Monkeyland Audio Grows In Stages

By Steve Harvey. Monkeyland Audio’s post sound services have now been consolidated under one roof—well, almost; more on that shortly—after the company acquired a neighboring building and doubled its floor space to 8,000 square feet. As build-out of the additional space progresses, one new dub stage has relaunched following an upgrade, while an adjacent stage—the latest to be completed—is now available for Dolby Atmos projects and offers the latest Avid and JBL technologies.
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GLENDALE, GA—Monkeyland Audio’s post sound services have now been consolidated under one roof—well, almost; more on that shortly—after the company acquired a neighboring building and doubled its floor space to 8,000 square feet. As build-out of the additional space progresses, one new dub stage has relaunched following an upgrade, while an adjacent stage—the latest to be completed—is now available for Dolby Atmos projects and offers the latest Avid and JBL technologies.

Founder Trip Brock, an award-winning supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer, had no intention of getting into the mixing business when he launched his company 24 years ago. “We started as an editorial company with Pro Tools, right after the switch had happened from mag. I swore I would never build a stage. They’re so expensive, and there’s every size and shape of stage [available] as it is. We were used to being hired to do sound design and supervise, and going to Warner Bros. to do ADR. For years, I was flying back and forth to Toronto to mix. Why would we want to build a mixing stage?”

Monkeyland has led something of a peripatetic existence, renting out its current building after outgrowing the space and relocating to the former Enterprise Recording Studios in Burbank in 2007. The company later moved back (after briefly sharing space in the former Oracle post production facility, now home to Bang Zoom) and rented the building next-door to its original location before persuading the owner to sell a couple of years ago. “I knew we could punch a hole through and make it one large building, and build new stages from the ground up exactly to our specs,” says Brock. “It was nice to be able to figure out how we wanted them and to build them from scratch.”

The first new stage completed was Reposado (the mix rooms are all named for types of tequila) in 2015. “At the beginning of this year, we completely gutted it because we wanted to make it for two-man mixing,” says Brock of the 5.1/7.1-capable room. “We turned it into a dual Avid D Control room. We put in new risers and a new ceiling, and added another wall” between it and the newest stage. The room reopened at the beginning of June.

Reposado and the latest room, Anejo, were a response to evolving business conditions. “Originally, we were going to build one big theatrical dub stage. But with how things are changing in the marketplace, where it’s all about Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, Atmos for TV will probably be more of a regular thing than theatrical,” says Brock. “Our intention with [Anejo] was to build it within spec for theatrical Atmos, TV Atmos, 5.1, 7.1; whatever you want to throw at it.”

“Splitting up this large space into two stages was a lot more efficient for us,” adds operations manager Michael Toji. “It’s a luxury to have a big stage. If you need a big stage, Warner Bros is down the street.”

Anejo features dual 24-fader Avid S6 M40 consoles, Pro Tools HD12 software and HDX hardware and a DAD AX32 interface. Monitoring is based on a three-way JBL theatrical system driven by 30 channels of Crown DCi amplifiers. “There are five speakers on each side, four in the back, 10 on the ceiling and two additional subs under the console,” says Brock. A BSS processor handles format switching.

With the completion of the two new stages, Monkeyland now has four mix rooms under one roof—the smaller Plata and Mescal stages are in the original half of the building—together with Foley and voice recording facilities, multiple edit bays, various lounges and a kitchen. The facility features high-speed fiber channel connectivity and has installed Avid Nexis shared storage. The next phase of construction will include a new ADR stage.

There is one other mix stage, named Magnolia for its Burbank street address, located in a space that Monkeyland rents from Del Casher, the guitarist who popularized the wah-wah pedal and later ventured into audio post. Monkeyland built the stage out around 2000 with Pro Tools, two HUIs and a Mackie 8Bus, then moved out while based at Enterprise, but later reopened it.

“That stage has always translated so well for us,” says Brock. “It’s too funky for some of our clients, but the DIY guys on a budget who need all the money to go on the screen, they don’t care. We re-outfitted the room and did the last two seasons of Once Upon a Time for ABC.” The room now features dual Avid D Commands and the three-way JBL monitoring common to all Monkeyland stages.

Brock and the Monkeyland team have been nominated for 17 MPSE awards—at least one every year since 2010—with four wins, and have also picked up CAS and Primetime Emmy nominations. The team was recently nominated for an Ariel Award—Mexico’s Academy Award equivalent—for Best Sound Work for Me estás matando Susana, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. Other recent projects have included Netflix documentary series Five Came Back; The King’s Daughter, starring William Hurt with Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV; and Becoming Bond, a documentary about one-time 007 actor George Lazenby.

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