San Rafael, CA—Currently celebrating five years in business, “professional knob twister” John McDermott and “chief chord plucker” Christian Hanlon, co-owners of music company Temp Love (@templovemusic), have moved into new digs in San Rafael in San Francisco’s North Bay. And what digs. Once known as The Pit, their new room oozes history, having previously been part of George Lucas’ renowned Industrial Light & Magic complex.
The move out of San Francisco, where the pair previously maintained a studio in the Jackson Square neighborhood, was in response to the difficulties—especially the cost and the traffic—of being in “the city,” says Hanlon. “This puts us not so far out of the city and close to our homes, but also in a very creative environment with a 40-year history of making wonderful stuff. After being in a very techy, client-based world in San Francisco, we’ve found ourselves in a far more creative world up north.”
Hanlon adds, “John lives in San Rafael and I live in Oakland and have a studio in my house. It’s fun to be in both areas because there’s quite a bit of music happening, and film and venues; Oakland is having an explosion of media creation.”
The new room is at what is now known as 32Ten Studios, a production community on the former ILM lot on Kerner Boulevard that still houses the shop where models for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean were created. “One of the things that sold John and me specifically was that there’s a theater here that we can use that seats about 250 people,” says Hanlon. The theater was reportedly the first to receive THX certification, meeting the sound playback specification initially developed for the facility’s re-recording stage by Tomlinson Holman, Lucasfilm’s chief engineer.
“Great rooms sound great a lot of times because great music was in them, and there was a lot of cool stuff that happened within these walls,” says Hanlon of The Pit. The room was once home to Dr. Andy Moorer, inventor of SoundDroid, a prototype DAW developed in 1980. He later programmed the iconic THX “Deep Note” sound logo in the room. The Pit was subsequently occupied by Canadian computer whiz Steve “Spaz” Williams, the CGI innovator who animated Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, The Mask and other titles.
At their new studio location, “probably 80 percent of our work is done through Pro Tools,” says McDermott. “More recently, we’ve really fallen in love with Ableton as a creative source. On a lot of projects, we will start playing around and get inspiration and ideas down in Ableton, then move to Pro Tools to finish.”
The workflow in their respective Pro Tools systems is identical: “If one of us drops dead, we can pick up the other person’s sessions immediately,” says Hanlon cheerfully.
“We had this massive light go off in our heads with the 2018 version of Pro Tools and using track presets. We created a huge number of track presets that we can drag and drop into our sessions as needed so that our I/Os and everything are the same.”
A Change of Pace in Hollywood, by Steve Harvey, July 5, 2018
Using track presets also reduces setup time, Hanlon continues. “There’s no real downtime anymore; you need to work really quickly.”
Hanlon and McDermott have standardized on Focal monitor speakers, and both use Spitfire Audio, Symphobia and Cinesamples orchestral virtual instruments and Universal Audio products. “We are huge believers in Focal. We both have Solo6 Be monitors with the matching sub,” says Hanlon.
The pair don’t just collaborate with each other, also working with a roster of composers worldwide on custom music and library cues. Again with an eye to synchronized workflows, they insist on certain conventions.
“File naming and asset management are huge for us. When we get stuff from our composers, we mix and master it. For the most part, we make sure we have a cohesive product so clients know what to expect—you’re going to get stuff with very similar levels and that has a [specific] sound,” Hanlon says.
Being in the Bay Area has given Temp Love the opportunity to work with a lot of different ad agencies and clients, McDermott says. “The agency scene is really big, and flourishing. We have several clients we work with regularly. One is Old Navy and Gap; we’ve done a bunch of ads for them in the past year.”
“We just did an interesting back story for Adobe about using Premiere for the show Atlanta,” Hanlon reports. “And we’ve worked with Google, Reddit, Twitch—a lot of tech companies, because they’re creating so much content.
“On the agency side, we work with a lot of the major names: Muhtayzik|Hoffer, BBDO, AKQA. There’s such an agency presence here and we’re local, which has helped a lot. Having relationships directly with the companies has opened up opportunities.”
Hanlon spent the first six months of this year working on Quarter Life Poetry, a 10-episode television series for FX, launching this fall, from director Arturo Perez Jr. and writer Samantha Jayne, who is also his wife. “It’s based on a musical,” Hanlon says. “I wrote these pieces, modern pop songs; got the talent in and recorded them; then went to L.A. and filmed everything to the music. Then we brought it up here and did lots of location work. We wrote music for it and did the post, sound design and mixing here. We run a music library and they used quite a few cues; I was also the music supervisor. So we offered them a start-to-finish product.”
McDermott may be familiar to some as songwriter and guitarist with Bay Area alt-rock band Stroke 9. They still play occasionally, he says, typically for charity.
Temp Love also gives back to the community, McDermott says. “We specifically donate to Sunset Youth Organization in San Francisco, which gets instruments for kids and teaches them how to record; Oakland Children’s Hospital, which has a music therapy program; and the BMI Foundation.
“It’s becoming tougher for young people to get access to music as budgets get cut. We’re big believers in helping kids with music.”
Temp Love • www.templove.com