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Post Audio Mixing Room Construction Update

Post Audio Mixing Room Construction Update

5/16/2011: The last few weeks have been excruciating. We are itching so bad to open the room officially and get working. Unfortunately there are a lot of little things that we needed to complete before we could be open to the public. The one thing we have talked a lot about is that there are varying levels of open when it comes to the rooms we have been working on. There’s a big difference between a basic mix, versus a mix for a movie, versus VO recording versus an ADR session. Each type of use for the room requires a number of little things in order for us to be comfortable to have clients in. Regardless of the type of session, Rob Hill needed the training on the new ICON mixing console. Rob had gone through a number of tutorials online but there’s nothing like the actual hands on experience. We had the initial training day and it went great. The best thing about the session was that very little of the information was “new” to Rob, meaning Rob was a lot further with his understanding that we thought. After the training day it was important for Rob to continue his hands on training by himself so things become second nature.

In addition to training, we needed to make sure things like talk-back are set up for VO recording or ADR. We are also making sure multiple headsets are available for recording sessions on the stage. We also continue to look at acoustics on the stage to ensure we have the best recording environment possible. We’re also looking at little things like lighting on the stage for recording sessions.

While all of that was going on, we kicked off the sales and marketing effort for the room. Close to 3,000 post cards were sent out worldwide. We have received a few casual inquiries so we’re optimistic that the mailing has been well received. Next up will be the e-mail blast to close to 2,000 people along with posting multiple times on Facebook and Twitter, another 3,000 people. And finally we’ll be releasing the press release to hundreds of media outlets through Business Wire.

But the best thing that happened since our last blog was this past Friday. Rob did his first mix in the new room. It was an internal session for a 2 minute piece but it was a mix in the new room nonetheless, you have to start somewhere. Rob vowed to be in the new room every day for a long time and we’re looking forward to that.

4/26/2011: Last week we tuned the room. Obviously everything is important when building a new acoustic room but you could have the best room and if the speakers and subs are all over the place the acoustics will show what a screwed up system you have. There area lot of details involved in the tuning and calibration of the room but the rattle test, testing of speakers and subs, and finally the listening test are really the highlights.

One of the first tests run on a new installation is the rattle test. A signal generator is plugged into the subwoofers and low frequency tones are played at a very loud volume to see what rattles and shakes. Given the six 18 inch woofers up front and the four 12 inch woofers in the rear of the room, this can be most impressive. At one point we were pushing enough air that when you talked, it sounded like you were talking through a fan and you could feel your pants flapping. In practice, we would never have it this loud but it’s a great test. The results: we passed with flying colors. At the loudest point some of the vibrations made one light fixture flicker a bit but this was way past where we would ever have a mix.

Next, each speaker (minus the subwoofers) was removed and tested. This was done to find the two speakers that matched the closest. They would be used as the front left and right speakers for maximum imaging when mixing in Stereo. And when we talk about the “differences” between all of the speakers we’re talking such a small difference that the human ear would never hear the difference and it can only be found through unbelievably sophisticated software.

After reinstalling the speakers the “tuning” could begin. This is where the overall frequency response is tested and balanced. The levels of the high, mid and low frequency drivers where adjusted along with the monitor (speaker) EQ. Monitor EQ is dedicated EQ amps placed in the monitor chain to adjust any irregularities in the frequency response caused by room acoustics, placement behind a screen, or even the speaker’s grill cloth. We use highly modified Klark Teknik parametric EQs. The distortion at any level up to +24 dBm and any frequency from 1 Hz to 100kHz is .00005%. I had someone write that down for me because I obviously couldn’t remember it but the point is, that’s about as good as it gets. If the room has been designed properly, these EQ adjustments will be very minor. Our room was designed very well as these adjustments were extremely minor. The result is a monitoring environment that is “flat” from below 20 Hz to 40kHz in all seven channels. This is extraordinary.

Finally, it was time for the listening tests. Great specs, but how does it sound? This is done by playing material that you are very familiar with. Indeed the most fun of all the tests. Needless to say the room sounded phenomenal!

4/18/2011: Last week was more of the same with equipment install and test and adjust. Last week marked the first time we played something out of Pro-Tools and heard it through the speakers. Of course, nothing had been calibrated or tuned but just hitting play and listening we could already tell that the room sounds great. By the end of the week we had the ICON console talking to the Pro-Tools and all of the outboard gear installed and wired. And by the end of the week we had the three front speakers and subwoofers calibrated, impressive to hear.

