INK Production, a movie and post-production mixing stage created in Paris last year, can now claim to be the city’s first Dolby Atmos-equipped facility. A Meyer Sound EXP system was specified for the 600 cubic metre stage, built within the ex-Dovidis studios, by INK manager Alexandre Widmer (pictured).
A former sound editor who became a mixing engineer some years ago, Widmer was a César winner (the French ‘Oscars’) running his own facility in Paris, but with an urge to expand. A meeting with Jean-Claude Walter, director of pro-audio school IIIS, who had just purchased the Dovidis studio and equipment, led them to formulate INK.
“I moved in with my own set-up, an Avid D-Command mixing surface with Pro Tools HDX and several high-end analogue processors, and I began working there at once, in a studio on the third floor.
“At the same time, we decided to rebuild completely the biggest mixing stage, which was outdated, making it as technically high-end and distinctive as possible. We hired Christian Malcurt, the famous French acoustician, and I specified a Meyer Sound EXP system: three Acheron 80 speakers and four X-800C subs, plus six HMS-10 surround speakers, and Galileo processors. That’s not the standard in France, but I loved it after listening to them in other studios. If Lucasfilm or De Lane Lea [in London] use it, there must be a reason!”
“I specified an 48-fader Euphonix System 5 digital mixing console – not the standard either among French mixers, who usually still prefer [Neve] DFCs,” continues Widmer. “EuCon protocol’s integration in Pro Tools and other Avid editing software made sense, as I wanted to network sound and picture in the whole place. And I wanted to go Atmos as soon as possible...”
It was only in April when the 20 supplementary HMS-10 Meyer speakers and two X-400C (rear) subs needed were installed. There are now five surround speakers each side of the room (instead of three previously); two lines of five ‘Height’ speakers, above the mixer, with 30° elevation; and five at the rear of the mixing stage, completed with two subs.
All these speakers are managed by the Dolby Atmos Rendering and Mastering Unit (RMU) – a dedicated Atmos plug-in in Pro Tools handles the placement of the sources and the 7.1 or 9.1 mix.
Colombes-based distributor/reseller 44.1, run by Paul-Henri Wagner, was system integrator for the project, rewiring the mixing stage, and supplying both the Meyer kit and the Avid console.
“To attract famous mixers, you have to offer the highest quality level,“ continues Widmer. “You have to go up, not down. High-end gear creates a buzz, people are curious, they come here with their sounds and images, they discover the Meyer system, then they talk with friends, who come too, and want to work here…”
INK Production has quickly found its place among Paris post-production facilities, and was used to work on the first French Atmos mix for film: En solitaire, by Christophe Offenstein, a fiction entirely shot at sea during the Vendée Globe Challenge.