As workloads have increased with the new entertainment landscape, top Hollywood post-production firms have been scaling up their operations while streamlining their workflows, and a key element of these upgrades has been a shift to Dante™ network infrastructure. This move has been further facilitated by the widespread adoption of interfaces from Focusrite, including the RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces as well as units in the Red line.
In the last few years, Twentyfourseven Sound has provided its services for such high-profile projects as the films The Hateful Eight, Snowden and Life Itself, as well as the TV program Godless, for which the firm was nominated for a 2018 Emmy. Wylie Stateman, Sound Designer at Twentyfourseven, reflects on how Red and RedNet interfaces have improved their workflow: “Focusrite has been a long-time partner for us, and so it was a natural fit for us to look to Focusrite to give us the kind of Dante connectivity and headphone monitoring systems [that we needed], and just absolute out-of-the-box simplicity for creating these networked stations that could work on large feature films in a capacity where we need hundreds and hundreds of tracks of audio, down to small projects where we're dealing with a documentary or a VR project or something that requires just that level of minute detail."
Eric Hoehn, Sound Designer/Re-recording Mixer at Twentyfourseven, agrees. He notes, “Collaboration for our team is critical, and to do that we need a robust network, and specifically an audio network such as RedNet that can link our systems together and back-up that collaboration. When we build out a room, we're focused on portability and mobility. So what really attracted us to Focusrite Red 4 Pre was that it took a whole machine room full of equipment and simplified it down to one piece of hardware that fit in one rack unit space. We appreciate the Dante capabilities, the ability to connect to our HDX cards via Digilink, the Thunderbolt capabilities that allow us to even work off of a laptop – all we need are speakers, the Focusrite Red 4 Pre, and a Mac Pro system. So it's a beautiful piece of hardware that we really love."
Westwind Media has been offering its post-production services to top TV fare since 2000, including such classics as NYPD Blue, The Practice, Nash Bridges and Grey's Anatomy. Craig Holbrook, Chief Engineer at Westwind Studios, remarks, “We have four two-man dub stages, one one-man dub stage, an ADR stage and a Foley stage. What attracted me to Dante and RedNet over other IP protocols basically was the simplicity of the Dante controller and the plug-and-play nature of it. My rack size went from a 20U rack to a 6U rack. So the footprint is lower, the cost is lower and it's also much easier to install." He continues, “In some post-production setups, such as an Atmos setup, there are hundreds of signals being routed. [The use of Dante and RedNet] makes it much simpler to see hundreds of signals on one screen, where they're coming from and where they're going to, and being able to save that configuration is something you can't do with a traditional patchbay."
The Formosa Group:
The Formosa Group is a collective of professionals who are cornerstones of the sound teams for titles like Game of Thrones, Transparent, SWAT, Scorpion, Spectre, Blade Runner 2049 and other hit television and film properties. Dan Shimiaei, Chief Engineer and Director of Operations, Formosa North Hollywood, notes, “This facility has three recording stages in it, all the facilities built exactly the same. Each one of the rooms has five Pro Tools systems in it – three of the Pro Tools are used for playback, one of them for video, the other one for the recorder. The playback machines consist of two HDX 2's and both of those are interfaced through RedNet HD32R's [32-channel HD Dante network bridges]. These allow us to interface directly from VHDX cards into the RedNet environment, and we also use the same interface boxes for the recorder.
Shimiaei sums it up: “So the simplicity of the Dante and RedNet environment is the ability that we have in being able to scale it as we need it. The switches are very reliable, we have expandability within the switches to be able to interface more devices. Because of the fact that the networked audio allows you to have self-discovery, all we have to do is use a Cat 5 cable and patch it into the network. As soon as the device is discovered it pops onto the software, we can see it and we can easily wrap audio in and out of it. We're very proud to be a part of an industry that is providing a lot of entertainment value to consumers. A big part of that is utilizing technology, such as network technology like this, to expand our abilities and capabilities to bring the client and the consumers a much better product at the end of the day."