Shawn Conrad provides post-production services in his Ear FX studio.
This space in Mix is usually devoted to music recording studios, but Shawn Conrad is proof that even in the sound-for-picture world, some of the most high-profile projects are being completed in personal rooms.
Conrad is a former rapper (Freshco) who became a post-production mixer at Soundtrack (New York City), creating the radio (clean) versions of hit songs such as Jay-Z's “Hard Knock Life” and others for such artists as Method Man, Ja Rule, Dru Hill and other Def Jam artists of the mid/late '90s. Replacing four-letter words with music and effects, Conrad developed an affinity for the work that would become a new focus in his career. He also did post for Fox's King of the Hill as well as numerous television and radio commercials while at Soundtrack, before moving on to 4Kids Productions, where he was a post-production engineer for Japanese-style animation shows such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In 2005, Conrad took a gig with BT Post in Atlanta, which brought him work on a variety of programming for the Cartoon Network, as well as live-action programs such as TNT/Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes. In '07, BT Post closed its doors and Conrad took his next logical step by starting his own studio, now called EarFX (www.earfx.com). The facility, which comprises a large main room and a two-person vocal booth, is built into Conrad's home, but he took pains to ensure that the tone of his place is anything but “basement.”
“Traditional studios usually have the clients sitting behind you,” Conrad says. “The clients look at the engineer's back, and the engineer turns around to talk to the clients. I do a lot of work that ends up on TV, so my goal was to have the clients feel like they're sitting in their living room. I put my setup behind them, and they get a grip on what the consumer is going to hear at home while they're watching television.”
Conrad works almost exclusively inside the box, using Pro Tools Version 8. “When I do long-format sessions, like a documentary or film,” Conrad says, “I use the Frontier Alpha Track, which is a one-fader module [pictured, left]. I'll use that to ride the faders instead of mouse-clicking for a 40-minute show.”
He monitors in stereo via Genelec 8020s, but the studio is wired for surround and he plans on completing that setup this summer. Some of the recent projects he has completed include spots for TBS show My Manny, the hour-long finale to MTV's TI's Road to Redemption and a series of ads for credit-report company Equifax. At press time, Conrad was in talks with Tyler Perry's production company for an ongoing project. Stay tuned.