Co-Owner Chris Fogel Utilizes Brand’s Halo Upmix, Monofilter and Stereoizer Software for Several High-Profile Streaming Productions
GLENDALE, CA, JANUARY 28, 2021 – Like many people with a musical background, multi-award-winning Recording and Mixing Engineer Chris Fogel, CAS, made the jump from playing instruments to working behind-the-scenes. A trumpet player by training, Fogel has spent more than two decades recording and mixing music for high-profile musicians, films and television projects alike. Most recently, Fogel worked on the scores for The Mandalorian, Tenet and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; portions of season eight of Games of Thrones, as well as music by Alanis Morissette, Childish Gambino and many others, from ELBO Studios, of which he is co-owner. To ensure his sound meets the standards of such high-caliber productions, Fogel turns to NUGEN Audio’s Halo Upmix, Monofilter and Stereoizer plug-ins.
“I probably use Halo Upmix the most of all the NUGEN software that I own,” says Fogel. “I originally started using it on recommendation from a colleague in London, and I just truly love the plug-in. I like how much control it gives you for LFE, phantom center and width. It also creates a nice multi-channel stem without affecting the core integrity of the sound that I am trying to upmix, and that’s most important. There are other solutions out there that claim to do the same thing, but they can’t handle surround formats very well, and they really mess with the mid-range of the frequency spectrum or the imaging. Of all the similar plug-ins, NUGEN’s Halo Upmix is the best one.”
NUGEN also makes it possible for Fogel to deliver projects in a wide variety of formats, which has proven especially beneficial. “I am often provided with a lot of married audio in stereo that needs to be delivered in a multi-channel format for 5.1 or 7.1 surround formats, and that’s where Upmix is very helpful,” he says. “For example, with The Mandalorian, which just wrapped Season 2, I was provided with many stereo stems that I had to get up to 5.1 to meet streaming standards. Other times, I have to create a quad package, and for that I usually turn to Stereoizer and Monofilter to split the stereo and the surrounds out. This allows me to get control over my width, imaging and punch.”
For Fogel, NUGEN’s Halo Upmix, Monofilter and Stereoizer solutions are essential to his workflow. “There are a lot of plug-ins out there that are similar, but NUGEN’s always work right out of the box,” he continues. “From the start, I don’t have to make any changes – it always has what I’m looking for – but then I can still go in and tweak it to adjust to a workflow. The main thing for me is that I can just access whatever tools I need, quickly. That’s especially important when I’m working on television productions, which require fast turnaround. In fact, there were a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian where we would finish recording and I had to have the entire package mixed in less than 24 hours. Being able to just put these plug-ins on those cuts was huge for me – it was such a massive time saver.”
Like every mixer, when it comes to workflows, Fogel has his own personal process. “If I am mixing something for picture, the first thing that I do is watch the scene, episode or film to see what I’m mixing to,” he explains. “Then I have a discussion with the composer to find out what they’re trying to accomplish and how we can get it to all work and flow with the picture. Of course, there have also been times where we provide the music first, so it’s never the same – but I always do prefer to meet with the composer to get his or her auditory vision first. Once I sit down to start mixing, one of the first things I do is put the tracks through Halo Upmix to see what corrections can be made. Then, the process goes from there.”
According to Fogel, some of the scores that he works on – larger projects like Tenet, The Mandalorian and Black Panther – have upwards of one thousand tracks of audio. “The biggest challenge is figuring out how to make it all fit,” he adds. “For me, I gravitate toward the NUGEN plug-ins that deal more with imaging – like Stereoizer and Monofilter. Those plug-ins really help me with placement in very dense tracks because they make it possible to find or create more space.” The timing of the post work for the Tenet film also played an interesting part in his creative process. “We recorded the entire score at the height of the pandemic,” explains Fogel. “All of the musicians played and recorded from their own living rooms. While I don’t ever want to have to do that again, I think the end result was great.”
An industry veteran who has earned Emmy, GRAMMY and TEC Awards, Fogel’s other recent projects include Trolls World Tour, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spies in Disguise, Creed 2 and Venom. In addition to mixing film scores, ELBO Studios also provides traditional recording services for films and high-profile artists from around the world – such as Childish Gambino, Jumanji and Snoopy in Space. As such, the company relies on a wide array of industry equipment, from brands such as UAD, Sound Toys, ProTools, Manley and API, as well as more than 60 high-quality microphones. “We get to do so many different genres on any given week or day; it just keeps it interesting.”