Independent post-production company Pace Pictures has relocated its facilities to Hollywood and adopted an innovative on-demand business model that allows clients to scale services and space up and down according to changing needs.
Partnering with IgnitedSpaces, a multistory co-working site on Hollywood Boulevard, Pace Pictures has invested heavily in equipment from Focusrite’s RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces, building out its sound editorial and mixing facilities, including a Dolby Atmos stage, on a Dante audio-over-IP network backbone.
Pace Pictures’ new facilities, covering about 22,000 square feet, are located on the first floor of the building, which was previously occupied by audio post house Soundelux. The company, led by founder Heath Ryan, has completely refitted the existing floorplan, building out a Dolby Atmos mix stage designed by Bill Johnston of The Formosa Group, in consultation with three-time Academy Award-winning re-recording mixer Michael Minkler – a partner in Pace’s sound division. Pace Pictures additionally offers picture editorial finishing, color grading, visual effects and titling services.
Formosa Group VP of engineering Bill Johnston consulted on the Dolby Atmos room project, modeling his technical design on Formosa’s post-production facilities. “I basically transported the technologies we have been using at Formosa into their space,” says Johnston. “The reason behind using RedNet is that it’s simple. It just works every day,” he continues. “There’s such an elegant simplicity to the system. If you’re building a post facility, there doesn’t seem to really be an alternative that makes any sense.”
Recently Pace Pictures provided sound services for new Universal Pictures release Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which was pre-dubbed at the facility by Minkler. The facility also handled post work for a VR concert film on the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Other completed projects include independent features Silver Lake, Flower and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Pace Pictures has also worked on TV series iZombie, VR concerts for Coldplay, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, and a Mariah Carey music video related to The Star, an animated feature from Sony Pictures.
In the Dolby Atmos room, explains David Tichauer, Mix Technician and Re-Recording Mixer at Pace Pictures, “On the playback side we have two Focusrite RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges on each of two rigs [four HD32R’s total], supporting 64 I/O on each side, and an additional HD32R on a third Pro Tools | HD system. On our Pro Tools recorder system, we have four HD32Rs supporting 128 in/out. Then, we have two RedNet D64R 64-channel MADI bridges, which interconnect the recorder and the Dolby Atmos RMU [Rendering and Mastering Unit].”
The room features a dual-operator Avid S6 mixing surface. In addition, he says, “We have two RedNet AM2 stereo audio monitoring units as headphone boxes. We can put them at any workstation we need to, if you’re a mixer or editor or mix tech who needs to have their own private session.”
A second audio room, Sound 2, intended for ADR and voice-over recording, is close to completion, continues Tichauer. “We have a Red 4Pre [58-In / 64-Out Thunderbolt 2 and Pro Tools | HD compatible audio interface] back there,” he reports. Housing four Focusrite Red Evolution mic preamps, the device also interfaces to 64 channels of Pro Tools | HD.
“We’re going to be integrating that via Dante into the Atmos room,” he says. “We’ll be able to harness the I/O and computer in that room if we need another Pro Tools rig; we can just patch in through the Atmos room. I’m really excited to get that set up.”
In today’s post-production world, where a Dolby Atmos-capable room has three or more source Pro Tools machines, having a router is incredibly important, Johnston says. “And the RedNet environment has a built-in router. You can send from device to device seamlessly, save setups, and do whatever you need to do in that world. If you’re going to route in the MADI world, which is the way it has traditionally been done for the past 15 years or so, it’s a great environment but it’s more expensive and a little more complex,” requiring additional third-party equipment such as a console or router hardware.
Further, adds Johnston, the RedNet environment sends clocking information with the audio signals. “Your I/O devices are automatically clocked together. You don’t run word clock all over the studio to multiple devices, you run it to one RedNet device, make that device your master, and you’re good to go.”
The Focusrite’s RedNet range is further buoyed by the explosion of Dante-enabled products from a multitude of brands with which it can interface. Johnston notes, “When you need to hook up an extra pair of speakers somewhere, you can go out and buy a two-channel Ethernet device, put it onto the network and it automatically shows up in your router. Two seconds later you’re routing to it.” He adds, “Every facility now has networking everywhere. You should keep the RedNet environment separate from the rest of your IP, but Cat 6 is Cat 6, and is running from room to room at most facilities.”
Previously, running multipair analog cabling or MADI transports across a facility was expensive and time-consuming. Now, says Johnston, “If you need headphones somewhere, you just plug a Cat 6 Ethernet cable into the network and into Focusrite’s AM2 headphone box; it’s powered and you’re ready to go. It takes about five minutes. It takes longer to remember which drawer you put the AM2 headphone box in.”
The power of the network environment has been bolstered by Dolby’s very recent addition of a Dante option for the RMU in the home theater market, Johnston comments. “We recently put two Dante-based RMUs into our studios. We took a Mac, shoved a Dante card into it and, lo and behold, you have 128 channels in and out of the RMU.”
Focusrite gear setup for Pace Pictures:
— Five RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges linked to Pro Tools | HD systems
— Two RedNet D64R 64-channel MADI bridges, which interconnect the recorder and the Dolby Atmos RMU
— Two RedNet AM2 stereo audio monitoring units as headphone boxes
— One Red 4Pre 58-In / 64-Out Thunderbolt 2 and Pro Tools | HD compatible audio interface featuring four Focusrite Red Evolution mic preamps and interfacing to 64 channels of Pro Tools | HD in Sound 2, an ADR/voiceover suite