Lockdown is a time for collaboration

We may still be in the midst of the conronovirus lockdown but for many it is still business as usual. Many have seen 70% of workload disappear and those considering change to studio or premises have seen construction plans put on hold. One thing is for sure, when we emerge there is going to be a huge demand to build very quickly.  During these uncertain waters it’s important to look ahead and plan so we can ensure that we emerge ready to hit the ground running.

Those in the midst of relocating have found themselves unable to make much progress and need to be motivated.  If the move is motivated by the landlord, who will have problems of their own, some respite may be available from the landlord and discussion is very worthwhile.  Should you be looking or contemplating new premises this is an excellent opportunity to research locations and what property is on the market, and open initial enquiries. 

This enforced down time is a huge opportunity to plan what you want for your business, if you are planning a refurbishment there is time to think about functionality, work flow and how your studios could look and sound.  We presently have the time to really talk with music editors, mix techs, sound supervisors, engineers & producers about their work.  Learning what they like and don’t like about premises, facilities and studios that helps refine ideas and make the project even better.  Staff might have a bit more time to think about their workloads and needs to aid the design process to advance and make the business more viable and leaders of their sector.  We have the time to truly analyse how your facilities work, staff move through the space, the equipment they need and how to embrace the new world.

One of the most important steps when ensuring a design meets expectation is to spend as much time as possible on the detail.  We now have the time to truly answer the question ‘what am I trying to accomplish’.  Many mistakes happen later on in the creation that can be traced back to not taking the time at the outset to consider the detail or those what-ifs? But now we have the time.  We have an exceptional opportunity to discuss and develop concepts and designs so we are ready to hit the ground running once business restraints are lifted. 


The Gold Standard

The importance of passion cannot be underestimated. Eloise Veale, the Creative Director of Veale Associates, is testament to that.

We met Eloise in London, in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea. This borough is one of contrasts, placing mansions and billionaires alongside high-rise social housing, including Grenfell Tower, and extreme poverty. 

We are speaking to Eloise the morning after the launch of a remarkable project aimed at reducing the number of young people killed by knife crime in the local area. “Every minute someone spends in this space is a minute they aren’t on the street, potentially being part of something that will ruin their lives,” she says.

Amplify is a special place. It is designed to be a “powerful tool of change”.

“A safe haven that removes barriers to entry and allows young people to develop their strengths and nurture their passions.” Veale Associates, in partnership with The Rugby Portabello Trust, have created a space that changes lives.

Alongside two state-of-the-art studios, including 8 desks for learning and a recording booth, there is a multi-functional area that primarily acts as a counselling space.

“This is my favourite project,” says Eloise. “The design challenges of creating a space that acts as an art space, recording space and a place where people can get help for their mental health through counselling is really rewarding.”

“Knowing what materials to use, working to a tight budget and making sure everything works in harmony meant a lot of back and forth with the client. We needed to know what was needed because it’s so important. We had to get it right.”

Eloise’s passion no doubt comes from her father, an industry legend. But we get the impression that Veale Associates works because the two creative leaders think differently.

“I like to give my dad headaches. I like to push the boundaries of what a studio can be, so when my designs meet his decades of experience – that’s where the magic happens. Every studio must be different, because humans are different.”  

“You Say Control Freak Like it’s a Bad Thing”

Control is an important part of the creative process. Over the last 15 years, businesses have increasingly outsourced functions to reduce costs. As with most trends, the pendulum now seems to be swinging in the opposite direction – especially in the creative arts.

Whenever an artist – be they a musician, an actor, or a director – leaves a project, it is often put down to “creative control” or “creative differences”. 

In our experience, creatives like to be in environments where they can completely control the outcome. And when it comes to audio engineers, this is especially true. For a recent project we completed with Frontier Games, makers of Planet Zoo and Elite:Dangerous, the brief was simple:

“Provide quality facilities for our audio team.”

The designers at Frontier had been “making do” with converted, untreated rooms. “What we were producing was pretty amazing given the circumstances,” they told us. “But this afforded us the opportunity to take our audio to the next level.”

The key to success, then, was control. To take their audio capability to the next level, the studios they were using had to be at the same level as the amazing talent they had developed since their creation over 25 years ago.

But much more than controlling your environment, or the audio produced, having exceptional facilities allows you to control the future of the company. 

“Good quality facilities are key to attracting the best talent in the industry,” Frontier Developments told us. “Happy staff make the best products. We believe our balance of lightly treated design rooms with plenty of window estate, together with fully treated mix rooms and the ability to quickly transfer builds between the two, provides the team with the best of both worlds.”

“Our recording studios also mean that we are no longer always dependent on external companies to record for us, which has afforded a lot more flexibility and the ability to respond rapidly to game requirements.”

Understanding the Process

Even though we build creative spaces, we know we need a thorough process to ensure our customers get what they need. From conception to completion, we develop, design and build in collaboration with our clients.

The first stage is always to develop the brief. We are consultants first, which means we don’t install standard equipment to a standard layout. We sit down with every customer to develop, design and build their perfect space. During this phase we also ensure that the design is as future-proof as possible, so the customer will be using the space for years and decades to come.

Once we understand the brief, we generate the concepts, including technical integration and 3D walkthroughs. With over 50 years of experience, we understand that the technicalities of health and safety and local authority approval are key to the success of the project. So we get the ball rolling as soon as possible, to ensure that all challenges are eliminated early in the design process.

We then bring all of the work together into detailed drawings, liaising with our contractors to ensure feasibility and suitability. Bringing in contractors and installers at this stage, whether they are sourced by the client or by us, helps ensure the solution works from the start.

Once everything is signed off, it’s time to get on with the installation. We project manage for our clients throughout, so what’s designed on the page is delivered on the project, with quality and performance that is second to none. 

We then sign off every project to ensure it meets the Veale Associates standard. Only when we are happy will we hand over to the client and provide the necessary training to ensure the space is used to its potential.

But even after the project is finished, we know things take a while to bed in. That’s why we provide a post-installation service for any fine-tuning, to help remove any barriers to creativity or performance.

New 7.1 mix rooms for Frontier Developments

VA are proud to have delivered 2 new 7.1 mix rooms for Frontier Developments, the game developers responsible for Elite Dangerous and the recently released Jurassic World: Evolution. 

The new 7.1 mix rooms feature acoustic design by master acoustician Dr. Eddie Veale, monitoring from Dynaudio and Genelec, monitor control by SPL and interfaces by RME. The rooms were designed to facilitate the object orientated mixing that game audio demands, and to allow in-the-box mixing for cinematic release work.

VA also designed and installed 10 5.1 production rooms for the Frontier Audio team audio designers personal studios.

Lennon’s home studio celebrated in new book

Scott Cardinal is part of The Cardinals, the creative team behind the books, and he believes that Ascot Sound was a significant milestone in the early development of the professional-grade home studio. “When Lennon met with acoustician Eddie Veale, who designed the facility, he simply said, ‘Build me a studio that is a good as Apple’s,” says Cardinal.