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Looks like it will not be a good year for some production facilities DAW Software
Old 6th October 2018
  #1
Looks like it will not be a good year for some production facilities

My mentor just told me that after 45+ years he will be closing up his facility effective the 15th of this month. I was there last Thursday and he and his staff were already pulling out the equipment and winding up the cables. Really too bad since he has been my mentor and inspiration for all the 45 years I have known him. 8 audio video studios and a purpose designed studio building that will now probably be used for an office complex. Loss of clients was his reason to pull the plug.

Also another production company in upper state NY that we did a lot of business with seems to have shut their doors. No answer on their phones and no replies to emails sent to them. The last time I called instead of the normal greeting I got "our administrative offices are closed please leave a message and we will try and get back to you" Bummer.

I guess it is getting harder and harder to stay "in business" in today's DIY economy.

This sucks...
Old 6th October 2018
  #2
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Or maybe he's decided to retire, as well? Or try something else? 45 years doing anything is a long time... I wish him well whatever he ends up doing.
Old 6th October 2018
  #3
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We saw a similar wave about 30 years ago, when both audio and video production started converting from "big iron" to computer-based.

A big facility where I had spent a few years was based on machine rooms full of video decks controlled by CMX, big production switchers, ADO and other standalone effect; and audio suites with MTR90s and multiple 1/4" machines with synchronizers and 636 consoles. They had weathered the conversions from 2" VTRs to 1" to BSP, because the basic configuration stayed the same. But they were also carrying an incredibly heavy debt service for all that hardware.

Then Avid/Media100 and ProTools came along. For a while, the video suites were able to eke out a living, but on-line sessions conforming NLE off-lines booked a lot fewer hours than sessions where all the editing decisions had to be argued over, previewed, and then made sequentially. And it wasn't long after than when the NLEs could handle SD video -- faster and with no generation loss from multiple dubs.

(I was even part of the problem, having left that facility in the last days of its 1" Type-C incarnation, to go freelance with a DAW in my attic.)

--

As you point out, it's a bad time for big facilities once again. Video producers are shooting on low-cost single system digital cameras (or even SLRs), cutting down both the sound and picture departments. They're editing on desktop computers with full HD capability. If they worry about audio post at all, they're sending it to idiots like me who have built calibrated surround rooms in their homes or small office buildings, and running everything in the box with PT or Nuendo.

A few big facilities will adapt and continue, serving a new high-end digital market. This is what's happened in LA. But the business can no longer support all of those large facilities -- there just isn't as much need for all that square footage any more -- and many will wither and die. As did blacksmiths, cooperages, and neighborhood radio-tv repair shops.
Old 6th October 2018
  #4
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Henchman's Avatar
Business is rocking in LA.
Old 6th October 2018
  #5
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Henchman's Avatar
What the business won't continue to support is management top heavy companies.
Old 6th October 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
Or maybe he's decided to retire, as well? Or try something else? 45 years doing anything is a long time... I wish him well whatever he ends up doing.
No he did not decide to retire and actually his son was scheduled to take over the business when he did decide to retire. He had a lot of people working for him and they are all out of a job. He says that "social media advertising" with the need for less quality and the whole DIY generation doing everything in their homes were big factors in his closing. He was filming with a RED camera, all prime lens and his RED camera had just been upgraded to 6K. Too bad he was the best of the best.

Also the Cleveland advertising market is changing with more and more advertising companies putting in "media rooms" and hiring someone right out of College at $25K a year to be their "production department head" and doing everything "in house" to save costs.

Everyone seems to be hit with rising costs and many of the clients seems to want more and more for less and less. Oh well. Things change. Just sorry to see facilities closing.
Old 6th October 2018
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Business is rocking in LA.
That is GREAT NEWS!!! Congratulations.
Old 6th October 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
We saw a similar wave about 30 years ago, when both audio and video production started converting from "big iron" to computer-based.

A big facility where I had spent a few years was based on machine rooms full of video decks controlled by CMX, big production switchers, ADO and other standalone effect; and audio suites with MTR90s and multiple 1/4" machines with synchronizers and 636 consoles. They had weathered the conversions from 2" VTRs to 1" to BSP, because the basic configuration stayed the same. But they were also carrying an incredibly heavy debt service for all that hardware.

Then Avid/Media100 and ProTools came along. For a while, the video suites were able to eke out a living, but on-line sessions conforming NLE off-lines booked a lot fewer hours than sessions where all the editing decisions had to be argued over, previewed, and then made sequentially. And it wasn't long after than when the NLEs could handle SD video -- faster and with no generation loss from multiple dubs.

