By Marc Loftus
Issue: July 1, 2003

Studio 57 brings HD to Long Island

Studio 57's multi-camera control room overlooks a 56-by-130-foot shooting stage.
ISLANDIA, NY - Just off the Long Island Expressway in New York is a production and post production facility with gear and talent that rivals that of Manhattan- and LA-based operations. CBC Media (, and its production arm Studio 57 can provide all of the creative and marketing services of an advertising agency and then fulfill clients' video, graphics and Web needs through the production and post services it offers in-house. Outside producers can also take advantage of the studio's high-end offerings, renting studio time and staffing it with their own manpower. They can even call on the in-house creative talent at CBC.

CBC Media is owned by president and CEO Madjid Ebadi. The company relocated to its current locale in Islandia - 30 miles outside of New York City - almost two years ago, and in just 90 days revamped its entire 18,000-square-foot structure to include a 56-by-130-foot studio, a multi-camera control room, nonlinear editing and animation suites, Web servers and offices.

Bring on HD

Back in April, Studio 57 made its initial investment in high definition gear. After first trying it out on a rental basis, the facility purchased Sony's HDW-F900 camera package and a Sony HDW-F500 recorder making it one of the first studios on Long Island to offer 24fps HD production capabilities. "We are really trying to push the Studio 57 rentals portion [of our business]," says CBC Media's VP of operations Don La Greco. "That is our goal."

The purchase wasn't necessarily made to meet clients' current demands, but as a means of Studio 57 showing its continued commitment to advanced technology. "We consider ourselves a cutting-edge company, and if we are not in the HD world at this time, there's a problem," says La Greco. "For the size and space that we have here, HD is the way to go. We shot our last two large campaigns for [home electronics retailer] P.C. Richard & Son on HD, and they look beautiful."

Studio 57 offers 24p production capabilities via a new Sony HDW-F900 camera package.
CBC also recently worked on a project for South Shore Cosmetic Surgeons, and regularly works with the educational institution BOCES. La Greco says the savings a client can see by shooting HD video over film is significant. "You have no development costs and no transfer fees. [And] you have instant gratification as far as seeing what your picture looks like."

He adds that CBC can provide clients with further cost savings, compared to Manhattan-based studios, should they decide to take the short trip from the city out to Long Island. "You are definitely going to save money," he says. "We can save you probably 30 to 40 percent depending on the longevity of your shoot. And over time I can give you a bigger discount."

Not long after the Sony equipment purchase, Studio 57 completed the acquisition of Discreet Smoke and Flame systems, both of which run on an SGI Octane 2 and support high definition work. "Discreet has made a number of significant improvements in both platforms," says senior editor Brad Wensley, who joined the studio three years ago after a long career as a freelance editor/producer/director in Canada. "Version 8 of Flame is extraordinary as far as its toolset goes, and Smoke HD has come a long way since its inception as well. It's become a very capable editor."

Wensley is also impressed with the way Smoke allows editors to bring 3D models directly into the system's timeline, as opposed to having to render them first and bring them in as rendered images.

Prior to the Smoke/Flame purchase, Studio 57 was using an IBM NT-based Discreet Edit system for online work. There were some glitches with the system when it was originally delivered, and only weeks after it was acquired Discreet announced that it was discontinuing its support of the editor. Today, the Edit system is functioning as promised and being used in the facility's multicamera control room as a second edit suite.

With the new gear in place and the competitive pricing they can offer clients (including a $10K cash back promo for projects budgeted over $100K), La Greco is hoping to attract more work from the city. And being half way to the Hamptons doesn't hurt either.