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.
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.
“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.”
“[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.”
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.”
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