A theatrical mix stage at the Glen Glenn Sound facility, the center of audio post-production operations for Deluxe.
There was a time when the name Glen Glenn Sound was at the top of a very short list of sound-for-picture facilities. Founded by film and television audio pioneer Glen R. Glenn, a Canadian electrical engineer who migrated to Los Angeles in 1931, Glen Glenn Sound was established in 1937 and quickly became the go-to supplier for post-production sound services for films and later for the then-new medium of television. The company, which grew to 14 studios at three locations and became the largest independent audio post-production company in the world, was involved in the audio post for more than 20,000 theatrical films and television shows, until it was acquired by an equally iconic brand in the sound-for-picture business, Todd-AO, in 1986.
Deluxe was founded as a film lab that grew into a provider of creative services and delivery solutions, and celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Deluxe has revitalized the Glen Glenn Sound building on Seward Street in Hollywood, part of a restructuring of the media giant’s content development facilities. The Glen Glenn Sound name will remain on the side of the building, built in 1981, as a reminder of its historic legacy; inside, Deluxe Audio Seward, as the facility is now known, will be at the cutting edge of modern audio post-production technology and workflow. This transition was accomplished thanks to products, service and support from Guitar Center Professional, the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts.
As much as half of the building’s 40,000 square feet are taken up with five theatrical mix stages, with three functioning as Dolby Atmos and DTS-X immersive rooms. Stage 5, formally an ADR-only stage, was converted to a hybrid mix/ADR room that functions as a premier TV mixing stage. Stage 7 is unique in that it can transition between home and theatrical immersive formats, giving valuable real world translation experiences for the content creators.
“When you see the name on the side of the building, you’re immediately reminded of the immense history that comes with this place, which is that it’s one of the few large buildings in the world ever purpose-built from the ground up specifically for audio,” says Doug Higgins, Director of Audio Operations for Deluxe. “Once you step inside, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a thirty-something-year-old building. The technology is cutting-edge.”
A significant amount of the equipment was sourced and supplied through the Los Angeles office of GC Pro. Deluxe Seward took delivery of a massive amount of systems, platforms, and products from brands including Avid, JBL, Crown, Focusrite RedNet, Everts, Waves Audio, iZotope, Audio Ease, Neyrinck, and Panasonic.
“Working with the team at GC Pro was fantastic,” says Higgins. “They gave us the attention we needed to get through an aggressive transition period.”
Equipment and technology decisions were made based on which ones could not only give the facility the ability to match a wide range of client needs but do so at a level without compromise—part of Deluxe’s strategy is to be one stop solution for its clients—and keep efficiency high, but also adapt to changes in workflow, technology, and the industry environment around them going forward.
Several processes were implemented to achieve all of this. For instance, audio signal flow around the facility is a hybrid of MADI, Dante, and BLU-based digital audio networking. All of the facility’s mix stages are using MADI I/O to help efficiently deal with immersive audio, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. From MADI, the signal then is sent to the Focusrite RedNet 6 box for conversion to Dante. From there, audio as networked data is distributed to Dante-enabled BSS BLU-806 BLU-Net processor that communicates via BLU Link to the Crown amplifiers, where all of the D/A conversions take place, for the audio monitoring chain.
That signal flow configuration will take on even more importance for monitoring as the number of film-sound speaker formats continues to expand, with the now-conventional 5.1 and 7.1 being joined by Dolby Atmos and DTS-X immersive format with up to 64 discrete speakers in a room. Stage 1 currently supports the Cinema Giant Screen (CGS) format, whose images are more than 65 feet wide and 35 feet tall.
“We have significant needs for audio signal-distribution throughout the building, and much of it is literally running across ethernet and coaxial cables,” Higgins notes. “We can change formats, configurations, and destinations very quickly.”
In addition, a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) system from IHSE is implemented throughout the facility, allowing very flexible and efficient workstation management across the mix stages so that authorized users can remotely and securely connect to any workstation, providing a huge boost to workflow efficiency, Higgins says.
“This is what makes the facility dynamic,” Higgins explains. “A multi-workstation project can be moved from room to room with very little setup time. In addition, our 10 gigabyte fiber ring to our other Deluxe worldwide facilities truly helps meet our customer’s needs.”
In some cases, the market helps make technology decisions. Higgins cites the ubiquity of JBL speakers in cinemas globally for Deluxe Seward’s choice of that brand for most of its cinema monitoring, including the JBL High Powered Screen Array Cinema system. “We wanted to have high quality audio monitoring with very strong translation into the real world,” he says.
In 2015, most of the Deluxe audio group in Los Angeles moved into Seward, which includes Chace Audio in Burbank, best known for their proprietary restoration processes. “Having our Los Angeles audio groups finally come together into one building gives us a tremendous amount of talent, resources, flexibility, and efficiencies in one location. While we have embraced an all digital workflow, we still provide servicing for over 85 legacy audio formats, which allows us to provide many end-to-end services to customers.” says Higgins.