What do you get when you take a powerhouse public-sector organization’s production house and combine it with a state-of-the-art private sector studio? The answer is Thirteen/WNET New York’s newly opened in-house audio facility.
Financed by WNET, the new space evolved out of a working relationship the station had with a Manhattan-based audio postproduction facility called Tonic, which was formerly called Cool Beans [see Surround Professional May/June ’01]. Now all of the network’s audio post and sound design is brought in-house, which is no small job considering that approximately 35 percent of the programs shown on public television in the U.S. are generated at Thirteen/WNET.
The design and construction of the studios, by Walter-Storyk Design Group, were overseen by Tonic composer/principal Peter Fish and chief engineer John Arrias. Other involved with the creation of the studio include Ernie Gabriel (builder), Robert Wolsch (electrical and lighting) and Marcy Ramos (HVAC). Fish and Arrias have been working together since they both worked at National Video Center, where Fish was president. Arrias has been engineer to Fish ever since they left NVC, and prior to his post work, he was a mix engineer for 25 years, working as Barbara Streisand’s engineer for much of that time and mixing records for artists like Bob Seger and Jeff Beck.
The new studios, located in WNET’s Manhattan facility, offer a broadcast television environment for producers of long-form content and are available for any number of clients. The facility has already been busy with two-channel and surround sound mixing for various projects for WNET.
Studio A features a new AMS Neve Libra Live console, a 192-channel console built for live broadcast use. Studio B is equipped with an AMS Neve Libra Post console, and both rooms feature full Pro Tools systems with A/V option. Studio A features 5.1 surround mixing with monitors strategically positioned around the sweet spot. The Genelec1037AC’s in the rear actually rise out of their positions on opposite ends of the producer’s desk to create an even height for the five speakers.
“Preparation for accurate 5.1 post production was a major consideration in the design of these rooms,” states John Storyk, “both of which are also linked to Thirteen’s main and secondary sound stages. Peter’s need for the postproduction facility to also serve as a music composing environment inspired us to revisit some of our notions on specialized studio furniture.”
While the advantages of a marriage such as that of an audio post facility to a network are obvious, Arrias adds, “We love their programming, and we have a built-in client.” Arrias helped to design the studios, actually dictating where everything should go, what fabrics and textures he wanted, and how the surround environment should be arranged. “We held nothing back in building this room,” he says. “For us, of course, it was a great opportunity, with funding from WNET. They wanted us to build a great room.”
According to Arrias, they officially opened Studio A at WNET on September 11 � and quickly learned the live broadcasting ropes. Even though WNET’s tower was located on top of the World Trade Center, the station was able to switch to their NJ-based tower. That day there were hundreds of people in the facility, operating an emergency management service, with telephones lining the hallways. “We got notice that we might have to handle services to broadcast Guliani live,” tells Arrias. “And, even though they ended up using a team further downtown, we were prepared to go live to the mayor…on our opening day.”
For more information, contact Tonic at 212-490-9109 or visit them online at www.tonic.tv.