Technicolor Paris Gains Cutting-Edge Workflows with Pro Tools | HD

As the leading film production and delivery service provider in the U.S., Technicolor has been steadily growing its business in Europe. The company recently acquired Auditoriums de Joinville and Société Industrielle de Sonorisation to broaden its audio services, along with ScanLab and Duboi to expand its post-production offerings.

And now it’s further strengthening its place in the European post-production sector by opening a new Technicolor Entertainment Services France (TESF) audio complex in the Saint-Cloud region of Paris. 

For Technicolor, it’s the company’s first European facility dedicated wholly to audio dubbing. Fred Taieb, the dub supervisor/mixer, audio designer, and studio manager at TESF, knew the facility needed powerful creative tools with integrated workflows that would enable the creation and delivery of the highest-quality audio. Taieb selected the Avid Pro Tools | HD family for its unprecedented DSP-accelerated power, premium sound quality, and streamlined workflows. And since Pro Tools is the industry-standard for studios worldwide, TESF can collaborate seamlessly between other Technicolor complexes around the world.

“All the work here—[including] recording, dubbing, and voice-over—is completely performed on Pro Tools | HD, while three integrated Avid ICON consoles are installed in the three mixing studios, ”Taieb explains.

Pro Tools | HD and ICON take center stage

The 650 square meter (nearly 7,000 square feet) facility is occupied primarily by six studios—three for recording/dubbing and three for mixing. Taieb, who was highly involved in the choice of systems and technical directions, chose Pro Tools | HD systems for each studio—Pro Tools | HD Native systems for the recording studios and Pro Tools | HDX systems for the mixing studios, depending on the team’s needs.

“As we receive and deliver all the elements in the Pro Tools format, it's easier and more reliable to use Pro Tools throughout the chain,” Taieb explains. “It's a tool that's really suitable for dubbing. We've had very positive results. Thanks to the way it manages RAM with a disk cache, [Pro Tools] is vastly more powerful, letting us work faster and more efficiently than before.”

 [Pro Tools] is vastly more powerful, letting us work faster and more efficiently than before.
Fred Taieb, dub supervisor/mixer, audio designer, and studio manager, TESF

Among the studios dedicated to audio post-production, Studios 1, 2, and 4 are for recording, while Studio 3, which has 7.1 monitoring and an ICON D-Command ES control surface, is dedicated to mixing. Designed for cinema, Studios 5 and 6 are each equipped with an ICON D-Control ES in 32- or 48-fader configurations.

“I've been mixing using ICON since 2003 and I think that D-Control is a highly efficient machine,” Taieb enthuses. “The console is easy to use, extremely efficient, and very reliable. Combining D-Control and Pro Tools HD 10 means I can forget about the technology, freeing me to stay creative and do my best work.”

Taieb particularly likes the advanced automation options, which he takes advantage of on a daily basis. “On films like Transformers, I've sometimes had to do recalls on the French audio version mix,” he explains. “Three years later, I found all the elements and all my automation—including plug-ins—with just a couple of clicks. You can also control the processing parameters with the encoders, as well as with the faders. I really like doing that, for example, to precisely control the decay of a reverb to match the movements of people in the image exactly, whilst watching the image. It's perfect, simple, and accessible.”

An international affair

Films being released in Europe, with its wealth of languages, require a number of dubbing adaptations. That’s where facilities such as TESF come into play. “When a film is distributed internationally, out of the 40 languages required, between 28 and 32 are produced in Europe,” Taieb explains.

To facilitate the exchange of image and audio elements while maintaining a high level of security, TESF relies on its Technical Private Network (TPN), which interconnects all Technicolor facilities—in particular, its Hollywood complex, but also locations in Canada, Italy, the UK, and even Thailand. “The one common feature, is that most often we receive a Pro Tools session including the VI and the English voices as reference,” Taieb says.

Opening the door to multilingual mixing

Beyond recording and mixing French audio versions of various film soundtracks, Taieb wants to mix other foreign language dubs at Technicolor as well. Since all of the processing is carried out by plug-ins, with settings that can be instantly recalled, it would be extremely easy for the team to develop multilingual versions of the mixes.

“In a few seconds we can recall the reverb and specialization settings and all of the processing that has already been prepared in Pro Tools for the French audio version, which we [can] then use as a basis for the other versions,” Taieb explains. “We have European mixing expertise and are able to emphasize the voice to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the characteristics of the languages.”

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