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How Pinewood Studios moved ‘in the box’ with its post production sound

Jens Christensen, post production director at Pinewood Group, talks to TVBEurope about the company's move to Avid’s large format S6 control surface as part of its post production sound refresh

When Pinewood Studios decided to completely revamp its post production sound department and move from traditional mixing consoles towards a new “in the box” workflow, it chose Avid’s large format S6 control surface as part of the refresh.

We felt the time was right to move away from our traditional mixing consoles and re-create the capability of those by using the new film mixing features available for Pro Tools and the Avid S6 control surface,” Jens Christensen, post production director at Pinewood Group tells TVBEurope.

“These features, in combination with the flexibility of the MTRX monitoring matrix, mean you can now completely re-create the workflows that were previously only available on traditional film mixing consoles.

“Having the S6 control surfaces in our bigger theatres means we are now able to work fully ‘in the box’ in all our 17 theatres across both the Pinewood and Shepperton studio lots,” he continues. “This  has given us greater flexibility with our scheduling and vastly sped up turnarounds between projects. A mixer can now call up a project on our central storage and be ready to start mixing within minutes, no matter which theatre they are in.”

Christensen adds that the post production team at Pinewood were often asked by clients for a dual Avid S6 setup, which led to them often having to swap out sections from their previous consoles. “So it felt like a natural progression” he says.

Jens Christensen

Outside of its biggest theatres, Pinewood had already been mixing in the box in Pro Tools using a variety of control surfaces (Pro Control, Icon and System 6) for over 20 years.

In total, Pinewood acquired 14 Avid S6 control surfaces. “Pro Tools is the digital audio workstation of choice in post production,” states Christensen, “and with the integration the S6 surface offers, it makes a great choice for audio post.

“All the sound editorial teams we work with use Pro Tools, so it’s also very much a case of us staying aligned with them,” he adds. “We also find that the modularity of the S6 means we can tailor our consoles to the individual needs of re-recording mixers working on individual productions giving them instant familiarity with the layout.”

As well as installing the new Avid S6 control surfaces, the team also stripped out and re-fitted the facility’s machine rooms, including the entire technical wiring infrastructure and all services. “We previously had a machine room per theatre,” explains Christensen, “but have now consolidated these into one room, making for a much more efficient use of space and a substantial reduction of energy use, with less spaces requiring server room type air con capability.”

The revamp took a total of three months to complete, finishing in June of last year, and has already been used on Kenneth Branagh’s awards-season contender Belfast, The Souvenir: Part II from Joanna Hogg, and Guy Ritchie’s forthcoming film, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.