Burbank, CA, July 30, 2008
â€“ Chace Audio, a full service audio post-production facility well-known for sound preservation and restoration, completed new 5.1 and 7.1 near-field mixes for the High Definition Blu-ray disc release of Mr. Woodcock from New Line Home Entertainment. The comedy, which stars Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott and Susan Sarandon, is one of a series of recent and upcoming New Line releases that Chace Audio has re-mastered into 7.1 for Blu-ray release and presents a new level of fidelity that is an ideal complement to High Definition picture.
Billy Bob Thornton stars as Mr. Woodcock, a tough-as-nails middle school gym teacher who delights in taunting and humiliating his less-than-athletic students. When former Woodcock student turned successful self-help author John Farley (Seann William Scott) returns home to visit, he is dismayed to discover that his mother (Susan Sarandon) has fallen in love with his old high school nemesis. Still afflicted with the insecurities and awkwardness that plagued his youth and panicked by the inevitability of his mother marrying the one man he despises most, John enlists the help of an old schoolmate in an attempt to foil Mr. Woodcock and a series of hilarious confrontations ensue that ultimately force him to confront and overcome the demons of his past.
Mr. Woodcock takes advantage of the 7.1 format, which is the latest evolution of multi-channel sound for home theater and features Left, Right, Center, Left Surround Side, Right Surround Side, Left Surround Rear, and Right Surround Rear channels mated to an additional LFE (Low Frequency Effects) channel, routed to the subwoofer. â€œNew Line is one of the first studios to embrace the 7.1 format for Blu-ray and the ability to present this film in this way makes a tremendous difference sonically,â€? says Chace Project Manager Doug Johnson. â€œ7.1 gives you a lot of options for programming directionality and has a different spatial quality that delivers more depth. By having two discrete additional channels itâ€™s possible to take directional cues beyond merely the right or left speakers and actually pan them to go past the side of the viewerâ€™s head in a way never before possible.â€?
â€œItâ€™s not just a matter of divergence to simply â€˜fill upâ€™ these additional channels,â€? explains Chace Conform/Mixing Engineer Wade Chamberlain, who has mixed several feature films in 7.1, â€œWe have developed several methods here at Chace to actually unlock a whole new level of fidelity and space, especially with regard to a filmâ€™s music, which opens up significantly in 7.1 and has a larger feel to it that truly envelops the audience.â€?
There are several different codec options for Blu-ray. For Mr. Woodcock, New Line selected the DTS-HD Master Audio format, a lossless audio compression codec that delivers a much higher fidelity than anything available previously. Dobly also offers its own lossless codec â€“ Dolby True HD. These two formats offer lossless compression that results in soundtracks that sound less compressed and digitally processed than standard AC-3 or DTS streams that are used on Standard Definition DVDs.
Work on Mr. Woodcock began when New Line delivered the 5.1 theatrical stems that would serve as source material for the new mix. These elements included dialogue and music, as well as background and Foley effects that were each meticulously evaluated by Chace technicians before mixing commenced. Once the stems were conformed by Carl Grana, Conform/Mixing Engineer Chris Reynolds got to work in one of Chace Audioâ€™s near-field mix rooms, Studio G, to give Mr. Woodcockâ€™s soundtrack truly distinct side and rear surrounds. The mix was supervised and reviewed by Alex Junco, DVD Director for New Line Home Entertainment.
Mixing was done primarily in Pro Tools. â€œOne of the current limitations of most DAWs and mixing consoles is that the 7.1 panning technology is currently set up for SDDS â€“ where the two additional audio channels are not a Left Side Surround and Right Side Surround, but rather a Left Center and Right Center channel,â€? explained Reynolds. â€œBecause of that limitation, itâ€™s difficult to fluidly pan discrete effects around the soundfield, so we had to develop a hybrid panning technique in order to pan sounds around the audience and still have it sound as organic and realistic as possible.â€? In a near-field 7.1 environment, certain imperfections that werenâ€™t noticeable in the original theatrical mix can also become more apparent. Reynolds performed some precise processing, targeted to rid the new soundtrack of a variety of issues such as background noise in the production tracks, and other minor audio anomalies.
Music for Mr. Woodcock includes memorable songs from a diverse collection of artists including Wayne Newton, George Thorogood, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, complemented by an original score composed by Theodore Shapiro. The soundtrack required a variety of different mixing techniques depending on the original mix of the music, be it original score or source material. Reynolds was careful to point out that there was no simple universal technique. Every style of music demanded a different approach. For example, an orchestral score might play well with a long decay time whereas a straight rock or pop song might sound washed out if treated the same way.
New Line wanted the deleted scenes to be fully posted and mixed in 7.1 as well. Chace Sound Editor Nick Beljic recorded Foley and cut effects for all of the additional scenes that are included as Bonus Features. Beljicâ€™s material was then mixed with mono production dialog and edited music from the film to complete the process.
As 7.1 is still a relatively new offering, Chace Audio also supplied a 5.1 down-mix for Mr. Woodcock. To accomplish this, the additional channels from the 7.1 mix were â€œfoldedâ€? into the 5.1 mix but the key for Chace engineers was to achieve the proper balance. It was critical to find one setting that gave the best compromise between 5.1 and 7.1 and that became the new 5.1 auto down-mix. In the 7.1 encoding there are metadata parameters that allow one static setting for the auto down-mix to 5.1. â€œWe can determine how the audio is down-mixed and then set it. Sometimes this requires folding the additional side channels back into the left and right front channels. It relies on blending different percentages of sound from one channel to the next and spacing them through different speakers. Mr. Woodcock down-mixed pretty well and while audiences listening to the 5.1 will not be able to hear the added directionality that 7.1 offers, they will benefit significantly from the lossless compression and overall sonic improvements made during the near-field mix. The down-mix will never match the 7.1 exactly but we work hard to ensure that it sounds as good as it can possibly get.â€?
About Chace Audio
Chace Audio is a full service audio post-production facility. In addition to the restoration, up-mixing, and re-mastering of film and television soundtracks, Chace provides transfer from nearly 100 formats, synchronization and varispeed conforms/laybacks, multi-track mixing, DolbyÂ® AC-3, DolbyÂ® True HD, DTS, DTS-HD audio compression, music and effects construction, Foley/ADR recording, and optical soundtrack recording services and more.
Contact Chace Audio at: 201 S. Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502-2349; Phone: (818) 842-8346; Fax: (818) 842-8353; Website: