NUGEN plug-ins spark creativity and provide control for Chris Fogel
Multiple Grammy Award-, Emmy- and Oscar-winning recording and mixing engineer Chris Fogel has worked on the scores and soundtracks of over 200 major motion pictures and television shows.
These include the Oscar-winning score to “Black Panther” and the Emmy-winning scores to “The Mandalorian” and “Severance.” Additional projects include “Mission Impossible 7: Dead Reckoning,” “Venom,” “Blue Beetle,” “Tenet” and many more. He has also worked with dozens of major recording artists, including Alanis Morissette, Justin Timberlake, U2, Childish Gambino, Sheryl Crow, Aerosmith, St. Vincent, José González and Robbie Robertson.
To ensure his sound meets the standards of such high-caliber productions, Fogel has made NUGEN Audio an essential part of his workflow on all his projects, including his latest film scoring projects for movies such as “Oppenheimer” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Some of the NUGEN solutions he relies on most often include Halo Upmix, Halo Downmix, Monofilter and Stereoizer, among others.
A main benefit of the NUGEN plug-ins for Fogel is that they make it possible for him to deliver projects in various formats, specifically Halo Upmix for film scores. “’Oppenheimer’ was mixed in 5.0 IMAX, so we didn’t have to worry about going above 5.0 for that, but ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ was delivered in 7.1.4, which we had to accommodate to have it sound right. It’s a punchy, loud, percussive-infused score that can’t lose its intensity, which often happens with upmixing — everything gets phasey and you start losing the drive of the sound. I always listen to the original stereo mono sound to make sure it’s still what I want. With NUGEN, I’m in the vicinity of where I need to be to satisfy my delivery requirements.”
Fogel not only loves the accuracy and control of the Halo Upmix plug-in, but also how it enables him to get creative. “It works immediately on activation and does the exact right thing on whatever I need,” he explains. “I have been working on a lot of projects that absolutely must have mono- or stereo-compatibility. The plug-in’s ‘Exact’ feature is a massive help for maintaining stereo compatibility for broadcast purposes. I also like that I can tweak the diffusion and make the audio a little more point source or diffused in the rears.”
Halo Downmix is another go-to for Fogel, especially on albums. “I often have to take all these stems from 5.1 or 7.1.4 back down to stereo in a way that sounds accurate; not phasey or washy. Sometimes the stereo downmix gets washy if the surrounds are too present. With Halo Downmix, I have complete intuitive control,” says Fogel.
When it comes to downmixing in general, Fogel says he feels as though NUGEN Audio’s plug-in substantially exceeds its competitors. “I’ve used other downmixers and nothing is as intuitive or surgically focused as NUGEN’s Halo Downmix. I don’t just think that NUGEN’s downmixer is the best; I know it is absolutely the best downmixer there is,” he says. “Halo Downmix is the first thing in my downmix signal chain. I always want to start with something that just works, is stereo-compatible and that I can tweak to bring around as much as I need.”
Some of Fogel’s other favored plug-ins include the brand’s Monofilter, Stereoizer and loudness solutions. “I use Monofilter quite a bit for bass management and Stereoizer for widening—they are tools for dealing with stereo anomalies. Stereoizer is sort of like the Monofilter, but in reverse, and I love that. I can take specific frequencies or ranges and move them, rather than moving the entire signal, and I find that to be super helpful. There are a couple other plug-ins I turn to as well, including VisLM, which is my exclusive loudness meter. It will be critical for a major project I’ve got coming up this year.”
According to Fogel, what sets NUGEN Audio apart is the ease-of-use and reliability of its solutions, as well as the brand’s ability to adapt. “NUGEN is a great option to recommend to someone just starting out, because you will never outgrow their plug-ins. In some cases, software can be so complicated, you’ll toss it out and never use it again. In other cases, you’ll go for the cheap option and you’ll outgrow it within the first couple of months. Those things will never be the case with the NUGEN solutions.”