Technicolor Smashes into Theatres with Colossal
With his latest film Colossal, writer-director Nacho Vigalondo provides a hilarious new take on the monster movie genre and a mash-up with the romantic comedy. The film – which stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Dan Stevens – has been a festival circuit hit, including screenings at both the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Sundance.
Technicolor not only provided both sound and picture finishing, but did so on a condensed schedule to ensure the filmmakers made the TIFF deadline.
Sound Re-recording Mixers Paul Williamson and Mike Woroniuk worked closely with Vigalondo, drawing inspiration from his famously intense creativity. With access to the latest technology, and mixing on the newest Avid S6 control surface, they delivered a robust sound mix on a very tight schedule.
“Nacho allowed for a lot of creative freedom in the mix,” said Williamson. "After our first pass, he would then enhance key areas of the story with sound, whether heightening atmospheric elements to create an uneasy feeling for the audience or finessing the music score to underline the emotion of the scene.”
Technicolor Senior Colorist Brett Trider also worked closely with Vigalondo, as well as the DP Eric Kress, for the duration of picture post.
“I really enjoyed the freedom of being able to work with such a creative and passionate director,” recounted Trider. “I found his spirited energy to be infectious in the room and inspiring. And being able to work closely with Erik Kress to build a unique but natural look for the film was also an essential part of the filmmaking process.”
Toronto Re-recording Mixer - Paul Williamson
A four-time Gemini Award nominee and two-time winner, Paul Williamson has been using his skills to help clients achieve their soundtrack goals for nearly three decades. After starting as an audio transfer engineer with Medallion PFA Film in 1987, he became a SFX/Foley Re-recording Mixer in 1994. Since 2007 he has been contributing to TV and film projects as Lead Dialogue/Music Mixer at Technicolor Toronto. He served as lead mixer for the film Colossal (Mongrel Media), and TV series such as People of Earth (TMN), Pure (CBC), Private Eyes (eOne/Shaw) and Colony (USA Network).. His most noteworthy achievements include leading the sound mix for Colony TV series for USA Network. The exterior shooting locations were very noisy but the storyline dictated that exterior scenes had to play very quietly, resulting in a lot of ADR in the show. Every mix demanded a high level of audio detail. Also a musician and composer, Paul has had a passion for sound from an early age. He draws from a lifetime of audio experience in every mix.
What sound gear are you currently using?
Lately my home at Technicolor has been Mix Stage 9, where I mix in Pro Tools on an Avid D-Control console. There are 3 Pro Tools HDX systems. SFX/Foley system has capacity for up to 512 voices, while Dialog/Music and Mix Stems Mastering systems have 256 voices each. Some plugins I use regularly in my Pro Tools sessions include SSL EQs and compressors, Cedar Noise Reduction, Izotope Noise and Hum Removal, Renaissance, Revibe and Space reverbs, to name a few.
Tell us about you, your musical tastes and Influences, and what led your career in this direction?
In my youth, my main musical interest was in progressive rock music from bands such as Rush, Yes and Genesis. Over the years my tastes have expanded a lot to include many different musical genres. I played the drums in several rock bands from age 12 to 25. I am also self-taught on the guitar and studied piano for a few years. Currently I spend as much of my spare time as I can composing and learning music theory. Most recently I have been delving deeper into orchestral music, both classical and contemporary.
I have always had an interest in sound, musical or otherwise. After graduating from and working at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology, I landed a job working in the machine room at PFA Film and Video. From the first time a saw a room full of 16 and 35 mm dubbers rocking and rolling back and forth, and then got into the mix theatre to experience all those sounds being blended together at the mixing console, I knew I wanted to do that. Mixing a television show or feature film was my dream job. I guess I am living the dream!
What are some of your favourite most pinnacle moments of your career so far?
Last summer I had the pleasure of teaming up with re-recording mixer Mike Woroniuk to mix the film “Colossal” directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. This rom-com/life bottoming out/monster movie mash-up covered a lot of bases in terms of the sound mix. Having Nacho telling the story as much through the sound as the picture made for a very rewarding experience. An excellent orchestral score by Bear McCreary (composer - The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was also exciting to work with.
How has the evolution of technology changed the way that you work?
Technology is forever changing of course. My approach to mixing is to listen first and think about what a scène needs. Whether mixing in 5.1 or in Dolby Atmos, a mixer has to think about the picture and story. How does sound help to tell the story?
The ability to carry many, many tracks in the mix has enabled a gréât deal of flexibility on the mix stage. We used to have to combine sounds together in a premix, which sometimes tied our hands downstream. Now with the computer resourses and Pro Tools power we have, we can keep all éléments separate. This gives the greatest flexibility to accommodate our clients’ requests to give them the soundtrack they are listening for.
What advice would you give people who want to get started doing what you do?
It can be a long road to become a re-recording mixer. I recommend spending some time interning or being a mix assistant in a professional environment where a mix can be observed in progress, if possible. A lot can be learned by listening and watching the hundreds of decisions made by a mixer, not only with regards to the sound technically but how the story on the screen is also being told through the sound. Of course after gaining some of this knowledge there is nothing like doing it. Try to get your hands on a short film or télévision project and do the mix. There is much more to mixing than knowing how to run Pro Tools. Listen to and watch many different types of films and series and think about how the sound Works – or doesn’t work – with the story.
How do you differentiate yourself in order to stay competitive and ahead of the game?
