Molinare has been involved in post-production since 1973, and as post production has evolved so too has the company. In recent years, Molinare has gone from strength to strength, assembling a hugely talented team under new management, and delivering some of the biggest shows mastered in the UK. In parallel, Molinare has been building for the future with investments in the latest, best specified technology and integrated workflows across the facility.
Molinare has always been at the forefront of technological and workflow efficiencies paired with the best creative, technical, and managerial staff with a customer-centric, can do approach and over the years has post produced many award-winning titles.
Molinare’s boutique and personal approach – alongside state-of-the-art facilities and detailed onboarding of complex and intricate projects – is designed to deliver cinematic and immersive results for each and every project working in both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision environments.
Televisual sat down with James Doyle (JD) Head of Audio facilities, and Tom Woodall (TW) Head of Picture Facilities, Molinare to discuss their newest rooms.
JD Mixing is my background and I have sometimes felt that sound plays as a second cousin to picture. A common theme I have I have noticed over the years is that directors or producers arrive into my mix suite having seen lovely pictures in the grade and online, would then see a QuickTime poorly projected in low res. Creatively they weren’t finalising their audio decisions because they were focusing on the picture and questioning the version of picture or quality of the grade.
HYBRID INTEROPERABLE FINISHING SUITES
JD The vision was to build two Atmos rooms side-by-side with the same fabric and the same furniture with the same speakers, a full Dolby RMU specification and with 4K laser projection so the picture is excellent in both rooms and where one is a full grading suite. We have built these from scratch in our old high-ceilinged administration area and fully floated in concrete.
TW Theatre 1 is a grade room with Baselight with an Avid S1 and S3 console and Sound Stage 1 is a full audio mixing room with the Avid S6 32 Fader M40 console both running with Pro Tools. They can run as single finishing rooms working on different projects, but ideally you could be running them at the same time for the same project. In the grade room you have eight faders and access to the final mix session, so you can make full tweaks to the audio.
JD While in Sound Stage 1, you would be creating the main mix, but you would have access to the pictures from the other room as the grade developed. As the re-recording mix develops the same would be true with the main mix available in the grading room. And with talkback between the two rooms, the creative director or series producer could be running
the session from one room without the cognitive barriers that different light sources create. Critically it makes the sign off and turn-around as efficient as possible when audio and picture can be worked on together at the same time.
JD Having the Avid integrated approach to workflow – when bringing in pre-mixing, final mixing and deliverables across different shows – is a priority. We have to be able to open up sessions in different rooms. Everything is done in Avid ProTools so it makes sense to have the Avid S Series as an extension of that system with a continuity of development across hardware and software. When we’re running at speed with late nights and weekends to turn projects around, it reduces the margin for workflow error. It’s mission critical. Added to which, the familiarity with the Avid layout and the labelling is universal (‘preview, punch preview, capture…’). It’s all cognitively in tune.
We scoped the room from scratch. HHB always has its finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends. John Johnson, HHB’s CTO (JJ) showcased the kit and monitoring, discussed the room set up and gave us a preview of what was coming out to support Atmos from Avid including how it could improve our workflow. When JJ recommends something, we always listen. It only takes a few months to be out of date, so we always listen to the experts.
For example, we have a small sound design room where we also do QC work on the main mix metadata. We don’t want to take up a finishing suite for this work. JJ showed us the Dolby Atmos Mastering Plug-in In before release. It made a critical difference in our planning and allowed us to fulfil QC and sound design in the smaller room and be able to accurately translate the work into the main room. This is a major benefit.
Another example is the new module risers we have on the Avid S6 console. Before you couldn’t clearly see the values. With the risers, the information’s visible and you don’t have to keep on leaning forward. In terms of ergonomics and efficiencies, the mixers love them. We had the very first ones installed in the UK. Everyone’s very impressed.
HHB are the go-to industry experts. Everyone in high-end audio respects HHB; nothing is ever an issue and in terms of knowledge base, they are by far the best informed. You can go to the HHB Tech Support Team with any challenge or problem, it’s as if they act as an extension of our engineering team. It is never just price. When you’re getting everything supplied, it’s good to have a company reach out to and solve any issue.
To Be best in class, you need best in class advice, and you need best in class technology support.
We’re delivering some of the very best drama in the world to top-end studios. The streamers want the best content on their platforms and the only way they can do that is by having the best creative staff on hand. The only way we can be consistent in our delivery is by having the very best rooms and best workflow possible. We’ve just built two of the best missing rooms anywhere in the world. The support and advice we’ve had from HHB has helped us to define and build the best possible environment with the most appropriate technology and greatly helped us in our endeavour at Molinare to be the best.
It is all very well turning up, installing it, turning it on and then disappearing, but the knowledge that HHB are on call when we’re turning a final mix pass and knowing we have the support, should we need it, is invaluable. We have a great in-house engineering team, but from a manager’s perspective sometimes I need that additional knowledge and support. I need the best engineers to come in and give us a steer. Having invested in the best possible rooms, it would be a shame not to fully support it going forward. You need the best support. You can’t have a BAFTA-winning director waiting for a fix. HHB are vital in our endeavour to be the best.