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Is working with orchestras your dream gig?
It's definitely something with a live orchestra. Something like a live orchestra all tracking together, no click with a great composer and conductor with clients who were not afraid that the orchestra sounded different from the synth mockups. There are some really talented composers that I hope to work for in years to come. It is a long road ahead but I feel that if you do the best job you possibly can on every project, whether it is big budget or small, people will start to notice.
The community of people who do what you do seems pretty small. How did you get your break?
My father was a studio guitarist and I grew up knowing that dad went to work at "the studio". It was only in high school that I started to realize what a cool occupation it would be to be around musicians and audio gear. I worked as an assistant on the Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox scoring stages for many years. It was an amazing place to learn the process from incredible scoring mixers such as Armin Steiner, Dan Wallin, Bobby Fernandez, Tim Boyle, Al Schmitt, Dennis Sands, and Shawn Murphy.
In 2001, I was starting to become much busier as an independent engineer doing commercials and films. This was getting hectic because of my full-time assistant job. One day, percussionist Bob Zimmitti came up to me and said, "What are you still doing here?" – with a smile. That is when I had to make a move. I threw caution to the wind and built a 5.1 mix studio at my home and pursued my goal of becoming an independent scoring mixer. I guess the real "break" was deciding to just go for it and follow my dream. So far so good.
It is a really small community, and sometimes I don't feel like I'm even in the community, but when you get the calls, and you start to get booked up, things seem to work out. I'm one of the young guys in the group and I'm in my 40s. There are guys who have been doing this for over 40 years and are still amazing at what they do.
How do they feel things have changed over the years?
Just in the past 10 years the amount of work has decreased. There were live recording sessions going on everyday for years, but now if you do 6 or 8 a month you're doing pretty well.
Are the veterans up on the current technology?
The veterans are so good at what they do – I want to be careful here to give them the credit they deserve. Sometimes they will hire a Pro Tools operator to support them on projects, which actually is imperative to have at that level of music scoring.
I think the next generation will absolutely have to have those skill sets. With live recording budgets shrinking, I can't see them surviving without it. You used to be able to just walk onto the scoring stage and have everything done for you to record. I feel like those days are over.
Can you tell us a little about The Wrecking Crew and any other interesting projects you're currently working on?
I just finished mixing a full length animated film called Batman / Superman Apocalypse which was an all electronic score. It was a pretty elaborate mix of hundreds of tracks which were mixed "in the box" with Pro Tools.
As for The Wrecking Crew, I have been working on it with my brother Denny. It has been an amazing time traveling around the country and screening it in film festivals. It has won at a bunch of festivals and received an amazing response. We hope to get distribution very soon along with a theatrical and DVD release.
How do the iZotope products help you do your job?
On the Batman / Superman film I used a ton of Ozone 4, Spectron, and Alloy. I love these plugs because they are fast. They are real client pleasers – when you have a director, producer, and composer watching your screen as you mix, you don't have time to be fumbling around. On The Wrecking Crew film I used the RX package and cleaned up dialogue and music from old master recordings. There were so many recording sources that became usable after a treatment with RX. It truly was a life saver for that project.