Geek-Out with Nathaniel - Episode 4 - Mastered for iTunes

Mastered for iTunes (MFiT) is less complex than it seems. Click here for Apple's documents and droplets for diving deep. I recommend reading them all. But here's the short version:


Apple figured out a way to make AAC encoding sound better in some ways than CD. To do it, Apple has to feed the encoder mixes that are at least 44.1Khz/24-bit. 96Khz is preferred, but 44.1 is tolerated. Must be at least 24-bits. When you're close to done mastering, you run your mix through afclip in the Terminal app, which will tell you if your mix will clip on AAC decode (the decode happens when users are listening to iTunes or their iPhones).


After some experimentation, I found that I needed to leave at least -0.7dbfs headroom on my mixes, and sometimes even more (I did -1.5dbfs recently which is a lot). This is contrary to the old CD-mixing advice which was to push the mix way up to the ceiling, like -0.3dbfs. Those mixes will fail MFiT.


You can also "round-trip" your mix by using the AAC>WAV droplet and sending the file back into Pro Tools. This will let you A/B the process. There you can cancel the two mixes and then really hear what AAC is (AAC always sounds like a swishy fish tank to me when I do this, but a good swishy fish tank).


Check out the docs and let me know if you have any questions. 

Geek Out with Nathaniel - Episode 3 - Calibrated Listening Levels


Adrian and I are marking down the listening level for mix sessions. This can be really helpful to you and to clients when you're working on the same project over multiple sessions. Everyone gets accustomed to what "loud" sounds like in the room, and as you get used to it, you can take your eyes off the meters and your ears will tell you if you're in spec.

To do it, download the calibration files from the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee). Put "MidRngPinkNoise_-20dB.wav" on a new track in your session, and set the fader for unity gain (make sure the master fader is also at unity gain). Then pan it hard to one speaker and play it in loop mode. Get an SPL meter, set it to C weighting, slow mode, and hold it at the listening position, but pointed to the loudspeaker. Turn the gain knob on your monitor up and down. You might find that working on a mix for the web, or on a music mix that you're in the 65db range. I discovered that our television clients like to mix at 73db, some of our film clients like it at 77db. Crazy-dynamic film mixes in bigger rooms than ours can be set to 85db.

Keep in mind that calibrated levels are not terribly important for tracking. But they're great for mixing. And if you're disciplined, you can set the level at the start of a project and never change it. This will result in more consistent mixes without any guesswork.

ADR for "Bun in the Oven" with Lauren Miller Rogen

This month, Dubway engineer Sam Palumbo got to work with Lauren Miller Rogen, recording ADR for "Bun in the Oven". 

"Bun in the Oven" is Twisted Short's third film in The Fluid Trilogy, a series of twisted, subversive & delightfully disgusting short comedies.


The first film in the series, ”Bloody Mary”, has been accepted into more than 20 festivals all over  the world, winning “Best NYC Film” at the NYC Downtown International Short Film Festival; “Best Screenplay” (shorts category) at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in Long Island, NY; “Single Funniest Moment” at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival; and runner-up for “Best Comedy” at the Rugged Phoenix Underground Film Festival. Twisted Short’s follow-up film ”Sucklepump” is just starting the festival rounds and has been accepted into 6 festivals. Cast members have included Lauren Miller Rogen (For a Good Time Call), Trace Lysette (Transparent and Blunt Talk), Joel Marsh Garland (Orange Is The New Black), and Pat Squire (Orange is the New Black).

Geek Out With Nathaniel - Episode 2 - Plug In Automation


I've often wished that every time an engineer created a new Pro Tools session that a big window popped-up and asked "Plug-In Controls Default to Auto-Enabled?" This preference box is unchecked by default, but is absolutely essential for modern mixing workflows.

Let's imagine Al is mixing dialog, with maybe an EQ, de-esser and compressor in the chain, and then he gives me the session. I keep mixing, but then I notice that the de-esser threshold is too high for one line, but everything before it sounds fine. If I pull the threshold down, it will affect everything before it, so it must be automated. But just looking at the plug-in, I have no way of knowing whether or not the threshold parameter has been auto-enabled!

To keep from going insane, I auto-enable absolutely everything in a session, but start a mix in auto-suspend mode. In auto-suspend, you can tweak, fiddle and play for hours, and then when it starts to sound good, use write-to-all-enabled for all tracks and turn off auto-suspend. This will lock your mix in, and give you the freedom to make moment-to-moment tweaks.

Geek Out With Nathaniel - Episode 1 - Dante


I've been reading about AVB, Dante, AES67 for a while, but didn't really understand what was going on until now. Here's what I discovered over the last few days:

AES67 is a standard for pushing hundreds of channels of totally pro audio over Ethernet. Dante is a commercial implementation, and AVB is a related implementation (which MOTU and Avid are deep into). I downloaded the Dante Via demo software, which lets you send audio between applications on a Mac. It's very cool. Pro Tools can use Dante as a playback engine.

You can also test Dante Virtual Soundcard. This lets you plug your Mac's ethernet cable directly into all of these zillion devices without using USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt or PCI cards! There's no doubt in my mind that all the young engineers will need to understand it in the years to come.

VO for "Ranger Rob"

From Toronto, Treehouse TV's producers remotely directed Emmy award nominated voice actor, Dwayne Hill, for the upcoming season of their show Ranger Rob

Ranger Rob is Treehouse's enthusiastic, adventurous hero, and he's all about getting outside to play and explore! Ranger Rob zip-lines, vine-swings and even snowboards his way around, discovering new and exciting places in his own big backyard – Big Sky Park, the coolest outdoor adventure park ever!


