A Sound Advantage in Optimising Audio Studios - De Lane Lea selects Avocent HMX
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Originally founded in 1947 to dub English films into French, De Lane Lea significantly expanded its capabilities and studios in the ’60s and ’70s with the dramatic growth of the music recording business, working with music legends such as the Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and Queen. Today, leveraging its talented staff and state-of-the-art facilities in Soho London, De Lane Lea specializes in sound post production for feature films and television from around the world.
Most recently, De Lane Lea engaged in the post production sound mixing and editing for Guillermo Del Toro’s film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. To provide its sound editors and mixers an optimal and productive working environment for this film, De Lane Lea physically separated its sound editing workstations from the users in the studio by taking advantage of the versatile and reliable capabilities provided by Avocent’s HMX KVM over IP solutions.
Highly Productive Working Environments
Whenever De Lane Lea works on a new film, it sets up and customises the studio to fit the unique and specifi c needs of the production crew that will be working on that film. For the Hollywood production of Hellboy II, De Lane Lea needed 16 different digital audio processing workstations its dialogue editors, music editors, and sound effects editors could utilize to manipulate, replay, and digitally store a variety of sound elements. Additionally, the cinema-like sound studio at De Lane Lea is designed and built to accommodate a very specific work environment. Since the studio editors are mixing sound, the studio needs to be as quiet as possible so the editors can hear every nuance of what they’re doing to the sound. Since the sound workstations emit too much noise, too much heat, and take up too much space, they have to be stored in a separate machine room. That’s where the KVM over IP capabilities of the Avocent HMX solutions come into play. They enable those sound workstations to be controlled remotely from within the editor-friendly working environment of the sound studio.
While competing solutions provide similar capabilities, they typically require a dedicated keyboard, mouse, and screen for each workstation. “With the Avocent HMX solution we didn’t need 16 sets of screens, keyboards, and mice,” says Paul Jarvis, technical and studio manager at De Lane Lea. “From within the sound studio, Avocent enables our editors to control and switch between any of the sound editing machines from just a handful of individual keyboards, mice, and screens.”
The quality and performance that the HMX solutions provide De Lane Lea also outshine that of competing solutions the studio has used in the past. “The HMX solutions give us both high quality DVI video and audio,” Jarvis says. “While other systems have a lag of a few seconds when you move the mouse, that isn’t the case with the Avocent solution. The HMX systems provide rapid response from both the keyboard and the mouse.”
The high-quality video picture the Avocent HMX solution delivers gives De Lane Lea a significant benefit as well. “Since Avocent uses DVI rather than VGA, the picture quality it delivers is brilliant,” Jarvis says. “Our editors might be working between 12 to 16 hours a day toward the end of a mix. So, we need to do all that we can to provide an optimal working environment. The display quality provided by Avocent helps in this regard by reducing user fatigue, displaying as clear as possible the on-screen graphical matrices and waveforms used by our editors.”
Simplified Connection Management and Administration
The HMX Manager software facilitates De Lane Lea’s administration and connection management of the HMX user stations, providing them a rich suite of access profiles and internal authentication options. “The HMX software gives us the control, security and flexibility we need to define which users can operate which sound machines,” Jarvis says. “We can configure it so one editor has access to all of the machines, while another editor might only have access to three or four machines.”
Those same management capabilities also enable De Lane Lea to extend the reach of its sound workstations to its other geographically distributed studios. “Due to tight deadlines, situations often arise when we need to mix two different stages of a film simultaneously,” Jarvis says. “While one studio might be working on sound effects, another studio could be doing dialog and other bits and pieces. The HMX manager makes it very easy to control from one studio location a sound workstation at a different studio location.”
A Step Ahead of the Competition
Overall reliability is another key benefit that the Avocent HMX solutions provide De Lane Lea. “Our clients pay a lot of money to use our facilities and so they expect perfection,” Jarvis says. “All of our equipment has to be 100-percent reliable. The Avocent systems have been built to a very high standard with quality, industrial-grade electronics. That’s very important to us because we can’t afford to have any downtime. When we set up an Avocent system, we know it’ll work and that’s one less worry we have when setting up the studio for our clients.”
Along with the reliability, one of the things that De Lane Lea likes most about the Avocent HMX systems is how easy they are to set up. “Each film we do is different, so we basically have to redesign the studio every time a new production starts,” Jarvis says. “The Avocent HMX systems save us considerably in set-up time. Compared to other systems we’ve used before, Avocent has proved incredibly reliable and simple to set up. You just plug them in and they work.”
Jarvis adds, “The other solutions that we’ve used in the past were quite complex and very unpredictable. Until we started using the Avocent systems, I hadn’t realized how much time and energy we had been wasting before during set up. The Avocent HMX systems have streamlined our studio setup considerably, saving us significant time and frustration. They have become a key advantage for us.”
Avocent HMX systems provide De Lane Lea a very easy-to-use, yet high-tech solution that addresses a common problem faced by other studios and facilities. Jarvis concludes, “Avocent has given us a very elegant solution that saves us time and delivers a set of high quality features. The versatility, flexibility and reliability of the Avocent HMX systems definitely put us a step ahead of our competition.”
Partnering for Success
IP Performance has been delivering specialised infrastructure solutions and integrating complex network systems since 1994. De Lane Lea came to IP Performance to help evaluate and select a high performance, high-bandwidth KVM product to physically separate the human I/O elements (screen, keyboard, mouse, tablet) from the processing and storage units of their Mac-based Digidesign Pro Tools HD systems, in order to reduce ambient noise in the sound studios, and to speed up the audio editing post production workflow. “The technical assistance and access to resources made available to us through IP Performance has been second to none,” said Paul Jarvis, Studio Manager at De Lane Lea.