I always try to accommodate every request made by my clients in every mix. Sound is very subjective. No matter how much experience you have, until you try something, you don’t know for sure if it will work or not. I like to keep an open mind because that’s how you learn new things. Things you can apply to your next mix and the next and it just keeps going, always learning.
What is the most fun part of your job?
I have had the good fortune to work on many excellent projects. It’s fun when not only are you working on a show, but invested in where the story is going. You become attached to the characters, just like any other fan. Mixing my way through an episode for the first time, or watching it through in a spotting session, I often want to get to the end just to see what is going to happen.
It is also fun and very satisfying to sit back and take in the project after all the mixing and revisions are done. When everything, picture and sound, has come together into the final master. Very rewarding to be a part of
Technicolor Experience Center
The Technicolor Experience Centre is where artists and scientists from across the industry come together to realize the full potential of immersive media. By uniting talent from Technicolor and its award-winning creative brands (The Mill, Mikros Image, MPC and Mr. X) with partners from fields as diverse as gaming, animation, traditional media and technology, we enable the ideation, exploration and creation that pushed the boundaries of what immersive experiences can be.
Technicolor Sound - Toronto
Technicolor Toronto is one of the most advanced audio-production facilities in North America. We are the largest producer of soundtracks for Large Format projects in the world as well as a leader in providing complete sound services for Feature films, TV broadcasts, lifestyle/documentaries, commercials and web-based media. Now with two installations of Dolby ATMOS and IMAX 12.0, we are the most comprehensive Audio Post Production in Canada.
Technicolor Toronto’s highly qualified and experienced staff are well versed in audio creation from Gaming to Large Format and Theatrical Features. Our Broadcast Audio experience is unsurpassed with credits garnered from productions based around the world.
Our audio post-production services are compatible with virtually all audio systems and formats, providing a cohesive and continuous workflow. Our robust digital storage services provide the highest level of protection for your assets. Technicolor Toronto offers secure, high-speed connectivity to digital and audio post-production facilities around the world and provides an excellent bridge between North America and the rest of the world’s production communities.
Montreal Senior Colourist - Nico Ilies
With a reputation as one of Montreal’s most talented colourists, Nico has honed his skills over 24 years in the industry. Since joining Technicolor in 2003, he has lead the DI division, adding to an already impressive portfolio of work on both feature film and broadcast projects. Winner of the 2004 daVinci Master Colorist of the Year, Nico is recognized for his ability to contribute to the storytelling process by creating truly beautiful images.
What was your path to becoming a colourist?
A bit of luck, a bit of planning, and a lot of planning my luck. While I love the cinema I actually studied mechanical engineering, specializing in optics in Bucharest during the communist era. Through my university days I got my hands on a VIP pass to the Romanian Cinematheque and I spent a lot of time watching movies and studying all the greats.
Two years after I graduated the revolution came, which meant I could get a passport. I set off to find a job in Germany, and – whether by accident or luck – I ended up one day at Bavaria Film Studios, on the set of Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Seeing the Cinematographer at work was fascinating for me. I asked him for advice on a career and he suggested I become a colour timer. That was the clue for me to plan my luck.
I got a job as a tape operator at Beta Technik near Munich. In my free time I shadowed the senior colourists and eventually I was allowed into the grading suite on my own.
What skills do you need to be a successful colourist?
First you have to love to work in the dark. I was born in central Transylvania, so I am a natural!
If you are not passionate about what you do, you will have a very hard time in this job. You also have to be curious about new technology, and about meeting and working with people with different characters and exotic temperaments.
Who is your inspiration?
I admire the work of Peter Doyle as a colourist. My teachers, though, are my clients. They have really taught me what I know today; how to look at an image, when something needs fixing, how to enhance it and why. During my 24 years as a colourist I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most creative and respected people in the industry. These people are my inspiration.
What makes for a good day at your desk?
The sense that I have found the soul of the movie.
This usually happens halfway through the first pass of grading. No matter how much planning takes place in pre-production in terms of the ‘look’, I believe it is only after the film is edited that you can see it as a real entity - something which can speak for itself.
A good day is when it finishes with a strong, sincere handshake from the client, as a sign of respect and understanding.
What are your top 3 favorite films?
Any advice you would give to someone coming into the business?
I would say be curious and don't give up ...spending time in the dark is a privilege in our field.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers
Les Mauvaises Herbes
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
The Art of Versioning
Technicolor Montreal is the leading provider of both feature film and television versioning in Canada. For over 30 years Technicolor has been versioning in the many variations of the French language (Metropolitan, International French, French-Canadian etc..) for films, TV series, animation and documentary/lifestyle programming. In 2014, the versioning operations at 2101 St. Catherine Street were completely refurbished with state of the art recording booths and sound stages and are supported by the global Technicolor network and infrastructure. The facility meets all of the security requirements of the MPAA and successfully passed audits by HBO, Marvel, NBC, Universal and Disney, to name a few.
The versioning department is led by Feature Film Service & Key Account Manager Marie hélène Blanchard and Dominique Dussault, Manager of Broadcast Versioning. Both the feature and broadcast versioning teams will manage your project from end to end, providing administrative support, contract and creative management, voice casting, production schedules to ensure delivery on date and within budget. Recent projects versioned at Technicolor Montreal are The Fate of the Furious, Passengers, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Simpsons, Frontier, Mary Kills People and The Amazing Race Canada.
Marie hélène Blanchard
Service & Key Account Manager, Feature Film Versioning
Manager, Sales & Operations, Broadcast Versioning