We recently visited Jeff Payne, founder of Eleven Sound in Santa Monica California, a boutique audio post production facility. Reflecting Jeff’s humor, Eleven was named as an homage to Spinal Tap (something we can relate to). He has mixed dozens of Super Bowl and prime time TV spots as well as Emmy award-winning work including Chrysler’s “Born of Fire” for Wieden+Kennedy Portland and P&G’s “Best Job”. Jeff and his team have recently completed a major expansion with the addition of two brand-new state-of-the-art audio post production mixing suites.
TG: What is your main focus?
Jeff Payne: We’ve been around since 1999 and I started with Pro Tools and Pro Control. 97% of what we do is sound for Television spots. I really love working on commercials because I get to wear a lot of hats! I do everything from music editing, sound design, dialogue work, ADR, VO and of course mixing…
TG: What are the big challenges you face nowadays?
JP: We are the last stop in the chain and for the last few years picture is still being changed while we are mixing. Sometimes we mix and go on the air the same evening. It’s so much easier for our client’s client to make changes and things can move so quickly—that’s the norm now.
TG: What rigs are you currently running in your main room?
JP: We are running Pro Tools | HDX on the latest Mac Pro. I’m really happy with it— it’s really fast! We have some sessions that are as big as 30 gigs and it’s smooth. I have the Pro Tools | S6 M10 16 fader surface as well…
“Panning on the touch screen is something that I really love. It’s fast and intuitive.”
TG: What brought you to Pro Tools | S6 and your setup?
JP: I’m very comfortable mixing in the box and for me, faders are really important for mixing music and dialog – you have to use your hands. I really like having the control surface angled to the side right next to my keyboard and mouse… With the faders and specifically the attention fader on my right hand, it’s super fast and very easy to tweak one fader at a time by just clicking on it in Pro Tools and it pops onto the attention fader. I never have to move my head or move my hand far at all. My left hand never leaves the keyboard (for transport) and my right is free to grab the track I need. It’s kind of an unorthodox setup but it works for me…
I love the Master Module touchscreen for navigating and the matching color-coding of tracks… And, 80% of what we do is in 5.1 surround sound so panning on the touch screen is something that I really love. It’s fast and intuitive. The fader feel on the S6 is really great too. The color-coded knobs have intrigued me more to start integrating that into my workflow and move away from the mouse a bit more for plug-in control.
TG: You also have an Artist Series VO/Sound Design studio upstairs as well?
JP: Yeah, it was the concept and layout of my assistant AJ. He uses Pro Tools and the Artist controllers very similarly to how I use S6 where you can simply click on a track and it brings it to the lower 12 faders. The upper 8 faders we lock down for static tracks like Mic input, ISDN return, ISDN send, phone patch, etc… with Layouts. It’s pretty cool and the price point was just right for that room.