VO for "Butterbeans Café" with Alysia Reiner


Alysia Reiner is in regularly to record VO for the Nick Jr. series, "Butterbean's Cafe". An American actress and producer, Reiner has appeared in several Off-Broadway plays and won a Obie Award for her performance in "An Oak Tree."

The show was created by Robert Scull and Jonny Belt and is produced by Allie Strawbridge. The same team created the widely popular children's program, Bubble Guppies, also here at Dubway.

Tracking for BanterGirl Live Podcast


Sam Palumbo has pleasure of working with Trish Nelson for the new BanterGirl Live Podcast. BanterGirl Live features intelligent, multi-cultural women, comedians and icons who have been inspirations for women in the entertainment industry and beyond. 

Trish and her company BanterGirl are the recipient of the “2016 Public Theater “Pub Club Award,” a program that focuses on helping emerging and established artists develop a particular project. Through her company, Trish is committed to creating work that focuses on women, while helping to lift and launch diverse female talent and shine a light on the female voice. 

You can find Trish Nelson and BanterGirl on Twitter, Facebook, and the BanterGirl website

Production Audio for Cakes Da Killa Documentary


Rashid Ramkissoon was on set this past week recording location audio for the new documentary on Cakes Da Killa. The documentary features interviews and performances by Cakes where he explains what it is like to be a black homosexual rapper in our culture. The Documentary is sponsored by ATTN and the interview and performance were tracked at Aviv Club in Brooklyn, NY.

Recording artist and raunchy rapper Cakes Da Killa is a 24-year-old with three critically-acclaimed mixtapes to his name. His unique sound is a mix of various musical influences, cinema and underground experiences. 

Voice Recording for Erik Storey's "Nothing Short of Dying"


This week actor Jeremy Bobb was in to record VO for the new audiobook Nothing Short of Dying. The novel features a protagonist with lethal skills, whose mission to rescue his abducted sister pits him against a ruthless meth kingpin and his army of killer. Nothing Short of Dying, published by Simon and Schuster has been hailed one of the best new fiction thrillers of 2016. 

The book was written by Erik Storey, a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, and hunter turned author. He and his family live in Grand Junction, Colorado.



Recording for the Actual Innocence Podcast

Sam Palumbo & Jason Flom 

Sam Palumbo & Jason Flom 

This week Jason Flom, CEO of Lava Records, was in speaking for the Actual Innocence Podcast. The podcast tells the stories of people who served time for crimes they did not commit and is Sponsored by the Innocence Project

The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing, and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

Voice Over for Stephen King's "Cell"

Director, Tod "Kip" Williams came in to record voice over commentary for the film adaptation of Stephen King's, Cell

John Cusack stars in Cell as Clay Riddell, a man who is fighting against a mysterious mobile phone broadcast that transforms cell users into zombie killers. Riddell struggles to try and stop whoever is behind the attack, and reunite with his son with the help of Tom McCourt (Samuel L. Jackson) and Alice Maxwell (Isabelle Fuhrman). 

Music Tracking for Disney Junior's Vampirina


Michael Kooman and Christopher Diamond have been tracking music for the new Disney Junior show Vampirina. Kooman & Diamond are the music composers of the new series. 

Vampirina is inspired by Disney Publishing’s popular children’s book series “Vampirina Ballerina,” and tells the story of a young vampire girl who becomesthe new kid in town when her family moves from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.

New York City Independent Film Festival


Dubway had the pleasure of sponsoring the 2016 New York City Independent Film Festival. The team was invited to enjoy the wide array of films as well as meet with the individuals involved in their production. The festival took place from April 26th to May 1st at The Producers Club in Midtown.


Dubway's binaural recording specialist, Stephen Kurpis attended the Virtual Reality seminar. In it, Mark Sternberg, of RevrieVR, explored the various considerations that film-makers must take into account when shooting content for virtual reality experiences. Included amongst these considerations was the various forms of spatial audio recording methods that are available, with an analysis of the benefits that each will have for different aspects of the VR media creation process. 

Dubway's Lo Boutillette attended the Music Licensing panel, hosted by John Joseph Andrucci and featuring Neil Levine, of Penalty Entertainment, Joel Feinberg, of de Wolfe Music USA, Diana Aiken of SESAC, and Chris Lakey of Kobalt Music. The panel focused on licensing music for film as well as the steps a film maker must take to acquire music for it's production. 

You can find the list of the New York City Independent Film Festival Award winners and nominees on their website



Location Audio for Human Resources Season 3


Seth Granger has been on set as A1 sound recordist with the cast of Human Resources during the production of their third season. 

Human Resources is an unconventional, comedic, behind-the-scenes look at TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company whose mission is to eliminate the idea of waste. The show chronicles the company's corporate and social missions, while documenting the unique and awkward social dynamics amongst its young staff. Human Resources blends environmental innovation with laugh-out-loud comedy into reality TV. 

Music Tracking for Peg+Cat


The creators of the PBS Kids show, Peg + Cat, had an excellent time recording in our Mezzanine Studio this month. Engineer Stephen Kurpis had the opportunity to work with the music director for the show J. Walter Hawkes, and record a beautiful string quartet.

Peg + Cat is a popular children’s television show based on the book “The Chicken Problem”. The show emphasizes math skills for 3 to 5 year olds and seeks to inspire a child’s natural curiosity.