made using the configurator in the image at the top… (Is it my ideal surface layout?! I’m not telling!) It shows a custom 24 fader S6 M40 system. Here’s the breakdown from left-to-right:


The first 8 channels has only the fader module (with 2 blank panels) and I picture using these faders for mostly VCA masters where I wouldn’t need access to the knobs. If they happen to be other audio or aux channels, I would nudge them closer to me in the center, ergonomic sweet spot to access them.


Channels 9-16 in the second row of modules contains a full arsenal of Fader, Process, Knob and Meter Displays. This is where I’ll spend most of my time and I want access to the most control and visual feedback.


Next is the center section of the Master Modules: The Master Touch and the Automation Modules. The heads-up display is my navigation tool and all the soft keys are critical to access for my favorite automation modes like Preview and Punch Preview.


Channels 17-24 follow and mirror channels 9-16 allowing me the most control.


Finally, the right side has the Producers Desk giving me access to my DAW – Pro Tools of course!

RSPE has told me they will be continually updating the configurator with new functionality – so be sure to check back. (Things like the ability to split the Master Touch Module and the Master Automation module). They’ve also said they will be adding the sliding bluetooth keyboard/trackpad option to the drawing soon.

Modularity, configurability, scalability and ergonomics are what our customers asked us to build in a modern control surface. This interactive configurator is really an easy and fun tool to play with the modularity and layout aspect of the surface, hope you can check it out soon.

If you do share your config on social media, be sure to share it with the hashtag:

#AvidS6 or #MixingRedefined

Behind the Scenes with the ‘Gravity’ Sound Design Team

Behind-the-Scenes with the 'Gravity' Sound Design Team

Gravity has enjoyed great commercial and critical success, with a $700 million box office take and ten Oscar nominations. But it’s also one of the greatest technical achievements in modern filmmaking. Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted to leverage sound and picture to create an immersive experience for moviegoers—how did Avid help the crew realize his vision?

In this exclusive interview, the Gravity sound design team talks about using Avid workflows to transport the audience to a heightened reality. Watch now to discover how Pro Tools helped them break sound editorial and mixing paradigms and ultimately take home Oscar gold.

Avid Pro Tools Software Download

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

Compose, record, edit, and mix with Pro Tools—the award-winning professional’s choice for music and audio post production. Now you can try the entire creative toolset free.


Multi-Platinum and GRAMMY® Winning Mixer Mick Guzauski on Avid S6

Multi-Platinum and GRAMMY® Winning Mixer Mick Guzauski on Avid S6 Control Surface

I recently had the opportunity to sit with legendary mixer Mick Guzauski just after we gave him a demonstration on the all-new Avid S6 control surface. Mick shared his thoughts on why he thinks mixing in Pro Tools “is essential” with its “instantaneous recall” saying the Avid S6 “really complements the way I like to work”. Here’s Mick’s thoughts on digital mixing and workflows in the industry today.

In my book, Mick is considered a mixing guru. He has mixed some of my favorite tracks and those mixes have stood the test of time. He remains completely relevant today with the recent mixes of the multi-platinum hit from Daft Punk this year. He’s also a great guy and easy to talk with! I look forward to hearing his creations with Avid S6 and Pro Tools HDX.

Multi-Platinum and GRAMMY® Winning Mixer Mick Guzauski on Avid S6 Control Surface

My impressions of S6? I want one!! I want it now!

BTW, Avid S6 is coming soon—be sure to contact us to see how S6 can help streamline your workflow and to pre-order your own surface.

From ensuring that the overall mix sounds the best that it possibly can to dealing with a wide array of clients and workflows, short deadlines, and last-minute rearrangements or picture edits, learn how you can work smarter and faster by subscribing to Pro Mixing on Avid Blogs.

Mixing ‘Gravity’ with Skip Lievsay is an Out-of-this-World Experience

Mixing Gravity with Skip Lievsay

Soundtracks for feature films (and really many aspects of) ‘big studio’ feature films of the past decade or so have become, (generally speaking), incredibly bombastic and over-the-top. Soundtracks have grown bigger in multiple ways: the density of sound coming at you, (AKA the continuous ‘wall of sound’) to support frenetic action, the layered explosions, gunshots and intensity of big, hyper reality sound can be overwhelming and have you leaving the theater exhausted and sometimes even worried about your hearing.

Now, the silent movie The Artist being the polar opposite is certainly not what I’m suggesting movie soundtracks should be like – as I heard the person 2 rows in front of me snoring throughout most of that movie.

A sound supervisor and re-recording mixer who, in my humble opinion, has offered a wonderful alternative approach to the modern feature film soundtrack and how to use sound (and the lack of big, dense, layered sound and even minimal sound) to help tell the story the filmmaker is wanting to tell, is a man named Skip Lievsay. Even when you hear Skip talk, he is a quiet and understated speaker… but his soundtracks are completely engaging and refreshing.

I talked with him recently about his latest film mix, Gravity at the AES show in his hometown of New York City. It’s already creating quite a bit of Oscar buzz, much like some of his other films No Country For Old Men and True Grit.   If you haven’t seen Gravity in the theater yet – do so now! (If you have the chance to see it in Dolby Atmos – better still!)

Skip prefers to mix virtually in Pro Tools (or as they say ‘in-the-box’), and says that in doing so offers he and the director the most flexibility and choice at any point in the process and is his ‘home platform’ where he is most comfortable.  He creates incredibly compelling and engrossing soundtracks that draw you into the story, not distract you or overwhelm you. There is magic to his minimal approach, subtlety and nuance and I’m a huge fan.

Avid Pro Tools Software Download

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

Compose, record, edit, and mix with Pro Tools—the award-winning professional’s choice for music and audio post production. Now you can try the entire creative toolset free.