Readeez Audio Kitchen’s control room, designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group Atlanta, GA (January 16, 2008)–The Readeez Company, developer of entertainment-based educational videos, has moved into its recently completed AV facility, Readeez Audio Kitchen, designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group.
Renovations to the company’s loft, which doubles as founder Michael Rachap’s home, began in 2005. This included having a new main floor laid atop the original one, with a layer of sound-damping material between. Also implemented was a wiring topology that runs gigabit Ethernet and fibre channel throughout the house, plus an overhead conduit to escort cabling between the control room and a server closet that lives beneath the stairs.
“I have followed architect/acoustician John Storyk and the Walters-Storyk Design Group for years,” Rachap recalls. “WSDG was a natural choice when we decided to build this studio. The place is comfortable, kid-friendly and the atmosphere is truly inspirational.”
One of the studio’s prominent innovations is a rotating platform nearly 11 feet across, upon which rest three red-velvet theater seats, late of New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The motorized platform can be controlled wirelessly, along with the home’s other automated systems. The theater chairs and couch can be turned to face a 61-inch plasma display, flanked by a pair of Genelec 1038B speakers.
“People ask me what we do, and it’s tough to give a simple answer,” says Rachap, who, inspired by the likes of Dr. Seuss, “Calvin & Hobbes” and “Peanuts,” began the work that evolved into Readeez four years ago. “I like to say we make short films for small people. Our business plan includes producing and marketing hundreds of such films, on a broad array of topics, for children of all ages.”
Audio quality is crucial to the success of Readeez in its approach of using multi-sensory input to impart reading skills. “The sound component of so much online video seems like an afterthought,” Rachap says. “It’s the first place producers skimp to conserve bandwidth. You end up with videos that are only a few megabytes but they use 8-bit/22K audio or worse, and they sound terrible.” Readeez videos are provided commercial-free on the Internet at CD-standard 16/44.1, and the company plans higher bit- and sample-rates for its DVD releases.
“The Readeez Audio Kitchen acoustics are fascinating,” says John Storyk. “The 18-foot ceiling of the Big Room is gently domed–evidently the space enjoyed a previous incarnation as a ballroom. The result is a natural reverberation that imparts a sonic signature. I haven’t heard anything quite like it.”
The control room presented a big challenge. “Space was at a premium–just over 160 square feet were available at the outset,” Storyk says. “We stole some footage from the Big Room, creating a sort of bay window that brings the mix position out amongst the players. Isolation was also an issue. There are neighbors below and next door so we built a room within a room. It may not be as quiet as a purpose-built studio, but you can definitely mix there with confidence. And,” Storyk adds, “the control room can be used as an iso booth to record narration and other program material.”
In addition to animating, filming and producing audio for Readeez, The Kitchen also serves as a first-rate music room. Rachap’s band, the Omnivores, has been using it as a practice facility for over a year. Atlanta’s chart-topping R&B community already has the facility on its radar. “An engineer friend mixed some hip-hop sessions here, but the studio is primarily dedicated to in-house work,” says Rachap, who studied Music Production & Engineering and Songwriting at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
The Readeez Company employs Prism Sound’s Dream ADA-8XR, routing high-def audio to and from Pro Tools|HD. A 24-fader Digidesign ICON D-Command unit anchors the control room, framed by a pair of Genelec 8050s, with a Bryston amp sending signal to the Big Room.
Outboard equipment includes two API Lunch Boxes, one that floats around the house and one tethered to the control room’s patch bay. A Summit DCL-200 Compressor Limiter and TC-Helicon VoicePro are also hardwired to the 96-point bay. The big guns of the microphone arsenal are two Neumann U 87s procured from a local Guitar Center. Mics by Sennheiser, Shure and AKG round out the cabinet.
Most of the Readeez animating work takes place in the studio’s kitchen. An 8-processor Mac Pro, packed with over two terabytes of on-board storage, sends audio through one of the home’s four Digi 002 interfaces. Genelec 8040s, a Dave Smith Poly Evolver synth and several tons of virtual instruments complete this tasty setup.
“I work in different rooms throughout the day,” says Rachap, “bouncing from machine to machine so it always feels fresh.” Audio tie lines to the two upstairs bedrooms, plus fast network connections, allow the entire house to function as a seamless creative tool.
“I give Michael credit for envisioning this space and making that dream a reality,” Storyk concludes. “He has a lot of good ideas. It’ll be interesting to see what gets produced here.”
The Readeez Company
Walters-Storyk Design Group