NUGEN Audio’s Halo Upmix and VisLM Plug-ins Prove Essential to the Horror Film’s Sound
LONDON ― After “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” went viral before the horror film was even released, the team behind the slasher film knew the final production would need to live up to the hype. To create a story that was both visually and auditorily exciting, Writer, Director and Producer Rhys Frake-Waterfield brought on Supervising Sound Designer Ryan Hatton to re-mix the original audio for both the theatrical and DVD release.
Diving into the project, Hatton enlisted the help of Nicola Itro, who served as assistant sound designer. The pair initially trialed a variety of upmixers and LUFS meters, which they soon realized weren’t providing the results they hoped to achieve. “I was having a lot of trouble getting accurate readings, so I took my mix over to [Audio Engineer] Justin Fraser’s studio and we noticed the loudness reading in his studio was slightly different than in mine,” explains Hatton. “We ultimately determined that the plug-ins I was using weren’t as accurate as we needed them to be. The director really wanted us to push the dynamics as loud as they could go, so we had to be very careful.”
On Fraser’s recommendation, Hatton ultimately turned to the NUGEN Audio VisLM loudness metering plug-in to enhance his workflow throughout this process. “We had to set a limiter to minus two, but the loudness was the most crucial part, so we wanted to make sure that the readings were accurate. After I trialed NUGEN’s VisLM at Justin’s studio, that’s what I ultimately used to do the final mix and deliver the project.”
As the film was set for a theatrical release, in addition to mixing and editing audio for the film, Hatton was also tasked with turning the original stereo music mix into a 5.1 surround mix. Having previously been disappointed by other upmixers, Hatton also decided to try NUGEN’s Halo Upmix, which he says is a standard amongst his peers.
“Everyone I know in the industry uses Halo Upmix, and they’re very passionate about that,” he says. “Halo Upmix made the 5.1 mix sound extremely accurate with regards to comparison to the original stereo mix. It did just what it needed to do. It sounded much more natural and faithful to the original stereo file, which was very important because the composer, Andrew Scott Bell, initially had a professional mixer mix it― I needed to make sure the surround version sounded exactly the same as the original.”
Hatton also found the dB meter reading to be extremely convenient. “I tend to have my plug-in windows on a separate screen, so I don’t always have my meters up,” he explains. “One thing I noticed on Halo Upmix is that you can also have the meters in view, which doesn’t seem to be the case on most other upmixers that I’ve tried, and that’s a big bonus.”
As far as his other metering needs were concerned, Hatton says: “what I liked most about VisLM was that it allowed me to read both LUFS and decibels at the same time, which is something I wasn’t able to do with other plug-ins. VisLM has that side-by-side comparison, so I could not only ensure that my dB was intact, but that my LUFS was also fine. With other loudness readers, I usually can’t go back and pinpoint exactly where an error occurred, but VisLM provides the flexibility to see lots of information in a clear, non-confusing way.”
Although this was Hatton’s first time using NUGEN products, the brand has left a lasting impression on him. “NUGEN is one of those secret weapons that everyone seems to know about,” he says, “and everyone should use NUGEN, especially in high-quality studios. I’m working on another horror film with Jagged Edge called ‘Rise of the Loch Ness,’ which I think NUGEN’s Paragon might be perfect for, so I’m excited to get started with that.”
Produced by Jagged Edge Productions and ITN Studios, “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” is an independent horror film retelling of the classic “Winnie-the-Pooh” books. It follows Pooh and Piglet who have now become feral and bloodthirsty murderers who terrorize Christopher Robin and his friends when they visit the Hundred Acre Woods after college. After teasers were leaked online, the low-budget film garnered widespread attention ahead of its premiere, prompting producers to opt for a full theatrical release this past winter. The film has grossed over $4 million worldwide.
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