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Murder on The Orient Express’s advertising sound design workflow

24 Aug 2018 | Blackmagic Design

New Wave Entertainment Delivers Murder on the Orient Express ad campaign with Fairlight.

Blackmagic Design today announced that New Wave Entertainment used its Fairlight DAWs for sound design on the advertising campaign for 20th Century Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Based upon the novel by Agatha Christie, the film follows thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect as mysteries unfold during a lavish journey through Europe.

New Wave Entertainment is an LA-based entertainment marketing company specializing in post-production and finishing services, and as Chief Engineer and Senior Mixer Mark Rodrigues noted, they discovered quickly that the campaign was going to be heavy on sound effects design. “Locomotive noises and ambient backgrounds mixed with screams, gunshots and lots of train whistles were used to create a musical-type feel, all with sound effects,” he said. “Heavy sound effects design can slow the editing and mix process slightly, but Fairlight’s speed more than made up for it. Also, the Xynergi controller provides hundreds of commands within one or two button pushes, which came in handy with the huge amount of sound effects editing on this project.”

Rodrigues and his team rely on eight Fairlight systems with five 3.5 bay EVO 24 fader consoles, a 3 bay EVO 18 fader console, a Xynergi controller with three XE-6 fader panels and a pre-lay room/edit bay with a second Xynergi system. “We’ve been using Fairlight for 18 years because it grows with our company’s and our clients’ needs. Speed of editing, the editor itself, and collaboration between mix rooms were all key factors. Reliability has also been a major reason, as we cannot afford any downtime slowing down the delivery process,” said Rodrigues.

Photo Credit: Nicola Dove

Rodrigues also highlighted Fairlight’s ability to import into other projects and copy back to the current project as a game changer that’s vital to their workflow. “Keeping your current project open, you can ‘look’ into any other project, copy full spots and mixes, and search other projects for needed audio elements, bringing it all back instantly to the current project. Also, the video scroller gives you a filmstrip of each frame of video, which is definitely a must-have feature. We can locate a specific frame for adjusting dialogue sync or placing sound effects at the exact location. Simply clicking the previous or next frame will move your timeline,” he said.

“We use the integrated dual video tracks to split picture between offline and final picture, ensuring we are frame accurate,” he added. “This is also very handy in conforming between revisions. Seeing exactly where a picture change has occurred means quickly figuring out what audio has to change and how to keep as much finished work as possible instead of starting over from scratch, which is a huge time saver. It’s pretty impressive when I can edit the backend of another spot onto the current spot while on the fibre with clients. Editing video in audio does happen. Even if it’s a rough cut to be finished later by the video edit bay, it provides a guideline for the video editor to follow, as well as speeds up the process for the client.”

Due to New Wave Entertainment’s multiple entertainment divisions, its Fairlight systems are used for a vast array of projects and deliverables. For “Murder on the Orient Express,” the company was specifically tasked with delivering both domestic and international television spots and trailers for broadcast, radio and online, as well as in-theatre advertising, behind-the-scenes pieces, and social media marketing spots for Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and more.

Photo Credit: Nicola Dove

“On a project like this, having separate default projects in Fairlight for television broadcast, social media and in-theatre pieces is a huge time saver due to the ability to have separate delivery compression setups. We had more than 225 individual pieces with up to 10 versions of each spot, putting the total around 2,250 digital files delivered,” Rodrigues explained. “Fairlight’s speed and the ability to move entire spots and mixes from room to room gave us the ability to have three mix rooms all working on the project and combine them onto one desk when finished. After each spot was approved, we could then dedicate a single room to handle digital stem deliveries. This room could grab an approved spot from a mix room while the mixer was getting other spots approved by the client without interrupting or slowing down the approval process.”

Rodrigues further commented on speed via Fairlight’s tactile controller: “The ability to have more than 30 macro presets where each button can execute an unlimited amount of commands is amazing. Digital files need to be laid out in a very specific way before handing over to the video bay to be married to picture. Our macro for digital deliveries will execute more than 300 separate commands/button pushes with a single press of a macro key. The controller jogger wheel is constantly used for scrubbing audio and is also a quick way to locate a specific video shot when scrubbing at a fast speed.”

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