When the feds go digital

“Even gameshows are using Dolby Surround Sound these days,” states Re-Recording mixer Robert Appere.

However, he clarifies, “It really means nothing unless somebody’s really taken the time to make you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the action rather than sitting in front of the action.”

And that’s just what he and Re-Recording partner Ken Burton are doing for the new ABC cop drama “C-16: FBI.”

In order to maximize the drama of modern crime-fighting, the show is borrowing many of the sound professionals and the production values from the network’s Emmy-winning hit cop show “NYPD Blue.” Then, they’ll add cinematic values via the latest technologies, such as the new digital TV aspect-ratio and broadcast the program in letterbox format. Plus of course, they’ll also be using the de facto standard Dolby four-track digital surround sound.

“It really goes to choices that you make creatively,” explains co-creator and co-executive producer and primary director Michael Robin, who also is an “NYPD Blue” alumnus.

“The pilot happens to be out in the street a lot more than ‘Blue,’ ” he explains. ” ‘Blue’ spends a lot of time in interrogation rooms.”

As a result, Robin confirms, they’re planning to employ the Dolby surround sound to a much greater extent on “C-16.”

“We’re out in the world a little bit more. So you can have a little more fun. We did some stuff at (Los Angeles Intl. Airport) to start things off. And you can get planes to take off from behind you and go overhead. They give the scene more of a sensory appreciation.”

“We’ll be putting a lot more stuff in the surround channels, in terms of music and effects and background ‘walla groups’ (the layered ADR background sounds added for audio texture).”

As Appere, who will continue to work on “NYPD Blue” with Burton, in addition to “C-16” explains, “We’re trying to re-enact, as best we can, as much of the theatrical kind of sound as possible — even though it’s probably going to be played back on little speakers in people’s houses.”

This all-out approach may fly in the face of traditional production values, i.e. spend as little as you can get away with, but it’s hard to argue with the results.

“When ‘NYPD Blue’ comes on,” Appere challenges, “whatever you listen to it on, doesn’t it sound better than the show that came before it and the show that came after it?”…..

“C-16: FBI” premieres at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 on ABC.

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