SFP: Pixar's Vince Caro

Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz



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Engineer Vince Caro in his control room at Pixar

Engineer Vince Caro in his control room at Pixar

Pixar Entertainment's resident vocal recordist/mixer, Vince Caro, broke into voice recording for animation 20-plus years ago when he was on staff at RCA Studios in New York City. His first voice-for-animation project: Disney's blockbuster Beauty and the Beast (1991). Following the success of those sessions (which included helping to record the orchestral score and songs, as well as the speaking actors), recording voices for animation became a strong thread running through a varied career that has also included work on everything from jingles to Broadway cast albums to episodes of The Simpsons to several of his friend Harry Connick Jr.'s albums. As an RCA staffer, then as a free agent and more recently as part of the Pixar team, Caro recorded voices for every major Disney animated release from Beauty through Chicken Little (2005). It was his work for Disney that led him to become a go-to recordist for Pixar's New York-based talent, beginning with the animators' much beloved feature debut, Toy Story.

Studios and technologies have come and gone since Caro moved his family and his career to California to become a full-time Pixar engineer, but he has remained one of the constants in Pixar's impressive run of creative, high-quality animated films.

Tell me how your relationship with the animation studios began.

Disney came in to RCA to record the score for Beauty and the Beast, and we also did the dialog. It was done quite differently from how we make the movies now. All the voice talent who were singing for the soundtrack would record with the orchestra from nine to noon, and they would take a lunch break. Then Angela Lansbury [the voice of Mrs. Potts] and Jerry Orbach [the voice of Lumiere] and a few of the other people would come to another studio and record the dialog. Doc Kane, the Disney mixer, came for the first session and then he left. He said to me, “Take over because I need to get back to California. You can do this.” Meanwhile, I was also assisting Mike Farrow upstairs, who did the music.

Were there prescribed techniques for recording dialog for Disney in those days?

With Disney and with Pixar, we now have a really tight spec on how we do our dialog recording — what mics we use and which mic pre's. We also try to use about the same-sized room. But at this point with Disney, in the '80s and early '90s, their main spec at the time was that it was all analog with Dolby SR. The only other spec we had back then was to use a [Neumann] U87 microphone. They wanted that to be the same wherever they traveled around the world.

Back then, did a lot of the voice talent come to you in New York?

For the most part, up until we did Mulan [1999]. We chased Eddie Murphy all over the country for that, but certainly when I was at RCA, it was me at RCA in New York or Doc Kane on Disney Stage B in L.A. for voice talent, though for The Lion King [1994], there were a couple of times we had to go to London to record Jeremy Irons [Scar]. But RCA closed while we were still working on Lion King.

And then what happened?

We made Howard Schwartz Recording our home base. We finished Lion King there, and we might have done a little bit of Aladdin, and then it was Pocahontas [1995] and The Hunchback of Notre Dame [1996], which was again between Stage B in L.A. and Howard's in New York.

When working at Howard Schwartz's studios, were you still working some on score and some on dialog?

We mostly focused on dialog. Every now and then, they would send me a 2-track mixdown of a song, and say, “We need you to record a vocal for this song,” or they would need a demo version of a song, but it was really just becoming dialog for me with Disney.

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