Mixing with the best – MMS featured in Pro AVL Asia

Movie Mixing Studio 

Mediacorp Audio Post Movie Mixing Studio was featured in Pro AVL Asia, a regional magazine for professional audio, video and lighting industries. This article was published on its May-June 2018 issue. Read the first half of story below extracted from the publication. To read the complete full story, you may to go to Pro AVL Asia May-June 2018 issue. The article can be found on page 110 to 113.

Mixing with the Best

(Extracted from Pro AVL Asia May-June 2018 issue)

May 2017 was a milestone in Singapore's film and broadcast history. Mediacorp, the state’s largest media broadcaster and content provider, opened the Movie Mixing Studio (MMS), the centerpiece of its new audio post unit at the Mediacorp Campus building, where it joins six further sound mixing studios. These seven new studios have been put to work on music and sound effects post production for TV programmes and local and regional films, both for in-house productions as well as for third-party clients.

The 70 sqm MMS, designed by UK acoustician David Hawkins from Eastlake Audio, sets some new standards for the island state. Equipped with a Fairlight EVO 5-bay, 36-channel DAW controller, 43 Quested  professional cinema monitor speakers providing L-C-R, surround, rear and height channels, and a Barco digital cinema projector, MMS is the first certified Auro-3D and AuroMax mix studio in South East Asia. It’s surprising to learn, then, that the studio was destined to be a foley suite until a last-minute decision changed its designation to a mix theatre. And that decision has opened up new vistas for the company.

Mediacorp can trace its history back to the beginning of radio broadcasting in Singapore in 1936, and today runs seven TV and 11 radio channels. But until the opening of MMS at the glistening new Mediacorp Campus at Mediapolis@one-north, it hadn’t been possible to complete TV and film  soundtracks in the country, with the postproduction team having to travel to Hong Kong, Bangkok or India for the final audio mix.

Mediacorp’s music and sound effects director, the ebullient Mo Ju Li, has headed up the audio post division since 2002, when she was given the freedom to select her choice of workstation. She chose Fairlight back then, and hasn’t deviated from the brand – now owned by Blackmagic Design – since.

‘The Fairlight MFX3 was still in production when I visited the company’s headquarters in Australia,’ she remembers of her first visit to the manufacturer. ‘I also visited Fairlight’s partner, Fuji TV, in Tokyo and saw how well the networked system worked for them. Here at Mediacorp, we handle more than 1,000 hours of production each year, so a networked system is the best solution for us, as it allows us to grab what we need from the server fast. With a powerful QDC server supporting the entire team, we needed an equally powerful workstation. After an intensive period of research and assessment, we decided to commit to Fairlight workstations. They didn’t disappoint; we found editing on Fairlight fast and convenient, and we are glad that we made the decision to partner with them.’ Mediacorp purchased its first Fairlight DAWs – Dream Constellations – in 2003. After five years of reliable and stable production, these were upgraded to DREAM (Digital Recording, Editing and Mixing) workstations with sidecar expanders, which the facility continued to work on until the move last year. Today, five of the audio suites at Mediacorp Campus including MMS are installed with 5-bay Fairlight EVO DAW controllers with CC2 engines. The other two feature the Solid State Logic AWS 948 Delta console and DAW controller. All seven studios have QSC monitoring, with 5.1 systems in the SSL rooms and 7.1 systems in  the four Fairlight suites as well as the Auro-3D Quested setup in MMS. The entire audio package was supplied by SSL Asia.

From left: Sound Designer Yong Chin Liang, Naveen Chander, Music & Sound Effect Director Mo Ju Li and AVP Tan Chee Beng.

When it came to specifying 3D immersive sound technology, Ms Mo knew exactly what format she wanted, selecting Barco Auro-3D over the rival Dolby Atmos. ‘I had to be brave, I had no time to wait around!’ she jokes, adding that quick decisions were needed so that speaker placement and rack specs for the new studio could be finalised. The format appealed to her because ‘Auro-3D is a 3-layer, channel-based system, and the company has also developed AuroMax, a 26.1 format planned to launch later this year, which will be both channel- and object-based. It will be an open concept so every studio can work with it.’ 

Again, Ms Mo has some history with Auro, having travelled to the studio of Auro Technologies founder and CEO, Wilfried van Baelen, to mix a feature film, Long Long Time Ago, in 2015.

‘I took all my gear and went to Galaxy Studios in Belgium, and Wilfried assisted me with the mixing,’ she says. ‘With our new studio calibrated by Wilfried, the Fairlight EVO and our specially trained team, we are now able to offer Auro immersive mixes right here in Singapore. It’s a great opportunity for us.’

Indeed, it wasn’t long after the move to MMS that Ms Mo and her staff were working on the first Singaporean film to be released in Auro-3D: the fourth installment of Jack Neo’s blockbusting Ah Boys to Men series. All post-production for the film, which premiered in November 2017, was handled by the facility.

Click here to go to Pro AVL Asia May-June 2018 issue to continue reading the full story. The article can be found on page 110 to 113.

From left: Jacky Huang, Barry See, Aero Chen Kai, Doreen Neo, Mo Ju Li and Tan Chee Beng at the signing ceremony of China 3D animation project "Lanling Wang, The God of War".

About Pro AVL Asia

Pro AVL Asia is the leading online resource for the continent’s professional audio, video and lighting industries. ProAVL-Asia.com is the online home of Pro AVL Asia magazine, the industry’s definitive B2B magazine in the region. Formerly known as Pro Audio Asia, the magazine delivers a unique blend of news from the region, in-depth reports on the latest and most exciting events and projects, expert business analysis and more.

For enquiry on Audio Post, please click here.