Building a new studio from scratch is no easy task.
Just a few years ago, if you had asked Reid Caulfield, lead Re-Recording Mixer and VP of Operations at Central Post LA, if he had any interest in starting his own facility, his answer would have been an emphatic “never again.”
But then, Reid and his business partners saw something that hadn’t happened since the DVD boom of the mid 1990’s. In his more than 30 year career as a mixer and sound editor, he has seen radical technological shifts, studio consolidations, and the ebbs and flows of the workings of the industry, he’s seen work come and go–but, he also saw a new opportunity on the horizon.
Back in Business
“I had my own facility in the early 2000s, but by 2005 I got out of the business, and I swore I would never open another facility again,” Reid said.
Today, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others are creating content and bringing jobs to the table for a new generation of post facilities, that a lot of other older studios frankly aren’t equipped to handle. So in 2016, Reid and his partners started searching for the perfect space to build out a cutting-edge facility that would meet the ever-growing list of demands from networks, streamers and studios. When they finally found the ideal location, they started building from the ground up.
Central Post LA was designed with four control rooms, three recording spaces, and three full edit suites running Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, and a DaVinci Resolve coloring suite. The focal point of CPLA is equipped for something you won’t find in many other facilities–Dolby Atmos for Home nearfield mixing–a service they increasingly provide for network, streaming, premium cable, and corporate clients.
On the technical side, each audio room is connected with Audio over IP (AoIP) using Dante, and their Pro Tools, Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, and DaVinci Resolve workstations are all connected over 10Gb Ethernet to a centralized and secure EVO shared storage server inside the facility’s machine room. For Reid, having every room connected is critically important to their ADR and dubbing workflow, which often sees 30 or more actors coming in for multiple days moving from room to room. In situations like that, each engineer needs to have the flexibility to pick up any session in any control room, right where they left off.
Building for Security First
As one of a small number of facilities in the Los Angeles area equipped and certified for Dolby Atmos for Home mixing, Central Post LA is ahead of the curve when it comes to meeting the demands of their clients. But today, clients need more than just amazing mixes.
We’re in the midst of an unprecedented era of hacking and content theft in the media industry, and last year’s attacks on HBO and Netflix led everyone to start taking content security more seriously–not just major networks and studios.
What does that mean for a facility like Central Post? “Security compliance is a major investment, but we realized early on that it was critical to our business,” Reid continued, “We’re lucky to have built from the ground up, because there are facilities all over trying to build security on top of their existing infrastructure to keep up with demands from major networks, and for many facilities, that’s just too expensive, especially the very small and the very large.”
On the storage side, content security means making sure that once media is ingested, it stays on the server until it’s ready for delivery and archive– no duplicate files, no copying to local workstations, and no taking work home.
For Central Post LA, a 96TB EVO with a mirrored 96TB Nearline ensures just that. “Our clients do not want people copying files; it becomes a logistical nightmare. I’ve been involved with facilities where they knew a security audit was coming in two weeks and it was a mad scramble to figure out how to pass. With EVO and our other security measures, we don’t have to worry about files moving around,” Reid said.
Tackling Apple TV and Netflix Deliverables
Currently, Reid and his team are working on an Atmos mix of a famous legacy sci-fi show. For this production, they’re planning an upmix for the entire first season from 5.1 to 7.1.2. Although most jobs don’t usually go higher than 80-90 tracks, they can push up to 120 in foreign language dubbing, and for QC with multiple languages and channel versions, they can go as high as 150, and Reid believes this type of work will become more common.
“The delivery specs we’re getting from Netflix and Apple are significantly different from what we’ve seen before. I’ve worked on projects with a 7-month mix and a 3-month deliverables schedule, and now with a full set of Atmos deliverables on top of that, well…” Reid said. And while they might not “need” to mix for a full speakers-on-the-ceiling experience for a particular series or documentary, there are still many advantages to doing an Atmos mix. In the case of delivery for Apple TV, which features built-in Dolby Atmos at home capabilities, it’s actually a requirement.
Reid believes it’s only a matter of time before other streaming services follow suit, and not because he imagines a world where everyone has 12 speakers in his or her living room, but because the industry is moving towards consolidating deliverables. “We’re trying to move towards a single deliverable that can meet many requirements. By mixing in Atmos, we’re essentially eliminating the need for dozens of separate audio deliverables.”
The ever-growing deliverables list facing post facilities aside, there are millions of things to think about in a day, and the last thing Reid and his team want to worry about is their storage.
“Our monitors will go out, the consoles will act up, Pro Tools can crash, this is all normal. But I never have to worry about the one thing that keeps things running smoothly–how we’re storing and accessing our files.” Reid continued, “We don’t want any of our mixers or editors to care about how any of this stuff works, we just want to focus on doing what we love, and EVO makes that possible.”
Looking to complete your post production workflow? Schedule a demo to learn how EVO can help your team.