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Sony Cinema Products Corporation supplies the cinema exhibition industry with advanced technologies and products. Designed exclusively for the cinema, SDDS is regarded as the premium digital sound format by leading film directors and sound professionals.

- R E C E N T   N E W S   R E L E A S E -

"VERTICAL LIMIT" TO FEATURE HIGH-IMPACT
EIGHT CHANNEL SDDS SOUNDTRACK

"Supervising Sound Editor Dave McMoyler plus Re-Recording Mixers Scott Millan
and Bob Beemer finalize intricate soundtrack for this high-tension action movie.

Culver City, CA - Re-recording of an Eight Channel SDDS soundtrack for the new high-tension action movie Vertical Limit is being finalized at Sony Pictures Entertainment's William Holden Theater in West Los Angeles. The post-production team comprises supervising sound editor Dave McMoyler of Soundelux Hollywood, working with Sony's Scott Millan (dialog and music re-recording mixer), and Bob Beemer (sound effects re-recording mixer).

   The innovative Eight-Channel Sony Dynamic Digital Sound format provides the unique ability to convey up to eight channels of sound around the audience using the "five-up-front" loudspeaker configuration. The additional pair of left-center and right-center loudspeakers - located either side of center speaker - offer additional creative and technical advantages for today's directors and filmmakers.

   Directed by Martin Campbell, and released by Columbia Pictures, Vertical Limit is an emotionally-charged, high-action story in which a young climber, played by Chris O'Donnell, must launch a treacherous and extraordinary rescue effort up K-2, the world's second highest peak, to save his sister [Robin Tunney] and her summit team. Scott Glen and Bill Paxton also star in the film, which is scheduled for North American release on December 8.

"The film delivers high-voltage action and exhilarating suspense," Campbell says, "in a film that pits man against his own limitations and the awesome power of nature's uncontrollable elements."

   "It has been quite a ride," said supervising sound editor Dave McMoyler of the intimate process of crafting an eight-channel soundtrack for Vertical Limit. "Our biggest challenge was to make sure that the film has the appropriate 'weight' or impact, but with nuances - [director] Martin [Campbell] did not just want an indiscriminate 'wall of noise'."

"Vertical Limit" production crewMcMoyler (pictured left, extreme right, with Scott Millan, director Martin Campbell, Bob Beemer and picture editor Thom Noble) worked previously on Soldier, Mask of Zorro and The Crow; upcoming projects include Final Destination for New Line Pictures and The One for Revolution Pictures. Mask of Zorro, also directed by Martin Campbell, was McMoyler's first 8 Channel SDDS project.

   Vertical Limit involves a race against time, because the rescue attempt has only a limited period in which it can spend at high altitude.
   "We have some large-scale blizzard scenes," McMoyler continued, "requiring winds to play at maximum level. But I still wanted to retain lots of distinct sonic details, including pelting snow and hail. We spent a lot of time with [Foley Artist] Gary Hecker recording the sound of ice and snow on parkas. As well as a wide variety of footsteps, crampons, climbing gear and axes, plus all types of snow sounds for the ice cave sequences. Many of these Foley sessions were recorded in stereo, so we had a wealth of realistic and crisp-sounding elements to weave into the soundtrack, including subtle ice creaks and the sound of shifting ice sheets."

   McMoyler recalls that they used around 400 pounds of crushed ice each day during the 18 days of Foley sessions, in addition to some 2,700 pounds of block ice. Assisting Hecker was Foley artist Matt Dettman.


A Broader Canvas for Dialog, Special Effects and Music

"Use of 8 Channel SDDS provides me a number of creative advantages," McMoyler offered. "The additional channels up front [left- and right-center, or #2 and #4] gives me a lot of extra latitude, plus enhances separation between sounds.

