LONDON — Soho Square Studios (www.sohosquarestudios.com) completed significant audio restoration as well as a 5.1 surround sound mix for Hello Quo, a new feature-length documentary about the seminal British rock band Status Quo. Rock and roll filmmaker Alan G. Parker directed the project, calling on Soho Square Studios to repair and replace archive audio and music performances for the 150-minute biopic before matching the restored content with new interview footage and then bringing it all together for a 5.1 mix.
The film will premier in cinemas on October 22, ahead of a Blu-Ray and DVD release. Hello Quo follows the band from its origins in 1962 to its current status as one of the UK’s most successful acts, with album sales topping 120 million. The doc combines never-before-seen material from across Europe, along with well-known footage, such as 1985’s Live Aid concert.
Director Alan G. Parker in the studio with sound engineer Ed Sutton.
For Soho Square Studios, the biggest task was making sure that all the different audio elements knitted seamlessly together, a challenge made more complicated by the age and origin of some of the material. “Once all the material was converted to the same frame rate our job was to ensure that the audio was at the highest level of quality possible and any repair work was completed ready for the 5.1 mix,” notes sound engineer Edward Sutton.
With stretched videotape, unusable audio tracks and instances of wow and flutter, as well as a range of different frame rates, the audio post process required the use of both Avid’s Pro Tools and Steinberg’s Nuendo — including their various plug-ins and filters — along with tools from Waves and TC Electronic. iZotope’s RX 2 audio restoration suite was used extensively for noise reduction.
“In some cases the original audio was so bad that I had to go back to CD recordings and post-sync the whole performance,” adds Sutton. “Because the tape had been worn out over time I had to actually replace the audio bit by bit. You couldn’t just replace the whole track.”
After restoration was completed, Sutton and Soho Square Studios' senior engineer Simon Capes collaborated on the 5.1 mix.
“What you see on screen is essentially what we brought back from the edit,” says director Parker. “But it was desperate for a good sound mix. I always say, we take a film out of edit and it’s like a finished car. But a finished car with no paint, no glass and no number plate. By the time it hits the streets it has the paint and the glass and the number plate. That is what those guys do. It’s not a different movie now, but it still sounds like a different movie even though my story hasn’t changed. It’s my movie but it’s much slicker.”
In addition to audio restoration and a 5.1 surround mix Soho Square Studios also completed sound design work on a number of animated sequences within the film including the opening titles.