handles sound and picture post for acclaimed 8-part documentary on the history
of recorded music.

NEW YORK—Recently posted at Technicolor PostWorks New York, the new 8-part
PBS documentary, Soundbreaking: Stories
from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music
provides a fascinating portrait of the
melding of art and technology in the development of popular music.
Produced by Show of Force and directed by Maro Chermayeff
and Jeff Dupre, the series reaches back to the 1920s, when music was first
committed to vinyl, but focuses in particular on the period from the 1960s to
the present and the revolution that was set in motion by the late Sir George
Martin and the Beatles through their innovative use of multi-tracking.
For Technicolor PostWorks’ post-production team (who worked
under the direction of series Post Producer Daniel Gilbert), finalizing sound
and picture required considerable time and ingenuity. The series draws on
incredibly rich and diverse source material, from newly-captured interviews
with more than 150 luminaries of the music world to thousands of bits of
archival media—behind-the-scenes clips; broadcast, documentary and concert
footage; music videos, and much more—as well as hundreds of classic music
recordings. All of that needed to be knitted into a story that looks and sounds
“It was a challenge, because we were working with elements
from all over the world,” recalls Colorist and Online Editor Mike Nuget. “We
had video from Europe that had to be converted to an American standard, and film-original
material from the 20s and 30s, through today, that needed clean-up. Formatting,
frame sizes and overall quality were things we had to deal with daily.  It was like taking a visual journey through
time, decade by decade, through the eyes of video and film equipment.”
Achieving consistency was further complicated by the series’
unusual narrative structure. Rather than relate the history of recording
chronologically, it breaks the story into themes, such as the advents of
multi-tracking and electric instruments, and shows how those developments
played out over time. The story moves backward and forward in time and between materials
captured in diverse circumstances with very different recording gear.
“We might cut from an interview with a member of Radiohead from
2015 talking about something that happened in the 1970s to a clip from that
era, and we wanted both parts to feel like they were in the same world, the Soundbreaking world” Nuget explains.
Nuget helped bring cohesiveness to the material by
developing generalized looks and applying them broadly. “There was a lot of
black & white footage, and I purposely gave it all a certain edgy look, and
we carried that throughout the whole series,” he says. “The interviews were
shot over the course of several years by many different people. That was by far
the most challenging thing thrown at me.”
Re-recording mixers Martin Czembor and Paul Furedi faced
similar challenges in bringing consistency to the soundtrack. “We might have a
Madonna track from the 80s,” notes Czembor. “If you listened to it when it was
originally recorded, you got a full experience, but, now, if we set it next to
a Kanye West track, it can sound lacking because sonically so much has changed.
Our role was to bring sounds from different eras together in a way that is
smooth and coherent in order to show how they connect.”
Not surprisingly, sound plays an integral role in telling the
story. In the soundtrack, elements are often woven together to illustrate the
creative process. “There is a section where George Martin’s son is talking
about how some of the Beatles’ songs were built, and he throws up a few faders
so that you can hear how the parts come together,” Czembor says. “We go from
the individual tracks and build into the whole song. It’s fascinating.
“We do a similar thing with Adele’s producer to show what
she does with a song. We blend material from the recording studio, cinema
verite scenes and the finished song. Those sequences are powerful because they
get more across than you could possibly do with words and music alone.”
Even as the soundtrack was being finalized, new materials kept
arriving. Czembor explains that the producers were determined to find the best
recording for each music track featured in the series. That often involved
searching the archives of record companies and producers, followed by sometimes
protracted efforts to secure rights. If a new gem became available at the last
minute, it was blended into the mix.
“The passion with which the Show of Force folks and Martin
himself strove to procure the highest quality sources of this amazing material
was impressive,” recalls Furedi.  “The quest for quality and the push for
greatness were major themes that carried through all eight episodes of Soundbreaking and echoed throughout the
audio post-production process.”
One of Czembor’s favorite sequences in the series involved Frank
Sinatra and his groundbreaking microphone technique. “It weaves between
interviews describing the uniqueness of his approach with Sinatra singing a
love song,” Czembor recalls. “It was wonderful. It was challenging to mix but
also fascinating and it was fun to try to get all that across.”
 About Technicolor PostWorks New York
PostWorks New York is the East Coast’s most comprehensive digital motion
picture and post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of creative
artists, engineers and project managers to serve our clients through the film
and TV finishing process.
PostWorks New York offers one complete source for every post requirement,
including in-context digital dailies, film imaging and restoration, collaborative
non-linear editorial and HD/UHD broadcast finishing, 4K digital cinema, global
content lifecycle support, and comprehensive film and TV sound services on nine
mix stages.
more information, visit http://www.technicolorpwny.com
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