Casey Stone – scoring mixer remotely with Source-Connect Pro
October 11, 2021

Rebekah talks with Casey Stone about Source-Connect and remote mixing. They connected between Brighton, UK and Douarnenez, FR over Source-Connect.

Rebekah: What kind of work do you do when you’re doing remote scoring mixer sessions?

Casey: Mostly, I record and mix film scores—which is often orchestral music, at least in part. If I’m asked to do a session, most often it’s to record… go to Abbey Road or Air and record some kind of ensemble there. And that could be followed by mixing at the same studio—or I have a small facility here in Brighton that I can work from, actually. Although the facility is small, sometimes, the projects it gets used for are not small. I actually mixed the Ant Man and The Wasp score here. I also frequently mix projects that someone else has recorded or are delivered from the composer’s studio.

Rebekah: I love this new world; this is fantastic; that’s very 21st century.

Casey: Yes. It’s just a matter of knowing the limitations of your space and knowing how things are going to translate. You learn that through the experience of getting feedback from the dub stage, what they thought of your stuff and just sort of honing that over a number of years. It’s great for me, especially with established clients; for example, the composer could be based in Los Angeles and come over for at least some of the recording. Which actually ties into Source-Connect; some of the recording they didn’t come over for and they just monitored remotely using Source-Connect but in that case, it made more sense for me to do the mixing in England. And, after various discussions, my place became the place.

Rebekah: Did you do any remote streaming for that? Or were you just transferring files?

Casey: For the mixing, there were a couple of key cues that the composer wanted to really dial in, and be able to hear the changes as I do them. Because, of course, being used to working remotely, it’s normal that I do my pass on a mix, I send the file, the other person listens to it, gives me the feedback and I make the changes—which works well for many situations. But if the person or the composer approving your mix wants to really get into it and go into details, that’s where having something like Source-Connect, well, having Source-Connect—because there’s nothing else like Source-Connect—can really make you feel like you’re working in the same room with someone, which is pretty amazing. We would put up some kind of chat, you know?

Rebekah: FaceTime or something?

Casey: Yes, exactly, that’s what I meant. We would put up a FaceTime window on another computer and just mute it and let it sit there so we could wave to and see each other and see if someone got up and left the room or whatnot. But yes, it was interesting how it really, at least on my side, gave the feeling that we were working together in the same room; the transport lock and everything following. So yes, it’s enabling that kind of collaboration remotely—it’s a pretty amazing thing.

Rebekah: I know. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I still find it a really beautiful experience.

Casey: Yes and, actually, sometimes it can be better than being there because, let’s say, the composer likes to work at midnight or two AM because that’s when he’s in his zone; I’m not but, with the time change, it actually worked out perfectly. If the composer wants to sit and smoke up a storm in his room, then I don’t have to smell that. It could be the best for all involved.

Rebekah: You get to work on monitors that you know and they get to work on monitors they know.

Casey: That’s true, that’s good. I would say that’s always one of the advantages of working remotely because, sometimes, I like to hear what I’m used to, and so does the client. How are you supposed to bridge that gap? In one project, we were together but we ended up with the composer having his station in another booth, with his own speakers, so he could listen to my mixes in a different room.

Rebekah: All the benefits definitely bring some limitations like not having other right there; that human energy is one thing that I do miss. Although sometimes it’s a benefit too—so I guess it goes both ways.

Casey: Yes, it really depends. I mean, in the latter example, I was thinking of a different composer than Ant Man’s. When we are in the room together, it does something for him; he paces around and has these “eureka!” moments. . Besides literally making the mix, this is what they’re looking for—feeling a real-time feedback, an interaction that helps them become invested in the mix as it happens. That could happen over Source-Connect as well.

Rebekah: Yes certainly, when you work with someone long enough, a relationship forms regardless.

Casey: Yes. It’s definitely easier to work remotely with someone you have a relationship with. And they kind of know what you’re going to do; you know what they’re going to want.

Rebekah: Could you imagine a future where, maybe, you even recording remotely?

Casey: I’ve thought about it, yes. Because sometimes there’s a three-hour orchestra session in Los Angeles, and I’m here in London, and I wonder, “Should I really make the trip for that?” And yet, it would be nice to be a part of it.

Rebekah: Yes.

Casey: It’s hard to say; technology would have to advance a little bit more and you’d have to get beyond the goofiness of it—can’t we just get a local engineer to do this? I imagine my face on an iPad on a little robot around—someone would still have to turn all the knobs for me. But I could, of course, play the role of the scoring mixer; on the day of an orchestra recording there is more than just turning the knobs and angling the microphones—there’s listening and making comments on what’s being recorded. If I’m hearing some really loud French horns that I won’t be able to turn down enough in the mix, I need to say “Those French horns are a little loud.”; make that sort of comment.

Someone else could be sitting at the desk, working the faders and, if it’s my crew but I’m not able to go, I could still have that kind of role. So it’s actually a good idea, thanks for mentioning it.

Rebekah: Have you been using Source-Connect from your studio? Or is it just a hopeful thing for the future?

Casey: I mentioned having worked on a few cues on Ant Man, and there was another score called The 12th Man, same composer, Christophe Beck, those times I was using it from my studio.

Rebekah: Great! And is Christophe familiar with Source-Connect as well?

Casey: Yes. He bought Source-Connect Pro; the score for The 12th Man we recorded in Seattle. He was really into this score and it had a lot of programming. So we talked about whether we were going to mix it together or not, and getting Source-Connect setup was a key to being able to mix that score remotely.

Rebekah: That’s great. I’m so greatful. And did it work well for you?

Casey: Yes. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it more closely, that score, because that was a little before Ant Man, would have been before we both got Source-Connect Pro, we just had the stereo version. And then when Ant Man was coming around, we decided we better get serious about the Pro version.

Rebekah: I’m glad it’s working and I look forward to showing you the future version when you’re ready for it. Do you still have a Windows system there?

Casey: No, that became my gaming computer. I just got my five year old brand new Mac Pro. I frankenstein’d it a little bit because I couldn’t really bear to pay the money for a brand new five year old Mac Pro. So I bought a used base model and then I hot-rodded the processor. I found a 10-core Xeon that would go in there so I’ve got a 10-core processor instead of an eight or 12. With the latest Intel security advisories, Apple is actually suggesting that, for top security, you turn off hyperthreading entirely.

And I actually think that, for Pro Tools, it’s fine because with hyperthreading it’s 20 cores. I mean, Pro Tools doesn’t know what to do with 20 cores. Hyperthreading is OK, it does move stuff around but I think that, based on my early tests, it seems to work just fine with hyperthreading off with a full 10 cores to work with. This is a very geeky conversation, I love it.

Rebekah: Oh, I can talk about computers all day but it’s time for me to go, it’s getting to be lunchtime in France.

Casey: Yes enjoy.

Rebekah: Have a great day and we’ll talk again I hope!

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