Opening a new studio is a game of numbers, but for Parabolic in New York City it wasn’t about the numbers you’re probably thinking of. It was actually about the number of columns, and the fewer the better. Sound supervisor/re-recording mixer Lewis Goldstein explains: “In New York, the buildings have a tremendous amount of columns. Trying to find a floor in Manhattan that had a minimum of 24 feet between columns was really hard. Also, the space had to have enough ceiling height to create the mix stage we wanted.” Goldstein’s search ended on the fifth floor of 18 West 21st in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.
Prior to opening Parabolic NY in 2011, Goldstein clocked more than 25 years of sound editing and mixing experience at facilities on both coasts. He spent his early sound editing years in L.A., and then settled back in New York, working as a sound editor at large editorial houses before striking out on his own. In New York, Goldstein would edit at one facility, record ADR and Foley at other studios, and then mix at facilities that would accommodate outside mixers. “I realized it would be much easier if I had everything under one roof. I looked at the math of what I was spending to utilize those other facilities and it seemed like a really good idea to build a facility designed specifically for the work that I did,” says Goldstein, who has more than 200 sound editing and mixing credits, including the films Casino;The Big Lebowski; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Moonrise Kingdom, and TV shows like Louie, Broad City and Younger.
While planning out Parabolic NY, Goldstein brought in architectural acoustical designer LP Swist to create a dub stage that would please the ear and the eye. “Larry [Swist] had phenomenal design concepts for Stage A. Its sound translates to other theaters seamlessly. Larry built that room with incredible sonic isolation, and just an amazing acoustic sense,” says Goldstein.
Isolation is important when you’re in a building with neighbors above and below. “We had to be able to play back at levels that typically would cause a landlord concern. Case in point—the mixes on American Ultra and Purge 3: Election Year,” he adds. “Even in moments of some extreme levels, we never had comments from our neighbors in the building.” Goldstein also appreciates the room’s superb low-end response, which is not easy to achieve in a room that is only 34 feet long.
Stage A is a Dolby-certified 7.1 mix stage outfitted with Avid’s 48-fader D-Control surface. Three Pro Tools 12 HD Native rigs and an HDX system connected via MADI handle playback and stem record. Main monitors are JBL 4670Ds, with JBL 8340As for surrounds, and two JBL 4645C subwoofers. Plug-in packages include Avid, Waves, and FabFilter, plus Audio Ease’s Altiverb 7, reFuse’s Lowender, and iZotope RX Advanced.
Stage A is the gem in Parabolic’s crown, which also sports a second, smaller Dolby-certified mix stage, ADR stage, Foley pits and sound edit suites.
Goldstein designed Parabolic to support facility-wide collaboration. On a technical level, all the rooms are connected via two 100TB servers, but more importantly, the sound team is connected from a personality standpoint. “The Parabolic family—that’s a key word. Many of my crew members have been with me for years,” says Goldstein.
He points to ADR supervisor Cate Montana, who has been on Parabolic’s team since her 1999 internship on the film Boys Don’t Cry. Now, she handles ADR and the duties of studio operations manager—a natural transition, according to Goldstein, because Montana knows exactly what needs to happen on a daily basis to make Parabolic run smoothly. Helping to make the mixes run smoothly is re-recording mixer Tom Ryan. Initially, Goldstein mixed all of Parabolic’s projects himself, but now he and Ryan split that responsibility. “Tom [Ryan] has been with me for so many years that our working style is completely in sync. It really makes it effortless for us to collaborate with many of our clients,” he says. Other team members include sound effects editor Alex Soto, ADR recordist Jerrell Suelto, Foley recordist/editor Wen Hsuan Tseng, and sound assistants Alfred DeGrand, Linzy Elliot and Andrew Mastronardi.
Over the past five years, Parabolic has built a steady base of clients from the film and TV industries. Many of Parabolic’s TV clients have series that get renewed for second, third and fourth seasons. In the case of Louis C.K.’s series on FX called Louie, it was five seasons. Goldstein feels, “We’ve become part of the process with them.” Other current shows include Comedy Central’s Broad City, FX’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll by Denis Leary, Hulu’s Difficult People, Bravo’s Odd Mom Out, and TV Land’s Younger and The Jim Gaffigan Show.
On the film side, Parabolic handles the full post sound package on roughly 10 independent films a year, plus one or two major studio features. Past work includes American Ultra starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, Begin Again by writer/director John Carney, Universal’s Purge 3: Election Year (in theaters July 1), and the upcoming 20th Century Fox release Keeping up with the Joneses, starring Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm.
“Our space is tailored to our specific workload. We can ramp up for all of these jobs at any given time, and we usually have several of them happening simultaneously. That’s the reason I built Parabolic—to have a facility and a dedicated staff to work on our clients’ projects creatively and cost-effectively. And to do it all in a warm, welcoming atmosphere,” concludes Goldstein.