In our world there’s a way of wiring something then there’s the way Dennis Long wires things. If you look behind your TV then multiple that mess by 100 that’s how most people would wire a room like ours. In the world that Dennis lives in everything is drawn up and labeled first then once things are wired everything is perfectly zip tied together and either lays flat or is neatly rolled, but not too tight. The man is meticulous abut how he wires things and so far it’s a piece of art.

We’re so close, this room is going to be awesome and we’re almost open for business.

4/11/2011: Things have progressed nicely over the last two weeks. Two weeks ago we started by repositioning the projection screen. It didn’t “have” to be done but the more we looked at where the screen was we decided it would be better if it were a couple inches lower so we lowered the screen about 2 1/2″. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it really does make a difference. After that we stretched the screen around the frame and installed it. If I had a camera I would have taken pictures but it would have been hard from under the screen. Because of the configurations of everything, installing the screen without punching holes in it was quite a feat and something I hope we don’t have to do again, and I mean that for the 6 of us that helped installed.

After the screen was installed, we started assembling the mixing console, the Digi-Design ICON D-Control unit with 32 faders. The console is by far the biggest, most expensive and most financed piece of the room. It has lots of knobs, lights and buttons. I have no idea what any of them do but they look really impressive.

Not nearly as impressive, Christine and I spent two days repainting the hallway that leads to the new audio room. Since the room was in progress since we moved in, that hallway turned in to the dumping ground for things and the more things got dumped, the more beat up the walls got. Christine and I patched the holed and scuff marks and gave the hallway a much needed fresh coat of paint.

We were also very excited that the door hardware was finally installed. Since space is tight we had to get a little different type of closing mechanism for the door, not to mention that the door is the heaviest thing ever so that made it so we couldn’t use just any closer. Then since the door is so think a standard door handle couldn’t be used, it had to be a special handle. But finally, we have a door that closes and it’s on properly.

Next was getting all the speakers and subs connected and wired. That wasn’t the most painful piece of the puzzle but obviously it’s an important piece. One bad connector or wire and the room is useless.

Last week was a lot of tedious connecting and wiring. We had to install all the outboard gear in the roll around rack units. Of course the casters on the roll around units weren’t working properly so we needed to get a couple new ones. Then we found out the computer monitor arm that connects to the ICON console won’t hold the monitor we have. There were a couple other examples of one step forward, two steps back but nothing unexpected. By the end of the week though, the rack in the machine closet was finished as were the roll around racks. The last thing we did before we left on Friday was pull up an existing Pro-Tools session and the good news was that everything came across. The Pro-Tools opened the session, everything lined up, the console recognized what each faded was supposed to be and things did what they were supposed to. This week, we’ll hear a real session in Pro-Tools, through the board, with the speakers and subs. That will be a huge next step and something we’ve been looking forward to since we started building the room.

3/28/2011:The last two weeks have been up and down and very messy. I didn’t do a blog last week because the last two weeks have kind of blended together as one. The main task two weeks ago was to get the subwoofers in place. Sounds easy enough but as I have mentioned numerous times in the last couple months, every inch is accounted for in our room. And when that is the case, as things happen to be an inch off here or there, it throws everything for a loop. In the front of the room, the subwoofers are huge. If you look from the ground it goes floor, 2 layers of subwoofer box, then subwoofer, then 2 layers of subwoofer box then horizontal support beam. If we needed 36″ we had 35 1/2″. Knowing that the horizontal beam is in the right place and the floor is where the floor is, we needed to figure out how to make everything fit so it does not adversely affect the acoustics. After a couple days of messy rearranging and thinking, we got it. Then we had to rework the electrical path from one side of the front to the other to make sure the wires weren’t in the way of the subs and there was no electrical interference. Basically, there was a lot of little things in the front of the room, all the while there could be absolutely no change to the acoustics.

The back subwoofers were a lot of the same but different problem. The same issue was that they didn’t fit. The different part was that it was because of the way the removable soft wall panel was constructed. After a few hours of staring at it and talking through a few options that we didn’t like too much, we thought of an easy fix that will look good and again, not changing the acoustics.

