Smart Post Sound is reputed to be the most highly awarded post production sound company in the business. Its dedication to sonic perfection has earned the company no less than 15 Emmy Awards, 35 MPSE Golden Reel Awards and many more throughout its history. A recent expansion saw Smart Post Sound add two new sound stages and no less than four brand new Avid S6 control surfaces to its facilities. President Joe Melody recently spoke to RSPE Audio Solutions, and shared the secret to the company's success.
Joe: What I like to say is that Smart Post Sound is one of the youngest, and also the oldest company in the industry.
Official records will show that Smart Post Sound was born in July of 2005, but the business can trace its roots back to 1968 when it operated under the banner of Echo Sound. The name may have changed, but the company's dedication to providing quality sound remains steadfast. To that end, Joe and his team insist on using Avid technology.
This year, Smart Post Sound added two new sound stages and, with an eye to providing an even better service to its clients, acquired Santa Monica-based Lotus Post (now rebranded as Smart Post West).
The expansion also provided Smart Post Sound with an opportunity to invest in the latest Avid technology; four Avid S6 M10 control surfaces, two for each new stage. In addition, Smart Post West will be adding Pro Tools S6 surfaces to its arsenal in the new year. So we asked Joe and Re-recording mixer Larry Benjamin to explain why investing in the S6 was the right thing to do to support the company's already booming business.
PTE: You could've put anything in your new sound stages, why choose the S6?
Joe: A stage is just a stage. Nobody's going to use it willingly unless you say “We didn't just build two more stages, we built two of the best stages with the newest, slickest technology that you will ever work on.” And it worked! To tell you how well it worked, we have paid back the cost of that gear in less than six months with the work that we've done.
PTE: What were your first impressions of the S6?
Joe: If you talk to anyone of our mixers, I am sure they will tell you it's absolutely the best surface they've ever worked on. Even more importantly, it's very easy for them to go and work on our existing D-Command control surfaces and then go back to the S6 without a hiccup. They don't work quite the same, but it's really pretty seamless and that's one thing that we weren't expecting.
Larry: Getting around the Avid S6 is fast and I love the metering on each fader. The amount of information on the OLED displays is incredible, they are like “super scribble strips” (say that 10 times fast) and the new faders are silky smooth. The ergonomics and the flexibility of being able to configure the knob and pan modules is great. On one of our S6 systems, we have reversed the panning module for better access.
PTE: You could've just installed a D-Command in your new stages...
Joe: Well at that point the S6 had come out and so the question was 'Everybody knows about us, everybody thinks they know everything that we've got. What can we do to add wow factor?” We needed clients to forget about the stage that used to be their favorite one, and new technology provided the necessary incentive for that to happen. We’ve had directors in our new rooms who are literally like kids in a candy store. They can’t stop asking questions about the S6!
PTE: And you'll be adding more at Smart Post West, correct?
Joe: Yes. We've been doing all of our West side playbacks there. For instance Bones, (Fox Entertainment), they love mixing out here at Burbank with us. The Executive Producer lives in Santa Monica, but because we're all working with the same gear, we can easily do the second day playback over there. In the past, that was just not done. You'd go to a facility and they'd say 'You'd better not do that (mix in one room and playback in another), you're going to have nothing but problems. It's not going to translate.' Well guess what? When you make sure the gear matches and make sure the room is tuned just the way your mix room is, not only does it match, it matches every time. With the convenience factor of not having to drive, it allows the Executives to sit there and do their creative work without being stressed. I honestly still believe we're the only company that still does that...and with no apologies.
Larry: Clients today want more time to playback than mix. The S6 platform lets us work faster than ever. It’s not unusual for us to have two, or even three playback/fix passes over a two day period. That allows the creators and the mixers to fashion a much more satisfying mix.
PTE: What other Avid gear do you use?
Joe: Our mixing staff have an incredible allegiance and enthusiasm for the whole Avid line of products so my first response would be that everything we use is probably Avid! That's not to say we don't use other products at all, but the main gear that we use to create a soundtrack is all Avid.
PTE: Thirty years in the business; what's your secret to success?
Joe: For us, money is a result, not the reason. We invest a lot, both in technology and talent, and we keep our overhead very low. We only have two bona fide managers that get paid to manage and handle financial information, and that is a lot leaner than most companies. We're really a bottom-up company and that's been the way this company was the day I worked through the door and it has never changed.
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