Where are you currently employed?
I am a Digital Audio Mastering Mixer in Post-Production Sound Services at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.
I’m putting in the new Dolby AC3 and DTS masters for the release of Dolphin Tale on Blu-ray and DVD.
Describe Your Job.
I conform and sync master sound files to master picture, and correct all sound errors and anomalies in the dialogue, music and effects layers. I finalize and create a bit stream formatted in both Dolby Digital AC3 and DTS and do the final playback and quality control. I also do the enhanced sound restoration for all of the Warner Bros. classic film and TV shows in their film and television library.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
It all started with the Beatles’ music and a fascination for what a producer like George Martin actually does. The Beatles adding their music to films led me to my life-long interest in how sound really enhances what we see on the wide screen from a technical perspective.
Who gave you your first break?
That was Roy Prendergast at Neiman-Tiller and Associates. I was hired to be a sound effects librarian and editor to assemble sound effects for a 50-album effects package for the Phillips Library.
What was your first union job?
Working on the PAP (Post Audio Processing) editing system for television at Glen Glenn Sound. I worked as a sound effects editor on Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Falcon Crest, Highway to Heaven and many Movies of the Week. I had to carry two union cards at the time—one for local 776 for editing and one for local 695 for re-recording.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I was fortunate to be working at Warner Hollywood Studios and Disney Studios during the ‘80s and ‘90s as a recordist during the day and then working on independent re-recording projects at night. This was the time when we were making some inspiring Academy Award-nominated sound tracks for features such as Beauty and the Beast, Dick Tracy, RoboCop, Mississippi Burning, Black Rain, Born on the 4th of July, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Days of Thunder and The Hunt for Red October. I worked on two Academy Award-winning films for Best Sound during that period—Dances with Wolves and Glory.
Since 1997, I have been digitally mastering and restoring audio for Warner Home Video for DVD and Blu-ray. I have mastered the best of our national film treasures, such as Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. I guess I’ve mastered over 1,500 major film and television titles and the 6,500 foreign versions of those titles over 14 years—including the Harry Potter series.
What was your biggest challenge in your job and how did you overcome/solve it?
What’s interesting about this job is that once we conform the master sound tracks—on any feature or television show, old or new—and prep them for mastering, they are always imperfect. Then we polish the sound tracks and make them perfect. New challenges come along everyday about the anomalies we hear. If you were a fly on the wall, here is some of the dialogue you would hear coming from the mastering suites:
Is that pop an effect? Is it a musical percussion hit? Is it a digital glitch in the dialogue? Is it a lip smack or a tick? Is it a missed or double punch of an effect? Is it a misplaced movement or effect? There may be hundreds of optical clicks and pops that need to be removed in this feature—what’s our budget? What about that hum in the foreign version? Why is the music different from one foreign language version to another?
These are typical problems we encounter every day…
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Rolling dice with the cast and crew (for charity, of course) in the back room of Stage C at Warner Hollywood during the making of Beetlejuice. I also had fun with Jack Nicholson while working on Ironweed and had great political discussions with Emilio Estevez while working on Men at Work…just to name a few.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Making the transitions in technology over the years from editing and re-recording in analogue to today’s digital sound editing. Now that using digital picture for referencing sync has already been set in course for the future, you must be knowledgeable in both digital sound and digital picture. I have invested many hours of training time at the union learning Avid’s Media Composer 5 and ProTools. I am also learning more about digital graphics for future clients who may ask for better picture transitions and effects. The merging of technologies is here.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I am working on shooting a trailer for pitching a screenplay to the majors called The Baby Whisperer, directed by Angie Lussier. I’m involved in all the production filming and the post-production picture editing, sound effects editing, dialogue editing, ADR and Foley, and composing the music and re-recording the final sound for delivery...all skills learned as a local 700 union member over the years.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I love the simplicity of the sound in Bonnie and Clyde and its natural period photography. Great acting and a great action adventure. I also like Cool Hand Luke for the same reasons. I mastered both of those sound tracks for DVD and Blu-ray. Ben Hur is another great classic just recently released on Blu-ray.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
One of my favorite TV shows has always been Highway to Heaven with Michael Landon because, like The Andy Griffith Show from the ‘60s, you can just relax inside the stories and walk away feeling “old-fashioned good.”
Do you have an industry mentor?
I would have to say it would be re-recording mixer Gregg Rudloff. Thank you, Gregg!
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Never give up the dream of being paid for being creative. There is always room for one more great artist. Yes, that means you!
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Getting Media Composer 5 training with Dieter Rozek at the Local 700 training center. Dieter, the Guild’s Training Coordinator, is an amazing powerhouse of technical information.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I would personally like to thank the leadership of Kim Waugh and Tim Hoggatt in making sure that the audio mastering of our national treasures is always kept “in-house” at Warner Bros. I have worked on many of the films we have digitally mastered. We all have personally invested interest and know the history of our product. The sound for these Warner Bros. classic motion pictures that were restored and re-mastered will be the final sound masters that will last forever and will be heard by all future generations.
I would also like to acknowledge my friends in our digital audio department since 1996—all Guild members:
Don Rogers, Robert Winder and Eric Dosch.
David Miranda, Richard Cottrell, Phil Jamtaas, Jack Keller,
David Behle, Jim Cavarretta, Allen Stone, CAS, Clark Conrad, Tony Araki, Charles Bruce, Robert Corti, Greg Gest, Clay Collins, Colin Mitchell, Bill Olson, Jason Arnold, MPSE, Dave Kimball (retired) and James Spezialy.
Joel Parsons, Eric Bretter, Gino Di Vitale, Eric Hosmer, Scott Morgan, Rocky Wall, Laterra McDaniels, Serena Keiler, Bobby Ramirez, Mike Bell, and Kenton Bymaster.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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