Independent Audio/VFX Studio Creative Outpost have relocated to a new space and have put the same amount of thought, detail, and expertise into the project as they do for every production they work on. Leaders within the company Danny Etherington, Managing Director and Quentin Olszewski (Q), Partner and CTO ensured that the new facility is equipped with the latest audio technology including Dolby Atmos and Dante Audio over IP infrastructure that futureproofs the studios for years to come.
Creative Outpost has the distinction of being the very last post-production studio in the United Kingdom to receive a Dolby Atmos for Home Entertainment certification. This seems only right as Q explains that the ability to work with this immersive format was a “must have” decision. As the company works in video and sound, the team had the insight to see how video progressed from SD to HD and then on to UHD and correctly believed that Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision would move in the same vein. Beyond the practical both Danny and Q are creatives themselves and understood that their sound team would want access to this exciting toolset.
When asked if Atmos had changed how he worked Dave Robinson, Head of Sound at Creative Outpost had this to say, “Very much so. I spend a lot more of my mixing time looking for ways to get the most out of the added possibilities that come with Dolby Atmos. In particular, the concept of mixing objects within a 3D environment as opposed to traditional horizontal panning.”
The elevated technology that can be found in the facility marries well with the detailed design that went into the room. “From first glance it is easy to see how special this studio is,” comments Greg Wheeler, Head of Scrub at HHB“ , I have seen many great Dolby Atmos rooms, but Creative Outpost’s is very unique. It was an exciting challenge to work with Danny, Q, and Dave to ensure the audio equipment worked and fit the design they had in mind.”
Early in the project Creative Outpost made it clear that they wanted something different, something that married large tech and a cool, creative space. The team admits to hating cables and clutter and have worked tirelessly to hide as much tech as possible. They also put their trust in a number of specialists, including expert help from Matthew Judd who did the interior design of the whole facility, including a number of neat additions for the studio such as ceiling mounted microphone connectors for use when recording ADR, and sofa mounted Glensound Virgil Dante headphone amplifiers at various client positions.
This demand for great design in no way inhibits the amazing technology found within the room, though does hide it. The masterfully crafted, sourced, and tested velvet fabric that surrounds the room hides 15 speakers that are in the walls and ceilings. This offers an enhanced sensory experience, as there are no visual cues to the origination of the sound. Though this hides the impressive Dolby Atmos speaker array that the sound team relies upon.
Like in so many of their decisions Creative Outpost bucked the traditional route for upgrading to a Dolby Atmos monitoring setup. Rather than relying on one manufacturer to supply all the speakers and subs they’ve gone with an interesting mix. Making use of ATC 100’s that they already owned as the left, right and centre monitors. The team then decided to go with PMC wafer2’s for surrounds and ceiling, with two Genelec subs bringing the room up to a 9.1.4 spec.
*front panel removed to show PMC wafer2
“From both a performance and aesthetic point of view it made the most sense to suggest that Creative Outpost go with PMC’s wafer2s. Due to their slim form factor and sonic capabilities they could easily be hidden in-wall and in-ceiling. The two Genelec subs enabled them to reproduce the Low-Frequency Effects channel at the required SPL to meet Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment certification whilst disguised, fitting in the front speaker wall” says John Johnson, CTO at HHB Communications.
Another important piece of technology that was included in this project is Dante integration. Not only did Dante make it easier to hide and reduce the number of cables needed, but it also brought a seamless interconnection through the whole building. “A particularly useful application is being able to easily share voice booths from our other studios when recording larger groups, such as crowd scenes” says Q.
It was a long journey having focused on designing and building a new facility during the pandemic and now the team at Creative Outpost are focused on driving what they built to the highest level capable. Dave Robinson now working in the studio states, “It has been fun lately building a Dolby Atmos demo that can show off what our sound designers and studio systems can do. Having a blank audio brief with seemingly endless capabilities of producing such accurate sound placement, can lead me to get carried away at times. However, ultimately, I am truly excited what this opens up to me creatively.”