In between all of the subwoofer drama, all of our speakers were put in place and the speaker cloth was installed. The speaker cloth is the thin cloth that is put on the panels where there are speakers so the sound can come through unimpeded. All of the speaker & subwoofer cable was run and will be plugged in on one end to the speakers & subs while the other end to the board and/or Pro-Tools.

And last but not least, we started repainting the walls in the hallways that lead to the new audio room. Over the construction time that hallway has been beaten up quite a bit as well as being the unofficial dumping ground so it needed a freshening up. On Friday we did the drywall patching and started at one end of the hallway. Hopefully we’ll be done in a couple days, other work permitting.

3/15/2011: Last week was an interesting one. We officially left the construction period of the job and entered the equipment install portion. The first task on the “to do” list was verifying the exact locations of the speakers. If you’re reading this blog you probably understand the importance of speaker locations for 5.1 and 7.1 mixing. If you don’t understand the importance let’s just say trust me and leave it at that. So we got out the laser level and tape measure to ensure the sweet spot where the mixer will sit is exactly equidistant from each of the speaker locations both in length and height. Good news, locations were confirmed.

The next step was to cut the holes for the front 3 speakers. For a little backstory, one of the most important design elements of the room was that no speakers or subs would be visible. All of the speakers and subs are located behind the soft fabric soft walls so you don’t “see” the audio (speakers), you just hear it. There are shelf locations for the two surround (back) speakers in the soft walls but the three front (left, center, right) speaker locations are behind the projection screen in the wall and those holes need to be cut in to the four layers of drywall and two layers of sound board. Long story short, those holes are now cut and speaker boxes inserted.

Also completed last week, the projector was mounted from the ceiling ready to project something on a screen. Unfortunately the screen can’t be fully installed until the front speakers are in place and initial calibration is completed. So until then, we have a projector that projects on a variety of hanging insulation materials in the front wall. Other little things accomplished last week included beginning of install of the subwoofers, delivery of the roll around out-board gear racks, and the assembly of the ICON console frame. Good news on the ICON frame, it fits in the hole that we left for it.

3/8/2011: Going in to last week the only construction task left to do was the install of the track lights. What should have been a one day job turned in to three partial days worth of work. Our electrician had emergencies at other jobs so we were at the “just about done” stage for a little longer than expected. But in the end, the lights got installed and we’re officially done with construction. It definitely took longer than expected but it means a lot to say “construction is done”.

On Wednesday our mixing console was delivered. It has been in for a while but since we weren’t close to installing it we didn’t want it around so it stayed safe. The board, and all its pieces and parts, showed up on Wednesday in about 5 or 6 boxes.

Most of last week was used for cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. We vacuumed Audio A more than once. We wiped down every surface in the room first with a damp cloth then with surface cleaner. Since all the surfaces were covered in construction dust it was nice to see the actual color of all the surfaces again. Then, since a lot of the construction prep work was done on the recording/insert stage that area was a mess. We vacuumed the floor, the door frames, any ledges, the fabric roll around gobos, tables and chairs. Every surface in the stage had layers of sawdust so the vacuum got quite the workout.

Thursday the client chairs for Audio A arrived so we now have all the furniture for the back half of the room. There are now 2 stools for the workstations, 2 comfortable chairs for guests, and the ottoman/storage cube/end table that goes in the middle of the chairs. We got the stools, chairs and table from different places so there was a little nervousness about how they would look together but we are very happy. After everything was in place we took a couple “professional” pictures that we’ll use for a variety of marketing and sales purposes.

2/28/2011: Last week was similar to the previous week in that there weren’t multiple highlights. But what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality. In short, the week was spent finishing the ceiling. The final panels were hung. After hanging each panel had insulation sheets attached to the top of them. When audio gets to the top of the ceiling the insulation will absorb the sound and not allow it to rattle around. After that each panel was adjusted to the correct angle and height. What was expected to take 2-3 weeks took a little more than a week. This is probably the first thing in the entire process that went faster than scheduled.

Once the ceiling was completed Southern Acoustics moved on to finishing up little things. The area between the back ceiling panel and the wood slats in front of the projector and air conditioning got a layer of black fabric. The area behind the wood slats was painted black so it could not be seen. And finally, on Friday, after making the 2 week long trip from Tampa the projector arrived. At the end of day Friday we started setting it up so we could see the strength of the image and where it fits with the top, bottom, right and left.

