Nottingham, UK—Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies has unveiled a new £9 million Contemporary Music Hub that will focus on music production and performance, and live technical events education. The 38,500 sq. ft. complex, designed by U.K. firm White Mark, features music studios, rehearsal rooms, editing suites, social spaces and an auditorium, with phase one opening this month.
Confetti was founded in 1994 in Nottingham, England, by chief executive Craig Chettle, a musician, engineer/producer and tour/production manager. In 2015, Nottingham Trent University—named University of the Year at the 2017 Times Higher Education Awards—acquired Confetti Media Group, retaining Chettle and his staff.
Confetti has grown over the years from its original Neve VR-equipped studio—still in service—to occupy almost an entire block in Nottingham’s city center Creative Quarter. Along the way, Chettle established a group of companies that include Antenna Media Centre, Spool film and TV audio post studios, Constellations furniture design and manufacture, and a partnership with local broadcaster Notts TV. Confetti’s further (FE) and higher (HE) education programs have grown to also encompass games, VFX, VR and other media.
Sitting in the restaurant at Antenna, where over 400 member businesses have a presence, Chettle and his team had been eyeing the Marco Island complex across the street for years. Constructed in the 1930s as a four-story postal sorting office, it was unoccupied for years before a developer added 10 stories of apartments in 2006.
“But the ground floor and the basement never got developed,” says Chettle. “We kept looking at it, thinking, are they ever going to do anything?”
Confetti had already added Space 2, a nearby film and TV production center with a 1,600 sq. ft. floating soundstage and 4K production gallery plus a greenscreen VFX stage, 25-seat Avid- and Adobe-equipped media lab and Dolby Atmos screening room. But when a new developer acquired Marco Island, Chettle saw an opportunity to realize Confetti’s long-held expansion plans.
The basement level of the new Hub is being configured with five music recording studios. In phase one, Studio 1, accommodating a class of 12 students, will feature a Studer A827 2-inch machine, currently in the Neve room, and a new 48-channel SSL Duality desk. Studio 2 will feature a hybrid analog/digital setup. Both studios will include freestanding Exigy monitors (Exigy speakers are also installed at Spool).
Phase one will additionally include edit rooms equipped with 8-bus consoles and will run Ableton and Logic for FE-level students. “We introduce Pro Tools at HE level,” says Confetti’s chief technology officer, Joe Duckhouse.
An initial block of rehearsal facilities comprises one large and five mid-size rooms, all with 9-foot ceilings. Two further blocks are planned. The basement will also house a 5,000 sq. ft. “black box” event training space.
At street level, a 2,200 sq. ft. performance venue (seating 164, or 300 standing), lobby, bar and green rooms wrap around the existing premises of PMT (Professional Music Technology), reportedly the UK’s largest musical instrument retailer. “We’ll have a house setup, but the technical design challenge is to make [the venue] flexible enough that we could hire in any equipment—PA, desk, lighting rig,” says Duckhouse.
“We’re going through engineering challenges to design this room because of the 364 flats above it,” adds director of operations Greg Marshall. “We’re currently going through the design criteria to build a 200-square-meter (2,100 sq. ft.) floating slab, working with our structural engineers, White Mark and a company called Christie & Grey.”
Everything is networked: “Any of our facilities can be accessed and brought up in any of our spaces across all of our sites,” says Duckhouse. “We carry Dante for audio, NDI for broadcast video, and we run DMX and comms over IP, all ultra-high quality and ultra-low latency.”
The team initially worked with White Mark when the firm designed Spool’s mix stage, one of the first Dolby-certified rooms outside London. “We just clicked, and they’ve been advising us and designing a lot of the rooms for about eight years,” says Chettle. The two companies have partnered on major third-party projects and Confetti, which has its own construction company that builds all its facilities, also manufactures quadratic diffusor panels for itself and White Mark.
White Mark managing director David Bell comments, “Confetti’s new Contemporary Music Hub will undoubtedly be an educational center of European significance. Its facilities, both in quality and variety, will fully reflect the highest standards of the professional workplace and offer students a learning experience in a context that truly represents the world in which they hope to succeed.”
Confetti wants this to be a community hub. “In the daytime, it will be an education space for higher-level students,” says Chettle. “In the evenings, we want it public-facing, with gigs of all different descriptions. My vision is for the live space to work for the audience, the bands and the people that are running it.”
Further, says Chettle, people operating rehearsal rooms in the city are interested in consolidating with Confetti’s new facilities. There are also plans to partner with a local mastering engineer to house his Scully lathe in the music production area. All this forward-thinking is expected to benefit every stakeholder, from employees to students to visitors, helping ensure that Confetti will remain an integral part of the community and not blow away like, well, confetti.
Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies • confetti.ac.uk
White Mark • www.whitemark.com