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Sound Design Corporation to Capture Musical Performances at the Oscars


Paul Sandwiess (seated) with Dolby's  Gary Epstein.
Paul Sandwiess (seated) with Dolby’s Gary Epstein.
The Academy has tapped Paul Sandweiss and his crew from Sound Design Corporation to capture the live musical performances at the Academy Awards, March 3. This year’s show will include stirring renditions of best song nominees “Let it Go” from Frozen, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and “The Moon Song” from Her.

The company, which makes its home on the lot at Hollywood Center Studios, has been providing location broadcast, location recording and audio post production services for awards shows, concerts, live events, television specials and episodics for nearly two decades. Along with the Academy Awards, its hit list includes The Super Bowl Haftime Show, The American Music Awards, The BET Awards, The Billboard Music Awards, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards and The Kennedy Center Honors.

Sandweiss began his career as a sound engineer at Wally Heider Recording and helped capture live recordings of such greats as Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, Earth Wind and Fire, Neil Diamond and The Band (for the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz). Tired of life on the road, he turned his attention to television sound and embarked on a course that, so far, has produced seven Emmy Awards, alongside 29 nominations. “If you do it long enough, and work with great people, you are bound to get some amazing results,” he said.

Sandweiss opened Sound Design Corporation at Hollywood Center Studios in 1996 in order to provide his clients with complete sound services. “I found that I often wasn’t happy with what happened between the time that I recorded and mixed the performances, and what I heard on the television broadcast,” he explained. “I wasn’t exactly sure where the mix went south, but it was frustrating.” The facility he created, which originally featured one mixing suite, today hosts five suites, each equipped with state-of-the-art Fairlight Xynergi mixing systems.

Being located on the lot at Hollywood Center Studios offers many advantages, said Sandweiss, particularly for his clients. “We have a lot of high profile people coming in here, and they mostly want to get their work done without too much notice,” he explained. “When they come here, they pull onto a lot that’s gate-guarded and has 24-hour security. They don’t have to worry about somebody tweeting something and, boom, they’re surrounding your car.”

Sandweiss appreciates the lot’s comfortable vibe and perks such as having his car washed while he’s conducting a mix session, or grabbing a quick gourmet bite at the Babalu Cafe. He also enjoys its sense of history. “Some people say there are ghosts on the lot,” he said. “There might be, but I’m not afraid of ghosts.”

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