AES Section Meeting Reports

Los Angeles - January 31, 2017

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The most recent joint AES/SMPTE meeting at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City showcased the talents of the post production crew that worked on the recent Netflix series Stranger Things at Technicolor's facilities in Hollywood.

Over 160 attendees came to hear how supervising sound editor Brad North, sound designer Craig Henighan, sound-effects editor Jordan Wilby, music editor David Klotz and dialog/music re-recording mixer Joe Barnett worked their magic on last year's eight episode Season One (Unfortunately, effects re-recording mixer Adam Jenkins was unable to attend the gathering.) of Stranger Things, from co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer, scheduled to return in 2017 for Season 2.

Attendees heard how the crew developed each show's unique 5.1-channel soundtrack, from editorial through re-recording — including an '80s-style, synth-based music score, from Austin-based composers Kylle Dixon and Michael Stein — that is key to the show's look and feel, courtesy of a full-range surround sound playback system supplied by Dolby Labs.

"We drew our inspiration — subconsciously, at least -- from sci-fi films like Alien, The Thing, and Predator," Henighan explained. The designer also revealed how he developed a characteristic sound for the monster that appears in key scenes.

"The basic sound is that of a seal," he said. "But it wasn't as simple as just using a seal vocal, although it did provide a hook — an identifiable sound around which I could center the rest of the monster sounds. It's fantastic to take what is normally known as a nice, light, fun-loving sound and use it in a terrifying way!"

Tim Prebble, a New Zealand-based sound designer, and owner of sound-effects company Hiss and A Roar, offers a range of libraries, including SD003 Seal Vocals.

Gear used includes Avid Pro Tools HD Series DAWs — everybody works in the box -- and an Avid 64-fader, dual-operator S6 console at the Technicolor Seward Stage. The Austin-based composers use Apple Logic Pro to record and edit their AAF-format music files.

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