In Netflix-original comedy Master of None, Aziz Ansari plays a version of his real-life self—his character, Dev, a 30 year-old actor in New York City, vacillates between struggles large and small: finding true love or the best taco joint in town.
As Aziz’s brother describes it, Ansari’s show is “ripped from the headlines of his life.” Dev’s conflicts are recognizable to the urbanite Everyman, and the show draws its power from its relatability. In one scene, Dev may be in a crowded city bar commiserating with his best friend Arnold (Eric Wareheim) about the awkwardness of modern love; in another, we might see Dev arguing backstage with the producers of Clash Of The Cupcakes, the gameshow that he hosts.
Wherever the conversations take place, Master of None’s dialogue is one of the main drivers in revealing and maintaining the series’ authenticity. In this interview, the show’s re-recording mixer, Josh Berger, shares how he used RX on Master of None season two to do just that.
iZotope RX is absolutely essential to my workflow. RX is intuitive and sounds amazing when used carefully. I’m constantly impressed by the results that I can achieve by using iZotope RX Advanced. As a re-recording mixer at Harbor Picture Company in New York City, I mainly handle mixing for films, commercials and TV shows. We recently wrapped mixing on season two of Master of None for Netflix, using iZotope RX.Like anything shot on location in and around New York City, Master of None had some of the setups that required extra assistance to remove unwanted sounds. These sounds ranged from construction sounds to cars driving by to lav mic rustles. I had the privilege to work with some very talented sound editors on this show. They were able to comb through the production tracks and provide a base layer of RX processing. Whether it was a light De-crackle, De-click, or filling out perspectives with Ambience Match, we could all trust iZotope RX to remove a large portion of unwanted material that I believe would take the viewer out of the show.
Once it got to the mixing stage, I was able to pre-dub my tracks with another layer of RX. It’s in this stage that I normally go through using the Spectral Repair and Gain modules to attack very specific elements that I feel mask the production recordings. By removing low-end distortions or multiband hums first, I find that my tracks take better to the EQ/dynamics processing that I apply after. I’m able to use less processing the get my desired result. I also find that using a simple cut and paste strategy to replace certain sonic events gives a very natural feel to the track. Using RX Connect to apply this processing with handles is a game changer.
Master of None is very centered around the dialogue and the directing team were very keen on keeping the small details of the performances intact. There would be times when we paired down the added BGs or FX leaving the production recording on its own. By attempting to preserve a certain intimacy in these scenes, we were worried that the unwanted production noises would be distracting. However, after using RX we were able to save just about all of the production dialogue. In the end, we were able to keep the sound of the show very naturalistic yet clean and professional with the help of RX.
Josh Berger is currently a Re-Recording Mixer at Harbor Picture Company. Since joining the team in 2013, Josh’s work has been seen at festivals around the world such as Toronto, Berlin, NYFF, Tribeca, Sundance and SXSW. He has worked alongside directors such as Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch, James Gray and Aziz Ansari. Previously, Josh worked as a mixer at Technicolor-Postworks in New York City. There, he honed his craft working on numerous commercials and promos as well as TV shows for Discovery, NBC, Food Network and The History Channel. Josh is passionate about film and dedicated to providing his clients with an exceptional soundtrack.
Supervising Sound Editor: Bob Hein
Re-recording Mixer: Josh Berger
ADR Recordist: Mike Rivera
ADR Mixer: Bobby Johanson