NT Audio recently celebrated retiring recordist, Paul Chen’s 22 years of devoted service to the company and the motion picture industry. Paul was honored at two farewell luncheons, one at each of NT’s locations – Santa Monica and Hollywood. His dedication to excellence and his great sense of humor will be missed by those who have worked beside him at NT Audio, and by the film industry customers who trusted his attention to detail.
Paul was born in Taiwan and in his early life worked there as an art teacher. He came to the United States to attend Loyola Marymount University and was graduated with a MA in Communications.
Paul’s first job in the industry was as an intern at Paramount Studios where he got into sound because he thought it was interesting. He then made a move to Universal Studios where he spent 15 years shooting optical soundtrack negatives. Paul’s fascination with sound turned into to an interesting and challenging lifetime career. He especially enjoys creating OSTNs because it requires very precise handling of the elements to maximize recording the full audio range.
Paul began working at NT in September of 1990 when owner Tom McCormick was developing the revolutionary 1/2 speed recording process. Paul was involved right from the start and remembers that he had to do a lot of mixing, correcting and enhancing especially for creating mono trailers.
The 1/2 Speed Process was replaced when NT developed the first generation laser camera. Paul noted that the advent of the laser camera actually made things much easier because, “now you could see everything.” Paul adds that NT’s strength is that “we have perfected every step in the process of making OSTN’s.”
Paul says this industry is a challenge he enjoys and accepts. In his career he has witnessed progress and improvements of cinema sound from mono, stereo and later 5.1 all of which Paul says gives the audience a sense of being surrounded and fully immersed. Challenges and changes are good, “always improving makes you younger,” he laughs.
Paul offers this advice to new comers: begin by studying film production, you have to know the process, then work to get experience in current industry trends and get on the job training. For a career in audio he emphasizes that knowing Pro Tools® is very important and remember you are always learning.
Paul fondly recalls his days as an art teacher in Taiwan and today enjoys working in oil, water color and charcoal. “You have to be careful with water color,” he cautions, “can’t make a mistake.” He prefers oil, “easier to fix.” Paul’s favorite subjects are landscapes and he describes his style as more impressionistic. “I love to sketch and then finish later”. He has even tackled Chinese brush painting which he describes as very difficult.
Paul has plans for travel in the future to his native Taiwan, but first must complete the remodeling of his home and a list of chores his wife Nancy and two boys have compiled.
Travel plans also include Europe for some painting and study of the French impressionists
Paul says he will miss his friendships at NT and he feels it is a special company that fosters an environment of growth and success for all. Above all Paul says, “enjoy life, enjoy work.”