As the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on, savvy business owners anxious to curb the impact of COVID-19 on the economy have found novel ways to get back to work. Mark Binder, owner and CEO of boutique post-production company IMN Creative, developed a technological solution: a remote ADR rig centered on a Focusrite RedNet X2P Dante-networked audio interface that enables his engineers to record dialog and voiceovers while socially distanced – by miles – from the actors working from the safety of their own homes.
“I don't like to lean on technology, but a lot of people are out of work right now, and I'm trying to do my best to keep as many as I can employed. So we need all the help we can get from technology," says Binder. IMN's remote ADR recording rig might also be considered a timesaver, he says, “But this isn't about time anymore, it's about existence. It saved the existence of my company because it allowed us to not stop working. It was a lifesaver."
IMN's portfolio includes such recent Hollywood blockbusters as Netflix's #1 hit Extraction, Survive on Quibi and The Act on Hulu, to name a few, so Binder knew that there could be no sonic compromises in the remote ADR rig. As the coronavirus lockdown first took effect, he recalls, “You started hearing producers say, 'Well, we can do it on a smart phone.' Did you ever try to mix a piece of smart phone audio into a movie? The smart phone is not an option when someone's spending millions and millions of dollars on their movie."
IMN's ADR package ships one Pelican case that is sealed and sterilized before each session in compliance with local and entertainment industry coronavirus protocols. The remote recording rig includes a RedNet X2P interface, which offers two high-quality Focusrite Red Evolution microphone preamps plus headphone and line outputs, together with a complement of microphones. Schoeps, Sanken, Neumann, Sennheiser, DPA, Mojave and other microphone brands are available according to the requirements of the project. “We can send a lav and a shotgun or whatever flavor mics are needed," says Binder.
The system, which is capable of recording at sample rates up to 96 kHz, is easy to set up and operate. The talent simply follows the easy-to-understand instructions, plugs in four cables, including to a display screen, and IMN's engineers take over from there. “Once it locks onto Wi-Fi, we control the system," he says. “It's been very, very successful."
The X2P has been described as the heart of IMN's remote ADR rig, says Binder, and he agrees: “If you really think about the conversion and the mic pre's that are in there, that is the heart." That said, the microphones and the remote-control components of the system are equally important, he says. “But at the end of the day, my decision to go with the X2P was based on the size, the flexibility and the ease of controlling it."
The RedNet X2P has also been put into service at IMN, Binder reveals, for when directors or producers want to add something to a project while on the re-recording stage. “It's convenient, it's easy, it sounds clean and the footprint is small. Especially if you have a Dante infrastructure, it's a no-brainer."
Other audio interface choices were available, of course, but Binder has a long history with Focusrite products. Having started in the business as a Music Composition major at Cal Arts, he has since grown his business to encompass three locations – two in Glendale and one in Shadow Hills, California – totaling 38,000 square feet. Together, the locations offer four Dolby Atmos stages plus 3 ADR stages, Foley and color timing rooms and 34 editorial suites. Launched in 2006, IMN Creative's facilities specialize in audio, including location immersive live entertainment sound, but also offer comprehensive pre- and post-production picture services in a vertically integrated enterprise.
When Binder designed and built the four Dolby Atmos stages at 622 W. Colorado Street in Glendale, in collaboration with audio consultancy JSX with guidance of Dolby Laboratories, Dante networking was not yet as ubiquitous as it is now. “We went with MADI because of the vertical deployment of audio and video here. But it's a hybrid between MADI and Dante, so we have multiple Dante cards and RedNet boxes."
“For example," he says, “we convert from MADI to Dante to feed the BSS BLU 806 processors on the Atmos stages, and the editorial rooms and the ADR stages use a significant amount of Dante. And Dante integrates into our 2048 x 2048 matrix, so that allows us to tap into anything from anywhere. Focusrite is also a conduit into Pro Tools for me. All my stages use Pro Tools. We have a bunch of RedNet 6 interfaces that feed Pro Tools and our Madi 'river'. It's totally eloquent and very simple."
Binder also reports, “I come from a music background, so I still have my Focusrite ISA 215 mic pre's and EQs." A large part of his Dolby Atmos music studio at the 622 building is on a Dante network as well, he says. “I still do a lot of music, so I use it to get into Pro Tools from my massive modular synth, and also my [Symbolic Sound] Kyma Capybara [synthesis engine] and KymaX software; I'm a Kyma artist. So, every synth and bizarre box that I have goes into RedNet as well."
For more information about Focusrite RedNet products, click here.
For more information on the Remote ADR Rig, visit www.imncreative.com.