Throughout Sreejesh Nair's 15-year career as a re-recording mixer, he has elevated the sound of over 250 projects ranging from Bollywood, version mixes for Hollywood and several films including Bombay Velvet, Udta Punjab, NNOI and Gangs of Wasseypur, where he won the National Film Award. Sree believes it's vital to observe the emotion of each film to produce a balanced and expressive final mix. To achieve this, he turns to NUGEN Audio's Halo Upmix and SEQ-S to capture the organic sound of the music and create movement in the film.
NUGEN Audio's Halo Upmix plugin has been a "must-have" for Sree ever since he demo'ed the beta version. Before this, he was never a fan of upmixing. Once he heard what the Halo Upmix could do and saw its specialized features, it gave him a new sound scape and purpose.
"The movement, placement and more importantly the fact that it didn't smear the intent of the original sound was what attracted me the most," says Sree. "Once I understood its capabilities, I decided it was a much more powerful tool than what it was conventionally used for. I pursued the design elements of the Halo Upmix and found that some of the things it does, would be impossible to pull off with any other plugin."
Sree works exclusively with Pro Tools to achieve 7.1.2 audio and adding the Halo Upmix to his process has expanded his sonic palette in unexpected ways. Rather than simply upmixing synth pads, strings, ambient room tones or traffic beds, the Halo Upmix allows Sree to duplicate the track and add a harmonic enhancer like Phoenix or Avid Reel Tape Saturation, and then blend both the new and original tracks. The result is a uniquely placed sound that is simultaneously part of the original sound while also placed in a 7.1.2 environment to create a unique, high-quality final mix. In situations with dialogue or other sound that feels a bit too static, Halo Upmix allows Sree to create organic movement in the piece.
"For every film I work on, I try to be very careful to make sure the mix sounds believable when it needs to, and most importantly, invisible," says Sree. "It is very important that my mixes sound organic and not clinical. I absolutely hate having straight line automations or static scenes. There will always be some element moving in my mix. I think that having something move subtly yet in a slightly random way gives a lot of expression, which is why I sometimes ride the wet/dry mix of a reverb across the score to diffuse the score with the dialogue. It makes the intent present without losing the movement. I've combined this idea with the Halo Upmix's diffuse feature to produce the same effect in a much more natural way."
While working on Udta Punjab, Sree and the rest of the film's audio team wanted to closely match the score with the sound design. Sree duplicated the score's harmonically processed cellos, pianos and strings. Then, he adjusted both tracks with Halo Upmix. As the scene progressed, the team could enhance the entire movement of the piece by manipulating the balance of these three elements.
"Since the original tracks were in stereo, we always had one of these two tracks playing with it to give the sense of space, but the blend of this was what did the trick," explains Sree. "With some experimenting, I found that changing the drive or the harmonics in the parallel track slightly colored and repositioned the way the sound was upmixed. This gave even more scope to the way the mix sounded, which was something we all absolutely fell in love with. Another combination I do quite often is using NUGEN Audio's Stereoizer or the stereo placer followed by the Halo Upmix to give an added dimension and blend to the original sound. The ideas are limitless!"
Another one of Sree's go-to tools is NUGEN's SEQ-S, which he uses for harmonic mixing. Rather than having to dip the score in films where there is dialog happening in a loud setting, Sree can use SEQ-S to achieve depth control and carve out the dialog frequencies from the music. SEQ-S helps accomplish this in a more efficient manner, as the audience won't hear the ducking but can still hear the dialogue clearly.
"NUGEN Audio creates powerful tools that can be used in unique ways," says Sree. "I first started using SEQ-S for its EQ matching capabilities, but when I saw its depth features, it gave me more ideas of executing unconventional mixes that still sounded great. However, it was when I hit upon the Halo Upmix that my mixes began to align with the way I envisioned them sounding in a 7.1.2 format. The space and the way my mixes sound are very organic, and that's something I consider my top priority for any mix.
"The ability to control the diffuse, spatial spread and individual channel control all make NUGEN Audio solutions very useful. As a mixer, it gives me more control of what I want to do, in the short span of time I have to execute it. These tools really are an extension of my mix."
Information about Halo Upmix and SEQ-S, along with the complete NUGEN Audio product family, is available at www.nugenaudio.com. For all other inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.