While there isn’t much to write about in terms of specifics that happened last week, the photos say a lot more. By the end of next week the track lights will be installed and physical construction will be completed. Equipment install and test and adjust will begin.

2/21/2011: Normally I have multiple things to write about for the previous week but the bulk of last week was really one thing. Before that, the only other thing worth mentioning was that the soft walls were basically completed by lunchtime on Monday. There’s some clean up areas to take care of but basically from front to back, top to bottom, the walls are completed. The red and silver look great in back, black sides and front look great.

The majority of the week was spent on the ceiling. For a long time we have been looking at a ceiling of drywall, actually there’s about 4 or 5 layers of drywall. Finally this week we saw the acoustical ceiling that will be the finished product. The ceiling is multiple layers of staggered panels that are wrapped in fabric. In all, there are 6 overlapping layers from the front of the room to the back. Monday, the first panel was hung. In a process of many milestones, that was another one. Each day the guys from Southern Acoustics were able to pick up the pace. By mid-week they were almost 1/2 way done with the hanging. By the end of the week all but 2 panels were hung and in just one week we transferred the room from a regular ceiling to the stepped acoustical ceiling that we will see permanently. While the ceiling looks just about completed there’s still work to be done. On top of each panel, outside the view of anyone, there will be anywhere from 2-5″ of insulation. The goal will be to ensure cool air from the AC can move throughout the room and warm air can get up and out through the return and of course it will eliminate audio going up to the ceiling and bouncing back down. Once sound gets up in the ceiling it will dissipate.

While the week started and ended well, there were a few tense moments in the middle. As I’ve mentioned throughout, every inch in the space is accounted for, whether it’s for building or acoustics, there’s a reason for everything. As the ceiling was being hung, it became apparent that there was a problem. The screen is in the front of the room and the projector is in the back. Obviously the image needs to get from the projector to screen unimpeded. As the ceiling panels were being hung it appeared that the lowest point of the ceiling would block the top edge of the image coming from the projector. With that being the case, we quickly got with our acoustic designer to see if the precise angle of the ceiling panels, currently hanging at 14 degrees, could be adjusted. After some quick calculations it was determined that we could adjust the angle of the panels to 12 degrees without affecting the acoustics. After doing so we could see that while it will be close, the image from the projector to screen should now be in the clear.

The time needed to hang the ceiling was a bit of an unknown but Southern Acoustics completed the initial task of the ceiling quicker than expected. We can now schedule the remaining construction tasks and begin locking in dates for the calibration and test and adjust period for the room. And shortly thereafter, we’ll be open for business.

2/13/2011: We went in to last week thinking it was going to be a busy, productive week and it did not disappoint. Southern Acoustics returned on Monday to continue with the soft fabric walls. The long-awaited projection screen also arrived on Monday. We put the frame together on Tuesday and as everything else with the screen, there was a problem. After putting the screen frame together and measuring it to see how it would fit in the room, we realized that the wrong size frame was sent. The frame that was sent was about 8 inches too long (across). When every inch of the room is accounted for both for space as well as acoustically, we immediately thought we would have to return the screen. After waiting so long for the one we got, we had no idea when we would get the new one. Given the hassle we had with the projection screen all along, this was par for the course. Fortunately, everyone put their heads together and determined that we could make it work with the space and it wouldn’t affect the acoustics. By the end of the week, the screen frame was hung, which gave Southern Acoustics their measurements to finish the soft walls in the front of the room.

Tuesday also marked the long-awaited installation of the door to the room. This door is the thickest, heaviest door I have ever seen. I believe it’s just shy of 2″ thick and is solid wood. A couple weeks back we worked with F & S (our millwork contractor) to make the door swings out instead of into the room. Now seeing how the conversations turned in to an installed door, it was a great milestone. We looked at the door for a couple hours then immediately taped cardboard to it on both sides so it wouldn’t get scratched or dinged up with everyone and everything going in and out of the room still.

Midweek marked the arrival of the new MAC computer that will work with the ICON console to operate the room. Initially there was a little hiccup with the computer but that was straightened out and now we have the correct one with all the bells and whistles to make the room operate efficiently and effectively.

