Established in 1997, Factory is a multi award-winning sound design and audio facility based in Margaret Street, London, W1. Its highly skilled team specializes in the art of sound design for advertising, digital marketing, films, TV and radio. It has created some of the most revered commercial work of recent years, winning multiple awards across the world.
Ben Firth, sound engineer and head of technical support at Factory Studios, explains the reasons for investing in the Pro Tools | S6, the features he considers to be most useful and some recent projects to have benefited from its capabilities.
One of my roles here is to oversee the equipment and technology available to all the engineers at Factory. It is important that they have access to the best possible technology as we endeavour to always be at the forefront of audio production and mixing.
We have used and invested in Avid technology for more than 15 years and are consistently impressed with their products and developments. With the emergence of audio deliverables such as Dolby Atmos, VR, binaural and other object-based formats, it’s an exciting time — but also one that means we need to remain one step ahead of what our customers might require. It is therefore critical that we can call on the services of companies, such as Avid, that are developing forward-looking solutions.
All of our studios operate Pro Tools and Avid hardware. Most recently, with the volume of work we were undertaking – combined with the expansion of our building here in Margaret Street — allowed us to build new studios, including the U.K.’s first Licensed Dolby Atmos Mix room. After auditioning several consoles and working closely with Avid, we determined that the Pro Tools | S6 was most suited to the proposed workflow of the rooms. This resulted in the installation of a 16-fader console in Studio 4 and an 8-fader desk in Studio 5.
Taking mixing to the next level
Apart from the consistency and reliability of the Pro Tools | S6, it is my opinion that this console has taken DAW control ability to the next level with a smart, modern feel and look. The ability to customize the Pro Tools | S6 to how you work and feel comfortable when mixing is not only unique, but has rapidly become essential in a multiuser environment.
The Pro Tools | S6 is very user-friendly, with touch screen controls that are easy to understand. Everything is set out to assist the engineer in performing functions quickly and easily, and to complement what you are seeing on screen.
EUCON control, which is part of the specification, has always been great in creating good connectivity to host computers and making things easy to set-up, as well as switching between Pro Tools and Logic Pro — making working in multiple DAWs very easy. The close integration with the Pro Tools software has really helped to accelerate our workflows — a valuable benefit given that our workload has been so substantial lately.
We have a team of engineers who can occupy the rooms at any time, and so its modular design has allowed us to fit custom-made furniture, courtesy of AKA Design, which has helped to create familiarity across our rooms. In terms of actually working with the console, the ability to create custom short-keys and fader layouts is a great addition.
Truly immersive listening experiences
There is no doubt that we are living in exciting times when it comes to film and TV audio. Dolby Atmos, VR and interactive formats are encouraging creatives and directors to think more about sound than ever before, which has in turn allowed us as sound engineers to embrace that creativity and push the boundaries of what sound can offer to the listener.
We were proud to open the U.K.’s very first Dolby Atmos Licensed Mixing Room, which, alongside the Pro Tools | S6 and what it can offer, brings sound content to a whole new level and makes it possible to create truly immersive listening experiences. We are currently undertaking a number of films and commercial projects mixed on the Pro Tools | S6 in Dolby Atmos.
We recently collected three Gold Creative Circles Awards for Best Sound Design on projects involving the Pro Tools | S6. The Honda “Paper,” Honda “Ignition” and Sainsbury’s “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” ads all utilized the Pro Tools | S6 to assist in mixing and controlling large tracklays involving dialogue, SFX and foley.
The Pro Tools | S6 really sets us up nicely for the future of audio mixing while remaining very user-friendly. There is always the risk that, with the evolution and range of different DAW software available, the engineer will lose the “hands on” control of the mix. The S6 addresses that and encourages the engineer to focus on the console and the help it can provide when mixing and editing.