Chace Productions Remasters Roy Orbison

Aug 13, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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To present Roy Orbison's vintage performances in 5.1 multichannel stereo, Cass Paley, producer/project coordinator for Barbara Orbison Productions, selected Burbank-based Chace Productions to create the new DVD release, Roy Orbison—Greatest Hits. Chace is well-known for its feature film sound restoration work and its proprietary, Chace Digital Stereo (CDS) process, which converts mono or stereo into 5.1 or 6.1 multichannel sound.

“Time was a critical factor for the Orbison project because we didn’t have a lot of it,” recalls Paley. “But from the start, both Barbara and I were determined to present fans of Roy’s music with an intimate experience that also maximized the capabilities of multichannel stereo and the DVD format. The restoration, remastering and mixing capabilities of Chace Productions, combined with the dedication of its staff to meet the deadline, gave me complete confidence. Once the project began, the meticulous attention to detail and philosophy of staying true to the original artistic vision of Orbison’s music became quickly apparent.”

While the DVD features some of Orbison’s earliest broadcast and live performances, the anthology boasts superb 5.1 mixes from the recently released Austin City Limits and Black and White Nights DVDs, which were engineered by Elliot Scheiner. The premium fidelity of these tracks posed a serious challenge to the Chace restoration/remastering team. During the initial selection and audio evaluation phase of the project, Chace senior restoration engineer James Young helped establish the sonic road map and restoration aesthetic. According to Young, “The sources for this project varied widely in format: from mono to 5.1, in concert location and in time, spanning several decades of recording technology. Each performance is unique in the combination of musicians, the style of the mix and overall fidelity. The goal for this DVD presentation was to retain the charm of the original performances and enhance the sonic presentation for a contemporary listening experience.”

Paley had the challenging task of determining which broadcasts to excerpt. Consideration had to be given to both the visual content and the underlying audio. One-inch C videotapes from live appearances recorded in Sweden, Australia and the U.S. were auditioned. In several instances, multiple versions of a song were selected for initial restoration work to determine what would be included in the final mix. Chace restoration/mastering engineer Noa Lazerus used Cube-Tec’s Audio Cube 5 (AC-5) to perform the meticulous restoration. According to Lazerus, “The version of 'Blue Bayou' that was selected was from a concert in Australia that was almost unusable because of a multiharmonic amplifier hum that changed frequency as Roy moved around the stage. At some points, this hum was actually as loud as Orbison’s band. I was able to conform the Audio Cube’s de-buzz processors and repair filters to remove nearly all of the hum though remnants that can still be heard in the quiet sections.”

While the restoration/remastering work was in progress for the music, CDS programmer David Hunter was busy designing the 5.1 sound design for the mono and stereo sources. Because discrete stems were not available for the vintage material, Hunter designed CDS cues to unlock the inherent reflections that are recorded into mono tracks. The result is a 5.1 CDS presentation that captures a wide variety of performance environments and puts the viewer at the concerts.

The final element for the DVD was an edited interview with Roy Orbison, recorded on location. Chace restoration engineer Blake Teuscher processed these sections using NoNoise to reduce noisy backgrounds and extraneous sounds. The final mix was performed by Chace mixer Greg Faust, Lazerus and Hunter in Chace’s THX pm3-certified Mix 1.

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