On Friday the 2 panes of glass that make up the window looking from Audio A in to the recording/insert stage were installed. As was the case with the door, this was another important milestone that we had been concerned about how it would look when finished. Whether it has been the chair rail, the slats at the top of the room or the door, the woodwork done by F & S has been amazing and the window was no different. The window is two panes of glass with about 6 inches of air in the middle. Between the windows on the top, bottom, and each side is a layer of insulation covered by black fabric. Then the entire window frame, both in the stage and in Audio A is the same nice wood that has been used everywhere else in the room.

Also on Friday the new stools that will be at the client workstations in the back of the room came in.Rob Hill picked them out, they are black with a silver base and have a weird design to them. We had specific thinking about the chairs for the client workstations. If a client is very involved with the mix in the room, he/she will be sitting up near the mixer at the front client workstation. If a client is passively involved in the mix or if they want to be more comfortable, he/she will sit in one of the two comfortable lounge chairs in the back of the room. This leaves the workstations in the back of the room as the fourth and fifth choice of where to sit. With that in mind, we wanted chairs that didn’t take up too much floor space, we didn’t want the chairs on wheels since that area is 8 inches up on a platform, and we wanted chairs that would allow someone to work at the desks but also spin easily to check out something in the mix if needed. With that criterion, swiveling stools seemed like the best fit. And since they would not be the first choice of where someone sits, we wanted them to look good along with being functional. When the stools are put together we’ll take some pictures.

Final task of the week was to get Rob, Millo and Shirley together so we could talk through the marketing and sales plan for the room. We might have the best new room on the east coast (which, by the way, we think we will) but if nobody knows about it, we can’t take advantage of it. We have a couple pronged approach. Initially we have a mailing list of close to 2,000 hard core TV/Film/Movie industry professionals to let people in that industry know about the room. That mailing will be a physical mailing since that list is physical addresses and not e-mail addresses. The next mailing will be an e-mail blast to the additional 2,000+ clients, friends and supporters that most of our announcements and press releases go out to. Then there’s the same message that will be pushed through Facebook and Twitter to our friends and followers. That message will cater more to our everyday clients and projects. And finally, we will have at least one open house so people can come by and actually see and hear the new room. All in all, it will be a busy couple months getting the word out that the new room is completed and ready for business.

This week again promises to be a busy one as the ceiling install begins along with the main lighting in the room. Southern Acoustics will be finishing off the fabric soft walls and F & S will be starting on the speaker boxes.

2/6/2011: Last week was an interesting week of ups and downs. As has been the case the past few weeks the projection screen has been an issue. The week started with us being told the screen would be available from customs on Monday. Like everything else with the screen that schedule didn’t happen. It showed up at the screen company on Tuesday but we were told that it arrived too late in the day to get it out that day so it would go out Wednesday.

For the last 2 weeks I had been asking and the company was agreeing that when the screen was ready to ship it would go next day/overnight since we were desperate to get it in the building. End of day Wednesday I got the tracking number so I immediately went on line to check the status and of course it is listed as being shipped Fed Ex Ground Economy, translation, as slow as possible, with an estimated delivery date of Monday 2/7. I called Fed Ex to see if the shipping service could be changed, they transferred me to someone else who said yes but it had to be done by the shipper, not the receiver, since I was not paying for shipping. So I got in touch with the screen company and they filled out the paperwork but for whatever reason it didn’t matter and I was stuck with waiting until Monday. Lucky for me I got the token “we’re sorry” from the company. I guess it’s a good thing the screen isn’t holding up construction, oh wait, it is. We’re now at least 5 days, probably closer to 10, behind schedule because of the worst client service ever experienced.

You may have noticed by now in the multiple blogs about the projection screen that I have not mentioned the company responsible for this fiasco. I am choosing to bad mouth without naming names because I am not comfortable naming names. However, you should notice from the rest of my entries that when we like a company or person we shout their name from the rooftops. The fact that I have not mentioned the company’s name should tell you how we feel about their service.

On a much brighter note, the millwork people from F & S Cabinets (notice me naming names for good work) continued on Tuesday with the removal of the old chair rail. By end of day Tuesday the old chair rail was gone and the first part of the new chair rail was in and it looked beautiful. It’s amazing what good craftsmanship and attention to detail will get you. They also put the back wall RPG diffusers in their permanent position. For so long that was just a hole in the back of the room and now it’s an eye catching feature. By the end of the week the chair rail was 90% completed and in place. The quality and attention to detail were amazing to watch. I heard the guys talking in 1/16″ detail and to be that precise was impressive.

