Keith Hodne is a senior re-recording mixer/sound designer at Post FactoryNY (part of the SIM Group family of companies). He was recently nominated for an Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)” for his work on OJ: Made in America. The project received six nominations and won two awards, including “Outstanding Directing.” Here, he talks about his work and career.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career?
“Born and raised in Brooklyn, my current home is Post FactoryNY in Tribeca. Professionally. I am a sound supervisor/sound designer and re-recording mixer. I also have been DJ'ing and creating my own music for the past 20 years. I'm a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. I am always striving for more knowledge and to better my skill sets.
“Post FactoryNY, part of the Sim Group family of companies, is a three-story hub for the film, television and commercial community. We provide any and all sound services, DI online and picture finishing, as well as offline space and system rental.”
You worked on OJ: Made in America? In what capacity?
“Wow, it would be easier to tell you what was not the scope. When we came on board, this was a three-hour piece, which morphed into five hours...then seven-and-a-half hours because of Ezra Edelman and his team’s talent and vision.
“Not only was this slated to air on ESPN in five parts (part one was to air on ABC first), the full feature was to be played in its entirety at Sundance, Tribeca, and Hot Docs film festivals. So, I was given the challenge to create a ‘one size fits all’ mix that would not only sound great in the theater, but would sound equally as impactful over broadcast. Not to mention, the composer, Gary Lionelli, was still working on the music as the film was being screened at the festivals. I mixed all five parts three different times. Once with temp music (believe it or not, that went to Sundance), once with Gary's music with sampled strings, and then one more final time with the session strings added in. What an impact those strings made though. The film sang once they were in.”
What was the timeline of the project?
“Too quick! There was no time to think. We were all just reacting. But we knew we had magic in a bottle, so that kept driving us forward. In reality, we mixed and remixed and mixed again, all within about a two-month period.”
Describe the archival audio enhancements that Post FactoryNY completed for the project?
“Ezra and I agreed early on that we would clean up any unnecessary clicks, pops, static that wouldn't play nice in the theater environment. But we would leave a fair amount to convey the story we were telling. We wanted that tape hiss and some of that degradation to bring us back to a time and place when we first saw these events unfold. Much like listening to a vinyl record and being able to breathe in a smell at a certain time and place.
“It was a very fine line and I definitely leaned heavily on iZotope RX, and a combo of Sonnox restoration and some of the Waves restoration tools. I can zero in on what tools will work best on what type of noise after years of using all of these plug-ins day in and day out.”
What were the most challenging aspects of the project?
“The pressure! I mean, I have been lucky enough to work with some major players over the years, but this was different. We all knew it. We felt it! The press and positive reviews kept coming and this was early on after the Sundance pass with temp music. I'm happily married, but I could kiss Ezra for allowing me to be involved in this project. He is an absolute genius. He would easily catch things that I would hear and would bother me, but another director wouldn't notice. His attention to detail is second to none, and he pushed me to be better, which I will be forever grateful for.”
What did you enjoy the most?
“Basking in the glory! It is not often we as audio engineers — or the post production community in general — get to be in the limelight. Finishing is at the end of the line of production and catches all the grunt of the work, but not usually the glory. It has been a wild ride to see ESPN, Ezra and Caroline (Waterlow; producer), our editors, composer, cinematographer, my sound team etc., getting accolades. It's been great to cheer the team on.”
What equipment were you using?
“I mix in Pro Tools 12 with too many plug-ins to name. I'm an admitted gear addict, but iZotope [does] a lot of the heavy lifting. A 24 fader D-Command. I love my JBL 6328 5.1 system, along with a few pairs of vintage speakers that I own to check mixes on, but most importantly my ears.”
How did it feel to be nominated for an Emmy for your work on this project?
“Absolutely amazing! I am still going through all the motions of getting nominated. But right now it’s the proud moment; proud to represent my studio and my co-workers…I've worked for about 15 years perfecting my craft, and I will never stop. But this is for sure a positive affirmation that hard work and determination pays off. And a love for what you do. Passion trumps all.”
What’s up next for you and Post FactoryNY?
“I am currently midway through a Webisode for Complex.com that is a mocumentary of EDM, so that is super fun based on my passion for DJ'ing. Our next big project is Watergate, a project by Academy Award-winner Charles Ferguson (
Inside Job) for A&E about Richard Nixon.”