Whether you’re sitting back in an enormous theater or cozying up on the couch, the power of an immersive surround sound experience enhances the action on the screen, drawing the audience into the story—bringing the movie to life.
But before it reaches the audience, audio engineers must spend countless hours mixing various recorded elements together, making sure everything is in the right place at the right volume to match the director’s original intent. Otherwise, sound effects like a car’s brakes screeching across the screen from left to right may not be translated correctly, and the sound coming from your speakers could just be a jumble of unintelligible noise.
For a film’s theatrical release, the sound must be mixed specifically for a movie theater environment. Therefore, it is important that the mixing room sets the standard for that environment with the most accurate combination of room acoustics and approved, quality equipment. Creating content in a reference room enables the mixer to precisely recreate an experience as the director intended. It is critical the mixer clearly hears every sonic nuance as they’re preparing a film for general audiences. For example, how loud the dialogue is during a heist, where certain sound effects are in the surround speakers, how loud the music is during a chase scene, and dozens of other elements all get adjusted during a mixing process that can take hundreds of hours.
Enter THX. THX Certified Studios (and smaller mixing rooms) perform to a variety of specifications that THX designed in order to offer the world’s premier standard for quality and ensure sound (and video) is delivered as the artist intended. This includes uniform sound coverage, maximum dynamic range potential, precise loudspeaker placement, minimal background noise, and dozens of other audio and video factors. The result is a technically flawless production environment for capturing multichannel soundtracks and high definition visuals.
Some of the most respected mixing theaters in the world, such as Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound and Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post, are THX Certified. From Disney and Fox to Technicolor and Todd AO, more than 75 international studios have over 200 THX Certified mix and screening rooms.
The real proof, though, is in the results. Two of this year’s Academy Award for Best Sound nominees, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse, were mixed at THX Certified studios within Skywalker Sound. Last year’s winner, Inception, was also mixed at this location. To date, over 18 films mixed in THX Certified rooms have won Academy Awards, with many more nominated.
Best of luck goes out to all of this year’s Academy Award nominees. We’d love to hear who YOU are voting for in categories including Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects and Film Editing: http://oscar.go.com/nominees.
For more info about the THX Certified Studio program, click here.