The other part of the week with F & S was spent working through the detail of the top part of the room where the AC spills air in to the room as well as where the projector lives. They had done a miniature prototype of what they were building back at their shop. Not only was it cool to see a miniature but it really helped us visualize what that part of the room will look like and as much as the RPG wall is eye catching, this will be equally as impressive. But the little details about where the projector will sit, or hang upside down from, is obviously very important so to get that much dialogue about such a little piece of the room was nice to see. On Friday they brought that part it two pieces and installed it and it did not disappoint, it was amazing. Words do not do it justice so be sure you check out the pictures. Between the RPG wall and now this part of the room, the back 1/2 of the room is absolutely gorgeous.

This week stands to be a busy one. On the agenda: install of the door frame, the window that looks into the recording/insert stage and the speaker boxes. Fed Ex willing, and probably weather permitting, we should have the projector and screen. And Southern Acoustics will be back to continue with the soft walls.

1/31/2011: Remember last week when I said we had reached a plateau in the construction process? It continued for the most part last week. Southern Acoustics couldn’t do a lot because they ran out of black fabric for the soft walls and are waiting for their delivery. They also needed the millwork people to get a little further on their part so they could cover up some of the wood work that is behind the walls. They were able to finish the wood trim on almost all of the movable gobos for the recording/insert stage. We rolled out our large rug and put the gobos around the stage to almost simulate what we would do for a voice over session and we think it’s going to work nicely.

The millwork guys came in to build the shelves for the 2 side speakers. Ironic that the first shelves that were built were for the 7.1 side speakers when we probably will do 7.1 less than 5.1 or stereo mixes but that’s how things go. The millwork guys spent most of their week off-site constructing the door frame and mechanism for what I think is the heaviest, thickest solid wood door ever. They also were working at their place on the new chair rail which is scheduled to be put in this week.

The biggest drama of the week came from our projector screen. The screen was due to arrive in early January. It’s been stuck in customs in Atlanta since then, every day being a different reason why. First it was the snow & ice storm in Atlanta, then it was a number that was needed, then it was a translation of something. Long story short, it’s still in Atlanta and is officially holding up work on our end. The screen needs to he here and installed before Southern Acoustics can complete the wrapping of the soft walls. A stud only wall (no dry wall) will frame the screen so it doesn’t look like a screen just hanging there. Once the wall is built it will be wrapped in fabric to match the rest of the room. If the screen isn’t here they can’t build the wall. If the wall isn’t built they can’t wrap it. If they can’t wrap it they can’t finish the job. If they can’t finish we can’t install the equipment and start working. The projector screen has been very frustrating. Hopefully resolution of the drama in next weeks blog.

1/24/2011: We have realized that in most construction projects they begin really fast where every hour it seems there are new things to see. Then you reach a plateau where some days you see a lot and others you wonder if anything new was done. Then as the end nears all the finishing touches are done so you see every little new detail. We have officially reached the plateau stage of the project.

Monday 1/17 was slowed significantly by the rain. The millwork team was scheduled to begin work but because it was raining most of the day, it was not a good idea to bring wood over or use an electric saw outside. But they started Tuesday morning and the first thing on their list was to build the box that would house the wooden diffusers that are the most visible piece of the entire room. The box needed to be constructed so the diffusers could be placed and then additional insulation could be attached behind and below the diffuser wall. The diffusers aren’t in permanent place but looking at the pictures definitely gives you a sense of how the back wall will look when completed.

Speaking of the additional insulation below the diffusers, pictures and words don’t do it justice. This might have been the worst part of the whole job. The guys had to work in a dark space about 3 feet high and 3 feet deep while drilling, installing and fastening insulation panels above them. We would walk in the room to check on progress and we’d think nobody was in there when in reality they were in there but we couldn’t see them tucked in the back wall.

Wednesday was a little step overall but a big step for us. In building the new mix room, we created a hallway from our mail hallway down to the recording/insert stage. That hallway has not had lights for over a year. In that time we used a couple makeshift solutions that while they have got done the job, they were not permanent and far from professional for clients and guests to see. On Wednesday our new light fixtures were installed and we love them.

Thursday & Friday were spent continuing on construction of the removable fabric soft walls. While waiting for additional fabric the team framed out the remaining panels and wood parts of the frames so when the new fabric comes on they will be ready to take the next step. And the last thing they did on Friday was begin installing the silver fabric below the chair rail in the back of the room.

