Archives for February 2003

Sonic Solutions AuthorScript Engine Powers Disc Burning in New MusicNet on AOL

America Online’s version of the MusicNet music subscription and download service, which launched today on AOL’s subscribers-only network, uses the AuthorScript SDK and AuthorScript Burn Engine by Sonic Solutions to power its CD burning features.

Support for CD burning in MusicNet on AOL allows members who browse and purchase music tracks from the vast MusicNet on AOL catalog to burn them safely and legally, directly to CD.

“We chose Sonic’s technology for our CD and DVD burn engine to enable CD burning in our new MusicNet on AOL service because they offer a proven solution that supports a range of recording and playback devices,” says Kevin Conroy, senior vice president and general manager, AOL Entertainment.

AuthorScript is the technology underlying Sonic’s media authoring applications, which have become the Hollywood standard for commercial title production. The AuthorScript API (Application Programming Interface) is a collection of C++ libraries that takes care of all of the low-level processes for converting video, audio, pictures, and graphics into a CD, DVD, Video CD, or Super Video CD disc.

The AuthorScript Burn Engine is an API (Application Programming Interface) that allows developers to quickly and easily add CD and DVD burning to most any software application. AuthorScript handles all of the low-level processes for converting and writing to CD and DVD media; this frees developers from having to tackle the complexities of device control and support and reduces the time to market.

Sonic recently added CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and audio mastering capabilities to AuthorScript via the award-winning Primo SDK technology that Sonic acquired from VERITAS in December 2002. AuthorScript, coupled with the newly-integrated VERITAS technology, offers the most complete set of data, media, and audio formatting and burning modules of any engine on the market. AuthorScript licensees include Adobe, Easy Systems Japan, Microsoft and Sony.

“With the explosive growth of CD and DVD recording, consumers have an almost insatiable appetite for burning their own audio and data discs,” said Mary Sauer, Senior VP of Business Development at Sonic. “AOL is the world’s premier online media company, and with Sonic’s AuthorScript SDK, AOL has the ability to integrate and deliver the most robust CD and DVD burning capabilities, as they have with the new MusicNet on AOL music subscription service.”

AuthorScript Burn Engine Features

  • ability to record Redbook audio CDs, single-session and appendable data CDs and DVDs, Video CDs, Enhanced and Mixed-mode CDs, and writing to and from disc image files
  • extensive drive format support including CD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM
  • full functionality on double-byte and single-byte character set operating systems, including Windows 98SE/ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP

Sonic Solutions Web Site

Grammy Broadcast’s Surround Audio Production Relies on Effanel and Lexicon

The CBS telecast of the 45th Annual Grammy Awards from Madison Square Garden on February 23 marked a major step forward in audio production for television: the broadcast was the first-ever network broadcast prime-time awards program to be heard in 5.1 surround audio. CBS distributed Dolby Digital CD-quality surround sound in a number of major markets on its High Definition Television Network.

The 5.1 mix was supervised by the legendary Phil Ramone, chairman of The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing; and Hank Neuberger, Advisory Council member of the P&E Wing. Randy Ezratty, president of Effanel Music, was the official 5.1 sound designer, music mixers included John Harris and Jay Vicari, and the production mixer was Ed Greene.

The HDTV/5.1 broadcast was mixed and monitored by a combination of top-tier remote facilities, including Effanel Music’s renowned L7 remote recording truck and Effanel’s new OSR1 truck, along with All Mobile’s “Resolution” high definition production truck.

The Effanel L7 mobile unit handled the 15-plus music performances during the show. The truck’s AMS-Neve Capricorn digital console allowed the audio teams to generate both a purpose-built stereo mix and a separate 5.1 mix simultaneously. The stereo mix from L7 was routed directly to one of the stereo control rooms in the All Mobile Resolution production truck, staffed by production mixer Ed Greene. The 5.1 mix from L7 was fed to Effanel’s new OSR1 mobile recording truck, where Mr. Ezratty added other mono and stereo elements and sweetened the surround audio. He then relayed the final 5.1 surround mix to the All Mobile Resolution truck where it was sent over fiber-optic cable for broadcast.

A Lexicon 960L multi-channel digital effects system was a key piece of gear for the surround mix production.

As Randy Ezratty explained prior to the event:”The 960L is being used on the 5.1 broadcast to enhance the room microphones that we are already using in Madison Square Garden. There are some room anomalies in that space that we do want, and some we would like to minimize for the sake of musicality. Because the 960L has an extensive number of 5.1 surround halls and room presets, we can use those programs and ‘feather’ them into the 5.1 mix.”

