Technicolor is mostly known for visual innovations, but the company has long had a niche in sound and recently has elevated itself from supporting player to star in the audio realm.
On the creative side, Technicolor upgraded its sound facilities with the opening of its state-of-the-art facility on the Paramount lot, then lured creative talent to match, including re-recording mixers Anna Behlmer, Scott Millan and Greg P. Russell.
The Paramount facility was “another step in Technicolor’s audio strategy,” says Boris Teksler, Technicolor’s senior executive VP, Technology.
That strategy, says Teksler, is to answer the question: “How do we take the creative intent of directors and permeate it across a myriad of different viewing experiences?” While Technicolor Paramount is aimed at the theatrical experience, the company wants to extend that to TVs and mobile devices, Teksler says.
That kind of forward-thinking helped the company recruit Millan, who was settled at Todd-AO sound when Technicolor approached him about coming aboard, some eight years ago.
At the time, Millan could see the notion of separate picture and sound post-production “silos” becoming obsolete, and that all post would happen in parallel, with no hand-off from silo to silo. Technicolor was moving toward the same vision, conceiving the Paramount outpost as a place where visual and aural post would work together.
Like Millan, Behlmer sees the advantages of locating picture post near sound post. During the mixing of the 3D version of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” Behlmer says, “We could walk down the hall to look at (scenes) in 3D. That made all the difference in the world, because we realized what we needed to do differently.”
Technicolor’s audio strategy also plays out in the company’s research labs in Hanover, Germany; Rennes, France; and Los Altos, Calif.
At Technicolor’s Research & Innovation facility in Hanover, 24 audio engineers are working on a new MPEG-H standard, which will be an important part of Ultra HD audio and video.
Also, Technicolor has been assigned the prestigious task of developing the standards for High Order Ambisonics technology, which delivers more immersive audio than today’s surround sound.
“What is significant about the MPEG-H piece and our work in High Order Ambisonics is we can take the intent of the creatives and represent it in a theater, (and) all the way down to a tablet,” Teksler says.