Chief engineer/mixer Mark Rodrigues (left) and VP of post-production Rick Nowak
Photo: Maureen Droney
The term “fully diversified” takes on new meaning when it comes to describing New Wave Entertainment. Housed in a 40,000-square-foot complex in the heart of the Burbank Media District, NWE employs more than 200 and is one of the largest creative marketing and production service companies around. Established in 1986 as a movie trailer vendor, the company's current services encompass everything from content creation for film and television, to HDTV production, video post, DVD special features and menu design, motion graphics, music scoring, artist management and more.
NWE principal Paul Apel explains it best: “We're a creative content house, but we also have our own facilities. We create marketing materials for motion pictures: theatrical releases and TV campaigns. We also do a large amount of finishing work for all of the studios. If it's released by Sony, Disney, New Line or Fox, it comes through here and we provide the creative finishing.
“Our television department produces more DVD featurettes than anybody else in the world,” Apel continues. “As we speak, we have hundreds of DVDs in production, everything from Harry Potter to Dawn of the Dead. Anything that's on the DVD other than the movie, we create and produce here. We also have a very large graphics department where we do things like main title sequences and DVD menus.”
The audio department that services this growing enterprise is, obviously, a busy one, staffed by 11 mixers and running two shifts. Its infrastructure is built around the Fairlight DREAM family of modular production and post-production systems and includes six DREAM (now DREAM Constellation) automated multiformat mixing consoles, two Station editing/recording/automated mixing systems and one Satellite high-performance workstation/editor. The DREAM systems are particularly effective for New Wave because each product inherits all of the capabilities of its smaller siblings while adding functions. All DREAM systems share the same hardware and software platform, and operators are able to move quickly from one to another, streamlining the processes of audio acquisition, editing and track-laying.
With a schedule that on any given day includes ADR, voice-overs for DVD commentary, and editing and mixing anything from The Alamo to Man on Fire, quick and seamless throughput is a top priority. Fairlight's MediaLink networking provides connectivity between the DREAM workstations with real-time sharing, backup and distribution of audio data. Edit lists, interchange files and audio data in standard 16, 20 or 24-bit formats can be exchanged between any of the connected systems utilizing 100Mbit technology and standard fast Ethernet Cat-5 UTP twisted-pair copper cabling.
“We picked Fairlight because they are very efficient, especially on the server side,” comments Apel. “Fairlight is a good product. It allows us to have all of our mixers working together. We started with the FAMEs, upgraded to DREAM two years ago and we just installed two more in November. We are always trying to make things more efficient for our clients who are under enormous pressure, and the DREAM system is great for what we need to do.”
“We're really big on the team concept,” adds Rick Nowak, NWE's VP of post-production. “We may have one editor working on a project and another editor needs to pick it up or add to it. Every mixer also needs to be able to get to the project quickly and easily. The concept throughout the entire building is a seamless work flow.”
“The capability of the all-digital DREAM console and its routing is amazing,” enthuses chief engineer/mixer Mark Rodrigues. “A feature we really appreciate that a lot of other systems don't have is that all automation and project information is saved together. So when you back up to the server, it's not a separate issue. Everything stays locked together in one place that can bounce from room to room. Another really nice thing about the Fairlight system is the V Motion video storage. It works hand-in-hand with all of the audio setups. I've worked with numerous video storage products and the V Motion is, by far, the fastest and most maneuverable.”
“The system really works for us,” agrees Nowak. “We call up a project, go up on the fiber and send it out to the client for approval. Then we make any tweaks and ship it out. Clients rarely come in anymore; the majority of our projects are shown over the fiber right into their offices.
“It's very immediate,” he continues. “The majority of what we get is FTP'd to us. We get material from all of the different trailer vendors across town — and across the country. They fiber it to us, and even before I get the OMF, I can take the offline picture with its temp mix and start locating dialog and replacing effects.
“The Fairlight system lends itself to this way of working. Our clients know that they can give us a spot and we can get it out that fast. The DREAM editing system is by far the best I've worked on. It's designed to use two hands to punch buttons instead of having a mouse or a light pen that you have to drag. Once working that way becomes a routine, there's nothing else out there that can beat it.
“It's all about getting the work done,” Nowak concludes. “Our mixers are a very solid group; they pride themselves on turning out the absolute best work for the time-frame that they are given. Our clients know that they will get the very highest quality possible.”