Case Study - New Standard Post
Dean Hovey, Director of Sound, explains that NSP uses Pro Tools workstations throughout the building, all linked by a high-speed network, but when planning the mixing facilities they needed to find a way to integrate monitor control on the dubbing stages. "We mix on Pro Control consoles but needed to combine the 3 systems into 1 mix for monitoring," says Hovey. "MultiMAX was just coming out and we decided to give it a try as our master audio control on the stages."
The largest of the stages, Studio A, offers a 7.1 setup with over 300 channels of automated mixing, while Studio B is configured for 5.1 and provides more than 200 mixing channels. Studio A also accommodates Dolby's Digital-Surround EX (6.1) format.
At NSP, MultiMAX provides control of NHT and industry-standard JBL surround speaker systems on both dub stages. The MultiMAX multiformat monitor controller will manage up to 4 monitor loudspeaker systems. The 2 main systems are separately configurable for 8-channel, 7.1, 5.1 or LCRS operation, with switch selection of an alternate surround system. A stereo nearfield pair or a mono speaker may alternatively be selected.
In Hovey's opinion, "One of the biggest challenges in television work is midstream format monitoring. We can monitor the mix in mono, stereo or surround - in LCRS, 5.1 or 7.1 - with just the push of a button. It's a fast and convenient way to monitor the mix for any delivery method."
"It's all about control and flexibility," agrees Scott Wood, who until recently was VP of Operations and chief engineer at NSP. "MultiMAX provides an easy, reliable solution for monitoring surround in many formats."
MultiMAX is the only surround monitor controller to offer downmixing in all formats as standard, ensuring backward compatibility on any playback system. Single-button operations on the front panel (or optional remote control) allow the engineer to audition a 5.1 mix in stereo or mono, for example, or to monitor the encoder's 2-channel Lt Rt mix.
"We will monitor the mix in all of the various formats," continues Hovey. "People at home can be assured they are listening to our mix in the highest audio quality. This would be a time consuming process if not for the MultiMAX, but with the unit each format is just a button press away."
Hovey adds: "MultiMAX turned out to have a few surprises we didn't expect. First of all, you have three different 8-channel inputs that can be used for 5.1 stems for dialogue, music and effects. This allows us to quickly isolate any of the 3 without affecting the automation in the console. In addition, in 1 button press we can switch to any input for monitoring playback or off the final 5.1 recording deck."
The current version of MultiMAX permits the selection of either the Direct (mix bus) or Playback (recorder return) inputs, plus any combination of the 3 Premix Inputs. Software enhancements have recently been introduced that include a new mode permitting all 5 of these 8-channel inputs to be selected in any combination, or in an exclusive, interlocking mode. The new software is available on new units or as an upgrade for current users.
Hovey concludes: "When using MultiMAX it is easy to isolate speakers independently of one another or in any combination. This is a powerful thing when mixing in the 5.1 environment. If we want to hear what lives in the left and right surround speakers within a given scene, without interference from the rest of the mix, it becomes an easy maneuver with MultiMAX."
As a result of its power and flexibility MultiMAX has proved invaluable on numerous independent film projects at NSP, including the recently released features Love and Action in Chicago and Drowning Mona, and on the Lynch Entertainment television series 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd, for Nickelodeon.
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