The world of creating and editing music for the film industry is a completely different beast from most other positions in the recording industry. Filled with days and nights in unique studio situations that offer varying sonic results, the most stable way to confirm an excellent end product is by having the gear you know and trust at your disposal. Yet, what happens when that equipment seemingly leads you astray? For Dan Pinder, he turned to Vintage King to help him find the answer.
As a music editor on major film projects like The Dark Knight, Turbo, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and countless others, Pinder has grown accustomed to a life of moving from studio to studio. However, as his monitoring situation began to cause stress in his workflow, the England native consulted with our own Bill Learned about using gear from Trinnov Audio to fix his issues. Discover how the duo tackled Dan's monitor issues and gave him confidence in the speakers that he already had been using in his mobile studio set-up.
You lead a mobile studio life, which I imagine can have its positives and negatives. How does frequent moving impact your work in the studio?
Moving around is a necessary fact of life for picture, music and sound editors, and I will go where I’m needed for editing jobs. But when we’re producing music, it’s amazing what you can do in a mobile context these days, just with a laptop and a UAD box. When I’m lucky enough to play on a score, I can cut my tracks just about anywhere. For me and those I work with most often, the studio is often wherever we are, using whatever we have on hand.
You were having some major issues though in terms of your monitor set-up. Can you talk a little about what the problem was?
I called Bill (Learned, Vintage King Sales Team Member) because I was feeling a real disappointment with how my speakers were performing. In certain rooms, they would sound amazing, but in the spaces I occupied most of the time, which were small, they had no impact, and I wasn’t able to judge mixes on them. Half my job is about sales, you’re selling ideas constantly and you need your speakers to have real presentation value. I thought I needed bigger speakers with larger drivers and bigger amps to overcome a "no-bass" problem, but it turned out my own pair were never at fault. Physics was to blame.
What were your first impressions of the Trinnov ST2 and 3D microphone?
Let me say that I was not looking forward to it, and was skeptical every time Bill brought it up, but he brought it over one morning and just said, "Try it." Once I got it set up, I knew it was special in the first minute. I spent an hour A/Bing with some of my favorite test songs, a busy action reel I was working on, and some of my own work. At the time, I was in a nearly square, all drywall office, with an oddly shaped corner on one end. It was an acoustical nightmare, and the Trinnov had the graphs to prove it. When you switched the Trinnov out, it was despair, but when you switched it in, it was like you were in a completely different space, hearing a different mix—the right mix.
Most impressive was the phase correction of the room and how it affected the image. The vocals, snares and dialogue snapped into the middle from this vague dimension they previously occupied. All the low-end I knew was there had returned, this time with a vengeance! The mid-range got smoothed out and became pleasant to listen to. Total balance. I was falling in love with sound all over again. And the takeaway was; the room really is 80% of the equation, and if I couldn't change it physically, I knew the ST2 could get me most of the way there — anywhere — very quickly.
The 3D microphone is amazing; it knows exactly how far your speakers are placed, down to the azimuth and individual height, and you can choose to let the system guide you to physically move them or let the software do it. There was no way, going forward, I would work in all these different spaces I do without this box.
What type of monitors and amplifiers do you use and in what (typical) configuration (i.e. 5.1, 7.1, 10.1)? Were any of those changed as a result of his using the Trinnov system?
I use a stereo pair of ATC SCM25a monitors typically, which are active, and recently added a subwoofer. I plan on adding a center channel later this year, which will make my setup a 3.1. For most editorial purposes, I don’t really need more than a stereo pair, but the center channel is how the director and editor usually have their rooms configured, so it helps in that regard. I may go back to a higher-channel setup in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying the smaller setup. I leave the serious surround setups to the dubbing guys.
Does you use it as a “set and forget it” type program or an “active” one that needs to remain on? If it does have to remain on, is there any noticeable color change to the sound and/or delay compensation necessary?
I’d say both those descriptors are correct. Once I’ve saved a preset, I forget all about it (the unit is on all day) until I need to switch to another preset, or bypass for whatever reason. The nice thing about presets is you can shoot the room from the client’s chair, sofa or wherever, so they get the best possible experience without sitting in the sweet spot, and since bass builds up in the back of rooms, this can be a great way of working. I use a sit/stand desk, so I will switch to a standing preset when it’s time to get off my ass. Like right now.
The delay is small (about half a frame) and I factor it into my Pro Tools video delay offset, so it’s not an issue. You want to bypass the Trinnov when doing any recording, as the latency is not ideal. I’ve had the unit in 3 different locations, with 3 different sets of speakers, and I don’t hear it working. What I do hear is that if the room sucks out 17dB of 60Hz, as mine does, the amount of gain needed to compensate can make my woofers chuff a bit, so adding the sub helped for this particular room. YMMV.
When you travel to work in different studios, how have the Trinnov ST2 and 3D microphone enhanced the work you do?
Mainly in the way that I can make mixes for the filmmakers and build edits for the dubbing stage with total confidence that they’re getting the right balance. It also means that I can check or adjust mixes in a tiny room and know what I’m hearing. My ears feel better at the end of the day and I enjoy working more. Music is more fun to listen to.
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