SpaceX Falcon 9 Journey into the Future docu edited with Nugen

Discovery Network’s documentary Journey to the Future, produced by Storied Media, offered a behind-the-scenes look at America’s historic SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. The mission, which saw the first operational Crew Dragon flight to the ISS, successfully concluded August 2, with Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.

Several packages were also produced for use throughout the live broadcasts, and amongst the audio professionals who worked on the project was Re-Recording Mixer Michael Phillips Keeley, CAS, who called on Nugen Audio to help create his stellar soundscape.

 Included among the many Nugen plug-ins that Keeley uses were Halo Downmix and Halo Upmix, which he says played a vital role in mixing the project. “Even though the documentary aired in stereo, I mixed the entire project immersively in Dolby Atmos, so Halo Upmix and Downmix were both essential,” he explains. 

“I used Halo Upmix to turn the stereo tracks into Atmos-caliber audio and later used Downmix for the final deliverables. I feel that I get better mixes with that workflow, mixing it immersively and then downmixing it to stereo.”

 Keeley also incorporates his tried and trusted Nugen LM-Correct plug-in into his workflow. “I love LM-Correct; it has really saved me on a couple projects,” he says. “The analyse function enables me to see if something is out of spec, allowing me 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 have to 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 portion, Keeley also sound designed and mixed the behind-the-scenes packages that aired throughout the live broadcasts. “We were given all the production elements one week before the initial launch date,” he recalls. “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.”

 Working from his home-based studio, Sound Striker Post, due to California’s ‘Safer at Home’ orders, 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 signal directly to the client’s TVs without any degradation of the audio,” he says. “They could hear ahead of time exactly what it was going to sound like when it aired.”

 “The Discovery Network project was an awesome experience. There’s a great feeling of magic that comes from combining pictures 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.”

 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,” explains Keeley. “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.”