Ott House Audio is a boutique sound mixing studio located just minutes from the heart of DC. The backbone of this woman-owned business is Cheryl Ottenritter. Cheryl’s love for the art and power of sound reverberates through every project. Its home-base in downtown Silver Spring, boasts two client suites, an immersive audio mixing suite, a Foley recording booth, and a fully equipped machine room.
In 2016, OHA became the first Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment Studio on the East Coast. Every OHA sound engineer proudly maintains a remote mixing location, allowing the shop to accommodate client needs from anywhere in the world.
Can you tell us more about the type of content you work on?
Cheryl: Sure. Our scope is pretty diverse. We find it refreshing to work on different types of material but we generally focus on non-fiction storytelling which could be mixing for multi-screen and immersive museum installations or documentaries for network TV and streaming services. It’s on those shows where we tend to use Sohonet a lot.
It’s rare to find a new user of ClearView Flex who adopted it as the industry emerged from the pandemic. Can you tell us why?
Yes, that’s true. We started using it coming out of the pandemic because I wanted to get away from just the asynchronous reviews we were doing. I also wanted to use it not just for review but as more of a collaboration tool. Emerging from the pandemic we knew that people had gotten used to remote working and were only coming in for reviews. ClearView Flex allows us to open up the feed and to collaborate on their schedule. At the same time it allows us to achieve our goal of being truly location agnostic.
When did you move to a remote operation before?
We realized long ago that we were more efficient and better at our jobs with the flexibility of being able to work from home. We first started in 2017 when we decided to set up a hybrid facility where we can all work from our home studios as well as the central shop when we need to. It is practical as well as efficient. Because schedules in this business are all over the place, the last thing I want is to burn out my team. It gave me the ability to be flexible with them and likewise gave me the ability to be flexible with my clients.
Did the pandemic enable you to extend this model, now that the wider industry has cottoned onto the benefits of remote working?
Absolutely. We may be physically located with our studios in the DC area but we work with clients on the West Coast, in Europe or anywhere. ClearView allows us to collaborate with whoever we want to. For us, adopting ClearView was more of a ‘lets keep this mindset going’ than it was an essential pandemic tool. During the pandemic most of our clients were perfectly fine doing asynchronous reviews but now we feel we want to offer them greater flexibility and creative control.
What was it about ClearView Flex that appealed to you?
It’s fast, stable, and very easy for clients to use. Our clients are amazed all the time how well it works. They love it. It’s also very, very robust and we decided we’d rather know that when we sent that link and we opened up that pipe it would work every time, all the time. The robustness of Sohonet and not having to worry about all the little details around it is exactly why we went with Sohonet over other review systems. I don’t want my creatives to have to deal with all that technical backend all the time.
How do you use ClearView Flex day to day?
We use it for real-time review and for work sessions. I’m a great believer in collaboration with the client – if they want to. Some people want to be more involved than others and this way we can just open up the link and they can be in the session with us no matter where they are. They can pop in and out. They might go and make a conference call or any other business then jump back into the stream again. It’s way more productive of their time.
How has ClearView helped OHA become more flexible?
I try to keep as much of a 9-5 schedule as possible so people have some idea how to shape their lives but that’s not always possible in this business. So, the more people that can be integrated and work from home then the better they will be in their personal, professional, and creative lives. It was the lack of flexibility that drove me to quit my job as a young mother and it has been greater flexibility that I’ve been striving for all my career. Now, we’re finally achieving it.
Has ClearView helped OHA win business?
We’re starting on a series project in the fall that I think, if we did not have Sohonet, we may not have been awarded that business. Although we’ve worked with the producers before, they are on the West coast or Florida and they’ve always flown in. I feel like ClearView Flex gives them the ability to do what they need to do when they need to do it and instead of hopping on a plane, we can hop on this link. For us, as a smaller business, it was a big investment but I don’t regret it at all since it allows me to confidently say without a shadow of a doubt, ‘We can do that’. It’s the confidence in the quality and the robustness of Sohonet that sold us.