Going behind-the-scenes on the run-up to America’s recent SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, Discovery Network’s Journey to the Future saw re-recording mixer Michael Phillips Keeley contributing to the audio used throughout the live broadcasts.

Included among the Nugen plug-ins that Keeley used on the project are Halo Downmix and Halo Upmix: ‘Even though the documentary aired in stereo, I mixed the entire project immersively in Atmos, so Halo Upmix and Downmix were both essential,’ he explains. ‘I used Halo Upmix to turn the stereo tracks into Atmos-calibre audio and later used Downmix for the final deliverables. I feel that I get better mixes with that workflow.’

Re-recording mixer Michael Phillips Keeley Keeley also relies on Nugen’s LM-Correct plug-in in his workflow. ‘It has saved me on a couple projects,’ he confesses. ‘The analyse function enables me to see if something is out of spec and to quickly process the fix. Having this function in a digital interface has been a huge help.

‘When loudness control was first being implemented, we used hardware and physically watched the levels go up or down. With the LM-Correct Analyze feature, it’s so much easier to see even the smallest areas that need finessing. I never worry about the project getting kicked back from a station’s quality control due to levels being out of spec.’

In addition to the documentary aspect of the Storied Media production, Keeley designed the sound and mixed the behind-the-scenes packages: ‘We were given all the production elements one week before the initial launch date,’ he says. ‘Having worked on live, episodic and reality TV projects for 20 years, I’m used to being one of the last in the signal chain and working within very tight turnaround schedules. As with every television production, Nugen’s plug-ins afford me the ability to produce high-quality projects in short time spans, which has proven invaluable.’

Discovery Network’s Journey to the Future

Working from his Sound Striker Post home facility following California’s Safer at Home order, Keeley was able to collaborate remotely with his editors and sound design team, as well as the client. ‘With Journey, I did a live mix review through Source Connect Live, which allowed me to send the audio directly to the client’s TVs without any degradation,’ he says. ‘They could hear ahead of time exactly what it was going to sound like when it aired.’

With Florida’s unpredictable weather causing a last-minute postponement of the Falcon 9 launch, Journey to the Future aired more frequently than originally planned. ‘The delay turned out to be a great promotion for the event,’ Keeley says. ‘With the new date set for a Saturday, and everyone home under social distancing orders, the launch ended up being Discovery’s highest rated daytime broadcast, ever.’

In addition to the Journey to the Future project, Keeley has also been working with Media City Sound on a new immersive show for Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium called Signs of Life. Set for 2021 release, the project has already won the FullDome Award for Best Feature Film.

‘We did all the pre-mixing here in my Dolby Atmos room, which is set up in 9.1.4,’ Keeley says. ‘The Samuel Oschin Planetarium has a 28.1 speaker set up, so we used Nugen Halo to upmix the stereo music, ambiences and sound effects. Halo was a huge help in immersifying these stereo elements.

‘The Discovery project was an awesome experience,’ he adds. ‘There’s a great feeling of magic that comes from combining picture with sound into a final production, especially now with immersive audio. When I was working on the shuttle sequences in the documentary, it brought back memories of watching shuttle launches during my childhood. I loved being able to share that with the world.’

More: www.nugenaudio.com

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