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Hear No Evil - In Surround

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Steve Parr, chief engineer and owner of London facility Hear No Evil, has been a professional user of Digital Performer for many years. Recently, Steve has taken on soundtrack projects for a six-part wildlife series for the BBC and The Lost Prince, a film by director and writer Stephen Poliakoff. Steve tells us about his workflow for producing a surround score for three different versions of the film simultaneously.

For a number of reasons composer Adrian Johnston and I decided to record Lost Prince in two sets of orchestral sessions in Rome and Bratislava, with subsequent mixing at Hear No Evil in London. The recording was complicated: we had to record cues for a 2x90 minute television version, a 135-minute film version, and a DVD version simultaneously. We agreed to mix in 5.1 from a very early stage; although the TV version would be broadcast in Dolby Pro Logic, the simultaneous release in film and DVD formats won the cost argument for us when it came to the producer's budget.

After discussing various formats and tools including Radar, Pro Tools and Logic, we decided on Digital Performer as our choice and arranged for the studios in Rome and Bratislava to be suitably equipped. In the end, I prepared the Digital Performer file at home, empty except for clicks and guide tracks. The DP file and an encoded version of the movie went onto a FireWire drive that traveled with me in my carry-on bag.

We have a very good analog Euphonix, but it's only configured to have 48 surround inputs, of which I need a dozen or so for reverbs and effects. I combine the surround functions of the Euphonix with the surround functions of Digital Performer according to track count and level of surround panning that I need.

We then brought the FireWire drive—now with audio files—back to London, where we edited together the various takes. We mixed in excess of 100 cues over the course of about five days. The program was broadcast on BBC 1 shortly after, and the DVD is available now from all decent DVD shops.

Steve Parr founded recording studio Hear No Evil in 1990 with partner Sharon Rose. Hear No Evil was one of the first fully equipped 5.1 studios as early as 1995, specializing in recording and mixing in surround formats for film and later DVD.

Hear No Evil remains one of the consistently busiest studios in London with a very large percentage of British film and television soundtracks passing through their doors.