Music mixer Tommy Vicari in the Silver Truck holding Lexicon’s 960L Multi-Channel Digital Effects System LARC2 Remote Control.Los Angeles (March 20, 2008)–The 80th Annual Academy Awards had all the things you usually expect from the show–big stars, musical numbers and jokes about how long the ceremony was–but this year it also featured the signal processing of the Lexicon 960L multi-channel digital effects system, and the work of music mixer Tommy Vicari and Remote Recording’s broadcast audio Silver Truck.
Vicari and Remote Recording handled over 100 inputs from more than 70 instrumentalists and vocalists in the pit at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theater. Vicari created a 2.1 mix of the orchestra and choir, sent from the Silver Truck to the main broadcast truck. There, it was added to other audio elements and configured into a 5.1 surround mix for broadcast. In addition to these live music elements, Vicari also provided numerous pre-recorded play-ons, play-offs and commercial bumpers he had recorded at Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood.
Each of these many audio sources was enhanced with the Lexicon 960L. “I use the 960L on virtually everything,” stated Vicari, who has spent significant time editing and customizing the 960L’s many preset sounds. “I used the ‘Taj Mahal’ setting on the choir. I shortened it and made the space a bit smaller. I also set the Predelay based on the tempo of the song–that’s a technique that really lets you use as much reverb as you want, without creating tempo echoes that could muddy the image.” Vicari added that the 960L’s reverbs are especially spectacular on pad-type sounds, such as strings, woodwinds and synthesizers. “The 960L’s rooms give you a lot of possibilities to create distance and dimension on thick sounds like that,” he explained. Since the 960L is an eight-channel processor, Vicari was able to use four distinct and discreet stereo programs simultaneously for the show.
In addition, mixing for live broadcast has its own unique pitfalls–for instance, multiple compression stages, phasing and satellite transmissions can alter the sound significantly before reaching the viewer’s home TV sets, which made Vicari all the more happy to have the 960L at his disposal: “I’ve learned over the years that you need to add a bit more reverb to a broadcast mix in order to still be able to hear the reverb by the time it reaches the home television set,” he said. “The 960L gives you very accurate control over the sound, so I’m able to be especially precise in how I apply it for broadcast.”
Dave Hewitt, president of Remote Recording, which has done the show’s music mix for 15 years, is also a fan of the 960L, both for its sound and its reliability. “The 960L is an amazing machine. We’ve had the 960L on the Silver Truck for about a year, but we’ve always been a Lexicon facility,” citing the Lexicon 480L, 224XL and other Lexicon processors and reverbs that the Silver and White Trucks of Remote Recording have long made a standard part of their audio arsenal. “The signal path for the Academy Awards’ sound is extremely high end–Studer and Neve consoles and Millennia pre-amps–so only a Lexicon can keep the processing at that level.”