“In addition, I’m using the 960L’s LOGIC7® algorithm on some of the stereo pre-taped elements. Using LOGIC7 on a few of these prerecorded stereo snippets will help keep the continuity of a 5.1 show as well as increase the audio’s impact.”

“The 960L room programs are superb and we have had a tremendous amount of experience with them,” continues Mr. Ezratty.

“Because it’s a live show and we’re going to be thinking on the fly, I need to use equipment with which I’m very familiar. Effanel has used the 960L on many previous projects, including DVDs for Tony Bennett and U2. It’s really the tool of choice for a project like this.”

Lexicon Web Site

Effanel Music Web Site

More Grammy Awards News

HBO Pushes Dolby Digital Surround Audio with New Season of Six Feet Under

HBO is demonstrating a growing commitment to high-quality audio broadcasting by adding another high-profile show to its growing schedule of programs featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

The upcoming season of Six Feet Under will begin broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 on HBO, beginning March 2. Technicolor Sound Services provides the editing and sound mixing for Six Feet Under.

“HBO has a commitment to the highest quality viewing experience for its customers, which is why we broadcast so much of our programming in Dolby Digital 5.1,” says Bob Zitter, senior vice president of Technology Operations for HBO. “That includes many Hollywood theatricals, most HBO Films, and HBO’s original series programming like The Sopranos and now Six Feet Under.”

Bruce Graham, senior vice president, Technicolor Sound Services adds: “Dolby Digital makes a big difference in the viewing experience. The clear, 5.1-channel surround audio allows the viewer to experience the show as the producer intended. We are really able to deliver the artistic integrity of the show.”

Six Feet Under won two categories at the recent Grammy Awards presentation in New York, for the musical soundtrack work of composer Thomas Newman. Mr. Newman’s “Six Feet Under Title Theme” (available on the album “Six Feet Under – Music From The HBO Original Series”) won the awards for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Arrangement.

“Dolby Digital is an essential element to digital television, cable, and satellite broadcasting. More and more customers are expecting Dolby Digital surround sound when they watch TV and more and more broadcasters are meeting their customers audio demands with Dolby Digital,” says Tom Daily, director, marketing, Dolby Laboratories.

“Surround sound home theater systems have become very commonplace in homes and viewers want to utilize them whenever they watch TV.”

Dolby Laboratories Web Site

Event Tech Puts Radian Microwedges to Work on Fundraisers

Radian Audio Engineering’s MicroWedge series of low profile, ultra-compact monitor wedges have been winning friends recently, in live performance and broadcast applications.

Artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park and Blink-182 have adopted the MicroWedge for their onstage monitoring, while the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in the UK also use them regularly.

Now Event Tech, the Maryland-based event production company, has discovered that MicroWedges are well suited to corporate events as well.

The company has used them in a series of fundraisers across the U.S., including the Tour de Friends, a four-day, 330-mile bike ride from North Carolina to Washington D.C. to raise funds in support of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Event Tech has been using MicroWedge stage monitors to provide podium foldback in its standard mobile stage setup for the tour.

“We use the Radian MicroWedges for foldback for the presenters at the podium, and to fold back audio from the video that we play on a large outdoor LED wall,” explains company president and owner Eric Maynard. “That way, the presenter has some foldback of the information that the audience and event participants are hearing.”

With all of the audio equipment transported on a Stage Line SL250 Mobile stage and with many events attracting local and national TV coverage, it is important for the onstage monitors to not only sound good but also look good and be discrete, notes Mr. Maynard.

“These 12-inch MicroWedges were brand new, clean, low profile, and clear, which is helpful as far as fidelity goes. For a 12-inch speaker they sound great.”

“They’re very clean, and the design isn’t so boxy – clients like the way they look. They’re durable, but we also put them in a padded case, because we don’t want any problems with the way they look.”

For the events, the Radian MicroWedges join a compact package of high-end audio components on the Stage Line trailer.

“We have 12 flown JBL VerTecs, a very small mix arrangement with an Allen & Heath GL3300 console, and a pair of EV Polar Choice podium microphones,” says Mr. Maynard.

In addition to the Tour de Friends, Event Tech has supplied equipment to fundraising events in Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, and San Francisco this year, with further events scheduled for Portland, New York and Los Angeles.

The company is a supplier of services to a huge number of corporate and political events, which have recently included the 2003 Capital Pride Festival, the Johns Hopkins University 2003 Commencements, Barney and Friends in Concert, and the 2003 MD Governor’s Inauguration. Event Tech regularly services the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for their public events.

Radian Audio Engineering Web Site

Event Tech Web Site

Blue Sky Monitoring Systems Win Converts Among Top Engineers and Studios

Ever since renowned producer/engineer/mixer Roger Masson (Teraplane, Superfix, Phil Cody, Ken Burns “Jazz”) used Blue Sky monitors during work on special 5.1 elements for a recent Marilyn Manson DVD, he has been an avid Blue Sky fan.

