Westwind Media Increases Efficiency of Its Audio Post-Production Studios with Focusrite RedNet Interfaces
Founded by television veterans – composer Mike Post and producers Stephen J. Cannell and Steven Bochco – Westwind Media adds Focusrite's RedNet HD32R, A16R and AM2 interfaces to optimize efficiency and future-proof the facility's stages
Westwind Media, one of industry's leading post-production facilities, located in Burbank, CA, provides post-production picture and audio finishing services for some of the highest-rated television productions on air today. Shows recently working at Westwind include The Catch, Colony, Criminal Minds, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, The Good Fight, Good Girls Revolt, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Still Star Crossed, and many more. The facility's roots are deep in television history, as the main founders created some of the most memorable television in the medium's history: producer Stephen J. Cannell, producer Steven Bochco and composer Mike Post, along with noted musician John Bidasio, founded Westwind Media in 1997.
Recently, Westwind Media acquired a suite of RedNet Dante™-networked audio converters and interfaces from Focusrite, including 15 RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante® network bridges, four RedNet A16R 16-Channel Analog I/O interfaces and nine RedNet AM2 Stereo Audio Monitoring Units, and one RedNet D16R 16-channel AES3 I/O interface. The setup was purchased through reseller Westlake Pro Audio, North Hollywood, CA.
The RedNet components were installed in three of Westwind Media's four sound mixing stages, with the fourth expected to be retrofitted this year. Each mix stage houses five HD32R units: one each for playback of music, dialog and effects, and two for the Stem Recorder. All of the Pro Tools systems are outfitted with Avid ProTools HDX cards, as well as the Avid D-Control consoles in each room. Each mix stage also houses one A16R to provide analog audio for the stage's monitors, and there are three AM2 units per stage providing headphone feeds for the playback systems. Additionally, there are spare A16R and D16R units available to any stage for additional analog or digital I/O as needed.
“The RedNet systems really filled a huge need at the studio," says Craig Holbrook, the studio's Chief Engineer. He points out that the RedNet units also offer future expansion capability, in the event that the facility decides to interconnect all four stages. “That's not really necessary right now, since each mix stage works on a separate project and we don't need to move files back and forth between them constantly," he explains, noting that the facility's pedigree keeps its rooms busy with productions from leading Hollywood networks and studios.
RedNet offers Westwind significant efficiencies in terms of speed, flexibility, scalability and manpower. For instance, he says, if a client books a Dolby Printmaster, Dolby can bring in a Dolby Digital Mastering system (DMU), a necessary component in creating Dolby Digital soundtracks, the unit then can be integrated into Westwind's workflow through one of the RedNet D16R units instead of through a patch bay. “We can connect it on a single Cat-6 cable quickly and reliably," says Holbrook. “With the RedNet units on Dante, too, we've eliminated the potential for connectivity problems. That's one less thing to think about during a session, for the client and for us."
Holbrook says RedNet has significantly increased each mix stage's I/O count, another way that RedNet improves the client experience. “Through RedNet, I can send any computer to any other computer, using Dante," he explains. “There are a number of ways that RedNet improves our workflow and the client experience." Streamlined connectivity also means sessions can run with fewer staff in each room, which will ultimately create a positive for the studio's bottom line.
Furthermore, RedNet has increasingly become a name that clients recognize, and as the post-production business becomes more competitive, that's an advantage Holbrook likes. “It used to be the newest console, or the latest software upgrade that you let people know about; now, it's the newest addition to your network," he explains. “People know RedNet is going to make the work process go smoother and more reliably, and perhaps even faster. That's a definite selling point for us."
“RedNet's Dante compatibility means we'll be able to move into a network environment when we decide we need to. In the meantime, RedNet offers us advantages like being able to get rid of our old patch bays and cables and make networked connections within the studio. And we were able to do this incredibly cost effectively with RedNet. Representatives from Focusrite came over and helped us design exactly the kind of layouts we needed, including how best to resolve the systems to the house clock. We're eager to get the fourth mix stage fitted with RedNet. It really makes a huge difference."
Focusrite President Phil Wagner opines, “We are thrilled to see another major post-production house invest in RedNet networked interfaces. Westwind is one of the largest and busiest post houses in Los Angeles, and we are grateful for their RedNet commitment. Television post-production is a growing area of our RedNet business, with more post houses coming on board all the time."