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Brings Vest-Pocket Recording Studio Model To Multi-Task Environment

 HOLLYWOOD:  Singer/songwriter/musician/photographer Matt Buguy has integrated       all these art forms throughout his career.  Determined to accelerate the productivity of his Casablanca Multimedia Studios, Buguy recognized the need for an in-home facility  capable of creating, recording and performing music in tandem with numerous multimedia elements.  And, it needed to live within an 18′ x 12′ footprint totaling just 216 sq. ft.

    Conceived as an integral part of his Hollywood Hills home, Buguy envisioned a studio for composing and producing a wide range of music – from pop songs to film & video scores.  It needed to be capable of recording guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals (though not simultaneously).  It also had to accommodate the basic printing, scanning and editing equipment required for his photography assignments. Essentially, he sought a snug, comfortable environment conducive to supporting his multi-faceted creativity.  Confident of his own creative chops, Buguy began his design program with sketches of his own.  A realist as well as a dreamer, he next called the Walters-Storyk Design Group for professional design and acoustic advice.

    “When I described the studio I hoped to build and explained the physical realities of the space, John Storyk explained that small, powerful, personal studios had evolved into a serious trend.  He pointed to a number of ‘Vest-Pocket’ rooms which WSDG had created over the past few years.  Within fifteen minutes of his initial site visit he came up with three variations on my original concept.  It was clear that I had retained the right architect/acoustician.”

    Storyk describes the challenge was to take a somewhat oddly shaped trapezoid space with clearly defined, immoveable boundaries e.g. the side of the hill, and refashion it as symmetrical.  “In architecture, the steel beam is God,” Storyk explains.  “There are existing elements which will not move, and we had to deal with a few of those to wedge Casablanca into place.”

      A portion of the hill was excavated, and new walls carefully waterproofed to create a niche for the Pro Tools HD2 workstation. The main studio is comprised of a single stereo/5.1 surround sound room.  The multi-purpose workstation area serves digital audio, video and photo editing and printing.  The entire 4000 sq. ft home which Buguy has owned since 1983, was originally built in 1927 by film star Irene Manning.  Legend has it that Debbie Reynolds and other Hollywood notables visited for lessons when Ms. Manning became a vocal coach.

    “Because the acoustics of many rooms lend themselves to ‘live recording,’ we wired the screening room; the living room, which features a 9ft Knabe grand piano; and ancillary rooms that will be used as iso booths, with direct MIDI and microphone recording connections back to the main studio,” Storyk says.

    Given that the studio is adjacent to the living and dining rooms, and directly below the screening room, sound containment and isolation was a prerequisite. Double wall construction and acoustic isolation were used throughout the design.  Fortunately, the floor is concrete slab, and the north wall concrete.  The west and south walls are older Spanish home construction – thick, with plenty of space for insulation.   Because the studio previously served as a pipe organ chamber with an open tone chute into the theater above, particular effort was devoted to sound isolation between those rooms.

    Electronic infrastructure planning has been equally well thought out, as the studio is designed as one of the electronic hubs of the home.  This results in a surfeit of data and power lines that either originate in, or pass through, the space via conduits.  Additionally, many audio and video sources are routed to and from the room for remote monitoring of content.

    In addition to Pro Tools recording, CMS will employ a Tascam 38 8-track reel-to-reel deck to maintain the warmth of analog recording.  Integration with Avid Xpress Pro for video editing is also built into the system.  The current drum set is electronic (Roland V-Drums), but may be replaced in the future with an acoustic set.

    “I knew this home’s musical history when I found it in 1983,” Buguy says. “It’s heartening to know that we’re perpetuating that tradition, and also, that thanks to WSDG’s acoustic expertise, that we don’t need to worry about disturbing the neighbors when we pump up the volume.”


1. Casablanca Multimedia Studios Control Room

2. Casablanca Multimedia Studios Console

Photos by Matt Buguy.

Walters-Storyk Design Group  has designed over 3000 media production facilities in the U.S., Europe, the Far East and Latin America.  WSDG credits range from the original Jimi Hendrix Electric Lady Studio in Greenwich Village to NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Center performance complex, broadcast facilities for The Food Network, Interlochen Public Radio, CBS and WNET, and corporate clients such as Hoffman La Roche. Recent credits include private studios for  the Goo Goo Dolls, Jay-Z, Timbaland’s Tim Mosley, Tracy Chapman, film composer Carter Burwell, Aerosmith;  Green Day, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys. WSDG principals John  Storyk, Beth Walters, and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications. WSDG is a six-time winner of the prestigious TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design.  The firm maintains offices in NY, SF, Argentina, Brazil, Beijing, Mexico City and Switzerland.