RH Factor Streamlines Its Post Flow with
Pro Tools HD|Native and System 5-MC
The RH Factor team (left to right): Rawlinson, Hunter, Kelsey, and recordist Ken Gombos.
When it comes to building drama, setting the mood, and stirring emotion, sound is just as important and impactful as what’s pictured onscreen. For post-production sound house RH Factor in Burbank, CA, its paradigm is built upon the “marriage of sound and picture.” With so much riding on being able to deliver top-quality mixes in the shortest amount of time for such popular TV series as Harry’s Law, Raising Hope, The Middle,and Breakout Kings, the facility recently switched from Nuendo to Pro Tools|HD Native to better complement its Avid (formerly Euphonix) System 5-MC console and streamline its workflow.
“Pro Tools|HD Native brings EUCON control to our System 5-MC console, which we definitely needed during the complex film-style mix for Wonder Woman," explains co-owner and mixer Dave Rawlinson about one of the team’s latest TV projects, which is yet to be picked up by a network. “Originally, our 5-MC in Stage A was configured with Nuendo as the mix engine. We changed the system over during a weekend to work with [Pro Tools] HD Native and then mixed Wonder Woman.” (The facility’s other room, Stage B, features a dual-operator Avid ICON D-Control console and Pro Tools|HD systems.)
For his projects, Rawlinson generally handles the effects and Foley mixing on the left side of the System 5-MC, while re-recording mixer Peter Kelsey sits to his right, overseeing the dialog, ADR, and music mixing. “Since we are now an all-Pro Tools facility, the ability to both mix and edit inside the box from the same worksurface offers a number of creative and operational advantages,” Rawlinson says. “In the past, we replayed most elements from Pro Tools and mixed within Nuendo. Now we use Pro Tools|HD Native as the DSP engine, with Pro Tools 9 as a multichannel stem recorder, so that we can leave the room with all stems and mix downs on a hard drive,” saving them from doing another layoff session.
While Wonder Woman was Rawlinson’s first project on the new system, mixing the effects-heavy, high-energy soundtrack went quickly and smoothly. “We had just two days to complete the initial mixes for client review and notes,” he recalls. “We were pretty busy! But having instant access to the Pro Tools elements from the [System] 5-MC surface—under fast EUCON control—was a major benefit. We need that flexibility of reaching into individual sound elements, making small changes, and then getting back to mixing. Working totally ‘in-the-box’ is a major timesaver and now possible thanks to HD Native’s direct support of EUCON.”
What do we look for in a re-recording console? In a word—responsiveness. [System 5-MC] is a race car. It goes as fast as you want it to go—that’s the bottom line.
With EUCON control, which operates over standard Gigabit Ethernet, Rawlinson and Kelsey were able to take simultaneous, high-resolution fader, switch, and knob control of multiple Pro Tools workstations from their console. Adding new Apple Mac Pro 8-core/2.4 MHz systems to Stage A also enabled them to take full advantage of the low latency—courtesy of a high-speed PCIe card—and enhanced feature set offered by Pro Tools|HD Native, including DSP acceleration, up to 192 audio tracks, 64 channels of MADI-format I/O, and Automatic Delay Compensation.
“On a typical segment for Wonder Woman, I was running up to 128 voices, yet only used some 36% of the CPU power,” Rawlinson recalls about mixing the effects.
“On my side,” adds Kelsey, mixing the dialog and music, “I had some 100 channels on the surface, but used just 33% of CPU with lots of plug-ins in place, including CEDAR DNS One, iZotope RX, [Pro Audio DSP] Dynamic Spectrum Mapper, and [Universal Audio SPL] Transient Designer, plus a Waves Q10 [parametric EQ] and seven-band V-EQ3,” all of which use significant processing power.
Rawlinson concentrates on mixing effects and Foley from his side of the board.
Co-owner and re-recording mixer Craig Hunter explains that having the right console is just as important as having the right DAW. “What do we look for in a re-recording console?” he reflects. “In a word—responsiveness. This [System 5-MC] is a race car. It goes as fast as you want it to go—that’s the bottom line. Coupled with TFT metering, the System 5-MC provides instant visual and tactile feedback, which is what every mixer needs. The 5-MC does the best job of any console on the market today.”
“Euphonix got it right out of the gate,” Rawlinson adds, regarding the console’s pre-Avid beginnings, “which was why we chose the 5-MC in its infancy. We used Pro Tools as a recorder and Nuendo [because Pro Tools wasn’t EUCON-enabled at the time] as a way of controlling it. Now it’s all Pro Tools.
“System 5-MC is the perfect tool for mixing TV shows,” Rawlinson continues. “With full Pro Tools compatibility, I can immediately be working with the pre-dubbed tracks [from the facility’s editorial suites], which saves a lot of time.”
“That convergence is essential for high-demand productions,” Hunter concludes. “The distinction between editing and mixing is being blurred—we need that enhanced flexibility [that Pro Tools and System 5-MC gives us] on the dub stage.”