'Psycho' makeover plays Cannes Classics sidebar

Original mono recording converted to surround sound

It's hard to believe, but Alfred Hitchcock didn't even want music in the infamous shower scene in his 1960 classic "Psycho." Fifty years later, there's not only a music, but a full HD surround sound 5.1 recording to accompany it.

Universal has partnered with France-based postproduction sound master Audionamix to bring "Psycho" to the Cannes Classics festival sidebar, with a total makeover. The sound and images have been totally remastered to give filmgoers a 2010 experience for a 1960 film.

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Audionamix took the original soundtrack and turned the "mono" sound into surround sound to create a full theatrical musical experience. When Hitchcock shot the shower scene, he didn't envision any music at all -- just the action and those famous screams. It was composer Bernard Herrmann who convinced him to add the shrieking violin, viola and cello that have since become legendary.

"We're giving audiences the same music they would have been able to hear if they were sitting in the same room as Hitchcock and Herrmann when they were recording the orchestra," Audionamix CEO Olivier Attia says. "Sound brings a film to life. Music is emotion, and before today the music was weak. Now technology allows us to create the full cinematic experience."

Audionamix's sound engineers took just a few weeks to transform Hitchcock's original soundtrack into the version that artistic director Thierry Fremaux and his crew have chosen to screen in Cannes. The company has worked with several high-profile U.S. studios looking to transform their back catalogs into HD and 5.1 sound systems, and was recently nominated for several sound prizes for its work on Olivier Dahan's "La Vie en Rose."

"It's an exceptional experience," Attia notes of the new "Psycho." "If you were scared in the 1960s, you're going to be really scared now."