   "My goal was to have the audience feel as if they were truly experiencing these major snow storms - not just the force and volume of the winds, but the nuances and flourishes that make the experience visceral and unique. For that, we needed a broader canvas for the soundtrack. For the explosions, we wanted to provide different sound 'shades' in the inner pair and the outer pair of speakers. We created design elements for the explosions that played back from the main left and right speakers [#1 and #5] as well as #2 and #4. Also, having five rather than three speakers up front gave us the ability to deliver a lot more sound pressure level without distortion."

   The use of 8 Channel SDDS also allowed McMoyler to develop individual character for two types of avalanches featured in the film.

   "The first big avalanche in the film grows in the distance, and the actors react to its approach over several shots; we were able to develop a 'sound signature' for this event using snow and ice elements, plus explosions and ocean waves, " McMoyler said. "For the second avalanche, which comes in more like a sneak attack, we introduced the event simply with a building low-frequency rumble, then started layering the higher frequency sounds of surface snow turbulence on top. We then hit the on-camera pay-off shot with, among other things, some stampeding horse hooves. It would have been much more difficult to achieve the sonic differentiation between such complex sound design components without the eight-channel playback capabilities of SDDS."

   Re-recording mixers Scott Millan and Bob Beemer joined Sony from Todd-AO West earlier this year, and have worked together since 2004 on such films as films as Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, American Beauty with Sam Mendes, and There's Something About Mary with Bobby Farrelly. Millan was awarded a Best Sound Oscar in 1996 for his work on Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard; Beemer was also honored with a Best Sound Oscar for his work on Jan DeBont's Speed.

   "This was my first 8 Channel SDDS mix," recalled Scott Millan. "Bob worked on the first SDDS dub for Columbia's Last Action Hero in 1993. The eight-channel format provides us with the ability to prepare a clearer, more dense mix, with better dynamics - subtle details do not get lost in the density of sound. Dynamic range is also very important; I like to have plenty of places to go to, rather than be limited by only three channels up front."

   A number of eight-track dialog, ADR and group premixes were made on Sony's Stage #6; finals were in the William Holden Theater.

   According to Bob Beemer, "Because Martin wanted clear sound distinctions between environments and events, I used channels #2 and #4 in several particular circumstances: avalanches, explosions, ice breaks, cave-ins, helicopters and cave interiors. The intent was a heightened sonic experience during these events. The broader sound canvas allowed us greater freedom to have a more developed sound even when dialog and music are present. The six-track format is less empowering because [it offers] two less speakers."

   "In terms of creative options and flexibility," Scott Millan confided, "discrete eight-channel SDDS is the ideal mastering format for motion pictures."

Other films scheduled to be released in 8 Channel SDDS:

  • Charlie's Angels, directed by McG, and starring Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz; November 3 release.

  • The 6th Day, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Duvall; November 17 release.

  • All the Pretty Horses, directed by Billy Bob Thornton, and starring Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, an d Lucas Black; December 25 release.

  • Hannibal, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore; February 2001 scheduled release.

  • Rollerball, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Chris Klein, LL Cool, Jean Reno and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos; May 2001 scheduled release.

  • Knight's Tale, directed by Brian Helgeland, and starring Heath Ledger, Mark Addy and Rufus Sewell; June 2001 scheduled release.

Recent SDDS 8 Channel releases include Hollow Man, directed by Paul Verhoeven, The Patriot, directed by Roland Emmerich, The Perfect Storm, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, U-571, directed by Jonathan Mostow; and Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh.

   SDDS has been adopted by virtually all major film distributors, including Buena Vista Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Destination Films, Dimension Films, DreamWorks SKG, Miramax Films, MGM, New Line Cinema, Paramount, Polygram, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.

   Sony Cinema Products Corporation supplies the cinema exhibition industry with advanced technologies and products. The company's launch product, SDDS, was introduced in August, 1994. Due to its high-quality performance, SDDS has become widely popular with approximately 8,000 systems installed in movie theatres throughout the world. Designed exclusively for the cinema, SDDS is regarded as the premium digital sound format by leading film directors and sound professionals.


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