Sony Pictures Entertainment Completes Upgrades to All 14 Mix Stages

Sony Pictures Entertainment Completes Upgrades to All 14 Mix Stages

Sony Pictures Entertainment has completed state-of-the-art upgrades to its mix stages.

Among the soundstages that underwent substantial improvements are the Cary Grant, William Holden, Kim Novak, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn and Jimmy Stewart theaters, as well as Dub Stage 17.

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All 14 mix stages have been upgraded to support Dolby Atmos, Imax and other immersive formats.

The expansion has also included the studio’s five Dub Stages used by the industry’s top sound editors, designers and mixers to prepare motion picture and television soundtracks.

“Our aim was not only to ensure that our mix stages and facilities are state-of-the-art but also to make every space a warm and welcoming environment,” said Kimberly Jimenez, SVP of post production services at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “When a director, sound supervisor, sound editor or picture editor walks onto one of our stages, they should feel that they have arrived in a creative space and be confident in the technology throughout the facility.”

The Anthony Quinn
The Anthony Quinn

“Ghostbuster: Frozen Empire” supervising sound editor, sound designer and re-recording mixer Will Files, who mixed the film in the Kim Novak theater, said he found the renovations have created an inspiring environment for him and his colleagues. “It makes you want to make a better film, a grander film because it feels like you’re walking into a movie theater, and you’re proud of the film you’re working on, and that has an effect on the process.”

Re-recording Mixer Mark Paterson concurs the creative environment enhances the working experience. “Special memories created special moments,” Paterson said.

One such moment came during the mix for “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.”

Files brought in synthesizers from the 1970s and 1980s for director Gil Kenan, who happened to be a huge synthesizer nut. Files plugged them into the speakers on stage and tinkered around with ideas. On hearing certain sounds, Kenan wanted to find a way to put them into the movie — and did. “We were noodling around, playing these crazy sounds and we hit record. So, at the very beginning of the movie when Garraka’s eyes open, that sound is Gil and something he made on a Moog synthesizer on the Novak stage,” Files revealed.

Another special moment was how the team spent time in the mix stages trying to capture the sounds of New York City unique to the world of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.”

Chris Terhune (supervising sound editor and sound designer) explained, “The stuff Gil wanted to keep selling New York on, was all the interiors. Sometimes, when you’re in a dialogue scene for so long, inside the firehouse, for instance, if you put a blanket of exterior background to create life, it feels like air and muddiness, you can’t tell.”

Terhune said time was spent creating little stories of what was going on, “like someone honking and speeding, and someone shouting.” Working on creating little stories about the sound, helped the team build the sound of New York City for the film.

Stage 17 mix desk
Stage 17 mix desk

Speaking about how the upgrades have impacted their creative process, supervising sound editor Mandell Winter said, “The great thing about this slow methodology of building the rooms is that our engineers were able to get their footing and figure out what was the greatest way to make this space, the best it could be.” He added, “Every stage progressively got better and better and better. Having that kind of support builds confidence in us as individuals.”

Sony’s mix stage 17
Sony’s mix stage 17

Sony Pictures has also upgraded its mix stage 17 as part of the renovation. Its floor was lowered to create a better work environment, and the stage was fitted with a Meyer Atmos sound system.

With the work fully completed, post teams can now move from stage to stage with uniform quality across the board. Audio engineer Tony Lamberti said the upgrades will make for smoother stage transitions should productions need to shift. “The way Sony has worked it out is any show [or film] can move anywhere at any given time. That has never been possible before. There’s always been an issue where they don’t have correct playback systems or they’re not they’re unable to accommodate plugins, which is a very common thing.”

The renovation was done under Jimenez and Lane Burch — executive director of post production sound engineering — with an eye toward aesthetic beauty, comfort and superlative acoustics.

Said Jimenez, “One unique feature we have at Sony Pictures is our history. We’ve been here a long time. Our mix stages were built with a certain style and elegance, whether it’s the Art Deco of the Cary Grant and William Holden, or the beautiful artistic flourishes of the Anthony Quinn and the Burt Lancaster. Throughout all of the upgrades over the last few years, we have embraced that rich history while taking our facility into the future.”

Watch the above video to see a “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” sound demo.

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