Lost, The Final Chapter

Feb 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Mel Lambert



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It's mid-morning in Walt Disney Post Production Service's Room Six, and the sound editorial team for ABC-TV's Lost is taking notes from executive producer Bryan Burk on an opening episode from Season 6. “We need to make the traffic sounds more frantic, with more horns,” they hear over a Polycom Internet link from Burk's office in Santa Monica, Calif. “When the cab leaves, I need a lot more car horns.”

The hour-long drama series first came to TV in September 2004 and was an instant success for co-creators Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams and Jeffrey Lieber. Produced by ABC Studios, Bad Robot Productions and Grass Skirt Productions, Lost has now reached its final season, as it follows the lives of plane-crash survivors on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific. The series has developed a large cult following and earned a well-deserved reputation for intricate sound editorial. The crew is now focusing on Season 6 — including the two-hour opening to air on February 2.

“We'll cut some alternatives,” agrees Lost supervising sound editor Tom de Gorter in response to a quick glance from Scott Weber, sound effects re-recording mixer, currently seated at the Avid Digidesign ICON D-Control console that dominates Room Six. “Let's move on to audition some of the music cues,” offers music editor Alex Levy. Composer Michael Giacchino's music cues are recorded weekly using a 20-piece orchestra.

Under de Gorter's supervision, sound effects are edited by Paula Fairfield and Carla Murray at MHz Sound Design; both sound designers joined the show at the beginning of Season 3 and have worked together for 12 years. “Lost is an extremely busy TV show,” Murray says, “with sound-designed moods and signature textures,” including The Island disappearing at the end of Season 4 and the flash-forward sequences initiated in Season 5.

<I>Lost</i> audio post-production crew (from left): Frank Morrone, Alex Levy, Paula Fairfield, producer Ra'uf Glasgow, Carla Murray, Scott Weber and Tom de Gorter Photo: Mel Lambert/Content-Creators.com

Lost audio post-production crew (from left): Frank Morrone, Alex Levy, Paula Fairfield, producer Ra'uf Glasgow, Carla Murray, Scott Weber and Tom de Gorter Photo: Mel Lambert/Content-Creators.com

Fairfield works primarily on backgrounds, vehicles and ambiences, while Murray looks after hard effects; they both work on sound design elements. “The show is wall-to-wall effects,” Fairfield stresses. “We like to offer lots of options for the re-recording stage; we put together everything we can think of, although they may be dropped later. We also carefully catalog everything so that the same sound signature will be used.”

The sound designers deliver two Pro Tools sessions: one of mono/stereo (and occasionally 5.1-channel) hard effects; and backgrounds in 4, 5.1 and 3-channel/L/C/R formats. “We have standard templates that we worked out with Scott [Weber],” Fairfield offers, “so that the materials are delivered in a consistent format for each show. For most episodes we might deliver up to 150 tracks; for the Season 5 two-hour finale” — and the opening episode for Season 6 — “we produced close to 500 tracks; there were a lot of late decisions on those shows!”

ICON Control Surfaces

Weber is joined by dialog/music re-recording mixer Frank Morrone at the D-Control console, which features 16 on-surface faders for dialog/music and 32 for FX/backgrounds/Foley. Each section has custom faders that can be used in one of three modes: Custom Groups, for which faders can be arranged and built in any order and configurations recalled with a single button push; VCA Master and Spill, in which the VCA group masters can be spilled into the slaves within a defined section; and Custom Fader Plug-In for mapping controls of favorite plug-ins onto faders.

Each D-Control section can control up to four Pro Tools HD systems from each surface, bank-switched one at a time. “We run 72-channel HD6 systems for the effects and mix systems,” Weber explains, “plus 32-channel HD2s for Foley, BG, music and ADR/group playback, a 32-channel HD1 for music playback and a 56-channel HD2 as stem recorder, all running on Mac Pro [computers].” Playback monitors comprise three M&K MPS-150 active cabinets on stands in front of the mixers for L/C/R, plus the room's subwoofers and surround units.

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