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Film 40, 2015 Back to Reports & survey Listing

The top sound post production houses

There’s plenty of noise in the world of film sound, as leading facilities upgrade and expand to take advantage of the upsurge in Hollywood feature production in the UK. Tim Dams reports


Sound post production houses are one of the many beneficiaries of the boom in film production taking place in the UK. Last year was one of the busiest on record for many of the companies working in this area. 2015 started quietly, but is now becoming ‘ridiculously busy’, according to one sound post house boss.

Amidst all the busyness, the UK sector is experiencing great change. One of the biggest developments was the acquisition in late 2012 of leading sound outfit De Lane Lea by Warner Bros. Many of the US studio’s films based at Warner Bros in Leavesden now go through the Soho-based outfit, as well as features from other producers and studios.

Warner Bros De Lane Lea is also the first central London facility to install a Dolby Atmos mixing stage, which has helped keep the company busy. Rival outfit Goldcrest Post is in the midst of building, from scratch, a large Atmos mixing theatre in its Dean Street building. Some 9m wide, 15m long and 6m high, it is a fully floated room and is due to be completed in August or September.

Cinema uptake of Dolby Atmos surround sound has been slow so far in the UK, with only a handful installing the technology, such as Barnes’ Olympic Studios.

Goldcrest head of engineering Simon Ray says he consulted widely with leading mixers before work on the Atmos theatre began. “The message coming from them is that Atmos is the future,” he says. Goldcrest md Patrick Malone says the building work is part of a significant ‘scaling up’ that will see the post house able to offer picture and sound post production services to film clients. “There is such an influx of large tentpole features into London,” he says. And many of these productions, he believes, would rather stay in central London to do their full post-production in one place.

Elsewhere in Soho, Halo is also mulling when to upgrade to an Atmos mixing stage. It’s a tough call, admits Halo’s director of film post production David Turner. He  says it would require investment of some £300k - £400k, including building works, to install Atmos. Turner worries that Atmos is still an unproven technology and its installation – with dozens of additional speakers – could compromise the 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound quality of Halo’s existing mixing room. He adds that, currently, 75% of clients don’t require Atmos. Nevertheless, he says, Halo plans to invest in Atmos: “We are losing some jobs as a result of not having it,” he explains.

Outside Soho, the other key sound studios in the UK are Pinewood/Shepperton and Twickenham, with both offering high quality sound services on top of their studio offering.

To help lure in major productions, both Pinewood and Twickenham have upgraded to  Dolby Atmos.

The studios’ presence outside London means they can offer space and competitive rates too, and they have focused on technology and client service to attract clients. Pinewood’s Powell Theatre and Shepperton’s Korda Theatre were the first to be fitted with Dolby Atmos.

Twickenham’s Theatre 1 was also recently fitted with the 48 speaker sound system.

By comparison, Soho outfits like Halo contending with rising rents /real estate costs of being in Central London. Says Turner: “But people want to be here. The perception among the US studios is that it is all about Soho. They see Soho as being like a big lot in America, where they can do post, vfx and sound.”

The top sound post houses

Pinewood
Offers the complete sound package, including mixing, sound design, foley and ADR. The Powell Theatre has Dolby Atmos. Newly refurbished, it is the largest re-recording room in the UK. Credits Enchanted Kingdom 3D, Trance, Dredd

Twickenham
Theatre 1 has Dolby Atmos, Theatre 2 can mix for IMAX, Theatre 3 is for ADR and Foley. Credits Legend, The Program, Amy, Woman In Gold, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Warner Bros De Lane Lea

The biggest mixing theatre in central London with Dolby Atmos, the veteran sound company was acquired by Warners in 2012. Credits Edge of Tomorrow, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Hercules, Kingsman: The Secret Service

Halo Post
Halo’s 7.1 Premier mix stage in Noel Street has a strong reputation for sound quality. Halo acquired Hackenbacker last year. Credits Paddington, Suffragette, Les Miserables

Goldcrest
Goldcrest is building a large new Dolby Atmos theatre in its Dean Street building, which is expected to attract Hollywood productions. Credits Les Miserables, Skyfall, Suite Francaise, Tulip Fever

Lipsync
Offers two Dolby EX dubbing theatres. Credits Trap for Cinderella, Byzantium, Blood, The Look of Love, One Mile Away

Molinare
Eight dubbing theatres, including the 7.1-capable Dub A Credits Robot Overlords, Banished, Dark Horse

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