Lost, The Final Chapter

Jan 21, 2010 6:27 PM, By Mel Lambert

MIXING MOVIE-STYLE SOUND AT DISNEY POST PRODUCTIONS

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It’s mid-morning in Walt Disney Post Production Service’s Room Six, and the sound editorial team for ABC Television’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. Normally, the executive producer will be here in Burbank for the review process, but today he’s caught up with a series of meetings on the West Side and cannot make the date. “When the cab leaves I need a lot more car horns,” he continues. Overnight, Burk has received a DVD of the work print, with a premix of the soundtrack. Notes were returned earlier via e-mail, and now the mixers and editors are responding to these detailed comments.

Lost Season 6 Final Season

The hour-long drama series first came to our TV screens 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. Because of its large ensemble cast and location filming in Hawaii, Lost is said to be one of the most expensive TV series ever staged.

Lost has developed a large cult following and earned a well-deserved reputation for intricate sound editorial that would not seem out of place on a motion-picture soundtrack, let alone a one-hour dramatic action show. That sonic attention to detail has been maintained throughout the past five seasons, and now the crew is focusing on Season 6—including the two-hour opening to air on February 2—during which the character arcs launched more than half a decade ago will be resolved, and we will learn how they came to be trapped on The Island with interlinked fates.

“We’ll cut some alternatives,” agrees Lost’s 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 the interior of Room Six. “Let’s move on to audition some of the music cues,” offers music editor Alex Levy, who today is manning an Apple Powerbook carrying the studio’s side of the videoconferencing link to Burk’s office. They roll picture and timecode, with the producer receiving a synchronized QuickTime image and a 2-channel downmix from the ICON’s 5.1-channel balance. It’s a quality compromise, but the setup enables Burk to hear the track against picture. “That cue looks a little late,” Burk offers. Levy, seated beside producer Ra’uf Glasgow, responds quickly and nudges composer Michael Giacchino’s cue forward a few frames on his Pro Tools workstation. The music cues are recorded weekly using a 20-piece orchestra.

“Any luck?” Weber asks de Gorter. “I have some alternate traffic sounds,” the supervising sound editor reports, as he uploads the material to Disney’s hard-drive server, where it is imported directly into Weber’s Pro Tools session as timecode-synchronized tracks. The mixer begins to try out each new sound effect against picture using headphones; the large D-Control console comprises, in reality, two completely independent sections that can be declutched from timecode sync and run separately. In front of him is an array of LCD monitors that display separate Pro Tools sessions for Foley, backgrounds and hard effects; a screen in the center of the console shows the master Pro Tools recorder for multichannel stems and print master. The effects-playback screens serve as a rolling cue sheet, as he continues to audition and process the new traffic sounds.

At the right-hand side of the ICON D-Control console, Frank Morrone, dialog and music re-recording mixer, is handling balances and initiating playback using the onboard Soundmaster ION machine control and PEC/DIR paddles, which are used to record updated stem mixes as the session progresses. Like Weber, Morrone has an array of LCD screens in front of him that display Pro Tools sessions for music, ADR and dialog playback; the fourth display shows his primary dialog Pro Tools session, with active plug-ins and insert routing.






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