7 Must See Movies for Audio Engineers

As an audio engineer, what’s your favorite movie?

audio engineering moviesWhile it might not be part of the curriculum of the Omega Studios School, where I spend half my time as an audio engineering instructor, I like to make sure all my audio engineering students know my movie and music tastes. Maybe some of the fellow engineers at Omega Studios, where I spend the other half of my time as an audio engineer, would be curious to know my tastes as well. In any event, here are my top 7 must see movies for both audio engineers and for audio engineering students.

1. Sound City (2013)

Directed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, this documentary tells the story of a legendary studio, it’s priceless Neve console, and the nearly lost art of the analog recording process.

2. Tom Dowd & The Language of Music (2003)

This documentary follows the career of Tom Dowd, the legendary engineer and producer behind countless classic albums.  Tom Dowd’s legacy includes the works of artist’s such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers and many others.  Filming locations include New York City, NY and Miami, FL.

3. Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

The story of the Funk Brothers, a collection of some of the finest jazz and funk musicians of the day who played on nearly every classic album to come out of Motown’s Detroit era.  These guys played on more number one hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined and were nothing less than a hit making machine.  Filming locations include Detroit, MI, Edisto Island, SC, Granda, MS, and Ann Arbor, MI.

4. The Classic Albums Series (1989 – present)

Not so much a single movie as a series of 50 minute episodes, these thoughtful documentaries have been aired on various television networks including the BBC and VH1.  Each episodes recounts the tale of a classic album and it’s making.  More than 30 episodes have been produced to date and include such albums as – Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Queen’s A Night at the Opera, The Band’s self titled album, and Nirvana’s Nevermind.

5. Atlantic Records – The House That Ahmet Built (2007)

Part of the PBS series American Masters this 90 min documentary showcases the influence of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.  Since the Atlantic Records founding in 1947 the label has released some of the top R&B and Rock ‘n Roll acts of all time, including – Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, The Coasters, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins and many more.

6. Respect Yourself –  The Stax Records Story (2007)

Stax Records spawned some of the top soul acts of the 60’s and 70’s and developed a socially-conscious reputation during a time of social revolution and Black Empowerment.  This story is told mostly through interviews with some of the label’s groundbreaking executives and artists.

7. Muscle Shoals (2013)

Based mostly around the founder of FAME studios, Rick Hall, and the recording process that became “The Muscle Shoals Sound” this documentary includes interviews with many of the influential artists who’ve worked in Muscle Shoals, Alabama through the years including, Aretha Franklin, Bono, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Cliff, Mick Jagger, Alicia Keys, and more.  Filming locations include Huntsville AL, London England, Nashville TN, and New York City NY.

Extra Credit: This is Spinal Tap (1984)

The hilarious mockumentary of the “world’s loudest band” and their attempted American comeback tour. This is the classic spoof of the music industry and the artists that make it so… interesting.

Once you’re finished watching all the history making stories listed above, learn the real (or not so real) truth of rock ‘n roll.  Filming locations include Pasadena CA, Sherman Oaks in L.A., and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia CA.

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