Los Angeles, CA—Central Post LA is the very model of a modern post facility, packing the latest audio and video technologies into seven studios occupying a modest two-story building located close to some of the biggest content producers in Hollywood, Studio City and Burbank. Designed and built in close collaboration with Audio Intervisual Design (AID), the facility offers a comprehensive menu of post services, with a focus on localization and voice recording, and features a Dolby Atmos-At-Home mixing room, all backed by CDSA security certification.
Los Angeles-based integrator and retailer AID was involved every step of the way, says re-recording mixer Reid Caulfield, vice president of operations for Central Post. Caulfield has been working with AID president Jim Pace and his team since soon after moving to Los Angeles from Montreal in 1991.
“There’s nothing in this building that AID did not touch, including the selection of the building itself,” says Caulfield. He and managing partner Chris Davies had Pace accompany them to a dozen locations over a five-month period before finding the right spot.
The building, formerly a video post shop, had to be completely reconfigured for its new owners. “AID had always said it would be a week per room of installation and a week per room working out bugs, and then probably a month per room figuring stuff out if you haven’t worked with the gear before,” says Caufield.
Related: Remixing an R.E.M. Classic for Atmos, by Strother Bullins, Nov. 7, 2017
Three rooms—two outfitted with 7.1 monitoring, plus a QC room with a 5.1 system—were up and running by October 2017. A fourth room was on track to also be configured for 7.1 work when Pace suggested it could support Dolby Atmos mixing.
“I said, ‘No, let’s do what we planned,’” Caulfield says. “He said, ‘Well, we told Dolby what’s going on and they want to design the room for you.’” Happily, says Caulfield, the process didn’t add much to the budget, although it did extend the construction and integration schedule.
“It’s one of the smallest Dolby Atmos-At-Home rooms, but that was the point. It has the footprint of a living room. Dolby is trying to figure out how to mix something on a stage the size of an aircraft hangar, then scale that down. How accurate is it? It’s a challenge to them. We’re a bit of a guinea pig, but so far everything that has come through here translates beautifully.”
Having Dolby Atmos mix capabilities nicely positions Central Post for the new content distribution landscape in which over-the-top streamers are moving toward a single deliverable format that carries multiple language tracks as separate audio objects, plus subtitles, closed captioning and other features with the picture. For the past 10 or 15 years, people have been getting out of the localization business, observes Caulfield, who says that Central Post focuses on the top 10 most-common languages. “But now people are clamoring to get back in because of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, Vudu and YouTube Red.”
Doing business with studios and other primary content creators requires a high level of security. One of the company’s partners was on the team that developed multi-billion-dollar data centers for UPS, he says, “so we had security in mind from the get-go.”
Related: Central Post LA Opens with Help from AID, Jan. 24, 2018
Central Post received its CDSA certification in October 2017. An active directory server handles rights and restrictions for anyone working in the facility, which is also protected by keycard access and cameras.
All projects are ingested, then passed through a firewall to the content server. “People turn up with terabytes of data and expect us to work from their drives. We’re not allowed to do that anymore,” he says. Nor may anyone take projects home to work on them, he adds.
Some equipment, including an Avid D-Command, is on permanent loan in exchange for a preferential rate from Caulfield’s previous employer, who got out of the business and is now a client. The Dolby Atmos room houses an Avid S6, while another room is equipped with a new Avid S3 and Dock. All four rooms feature Argosy desks for the control surfaces and outboard gear.
Related: Atmos in the U.K.: Live Sports Get Dolby Treatment, by Steve Harvey, Sep. 18, 2017
The four audio rooms are variously equipped with JBL LSR305 5-inch and LSR308 8-inch monitors managed by JBL Intonato 24 monitor controllers. The QC room is using a Blue Sky controller with new LSR305 monitors, while another room is using Intonato with legacy JBL speakers.
The rooms are all Dante networked; as a result, says Caulfield, “Everything is cross-patchable, so we can run QC in the QC room with talent in a booth being recorded in one of the other rooms.”
The Dante system is largely enabled by Focusrite boxes, including a couple of Red 8Pre units. “I really like the sound of the Red 8Pre’s,” says Caulfield, noting that the facility also offers Avalon, Grace, Millennia, UA and Avid microphone preamps. With so much of the business centered on voice recording, 15 Focusrite RedNet AM2 units are additionally available for deployment in the iso booths. Dante-networked Audio-Technica gooseneck mics are also employed in each control room for talkback to the talent.
Caulfield recently built out Central Post’s video infrastructure in response to client demand. The upper floor houses three picture edit suites, with two kitchens, lounge areas and a conference room rounding out the amenities.
The company also recently added a new project manager, Caulfield reports. “We’re training her from the ground up. We couldn’t have done that without the tax cuts. We’re a small company, so every little bit helps.”
Dolby Laboratories • dolby.com
Central Post LA • centralpostla.com
Audio Intervisual Design • aidinc.com