White Mark completes Moscow sound facility

Dubbing facilities for Western features move east.
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After three years of intense work, UK studio design consultancy White Mark Ltd has completed a massive project in Moscow that involved designing and building a new, state of the art film sound facility for Russian company CineLab Ltd.

The new complex has 14 studios including three dubbing theatres built and accredited to Dolby Premier License criteria and a 5.1 mixing room for pre-mixes and TV/DVD work. It also features multiple edit and pre-production suites, sound design rooms and a large orchestral studio.

All three dubbing studios and the orchestral studio are equipped with Euphonix System 5 consoles. The 5.1 mixing room is equipped with an Avid Icon Pro Control console. Pro Tools technology is available throughout and every room in the facility is linked via a central audio and video storage server, which is backed up and configured to the highest security standards. This makes it possible for projects to be worked on in multiple studios concurrently.

CineLab is putting the finishing touches to an extensive and highly specified Foley suite and orchestral studio, which will be completed by summer 2013. Designed to accommodate traditional working methods where the sound engineer is located in a separate control room, as well as more current working methods where the engineer works alongside the artists in the recording/performance space, this studio will have a wide selection of indoor and outdoor props and surfaces. It will also have comprehensive facilities for working with water, all domestic environments, car interiors and controllable variable acoustics.

White Mark was commissioned to handle the entire project on the basis of its international reputation for designing and delivering world-class audio facilities.

Cinelab’s Managing Director Vadim Nerukov says: “We did a great deal of research before allocating this contract and in our view White Mark was the best acoustic design company on the market. Our faith in the company has been more than satisfied by the work they have done. We are delighted with the new facility and with the way in which White Mark helped us overcome numerous technical issues during the construction stage to achieve the results we wanted.”

David Bell, managing director of White Mark, adds: “This was a marathon project that involved the complete renovation of a former cold store building on the banks of the Moskva River in Moscow. The entire three-storey building was totally gutted so that every studio in the new complex could be built without compromise. We had some interesting structural issues to overcome as the existing roof needed to be raised and various floor pillars removed. The builders also had to contend with the extreme cold of Russian winters, which made pouring concrete into the foundations difficult – a problem they eventually overcame by using 400kW of heating to create the correct conditions for the materials to set.”

Bell adds that the floating isolation shells needed for the main dubbing studios and the music recording studio were so large that steel structural frames had to be erected to support them. These, in turn, were so big that they had to be lifted into place with a crane.

“The weight of the lifting equipment couldn’t be supported by the rubber isolation mounts if the floor was laid first,” he explains. “We got round this by erecting the frame before the roof above it was closed. The crane was taken out in pieces through an opening we had left in the building for this purpose. Once the building was closed to the elements, we were able to lift the steel frame using jacks and place the isolation mounts underneath so that they weren’t be affected by the extremely cold temperatures outside.”

 

As the project’s acoustic designers, White Mark worked closely with local architects and builders to achieve the results CineLab wanted.

“Having designed audio facilities all over the world, we have developed a working method and drawing system that allows multi-lingual work forces to build accurately from our documentation,” David Bell adds. “We successfully applied these methods to this project and the results speak for themselves. CineLab is one of the biggest projects we have ever undertaken and we are very proud of what has been achieved.”

 

The CineLab Group already owns a number of companies involved in the film industry, including Digital Intermediate facilities (digital colour grading, preview theatres, edit suites etc), a VFX studio, a front-end and bulk printing laboratory, a lighting/grip equipment rental house, a data delivery department (DCP mastering, KDM, content delivery via satellite to 430+ cinema sites in Russia and CIS with a reach of 1000+ screens, etc), a logistics company and a film production company.

Explaining the company’s decision to invest in this new facility, CineLab’s CEO Denis Glinsky says: “CineLab’s existing companies already attract national and international work, including Russian language dubbing of Western feature films. The new complex allows us to provide a comprehensive facility for the creation of original production sound tracks in all current coding formats including Dolby SR, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX and Dolby Atmos (from Spring 2013).

“We can now offer facilities for the entire sound recording process – from recording on set to overdubbing, mixing and encryption of the final soundtrack. This significantly expands our remit and we believe that the combination of a unique location and state of the art facilities will appeal to Western film producers, encouraging them to move their projects to Moscow at a much earlier stage in the production process.”

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