1/18/2011: Last week was a productive week on the construction front even though we only worked for 4 days. We had a shoot on our insert stage on Monday so we weren’t able to do construction that day. However, our acoustic designer (Boston Bob as we call him) flew in from Boston Sunday night so internally we spent the afternoon with him Monday covering what had been done the first week and how things would go through completion.

Tuesday morning the crew was back at it with our acoustic designer offering clarification on a number of small details. Bob spent quite a bit of time with the millwork contractor since the woodwork is so prominent in the room, it’s very important that it is done well and look great. After the millwork, Bob spent time with the soft wall & insulation contractor, Southern Acoustics. At the end of the day, we were miles ahead of where we were in terms of the contractors having a clear understanding of what needs to be done over the next few weeks.

Mid-week the ceiling panels showed up from Southern Acoustics. There are multiple panels that will hang from the hard ceiling that will help with the acoustics and air conditioning as well as look cool. The ceiling panels are wrapped in a dark gray fabric. Throughout the week the soft walls continued to progress. By the end of the week an entire section of the removable walls, from floor to ceiling, was completed and looked great. In addition, most of the back of the room panels were completed. This section might be our favorite because of the red fabric we picked. The front part of the room will have black walls and the ceiling will be gray but we wanted the back of the room to have color so there’s some vibrancy to the room.

Also by the end of the week the movable gobos for the recording/insert stage were all but completed. These are movable panels that we can place in specific places on the stage depending on what we’re recording and they will enhance the acoustics of the room. We like these a lot as well because we were able to use the red fabric here as well.

And finally, towards the end of the week we officially started moving forward with the sales and marketing plan for once the room is operational. Between multiple of lists we have about 4,000 people we will send out the pres release, mailing, post card, etc. not to mention continuing to use our Facebook and Twitter pages to get the word out. We enlisted help from some of our friends in the industry to get their opinions about the best way to get the word out there. Bottom line, once the room is up and running we need to sell it. It’s going to be a great room but if people don’t know about it, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

01/09/2011:Last week we officially started the completing stages of the construction of our post production audio mixing room (Audio A). Since Monday was the first day after the holidays we decided to start on Tuesday. Tuesday morning we started with Southern Acoustics. They are responsible for the acoustic insulation, the fabric walls & ceiling and the movable gobos for our recording/insert stage. We spent about two hours with the guys going through the remaining scope to be sure everyone was on the same page. For every one question that was answered, there were two that were left unanswered. After the meeting we all agreed the next step was to have a call with our acoustic designer Tuesday afternoon then start fresh Wednesday. We had the call Tuesday afternoon and it lasted almost two hours. In the end, it was a good thing we had the call. We got answers to some things and some others that we thought we were going in the right direction, we actually were not.

Wednesday morning the guys were on-site, bright and early. There were two guys working in Audio A and a third working on the gobos. By end of day Thursday all of the insulation was completed in the back wall in the mix room and one of the gobos was completed. The gobos were custom designed to maneuver anywhere in on recording/insert stage for VO recording, ADR or traditional production so the acoustics react as needed. Regardless of where they are placed for a session or shoot, they will deaden the sound on the stage.

Friday morning we met with the millwork guy. The main concern for the millwork guy is the positioning and workings of the door. No matter what we do with the door, it absolutely cannot move from where it is in its closed location. Since the room was designed so precisely, if we move something it can affect the acoustics in the room which is an absolute no-go. The door was originally designed to open inward, something that made sense when you saw it on paper. But once we saw the room and how that will happen, it quickly became apparent that the door actually needs to open outward. We’re still not sure if that’s going to be possible because of the physical limitations around the door but we’re going to give it a shot. Other items for the millwork contractor include the speaker shelves, the support box for the diffusers on the back wall, the window frame looking in to the stage, and the baseboard and chair rail.

By the end of the day Friday, the acoustic guys had begun framing the removable soft walls and four of the gobos were finished. We’re taking Monday off since we have a shoot on the stage but we’re back at it Tuesday – Friday. By the end of the week we should have all the gobos completed for the stage and most, if not all, the framing done for the soft walls. I’m sure we’ll see progress from the millwork and electrical guys as well.

John Lux
As COO of IDEAS, John manages the day-to-day operations of the company. He is a category expert in studio production and is responsible for bringing advanced digital media technology to IDEAS.