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Inside the sound of Oscar-winning Parasite with Live Tone Studios

"I mix all of my movie sound with an AMS Neve DFC 3D console," said Ralph Tae-Young Choi of Live Tone Studios

Ralph Tae-Young Choi, CEO, sound supervisor and re-recording mixer at Live Tone Studios

South Korean film facility Live Tone Studios is responsible for the sound of Parasite, the comedy satire directed by Bong Joon-ho that made history earlier this month by becoming the first foreign language film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The film also won in three other categories.

Audio post production was carried out at the studios using one of its two large format AMS Neve DFC 3D film consoles. A 48-channel Neve Genesys console was used to record and monitor Additional Dialogue Replacement (ADR).

Ralph Tae-Young Choi is CEO, sound supervisor and re-recording mixer at Live Tone Studios, a facility he helped establish in 1997, said: “The sound of Parasite was so detailed and emotional that it needed the console automation to operate very efficiently and simply. This is where the Neve DFC 3D really came into its own. I mix all of my movie sound with an AMS Neve DFC 3D console because it has a much more powerful audio engine and better audio quality than other consoles or DAWs. For a mixer to be intuitive and efficient, you need the console to be reliable and the AMS Neve DFC 3D excels at that.”

Ralph Tae-Young Choi spent 12 weeks on the Parasite project – eight on sound editing and sound recording, two doing a pre-dub mix for Dolby Atmos and two on the final mix with Bong Joon-ho.

His initial mix was carried out on the AMS Neve DFC 3D as it allowed him to send individual sound sources to the stem of his choice with the console’s stem routing automation. He also used three Pro Tools DAWs in conjunction with the console, but focused on the console’s automation, particularly for the final mix where he was interpreting what the director wanted.

“I like all of the functions on the AMS Neve DFC 3D, but I especially love its Filter, EQ, and Compressor,” he explained. “I also love its intuitive control interface and Encore automation features, which make automation easy and fast, plus the enhanced WavTrak display and added RMX and DeEsser features in the new version of the AMS Neve DFC 3D are very useful.”

Although director Bong Joon-ho kept ADR to a minimum, it was still necessary to re-record some of the dialogue for clarity, using Live Tone Studios’ ADR facility.

“The Neve Genesys console in that studio doesn’t have a moving fader option for automation but it does have a warm analogue sound and an intuitive control interface that can quickly and accurately process ADR recording,” Choi continued. “We use it in conjunction with a Neve 1073DPA stereo preamp and a Neve 33609 stereo compressor to record the actors’ voices.”

As well as a plethora of Oscars, Parasite was honoured by the Motion Picture Sound Editors who named it 2020 Golden Reel Winner for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature. 

“I didn’t attend the Oscars because I was working, but the success of the movie is wonderful and I am very happy and excited,” Choi concluded.