Composer Rolfe Kent called me in to mix the score for his latest offering “Rock Dog” a beautifully animated feature directed by Ash Brannon, who also directed Toy Story 2. Rolfe was on a tight schedule so he traveled to Air Studios in London to record the orchestra, I had to start mixing before he returned to the states so he asked me where I would like to work. I gave him a few choices, in the end we settled on Capitol Records Studio 3. I surmised, as there was quite a tall order of starts and 70+ minutes of score, we must have total recall ability to move quickly and efficiently, therefor I decided to bring my entire workstation to the studio and mix in the virtual environment. This proved to be fantastic as I had all my processors and custom presets that I am accustomed to at my fingertips.
During pre production we spoke about his desire to have live Taikos. I chose Henson Studio 1 for its rather live ‘mid sized’ room feel. I knew the orch was going to be quite ambient so I wanted the drums to be as live a possible here in LA. to seamlessly integrate the percussion complement with the orchestra recorded at Air.
I started the main theme song “Glorious” written by Adam Friedman here at my studio. This was such a fun challenge as the entire film team and studio had been listening to the songwriters reference mix for two years. As I always say “Sometimes people want there music to sound better…….just not different”. The cute part was I was given a session with something like 300+ tracks. My approach was to sonically expand the mix without altering the feeling of the ref. My first V1 was a radio ready pop song and all the processing that goes along with that. The mix was sounding fantastic I thought, until I put it up against picture and quickly became aware that so much presence and compression simply did not match the feeling I had when I watched the film. So I backed off and created a more organic albeit equally powerful approach. In the end everybody embraced wholeheartedly my new concept of the track.
There is some kind of wonderful putting up the faders with an orchestra recorded at Air. First off, the players are unbelievable….But that room! I start a mix with the tree just to hear what the conductor hears, then I bring the ambient pairs one at a time to experience the different decay times. As Air is a converted church, the decay is not to be believed. No virtual reverb in sight, just altering the balance of the room mics alters your reverb time. Rolfe really killed it on this score. The writing effortlessly went from soft and intimate to huge and playful. He mixed in all of his signature sounds to great effect.
I quite enjoyed mixing at Capital for many reasons, however as Steve G. said “Here, it’s all about the hallways”. I came across so many talented professional colleagues and friends each day simply walking down the hallway…..