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White Mark Designs Dolby Premier Facility in Scotland

Acoustic and technical design company White Mark Ltd. helped Glasgow-based Savalas become the first audio post-production facility in Europe to achieve Dolby Premier Studio Certification

Acoustic and technical design company White Mark Ltd. helped Glasgow-based Savalas become the first audio post-production facility in Europe to achieve Dolby Premier Studio Certification for its main digital film mixing theater. The theater, which was designed by White Mark as part of the new Savalas complex at Film City Glasgow, is also one of only four Dolby Premier rooms in the world.

Established 10 years ago by composers and film mixers Kahl Henderson, Giles Lamb and Michael Mackinnon, Savalas is now Scotland’s biggest audio post facility. Alongside its Dolby Premier theater, Savalas has a Foley and ADR stage, two TV dubbing studios and three sound suites—all designed by White Mark. These are used to provide audio post-production for TV and commercials, a fully supervised audio post and sound design service for feature films and high-end bespoke music composition by Savalas Music.

Savalas moved into Film City Glasgow at the beginning of 2007, having outgrown its previous facilities.

“We were inspired to move by Gillian Berrie, head of Sigma Films, who approached us five years ago when she first had the idea of creating Film City Glasgow,” explains Henderson. “She had visited Filmbyen in Denmark, which was established during the 1990s by Lars Von Trier as a central base for film production and a center of excellence for many young Scandinavian filmmakers. Having [witnessed] how Filmbyen had revolutionized the Danish film industry and the local economy, Gillian was convinced that a similar project could work for Scotland, and approached us and a number of other companies to see if we could establish an infrastructure that would get the project off the ground.”

Berrie found the empty shell of Govan Town Hall in Glasgow, a building that she and other filmmakers has used as a location. Its close proximity to Pacific Quay, where BBC Scotland and SMG have their new headquarters, gave Berrie the impetus to approach Glasgow City Council with a proposal for Film City Glasgow. Permission was given and funding was provided by Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and the European Regional Development Fund.

The 19th century building now comprises a studio/build space, workshop areas, a range of production offices and state-of-the-art post-production facilities operated by Savalas and video post-production specialists Serious Facilities. Future plans include additions to the film and post-production facilities, a café bar area and the creation of 16 to 20 office spaces.

For Savalas, moving to Film City Glasgow provided the opportunity to build new sound post-production facilities from scratch. “We were determined to achieve Dolby Premier Certification for our main film room because we knew this would make us unique in Europe and give us a competitive edge,” says Henderson. “To do this, it was imperative that we had the right studio design company on board because room dimensions and reverberation times are a critical part of the Dolby Premier Certification process.  

“We researched a number of companies and chose White Mark because they were streets ahead of everyone else,” Henderson continues. “They have a formidable track record and were fantastic to work with. Both the film mixing theater and our main television dubbing studio have 5.1 monitoring systems that were custom-designed by Exigy. The fact that White Mark and Exigy have worked together in the past on facilities like Grand Central and Midnight Transfer in London made the fit even more comfortable.”

The studio install took six months to complete and the main mixing theater was granted Dolby Premier Certification at the end of October.

“We worked closely with Dolby Laboratories to achieve the necessary standard,” Henderson adds. “White Mark took care of the acoustic and room reverberation criteria, but we had various conversations with regard to the equipment because we are Pro Tools throughout, and we needed to be sure that Dolby could accommodate that.”

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