LOS ANGELES — The Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles recently took delivery of a Yamaha PM10 digital audio console. The stage specializes in hosting orchestral film work. Hollywood Sound (www.hollywoodsound.com) handled the sale and implementation.
PHOTO: (L-R) Damon Tedesco, stage manager (mixer); Peter Nelson, stage manager (mixer); Denis Saint-Amand, stage engineer
Denis Saint-Amand, stage engineer for The Newman Stage, established the criteria for what Fox was trying to achieve when replacing the existing monitor console at their film scoring stage. The Fox team viewed a Yamaha Rivage PM10 console (www.yamahaca.com) at a trade show and asked Hollywood Sound to move forward to provide a demo. According to Hollywood Sound Systems president Les Harrison, a proof of concept based on an earlier project was mocked up, and the team visited Hollywood Sound where 112 orchestral tracks on Yamaha Steinberg’s Nuage system were fed to the PM10. The material was bussed and distributed to an array of Yamaha MSP5 monitors. Harrison says this allowed them to mimic the way the Fox operators were used to working, and to reinforce and audibly visualize where and how the many headphone mixes would be deployed.
“It was paramount that the chosen console be leading edge technology without being risky,” Harrison explains. “It had to be reliable and robust, like a touring product, but compare favorably in an environment whose benchmark is a $1.5 million dollar console that sits 20 feet away. The Fox team was impressed with the evolution of the new Yamaha console and tossed ideas around on how the PM10 could be helpful in setup, reliability and operation. A final demo for management was scheduled at The Newman Stage, with Kevin Kimmel from Yamaha at the helm. It was soon decided that a purchase would be planned for their new fiscal year.”
Since its installation, the Yamaha console has been used on such films as The Greatest Showman, The Mountain Between Us and Ferdinand, and the TV shows Orville, American Dad, Family Guy and Empire.
Saint-Amand adds that the pre-requisite was a low noise floor, minimal latency and quick and efficient scene recall. “The console has to co-exist silently and efficiently within the studio along with all the musicians, microphones, and hardware associated with recording an orchestra and chorus. The Yamaha Rivage layout allows a comfortable, heads-up operator position with what we need on the top layer. We can’t afford to be looking down all the time paging through layers as the operator is located behind the conductor and non-verbal communication with hand signals, or even just a quick look is essential.”
Damon Tedesco and Peter Nelson are the lead operators using the PM10.
“Up until now, the Fox operators (stage managers) have worked with a custom-built analog desk designed for their own unique workflow,” notes Harrison. “They work in a demanding world that involves the most talented and skilled musicians and technicians under extremely specific, tight time lines. So reliability, sonics and ease of operation are their highest priorities. Damon, Peter, and Denis are pleased with the console and it integrated cleanly and efficiently on The Newman Stage, requiring zero downtime.”
“Scoring mixers Armin Steiner and Shawn Murphy were very supportive of the upgrade,” Saint-Amand adds, “and their input was invaluable and instrumental in our decision. At one point Steiner, who has been working at this stage since the ‘70s, was in the control room with our custom Neve 88RS and we asked him to listen to the headphone send from the Rivage console. He gave a great big smile saying it sounded not unlike what he was hearing in the control room. Murphy had experienced the PM10 in his work with the Pacific Symphony in San Diego and agreed that it would do a good job. The session players were even quick to acknowledge the sonic improvements and made a point to compliment the stage crew.”