(I was even part of the problem, having left that facility in the last days of its 1" Type-C incarnation, to go freelance with a DAW in my attic.)

--

As you point out, it's a bad time for big facilities once again. Video producers are shooting on low-cost single system digital cameras (or even SLRs), cutting down both the sound and picture departments. They're editing on desktop computers with full HD capability. If they worry about audio post at all, they're sending it to idiots like me who have built calibrated surround rooms in their homes or small office buildings, and running everything in the box with PT or Nuendo.

A few big facilities will adapt and continue, serving a new high-end digital market. This is what's happened in LA. But the business can no longer support all of those large facilities -- there just isn't as much need for all that square footage any more -- and many will wither and die. As did blacksmiths, cooperages, and neighborhood radio-tv repair shops.
As always I think you are spot on. When production companies moved from using a lot of equipment to computer based editing and post that is when things started to change BIG TIME for many facilities. I worked at the local PBS station back a long time ago. We had 11 engineers on staff, now they have only one engineer on staff and everyone else is an "operator". Everything is computer controlled and they are thinking of moving their "master control" setup to Columbus. A different world today. Oh well FWIW.
Old 7th October 2018
  #9
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CA is rocking. In general though, doing sound in stereo, then using a plugin to go to 5.1 was fine for older protools facilities but allowed home systems to totally cut into that market(since stereo home mixing is fairly easy to setup). But I've been noticing surround mixes are starting to become "more" required even for the low end work I do(even if i don't think a surround mix is necessary if it's in the spec then I have to pass), so I moved to a calibrated 5.1 "home" studio for pre-mixes but totally gave up on doing fully calibrated 5.1 mixes and/or atmos at home. Anyway, I think we are in a bit of a bridge where things are moving back to production facilities for surround mixes but some facilities are caught doing the more "bottom of the barrel" stuff which isn't a place to be now(i.e. bottom of the barrel sound jobs people nickel and dime you to death).

Last edited by PatrickFaith; 7th October 2018 at 03:02 PM..
Old 7th October 2018
  #10
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iluvcapra's Avatar
It goes without saying, there are more hours of theatrical and broadcast being produced now that at any time in recorded history.

Budgets are tight but there’s enormous amount of money being made right now in production and distro, and creatives- the directors, creative producers and showrunner types- are seeing all that money and making deals accordingly to make sure they’ll get a slice of it and making sure they’ll have the money to make their projects the way THEY want to make them. If you want to do sound the way THEY want to do sound, you may never know want.
Old 7th October 2018
  #11
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If you want to do sound the way THEY want to do sound, you may never know want.


True that. And it's been true for as long as it's been possible to record sound outside of Edison's lab. There will always be a market for creative craftspeople who can find a niche making clients happy by offering customized services.
Old 7th October 2018
  #12
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I understand it has moved back and forth forever. New technology tends to get sourcerd out and then it's pulled back in once it becomes mainstream. I think that today you need to make your reputation and relationships in Los Angeles before you can work from another location.
Old 7th October 2018
  #13
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Business is rocking in LA.
Maybe, but, it’s a much smaller business now in LA... so many facilities have closed in the last 15 years

Glad you’re busy, though!
Old 8th October 2018
  #14
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I think that today you need to make your reputation and relationships in Los Angeles before you can work from another location.

We've got one of those coasts on the other side of the country as well. Lots of production of all kinds in NYC, lots of TV in Boston.
Old 8th October 2018
  #15
What ever happened to that LARGE production complex on the US/Canada Border? I read about it in TV Technology a few years back. I believe it was in Montana or ??? it was suppose to be "state of the art" and have large sound stages.

There are so many video production studios around that no one has ever heard of. I wonder how they all stay "in business"?
Old 8th October 2018
  #16
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dr.sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Maybe, but, it’s a much smaller business now in LA... so many facilities have closed in the last 15 years

Glad you’re busy, though!
Smaller Business...?
When I started in 1980 I knew every place in town... ALL OF THEM.
Now everyone has Pro Tools and is in the Post Sound Business.
Old 8th October 2018
  #17
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The cost+business + debt projections of those big facilities were wrong. They either didn't do the ongoing research or talked to the wrong folks. It is easy to get fully subsumed in the day to day work of running a business (and a life) but if you don't keep up with what's going on you will get run over. This actually used to be much harder to do, before the web, but the pace was slower. Now anyone can spend some time on line and get a pretty good picture of what's going on. There are also business reversals that take down those big companies suddenly--the loss of a major client (like THEY got into trouble), troubles in accounts receiveable, lawsuits or a nasty divorce for one of the partners, and esp in major cities like LA, "real estate problems". Also, it seems like it might be easier to build out a new facility with current technology than upgrade an older facility that has a lot of sunk costs involved with outdated equipment or routing etc.. I was amazed at how much gear radio networks like the BBC World Service and NPR walked away from (given over to an auctioneer) when they moved to a new facility: it looked like they didn't take anything with them but the people.
Old 8th October 2018
  #18
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Real Estate speculation is the big culprit. The size of the talent pool in LA was not reduced by the big independent facilities going away. Producers want the flexibility of expanding the number of people working on a project in order to meet a deadline.
Old 8th October 2018
  #19
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I was amazed at how much gear radio networks like the BBC World Service and NPR walked away from... when they moved to a new facility

