Owned and operated by Jamie Mahaffey and Marty Taylor, The Mix Room is a full service, award-winning, audio-post completion service located in downtown Vancouver with a socially distanced workflow.
Long before most of the industry was forced into distributed collaboration, Mahaffey and Taylor had made work from home workflows routine. “We have both built out home studios which are the mirror of the set-up we have downtown enabling us to perform everything up to and including the final mix without having to be in the office,” explains Mahaffey.
It offers 5.1 mix studios and two editorial/premix suites along with ADR, foley and voiceover. All rooms can also monitor Dolby Pro Logic and adhere to the Dial Norm protocol.
Presciently too, The Mix Room had invested in a Sohonet solution in early 2020 to facilitate every stage from dialogue edit to final broadcast deliverable. “We were using other systems and found them clunky, difficult, and lagging behind real-time,” Mahaffey says. “For these technical reasons, work wasn’t much fun, and we thought there must be a better way to do this.
“We cast the net around with folks we knew in the industry and the feedback we got was to try Sohonet,” Mahaffey adds. “Once we’d demoed ClearView Flex it was immediately clear that this was the way to be going.”
The Mix Room began utilising Sohonet’s real-time, remote review tool ClearView Flex to perform work in progress, reviews, and final presentations with clients remotely. “We share files with clients, they send us back notes, we address those notes live with them over ClearView Flex and use real-time teleconferencing. It’s as close as possible an experience to us all being together in a studio. From that point of view, ClearView Flex is the obvious solution.”
He explains, “We recently finished a session on an animated feature streaming media between ourselves and the client in New York for eight hours solid without a single blip. The lag between pressing the play button here and the person on the other end seeing it is just three frames or 3/30th of a second. That’s quite amazing.”
The Mix Room has established a strong reputation for its work in sound designing, mixing and mastering episodic and feature animation for clients including Mainframe Studios in Vancouver and SilverGate Media in New York with shows destined for Nickelodeon and Netflix. Series such as Lego Jurassic World and Octonauts might be ordered in dozens of episodes. Typically, the senior production team would visit The Mix Room in Vancouver to supervise the first few episodes “to get the show on its wheels” and use remote reviews to sign off on the rest of the run.
“One of the major factors of the Sohonet system that appeals to clients is that it does not require a third-party server to store the media,” says Mahaffey. “It is a portal from which we access the media and which ClearView Flex streams as an encrypted file. That’s the same whether we are in Vancouver or at our home studio. Clients want the guarantee of watertight security for their high-value media and Sohonet’s studio-grade locks and keys provides it.”
While social distancing has temporarily precluded the physical presence of more than a couple of people at The Mix Room, the team have been just as busy during lockdown. “Animation is one of the few genres able to continue pretty seamlessly as a remote production,” says Mahaffey. “Animation was on fire prior to Covid-19 and this unexpected situation has only created more demand.”
What’s coming soon?
As you can imagine, none of us know how long we will be in “full” WFH mode or when we will start to transition to a mode where “critical” personnel go to the office and others are still WFH. Our developers are working around the clock to increase the depth of colour quality (10-bit), chroma (4:2:2) and colour space (Rec 2020 and HDR) to provide an acceptable “critical review” alternative that can be delivered via high capacity home internet speeds. We are also working on 5.1 audio, to be delivered to the Apple TV, so that you can perform full surround sound audio reviews at home. Stay tuned — we are expecting to deliver this kind of capability on behalf of our industry before summer begins in the northern hemisphere.