Since that first exposure, Mr. Masson has been using the Sky System One 2.1 and 5.1 monitors for everything from tracking to overdubs, to mixing and mastering of complete album projects. He finds that Blue Sky monitoring works at every stage of the record-making process.

Blue Sky Brings Accuracy to a Temporary Recording Location

Most recently, Roger Masson has been working on the debut album of The Cribb, one of Los Angeles’ hottest young rock bands. He has set up a Blue Sky System One 2.1 monitoring system in a rented Spanish-style residential building in Los Angeles, a site the band members and Masson decided would make an excellent temporary studio, thanks to its acoustics and vibe. In post, Mr. Masson plans to use a Blue Sky 5.1 system to create a multi-channel mix of the recording, and all versions of the album will be mastered using Blue Sky monitors.

“This is the first time I’m using the Blue Sky speakers for tracking, and I just love them in this role,” comments Roger Masson. “They were always great to mix through, but it’s clear that Blue Sky can handle every aspect of the recording process, which gives me and the band a tremendously enhanced level of sonic consistency throughout the entire project.”

The Cribb’s project is also the focus of a forthcoming VH1 documentary about how private residences can be turned into recording environments. “This is a temporary recording space, so we could have put in any monitors we wanted,” says Mr. Masson. “We chose the Blue Sky monitors because we know that the accuracy level is high. They’ll act as the control reference of the recording space.

A Growing Number of All-Blue-Sky Facilities

Wabejon Entertainment is one of a growing number of all-Blue-Sky studios. Owner, record producer and label executive Eric Miller recently purchased two new Blue Sky 2.1 systems, to go along with the two Blue Sky set-ups already in service at the rapidly-expanding 7,000-square-foot audio/video facility. He plans to install a Blue Sky 5.1 surround monitoring system in a new SSL-based mixing studio, expected to go on line in May 2003.

Mr. Miller and Wabejon have established a solid reputation working with successful artists such as Sara (BMG), B5 (Bad Boy Entertainment), Sarai (Epic, hit single “Pack Ya Bags”), and Althea (Ill Na Na/Def Jam Records).

Will Baker (left) and Pete Woodruff (right) of Hitstreet Avenue, working on their latest project at Wabejon Entertainment

Wabejon has also been home to Will Baker and Pete Woodruff of Hitstreet Avenue, whose work work with India.Arie won 2 Grammy Awards on Feb.23 (Best Urban/Alternative Performance, Best R&B Album).

“The Blue Sky monitors are simply cleaner and clearer sounding than anything else,” Eric Miller remarks. “They’re very crisp sounding. Also, you get a tremendous amount of power from a speaker of that size. I can mount them on desktops or on stands and get full-range response. And by using Blue Sky speakers throughout our facility, we can have a consistent sound from studio to studio. The artists love them, and I love them.”

Blue Sky Monitoring Leads the Charge to Surround

Spectrum Recording Studios has been leading the charge for surround audio in South Florida, with the Blue Sky 5.1 monitoring system at the heart of its surround capabilities. Since a Blue Sky 5.1 system was installed at Spectrum, the studio has used it to mix a range of projects that reflect the diversity of the surround approach to audio. These include the DVD release of the recent PBS music special featuring big-band virtuoso Michael Civisca, produced by legendary arranger Charles Calello, as well as an ongoing project to create an entire library of surround-ready music pieces that will be compatible with film projects and digital broadcast.

Spectrum Studios is a top-flight two-room facility that has become a magnet for upcoming and established artists from around the country, including Juice Newton and Ronnie Milsap. Spectrum is also a major supplier of music content for the large Abaco Music Library, and music composed and produced by owner Jim Kalamasz has appeared on hit television shows including Malcolm In The Middle, The Drew Carey Show, and Saturday Night Live.

“Surround music is really on the verge of taking off in so many different applications,” says Mr. Kalamasz. “We’ve been positioning ourselves as the leading facility in this area for practical expertise in surround music mixing. The Blue Sky 5.1 system has played a major role in our success at that.”

Kalamasz first encountered Blue Sky monitoring at the 2001 AES Convention in New York City, and later heard the Blue Sky 5.1’s in action again at Room With A View Studios in Nashville, a facility Spectrum often collaborates with.

“I not only realized how good they actually are,” explains Mr. Kalamasz, “I also realized that our two studios could now share a reliable, accurate, and consistent 5.1 monitoring environment, which would significantly benefit our clients. The Blue Sky 5.1 monitors were the obvious choice, both for how they help our sound and how they help our business.”

Blue Sky Web Site