Speaking with Sound Designer Scott Gershin

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Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:59 -- Nick Dager

Scott Gershin in his studio.Renowned sound designer and feature film supervising sound editor Scott Gershin has worked on more than100 films and received 26 industry nominations, including a BAFTA Award for his work on American Beauty, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, and Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. He brings theatrical sound quality standards to bear on a wide range of consumer experiences, from apps and software, to blockbuster gaming titles like Resident Evil, Gears of War, Fable, and most recently id Software’s Doom. Gershin recently joined Technicolor as its director of sound editorial, where he leads the company’s expansion into sound design for gaming and immersive experiences and also continues to design and supervise sound for films. Digital Cinema Report recently spoke with Gershin about his career, the transformative role of technology in his work, and the tools he can’t do without for current projects.

Digital Cinema Report: How has your use of technology evolved over your career?

Scott Gershin: Going back to the 1980s, I have always embraced technology as a tool to enhance my work as a sound designer. I was an early adopter of computers for film production, and even before that I used samplers and any other technology tools I could find. I love playing with the toys from the toymakers. Technology allows me to do things I wasn’t able to do before, and it also helps me do traditional tasks faster and easier so I can spend more time on the creative process.

Over the years I’ve seen commodity computers become more and more useful for doing work that used to require dedicated equipment, such as mixing consoles. All within a single workstation I can now design, mix, and take advantage of a big range of DSP processing tools such as EQs, compressors, reverbs, modulators, and saturators. For me, the ability to mix using a computer is huge. It’s a powerful approach not just for volume control but also for creating a full multichannel mix.

DCR: What software tools are particularly useful to you these days?

American BeautySG: Loudness metering is one area that has traditionally required dedicated hardware, but there are some great new software tools now that make the job of metering and managing loudness much easier. This is important because loudness has gotten more complicated over the past few years – and not just because of the regulations now in place for TV broadcasts. I do plenty of work in film, but I’m also involved in many other types of projects ranging from commercials and other TV content to gaming and even sound mixes for theme parks. Every project has a different requirement for loudness, and I’m being asked to measure loudness to both LKFS and LUFS target levels. In the end, I’m expected to deliver mixes that meet different loudness thresholds depending on where and how they’ll be played out, including different standards for different end-user devices.

DCR: What are your go-to tools for loudness metering and management?

SG: Nugen Audio’s Loudness Toolkit 2 has become indispensable in my work. The toolkit gives me a full arsenal of plug-ins to work with including the VisLM visual loudness meter, LM-Correct loudness measurement and correction tool, and ISL real-time true-peak limiter that creates a true-peak-compliant mix for any delivery platform. I use the full range of Nugen loudness tools, including the LKFS and LUFS metering of VisLM, in concert with my Avid Pro Tools | S6 control surface. It’s remarkable how well the Nugen Audio tools complement the Avid Pro Tools paradigm.

DCR: You’re also a user of Nugen Audio’s Halo Upmix. How are you using that?

SG: Nugen Audio’s Halo Upmix is proof that sometimes the most elegant tools are also the simplest. More and more, I’m asked to take stereo material and create an upmix in 5.1/7.1 surround sound. It’s a task that can be extremely time-consuming, but Halo Upmix makes it really fast and easy. And, most important, Halo Upmix generates a 5.1/7.1 surround output that sounds almost identical to the original stereo source.

We’re also excited that Nugen Audio has announced a brand-new 9.1 option for Halo Upmix. It’s great timing since we’re currently in the process of launching our new 9.1 studio. This option will be a great addition for automatically generating a 7.1.2 (Dolby Atmos) upmix, and the ability to incorporate a vertical dimension will be an important feature for our sound designers.

DCR: What’s on the horizon for you?

SG: We’ll continue to use the Nugen Audio tools on a wide range of projects – everything from promotional materials for supporting our clients to upcoming cinema work and some virtual reality projects. VisLM in particular will be valuable for loudness metering of the VR audio.

I’m somewhat new to Nugen Audio, but I’m extremely impressed with the tools I’ve used so far. The most important consideration for audio tools and plug-ins is that they will work transparently and do their job without adding coloration to the output. Nugen Audio tools make my life easier, but more importantly they deliver output that sounds as close as possible to the original source materials. Plus, the reliability and quality of the tools is fantastic. I’m excited to explore all of the potential opportunities that the Nugen products will give us, and I’m looking forward to testing the tools to their limits.