Sreejesh Nair upmixes with Halo
INDIA: Famed for his award-winning work as an Indian re-recording mixer for more than 250 films titles during his 14-year-long career, in addition to being an audio solutions specialist for Avid, Sreesjesh Nair has been well positioned to witness the profound technological changes to have graced his trade in recent years – from Dolby SR for LCRS to 5.1, then 7.1, and now Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D. With a large potion of his work involving upmixing stereo material, Mr Nair has begun utilising NUGEN Audio’s Halo Upmix plugin on recent projects.
‘When I first started we were still using magnetic tape and Hi-8s along with a Tascam DD8 magneto optical recorder,’ recalled Mr Nair. ‘We had much more time to execute a mix because of the time it took to sync up tapes, match beeps and rewind the video on a Betacam, for example. Later on, with advances in Pro Tools and other technologies, things got a lot easier, but the more efficient workflows also meant we were expected to turn projects around much faster. At the same time, the new tools have given us greater flexibility to create more complex tracks, which adds to the time pressure.
‘Upmixing stereo material to surround formats is a task that’s become increasingly important in my work, but I have not had great success with upmixing tools and processes,’ Mr Nair explained. ‘With many upmixing tools, spatial information would be lost, and the openness I was expecting just wasn’t there. I needed an upmixing tool that could not only deliver an output as possible to the original, but could allow me to work efficiently and save time.
Having heard about NUGEN’s Halo Upmix at the 2015 IBC show, ‘right away, my colleagues and I could see that Halo is an extremely immersive tool,’ said Mr Nair. ‘It was wonderful to hear the reverbs, pads and instruments open up in the song for a cohesive-sounding track.’
This led Mr Nair to utilise the plugins on two 96kHz projects for upmixing to 7.1 and 9.1. ‘This format flexibility, and the control Halo gives me over the finished sound, is absolutely essential in my work,’ he commented. ‘Although the Halo controls are similar to those on other tools, Halo just sounds better and gives much more space in the sounds if needed. Plus, Halo provides an “Exact” function for creating a downmix that is almost identical to the original – something that, as far as I know, isn’t available with any other upmix tool.’
Picking out some specific benfits to his workflow, Mr Nair points out that ‘rather than simply performing a full program upmix, Halo gives me the flexibility to do things differently. For instance, I might mix pads and strings, or even floor toms, or I could add harmonic distortion and reverb to an element and then upmix it as a parallel signal that could be blended with the original. Since it reacts differently based on the harmonic content for blending sounds, the movement in the surround space is very analogue and has an element of apparent randomness that I love.’
‘In short, Halo Upmix has opened up new ways of mixing that I never thought possible before, with the ability to deliver a much more cohesive upmix output,’ the re-recording mixer concluded. ‘I’m able to achieve soundscapes that are simply not achievable with regular pans or other methods. With tools like Halo, the audience is the real winner because I’m able to break away from typical mix patterns for a film to create a uniquely textured and nuanced result.’