The Dark Side of the Earth: February 14th, 2010

The Dark Side pilot now has a lovely surround sound mix. Once again, huge thanks to the SAE Institue in Dalston, this time for giving us use of their state-of-the-art Neve DFC suite.
The day got off to a bad start, with the mixing desk refusing to output any sound all morning, a fault eventually ascribed to a previous user messing with the settings. On the plus side, this allowed me to have productive meetings with both Carl – now Dark Side’s official producer – and Aidan and Joe. The dynamic duo are now back on the case full time with the puppeteer paint-out work. If you’ve seen the latest podcast you will appreciate just why this particular part of post-production is taking so long. Six more shots have effectively been signed off this weekend, which is good progress in the face of the looming end-of-month deadline.
By lunchtime the Neve was cooperating, and Henning and I began translating the stereo panning from the pre-mix to 5.1 panning, to envelope the audience in the sonic world. The five speakers in the 5.1 system are centre (used for dialogue and any other sounds that have to be locked to the screen), front left and front right (used mainly for spot effects and the odd bit of foley and dialogue that happen just off screen), and rear left and right (where only music and background atmosphere dare to roam, save for the odd special effect). The point one in 5.1 is the sub-woofer, which handles the low frequency effects, giving the soundscape scale and literally making the room shake where necessary. The mix sounded huge in the studio, and will sound even bigger in a cinema or screening room.
We got through the positioning far quicker than I had expected, and were soon onto balancing: tweaking the levels of the various tracks to ensure clarity of dialogue, impact of effects and effectiveness of music. We finished on time at 8pm, an achievement for which credit must go to Henning, whose dedicated preparation made sure that everything went as smoothly as possible, and whose talent, of course, made the mix sound as brilliant and epic as it does.

The Dark Side of the Earth: February 14th, 2010

The Dark Side of the Earth Podcast #14: Hello Roto

Compositing supervisor John Galloway (from top VFX house Double Negative) and compositing/rotoscoping artist Joseph Brett explain how the puppeteers operating the Wooden Swordsman were painstakingly erased from the footage using Shake.

The Dark Side of the Earth Podcast #14: Hello Roto