One to Grow On

Now here’s a word you don’t hear too often anymore: growth. The recent downturn in the medias have kept most facilities from any plans of expansion, but bucking that trend is One Union Recording Studios, who recently completed a multi-million dollar expansion of their San Francisco, CA-based facilties.
”We have faith in our industry and also in this city,” says John McGleenan, who, along with Eric Eckstein, founded One Union Recording Studios in 1994. “We wanted to create an incentive for agencies and production companies to keep their business in the Bay Area. Why fly to L.A. when you can come to a top-notch postproduction facility that offers first-class services right here in town?”

The new facility, designed by Wave Space, Inc., more than quadruples the original 1700 square feet of floor space that the facility originally occupied when they first opened their doors. Currently there are four oversized, fully tuned all-digital studios built for 5.1 surround sound mixing. The control rooms and the studio areas are fully isolated “rooms within rooms,” and come equipped with NEC 50-inch plasma screens for viewing video and high-speed Internet access ports so clients can plug-in. A new reception area, client lounge, and kitchen have also been added.

Room 1 is based around a Yamaha 02R digital console and also features a 24-bit Digidesign Pro Tools system, along with a 64-track Pro Tools Mix Plus system with TDM and four DSP farms. Room 3 is based on the Euphonix System 5 digital console and is, in fact, the first System 5 ever manufactured (serial #001). The Euphonix room also features a Pro Tools 24-bit system with TDM and four DSP farms. Rooms 2 and 4 are each based on Digidesign’s Pro Control. They feature full Pro Tools systems with expander packs. Each of the rooms features an assortment of outbaord gear, including TubeTech and Manley mic pres and compressors, and a 64×64 digital routing system.

One Union also features a fully stocked machine room, which can be accessed from any of the other studios. Some of the gear in the machine control room includes five Apple Macintosh G4s. eight Digidesign 888/24 I/Os, a Lighthouse K-Series 64×64 custom-built digital router with four studio remotes, and a microphone locker equipped with six Sennheiser 416’s, Neumann U 87, U 149, and TLM 193, and a Soundelux U99, among a few others.

McGleenan is happy with his equipment choices. “The System 5 is one of our favortie toys,” he states. “It is so intuitive and simple to use. Every week I see an engineer walking through the halls with a huge grin on his or her face — and it’s usually because he or she is in Studio 3. The Pro Tools to us is bulletproof and able to facilitate what we need it to. We do a lot of work with post houses and, therefore, Avid systems, and Pro Tools is great for that, too. I think our next upgrade will be to make our Pro Tools rigs more Avid savvy.”

One Union’s seemingly risky growth has paid off for them. “Business is great,” McGleenan enthuses. “Last year was a phenomenal year. Sales were actually up. And we were anxious about it because we built the studios right in the middle of the downturn in the economy. But if we hadn’t done it when we did, we wouldn’t be able to capture the work that was here.”

As happy as McGleenan is with his surround rooms, he’d like to see some changes in the industry. “I don’t regret the expense of building surround rooms for one second,” he says, “but I was miffed that surround television didn’t take off sooner. We’ve done quite a bit of surround work here — some commercials for movie theaters, video games for Electronic Arts — but we haven’t finished any here. The final mixes are still being done on the big soundstages in Los Angeles. That’s not necessary — we can do the whole thing here in San Francisco.

“I’m proud if this facility,” he states, then is quick to add, “I’m proud of what we’ve brought to the city.”

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