LOS ANGELES — YouTube Space LA might just be the hippest place to hang out in Los Angeles right now. Boasting enough studio space and gear to rival a small studio, the facility has already played host to some of the most popular channels on YouTube, such as: The Young Turks, MyMusic, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the BBC’s 50th Anniversary party for Dr. Who. And while anyone with a YouTube channel can attend the facility’s workshops and seminars, if you have at least 10,000 subscribers, you get access to all the production and post resources for free!
Pause and take a breath with that last statement. Yes, hundreds of thousands of dollars of space, gear and post access just got added to your production budget. The idea behind it, says Liam Collins, head of Space LA, is that they are supporting the creative people that drive YouTube content. The plan is not without a clever business model.
“As you know, many of the channels that are on YouTube are advertising supported,” says Collins, “and so, as their audiences grow their revenues grow, and we share in those revenues, that will have a positive impact on YouTube overall.”
First impressions walking in the door are filled with the wow and chill factor. Like many things Google, the design is smart and laid back. YouTube creators have access to a micro-kitchen with refrigerator and sink, couches, conference rooms, arcade games, snacks, and numerous places to hang and collaborate on productions.
Over the main desk is a giant interactive monitor wall with thirty-six 46-inch screens.
The whole facility occupies roughly 41,000 square feet. It’s sectioned into studios, stages, control rooms, support areas and a substantial post production operation. Everything is flexible and can be adjusted to the nature of the production.
The design philosophy of YouTube Space LA, describes Ian Sellers, head of broadcast and production technology, is to be able to accommodate a broad range of productions. From “anyone that is used to just shooting on his or her iPhone and uploading to YouTube, to people that have been TDs (tech directors) for Super Bowls, and then everything in between.”
Now it’s time to get a little gear crazy. The production control room is equipped with a Ross 2M/E production switcher, Ross Xpression studio graphics engine and Riedel intercom. In the core room there’s Ross BlackStorm playout servers, Blackmagic Design Hyperdeck recorders, Evertz Multi-Viewers, Samsung monitors, Ikegami high-res displays and an AutoQue prompter.
The audio control room’s main board is a Lawo MC²66. “You can put up to 8,000 mics into there if you really wanted too. I challenge anyone to find a production to do that,” dares Sellers. There’s also a 360 Systems’ DigiCart and Instant Replay, Avid Pro Tools, a Denon Super Audio Player and a 7.1 surround sound system.
Each stage has similar basics and a few unique features. Stage 1 (55-feet by 84-feet by 20-feet to lighting grid) has a floating concrete floor and drop ceiling, 10-foot by 10-foot doorway, and a catwalk access with handrails for mounting lights.
Stage 2 is smaller (37-feet by 59-feet by 18-feet to lighting grid) “Right now it’s a loft-looking type set,” points out Sellers. It has a built in kitchen and a “bar” set. That’s usually swapped out every three months for whatever else is going on at that time.
Stage 3 (31-feet by 38-feet by 18-feet to lighting grid) is YouTube Space LA’s home for live music performances, talk shows, interviews, or “Hangouts on Air.” They’ve hosted performances by Robin Thicke, Ellie Goulding, and Tegan and Sara.
Stages 1, 2 and 3 also have 48 microphone inputs; black, green and blue curtains; and hook ups for four broadcast cameras and eight SDI cameras. Highlights of their in-house camera gear includes: Ikegami 97A 16-bit, 3G-SDI (1920-by-1080) at 60fps, Canon EOS C100, Canon EOS C300 Cinema and Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLRs, GoPro Hero3s and Red Epics.
Stage 4 serves as a motion capture studio and measures 54-feet by 18-feet by 20-feet to the lighting grid. It has a camera-less, realtime Xsens MVN intertial motion capture system. Stages A, B and C are greenscreen stages. A rehearsal/dance studio can be used as additional studio space. Sellers is particularly proud of the Foley pit. There are also four voiceover recording booths, outfitted with Neumann TLM103 microphones and HD monitors.
The big wooden box you see floating in the lobby is their 50 seat screening room. They have an 11,000 lumen Sony 4K projector in here, 7.1 Dolby surround and JBL speakers.
An open post area with 10 desktop iMacs acts as collaborative space, says Sellers. They do post training here too, including transitioning from Apple’s Final Cut 7 to Final Cut X, and instruction on multi-cam editing within Adobe Premiere Pro.
They also have 10 private edit suites with Mac Pro towers that have 12 cores, 32GBs of RAM and AJA Kona cards. The machines are loaded with Apple Final Cut 7 & 10, Avid Media Composer, and the full Adobe Creative Suite 6. There are seats for Autodesk Maya, Maxon Cinema 4D, and Autodesk Smoke, along with an assortment of plug-ins. Some of the suites also have HP workstations for cutting Red footage.
The entire facility is tapeless. Every production records to a digital file that’s sent to a large SAN. They use an Evertz EQX 576-by-576 3G SDI video router to send an uncompressed 3gig signal anywhere in the facility. Sellers says to “think of the facility as one big production environment” that you can combine elements to “build your show however you want to.”
Sellers says the studio also recently implemented a Sienna workflow (www.sienna-tv.com) and Quantum StorNext File System (SNFS). The Sienna production workflow allows them to capture content from any of the studios and bring the data back into the StorNext system. Files are available to the edit bays almost immediately.
Currently, the YouTube platform does support 4K. “You can upload in 4K and lots of our creators are already doing that,” relates Sellers. YouTube producers Joe Penna (aka MysteryGuitarMan), Devin “Super Tramp” Graham, and Kurt Hugo Schneider are among those already making 4K shows.
Edit 3, 4, 5 and 6 are also going 4K, says Sellers enthusiastically, with the new Apple Mac Pro cylinders, AJA 3G (4K) Kona cards and Samsung 4K professional LCD displays.
For more information, check out YouTube Space LA online at: http://youtubespacela.com/.