LOS ANGELES - Widget Post Production has move into a deluxe facility at the former site of audio house Digital Sound & Picture. The location is home to a new Digidesign Icon console as well to an expanded range of creative capabilities, client amenities and audio post services.
"With a shrinking number of options available to the audio community for posting and mixing in an independent facility, the time was right for us to build stages," explains Widget Post president Anne-Marie Slack. "We have a history of embracing digital audio systems, so it was a given that our new ADR, Foley and re-recording rooms would be designed toward the leading edge. What's more unique is that even as we've jumped forward technologically, we've also harkened back to the basics: supporting the client relationship and a boutique, hands-on feel."
Since opening in 2001, Widget Post has enjoyed a steady stream of sound design, effects creation and dialogue/ADR projects for independent and studio clients. Out of its Culver City location, the company worked on major features like "The Motorcycle Diaries," "Agent Cody Banks," "Thirteen," "House of 1000 Corpses," "Baadassss!" and other movie titles. At the new facility, Widget will continue to provide sound editorial for first-run features, as well as offer complete Foley, ADR and mixing services. Widget has also developed a devoted client following seeking cleaning and restoration services for archived films, including the likes of Sony, New Line Cinema and MGM.
The studio is also maximizing the experience and energies of executive VP/director of technology Brian Slack, who is not only a licensed THX engineer, but also a console designer and beta tester for developers such as SRS, Digidesign, Cedar and Waves.
"We were fortunate to come across this location, which had been home to Digital Sound & Picture," Anne-Marie Slack says. "The original facility here had been very well thought-out, and this gave us a great basis on which to expand."
Widget preserved much of the existing infrastructure, creating eight edit suites and a large sound supervisor bay, all interconnected with its stages via a 2.3 TB sound server. Separate, fully-digital stages were established for ADR and Foley, with the ADR stage featuring a spacious control room and the Foley stage offering 11 different pits, along with prop storage.
Perhaps the most impressive feature is the 1,500-square-foot, THX-certified theatrical mixing stage, centered around a 96-fader, 768-channel Digidesign Icon digital console.
"The Icon redefines what's possible because re-recording mixers can edit, record, mix and process at up to 24-bit/192 kHz in 6.1 Surround Sound in a unified environment," explains Brian Slack. "People are really turning on to it. I have always been a fan of rolling out new technologies and this is one that's destined to make a big impact on the film mixing world. Some of the top independent sound companies and supervisors have been searching us out recently, using our theatrical stage and some of our other services for their shows."
John Johnson and Miguel Rivera of Fury & Grace completed their mix for the Rick Rosenthal-directed feature "Nearing Grace" on the Widget stage. The Racket's Kelly Cabral and Paul Carden completed temp mixes for Disney's upcoming feature "A Lot Like Love." Danetracks booked two projects there recently, with Lance Brown shepherding the final mix for the Sundance 2005 documentary "Inside Deep Throat," and Ezra Dweck supervising creation of the Dolby print master for "Hustle & Flow," a Sundance 2005 selection produced by John Singleton and Stephanie Allain, and distributed by Paramount.
Two other notable Sundance projects - "Pretty Persuasion" from commercial/music video director Marcos Siega and "Dear Wendy," from director Thomas Vinterberg and writer Lars van Trier - also posted audio (editorial and ADR, respectively) at the company.
"Dear Wendy" saw Widget again exercising its finesse with the technology toolbox. To provide the director and producers in Denmark with a better way to monitor ADR recording with their actors in LA, Widget set up sessions on its ADR stage that looped the filmmakers in via Apple iChat.
"We love being able to make the creative process better using new tools," says Brian Slack. "And we love it when those tools and processes are transparent to the customer. For example, with our film restoration business, we pull out the stops with a lot of different packages - Sonic No Noise, Waves Restoration and Cedar Cambridge, but on the client side, the studio sees only that we've transformed a seemingly unsalvageable element into a clean new track."
Widget's specialties extend from digital restoration to re-mixing, re-mastering, Dolby and DTS encoding and pitch correction and conversion from NTSC to PAL. Recent projects have included 5.1 surround mixes for musical groups like Godsmack ("Changes") and Duran Duran ("Life in Rio"); US DVD film titles "Blade Trinity," "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Robocop - The Director's Cut," and a range of European and Asian DVD releases - from "Rain Man" to "West Side Story."
"We cover a lot of bases at Widget," notes Anne-Marie Slack. "We're one stop and we have access to great talent, both in and out of house. Because we are independent, we align with the needs of a lot of clients and with what they're looking for these days with audio post. It's rare to be able to offer top-quality facilities in an environment that's about more than just getting the project in and out the door."