As a business entity, RavensWork, one of the industry's leading post-production facilities, stands out among the art galleries, boutiques and cosmopolitan-casual restaurants lining Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Calif. But the recently expanded facility, with its modern design and ample natural light, actually seems right at home in this artistic Los Angeles suburb.
Owner/mixer Robert Feist began planning RavensWork's current expansion more than four years ago after the company outgrew its former Venice space. “We opened with one room eight years ago,” Feist recalls. “But with only one studio, you quickly find yourself in situations where clients need to make revisions and you're working until midnight to accommodate them.” Feist opened a second room with significant success and then began looking for a new larger location to better suit his growing client base and employee roster.
With the help of architect Eric Rosen and acoustical consultant John Storyk of Walters-Storyk Design Group, Feist moved into his existing facility, which now features three mix rooms — occupied by Feist, Eric Ryan and Chris Canning — all of which include Fairlight DREAM Constellation consoles, a fully integrated audio editor and automated audio mixer offering up to 192 channels on 48 mix buses, simultaneous generation of multiple surround formats and bus-to-bus mixing for multistem work, among other features.
The editor/mixers, installed earlier this year, are complemented by a Fairlight Pyxis nonlinear video machine; Event Electronics 20/20, Yamaha NS-10, and PMC TB1 and TB2 monitors; Hafler and Bryston power amps; several Lexicon reverbs; an Eventide H3500; Yamaha SPX-900; and software such as BIAS Peak 4 and SoundSoap and Propellerhead Reason and Recycle.
The recent Fairlight DREAM install marks the completion of Feist's upgrade plans and solidifies the multifaceted company's position in the upper-echelon of post facilities. “The Fairlight has been a great platform for me,” says Feist, who previously owned one Fairlight FAME and two MFX3 systems. “The DREAM console has features that other platforms don't have. It's really the first real integration of a DAW and a digital console that works together without losing a lot of features.”
The editor/mixer can also handle multiple audio file formats, which is imperative as post evolves into a tapeless industry. “We rarely see tape; we rarely even see DATs anymore,” says Feist. “It's all OMF, .AIFF and .WAV files. They come in over the Internet, over our FTP site or people bring in data files on CDs. That's one of the biggest changes we've seen over the years, and being able to handle all these formats and convert and import them into our system is important.”
Many of those OMF files come from resident music composer/sound designer Johannes Hammers, who recently completed projects for Lincoln Mercury, Showtime and Jaguar, among others. “We're fully networked; I'm on a separate platform in my own room,” says Hammers, who works on an Emagic Logic system. “When I'm finished, I'll put the OMF file on a central server, the guys up in the machine room put that on the mixer's drive and they can open it from there. With the Fairlight, it doesn't really matter what platform you're creating sound on. If you can make an OMF file, the Fairlight will open it up.”
Hammers joined RavensWork two years ago after a seven-year stint at Machine Head, followed by co-launching Conning Hammers Klok + Wagner, and later working out of the Chris Bell and Company studios. “It was just a natural fit,” Feist says of Hammers' move to RavensWork. “We've known each other for more than 10 years, and because of our increasing demand for sound design and music composition, his presence really helps fill a void.”
In addition to mixing for commercial broadcast clients such as Toyota, the U.S. Air Force, Sirius Radio, Acura, Nissan and Infinity — “We do a lot of car commercials,” Feist says — RavensWork has also hosted mix sessions for music videos from Ricky Martin, *NSync, Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, Aerosmith and Alicia Keys, to name a few. The studio also handles voice-over recording, ADR, video and audio duplication, and digital transmission via ISDN lines. “Like many post facilities, we'll record voice-overs interstate and even internationally,” says Feist. “We can hook up a digital line and do real-time recording. We do this on a weekly basis to New York, San Francisco, London, Japan — all over the world.”
With its wide array of services and interconnectivity, RavensWork serves as a one-stop shop for the post-production community, where clients can benefit from the latest digital technology, top-notch engineers and a view of the Pacific Ocean less than a mile away. “Several years ago, I thought about doing something very different with my life,” Feist recalls. “But then I realized that the best that any of us can do is to do what we do best and offer it.”
Heather Johnson is Mix's editorial assistant.