Professional Sound - April 2017 - Page 33

The o i d u t S LIVE ROOM Rissin explains that how it generally works is that he does all his mixing, and then once the mixing is done, the producer, director, and any- one else involved will come in to review – some- times resulting in a fairly crowded control room. “We’ll watch it through from front to back and everybody will make their notes and com- ments and then we’ll do touch ups. For the most part, reviews go smoothly. My joke is to give them tiny Post-its to take notes. For a one-hour documentary, which is usually 46 minutes or 48 minutes in length, we’ll all watch it straight through and we’ll address everybody’s needs. Then once that’s done, they leave and I begin working on all the outputs and different ver- sions. “You have to be meticulous when conform- ing for the different versions,” Rissin emphasizes. “You want to be sure you don’t have any oddities with automation when you’re cutting across 200 tracks.” Frank Digital does a fair bit of ADR as well. Most movies that are shot in Winnipeg are being posted somewhere else, so local actors are often called in for ADR. Sometimes, if the film is shot somewhere else and the actor happens to be in Winnipeg, the producers will hire Frank Digital to do the ADR. “We have Source Connect, so we’ll often connect with a studio and director in another city for ADR,” Rissin adds. “A composer usually provides the music. It might be as simple as a few stereo tracks or it might be broken out into checkerboarded stereo stems. Sometimes I’m doing the sound effects edit and sometimes I’m doing the dia- logue edit. For the most part, though, it’s usually about bringing all those sound elements togeth- er that are coming from different sources. That all happens in the mix. I’m importing a series of different Pro Tools sessions. Here’s the music session. Here’s the dialogue session. Here’s the sound effects session. I bring those all into one big session and then mix it from there.” McIvor says that, lately, Frank has kept its fo- cus primarily on video production and post, taking on fewer music recording projects. “Over the last 10 years, GarageBand and software like Pro Tools going to subscription models have really changed the nature of the industry,” he offers. “When we built our 5.1 room, we had to build it to Dolby spec and have it inspected several times to get certification as a print master facility. It took two contractors a year just to build the rooms themselves. But now we compete against people who work in their homes and small offices and they all say, ‘Yeah, we can mix 5.1.’ “We lose some clients, but they come back eventually because they know that they get quality and professional service. We’re proud of the quality that comes out of our facility and it’s something these little set-ups can’t always produce. We can mix a show or a movie in our facility and know without a doubt that it will sound exactly the same when we output the DCP file for the theatri- cal distribution.” Rissin takes over: “I think a lot of music shouldn’t be recorded. Everyone’s using sam- ples and loops and presets. Anyone with a lap- top thinks they’re a recording engineer. They use presets and they don’t even understand what they’re doing. But in the same respect, some of those people can get something creative and original. I think we’re inundated with quantity over quality. It really is a dou- ble-edged sword.” According to Rissin, the percentage of his time he spends recording just music is almost negligible. Early in his career, he dedicated almost 99 per cent of his time to recording and mixing music; now, he believes it’s closer to one per cent. For the studio, it really has become a question of economics. “The price for recording music in studios has changed a lot. When I think of when I started in 1979, prices in Winnipeg were any- where from $70 to $100 an hour or more. And now I know you can get most music studios in town for $50 an hour. The only time that our studio is used for recording music is if some- body needs a grand piano because we actual- ly have one and a lot of local studios don’t.” The other control room at Frank Digital can be used as an iso booth for drums. The hallway next to the control room has double doors and is wired for a 16-channel head- phone system and mic lines, ideal for music recording. That being said, Rissin believes that he’s witnessing the end of an era. When asked what the future holds for Frank Digital, McIvor replies, “I think [it will be] more of the same. We’re purposely concentrating on long-form TV projects. That’s where we really want to keep pushing, both in our own production as well as the service production end of the business. My only real goal or hope is that we can actually produce even more of our own content.” It is remarkable that so much professional video and sound is produced, recorded, and mixed in such a compact facility in an unlikely market. Frank Digital, the little studio that could, continues to adapt its services to the market and maintain an impressive level of success. Producing more Canadian content would only add to an already impressive body of work. Ron Lamoureux is a musician, producer, freelance photographer and writer, and president of WhirlWind Media Group, a digital media company that creates and maintains 3D interactive, immersive online and media applications. PROFESSIONAL SOUND • 33