New York, NY (May 5, 2017)—Boutique audio post production facility Gigantic Studios, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, recently added a dual-purpose room equipped for both sound mixing, including Dolby Atmos work, and color correction. “My main excitement about the room and its innovation is that the floor slides away and reveals a pit,” says facility co-founder Tom Paul, a two-time Emmy-winning re-recording mixer and sound designer. Paul partnered with Gigantic Pictures’ CEO Brian Devine, the owner and visionary behind the facility, in 2006.
Paul’s innovation was to have the dual-operator Avid S6 console disappear below floor level, optionally giving a color correction artist an unobstructed view of the screen or enabling extra seating to be brought in for screenings. Paul and Devine collaborated on the project with Dennis Darcy and his logistics coordinator, Pawel Szarejko, of Dennis Darcy Construction Group (DDCG), and Jeff DelBello, of design, installation and sales company dB Sound Design. The team came up with the idea of mounting the two S6s on an Autoquip scissor lift table, which is more typically used for motorcycles. The consoles, modified with removable meter displays, are on rails and can be spread outwards once the lift is raised, creating a central producer’s desk.
The floor below where the mixer more typically sits pushes back to provide standing room. “I can dance around,” says Paul. “I’m over at the music, then back at the dialog, then diving for the reverb. It brings a whole new element of physicality and body involvement to the mixing, which is energizing.” The adjustable lift can also accommodate mixers of different heights, he notes.
DDCG built Gigantic’s original facilities, which opened in 2006 and comprise two mix rooms, several edit suites and an ADR/Foley studio, plus a machine room and offices. Gigantic shares a kitchen, conference room and a lounge—and clients—with entertainment law firm Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers.
DelBello installed 16 channels of Crown-powered JBL 9000 Series speakers: three on the side walls, four on the ceiling and two at the back. “Pawel, who was integral in getting the lift together, came up with a custom plate to put behind the 9300 speakers. We wanted to mount them flat to the wall. It was a great solution,” says DelBello.
The LCR mains and subs are from Grimani Systems. “Tony Grimani has been a friend for a long time. He designed the acoustics of four rooms that I’ve built over the years,” says Paul.
Formerly with Lucasfilm and co-author of the THX spec, Grimani now has a high-end home theater consulting and manufacturing business. “He helped me figure out some of the isolation and construction of this room.”
Paul installed Grimani Systems Alpha LCR speakers for a fraction of the six-figure retail cost. “Tony said, ‘I want to sell you, for pennies on the dollar, my hand-built prototypes.’ We also have his 18-inch subwoofers in the four corners. There’s a special phase relationship, so you get very smooth bass response throughout the room.”
Unusually for a mix stage, says Paul, the room is bass managed. “Tony thinks outside the box. It sounds amazing, and super accurate.”
To handle monitor configuration switching and level control, DelBello installed a BSS Soundweb London system, programming the software with assistance from Chris Neylan, chief engineer at Soundtrack New York, (coincidentally, DelBello’s former job). “Chris was a big help. He did a lot of these rooms at Soundtrack,” says DelBello, who also consulted with Avid applications specialist Robert Miller on the project.
During his research, DelBello concluded that NTP Technology’s DAD AX32 was the optimum interface solution for the room. The DAD unit is fitted with a Dante card, feeding up to 64 channels to the BSS box, which in turn feeds the Crown amps over the BLU Link digital audio bus. “The only time the signal leaves the digital realm is when it’s converted in the amplifiers,” says DelBello.
“You can put two Pro Tools systems into one DAD box. There’s a software monitoring program within the DAD that synchronizes to the S6 and it controls all the monitoring. And it’s got a matrix built in,” DelBello reports.
“I started talking to everybody and Robert said Avid is now licensing DAD. That was a confirmation that made me feel good,” he says. Avid is now selling the AX32 as the MTRX.
“We put in a DCI-compliant Barco, so it’s one of the few rooms where you can screen a final DCP and accurately judge color and sound,” says Paul. “Normally you have to apologize for one or the other.”
Although Paul has yet to do a Dolby Atmos mix in the room, he says, “I’m emboldened by the fact that the consumer market really seems to have embraced it. I was also encouraged to go that way because of Avid’s commitment to the format.” Paul has signed up to beta test new immersive features in Pro Tools, he says.
Paul, whose resume includes films such as The Big Sick, Cartel Land and The Wolfpack, would also like to attract some A-list TV business into the dual-operator room, which offers plenty of space for clients, including a custom 14-foot-wide desk. “New York is exciting right now; there’s a lot of good work happening, and we wanted to build a state-of-the-art room so we could invite that in. I’m so, so proud of this room.”
dB Sound Design