Multiple Oscar- and Bafta-winning re-recording mixer Steve Maslow has upgraded to the new Penteo 4 Pro plug-in that discretely converts stereo to 5.1, offering exacting control over sound image placement to create high-quality, natural-sounding surround. "If I get two-track source music, I use Penteo," Maslow comments. "It's impressive to take a two-channel mix and make it come out of five speakers. I just finished a film called Tammy. Every cue in that movie, from source needle drops to music score was all two-track. The opening cue was a stereo record by the Allman Brothers that was released in 1986, and it worked great. I used Penteo from reel one to reel six and everything worked flawlessly."
When asked how he previously accomplished upmixing from stereo to surround, Maslow explained, "I would take the left and right track of a two-track and run them through a couple of panners, fold it in a little bit so the left and right contributed to the centre just a little bit. Then I would take a boom box, take a feed from the left and the right and return it to a fader to get the bottom end for the boom. That would give me left, center, right, boom. For left surround, right surround I would try to get a very short reverb to feed to the surrounds. That was the problem – it would always put some sort of echo into the track.
"I used Penteo on last year's RED 2 with Bruce Willis and Hellen Mirren," Maslow recalls. "There was a lot of two-track source music and even some of the score was two-track. For me, Penteo is a very useful tool. I wouldn't do another film without it if two-track music comes in. It really makes you look good when you can take a two-track mix and create a five-channel mix."
Maslow elaborates on the use of Penteo 4 Pro, "For the film I'm working on now, the music was two-track strings, two-tracks brass, two-track percussion, so then I have to think about how I'm going to work with that. I can't just put them all left-right. Sometimes I used to take the percussion and put it in the centre, but with Penteo, I just feed all the two-channel mixes in and it comes out as a 5.1 score. That's what I want and it really sounds good.
"I find that a lot of two-track mixes are very narrow and by using Penteo it gives me the hard centre that I like," says Maslow. "When you're playing with a two-track you just get left and right and a phantom centre, not a hard centre. Penteo gives me a hard centre with that bottom end that I like, and it just fills the room up better than a two-track does. Any two-track that comes to me now is going through Penteo."
It is customary for a re-recording mixer to deliver a preliminary mix and then get feedback on revisions. "I usually am asked to make changes, but on the last show I just finished, I didn't get one note from the music department. Not one comment when we screened the film and they listened to it. Usually I would get some notes, but I got nothing, no critical notes at all. They loved everything, so it does make me look a little better because of the way the music comes out."
Read the entire interview with Steve Maslow and other industry leaders in the Perfect Surround Master Class series.