Extended Interview With Vince Caro

Aug 25, 2009 5:42 PM

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Mix Regional

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Pixar Staff Becomes the Audience in “Presto”

There’s a short film that accompanied the theatrical release of Wall-E called “Presto.” It’s about a little bunny who’s the partner of a magician, and it takes place in an old-time theater. I got to record the music, the audience and all the vocalizations. I say vocalizations not dialog because we’ve never used straight dialog in any of our short films.

At Pixar, we have a system of criticism we call “plus-ing.” The culture is such that anyone is allowed to make suggestions to anyone without fear of being humiliated or fired, and the way you do it is not through negative criticism, but by saying, “That’s good, what do you think of this?” So one of the “plus-es” I added to the making of "Presto" was my suggestion to the director, Doug Sweetland, that we record actual audience responses and that he would direct the particular response for each reaction. It was his feeling that the audience was another character, so using canned applause seemed a little weak to him. So he let one of his editors, Kevin Rose Williams, and myself organize the proceedings. We secured our theater, which holds about 250 people during lunchtime, we got signed waivers from all the employee-attendees. I put together a Pro Tools system, rolled in mic pre’s, five M50s for a Decca Tree and wide-outs, two B&K 4011s, a pair of Schoeps MK2s and “George,” our Neumann binaural head, who sat in the audience. Eventually, a 5.1 mixdown was sent to E.J. Holowicki, the film’s sound designer, and eventually off to the final mix at Skywalker.

For the score, we went to the scoring stage at Skywalker. Doug Sweetland perceived this film as a kind of an homage to the old Warner Bros. cartoons. The composer, Scott Stafford, relayed to me that he thought it would be neat to have that kind of “old-time” sound when it started—kind of small and mono—and then it should open up to sound big and modern. So what I did to “plus” their vision was to double up everything with old ribbon mics, vintage tube mics and modern condensers. Then we mixed it both ways—with the ribbon mics in mono, smaller panning, and then panning out to the modern microphones—and we mixed every cue as both a modern 7.1 and 5.1 mixdown to almost straight mono, with the old ribbon mics. Then the music editor (Marc Wilshire) was able to mix and match the proper mix that correlated best to the picture.






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