Top Recording Studios 2017: Where Hollywood Goes To Make The Big Score

Steve Jennings/WireImage
Quartet San Francisco perform at Skywalker Sound at Skywalker Ranch on Nov. 8, 2010 in San Francisco, Calif.

Filmmakers can’t replicate the sound of a 130-piece orchestra on a laptop. These four facilities, rich in history, are the go-to rooms for recording soundtracks and sound effects for the latest hit movies.

Los Angeles

Then: Built in the 1920s on the 20th Century Fox lot in Century City, this soundstage was the domain of Alfred Newman, the first head of music for the studio, who moved to Hollywood from his native Connecticut in the 1930s. Newman (the uncle of pop singer-composer Randy Newman) won nine Academy Awards for the scores to films including The King and I and Camelot.

Now: After a renovation and reopening in 1997, the Newman Scoring Stage recently has been used for the recording of the soundtracks to movies such as Deadpool and Star Trek Beyond.

Culver City, Calif.

Then: A shooting stage for MGM until the late 1920s, this room hosted the recording of scores for films beginning with The Wizard of Oz in 1939, followed by music for Gone With the Wind, An American in Paris and Doctor Zhivago, among many others.

Now: Located on the Culver City lot of Sony Pictures Studios and named in honor of singer-actor-director Streisand, the stage has been used for the scoring of more recent film classics, including E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List and Forrest Gump, as well as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, due in December.

Burbank, Calif.

Then: Warner Bros. Pictures released the first film with a synchronized sound score, The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson, in 1927. The company acquired its film lot in Burbank in late 1928 and the scoring stage opened the following year, eventually expanding to 5,000 square feet as part of Warner Bros. Sound.

Now: Actor-director Clint Eastwood led a restoration of the facility in 1999, and scores were recorded here for his films, including The Bridges of Madison County, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. TV shows also have been scored here, including The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Nicasio, Calif.

Then: The sonic force has been with Star Wars director George Lucas since the mid-’70s, when he hired Ben Burtt, a young graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, to create the sounds, including the hum of lightsabers, for his epic onscreen adventures. Burtt’s work was the origin of Skywalker Sound.

Now: Since relocating in 1987 to Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch headquarters, north of San Francisco, Skywalker Sound has hosted Oscar-nominated mixing work for movies including The Revenant, Bridge of Spies and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 14 issue of Billboard