Two years ago, I sold my purpose-built Boston in-home facility (large CR with conference area, iso booth, machine room, client lobby with wet bar, separate entrance with parking) in a real estate deal. I'd built it in 1999, and it had a bunch of hardware including BSP, HDVRs, 32-in digital console, timecode DTRS and DATs, and tons of rackmount processors.

I knew I'd be building a new one after I moved, and kept just the gear I'd need: JBP Pro monitors, big video screen, two computer monitors, switching/patch/conversion hardware, and a Mac with DAW controller. I tried to sell everything else. Nobody wanted most of it. The $$$ tape decks were obsolete. The console went to a music hobbyist. A large local broadcast-gear museum wanted only one piece -- a DB9 patchbay for RS422 -- and refused donations of everything else!

I'm lucky I wasn't trying to do debt service on all the equipment I had to abandon! Very big facilities usually don't have that luck.
Old 8th October 2018
  #20
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iluvcapra's Avatar
Here we might note that Netflix has announced today it's building a huge new production facility in New Mexico. I doubt it'll have post facilities but...
Old 9th October 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvcapra View Post
Here we might note that Netflix has announced today it's building a huge new production facility in New Mexico. I doubt it'll have post facilities but...
Why would they not have them?
Old 9th October 2018
  #22
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
Why would they not have them?
The same reason you didn't see everyone moving all their post to Georgia.
First off, the majority of the talent and producers are here in LA.
Old 9th October 2018
  #23
Gear Guru
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickFaith View Post
... some facilities are caught doing the more "bottom of the barrel" stuff which isn't a place to be now(i.e. bottom of the barrel sound jobs people nickel and dime you to death).
It's always going to be that way as long as the audio gets done last, when all the money is gone. That's why it's smart to get into voice recording for animation.
Old 9th October 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
The same reason you didn't see everyone moving all their post to Georgia.
First off, the majority of the talent and producers are here in LA.
Ok, today. If there are jobs in NM etc people will go there--even when it is busy there is an oversupply of talent, esp for low budg work, and it could be a way for newbs to move up (so they can move back to LA, eventually).
Old 9th October 2018
  #25
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HoPMiX's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Business is rocking in LA.
pretty good in SF too. sorry to hear about him closing though. I hope Im not still doing sessions in 30 years tho. COME ON MEGAMILLIONS!!!
Old 9th October 2018
  #26
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
Ok, today. If there are jobs in NM etc people will go there--even when it is busy there is an oversupply of talent, esp for low budg work, and it could be a way for newbs to move up (so they can move back to LA, eventually).
I've been hearing that for years.
Literally.
It still hasn't happened.
Old 9th October 2018
  #27
I was amazed at how much gear radio networks like the BBC World Service and NPR walked away from (given over to an auctioneer) when they moved to a new facility: it looked like they didn't take anything with them but the people.

Broadcasters need to build a full new facility while the old one operates so they have continuity of service. So the old and new need to co-exist at the same time - so once the new takes over, a fully functioning (but technically aged) facility then gets decommissioned.

London is busy too in film and TV drama, there's more to life than just the USA

Rob Walker AMPS
Old 9th October 2018
  #28
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I might be mistaken, but aren't they taking over an existing facility and expanding it?

Randall


Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvcapra View Post
Here we might note that Netflix has announced today it's building a huge new production facility in New Mexico. I doubt it'll have post facilities but...
Old 9th October 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I've been hearing that for years.
Literally.
It still hasn't happened.
As I recall you started in audio somewhere else, then went to LA. This might be an opportunity for some newbs to do the same. I'm not talking about anything supplanting the LA post infrastructure, but some producers find having some post local to where they shoot efficient, if only for temps.
Old 9th October 2018
  #30
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
As I recall you started in audio somewhere else, then went to LA. This might be an opportunity for some newbs to do the same. I'm not talking about anything supplanting the LA post infrastructure, but some producers find having some post local to where they shoot efficient, if only for temps.
Correct.
I started in Vancouver, where there was already an existing post infrastructure.
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