Capital Audio Post: Bringing Sound Synergies to D.C.

Feb 1, 2014 9:00 AM, Mix, By Mark R. Smith


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Frank Scheuring at the Fairlight Constellation

Frank Scheuring at the Fairlight Constellation

For Frank Scheuring and Chip Sovek, it was a matter of necessity. After many years in the audio post business, much of it with an established Washington, D.C.-area facility, the doors closed in late 2012, and it was either start making calls to see who’s hiring or take the plunge and open up their own space. They chose the latter, opening as Capital Audio Post last March in nearby Fairfax, Va.

“We were the last people standing” at the defunct facility, Scheuring recalls. “We thought about getting jobs elsewhere, but we already had work lined up for the fall and didn’t want to let our clients down. And since we had talked about founding our own place, [the company going out of business] provided the kick-in-the-butt we needed.”

When they got the news of the closing, the duo immediately set out to create their 3,200-square-foot, three-room, Fairlight-based house. They had the enviable problem of jobs in the pipeline, which could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. It meant they had to move fast. “We went into hyper-planning drive about a year ago,” Scheuring says. “The hard thing was that we were still doing jobs at the old facility while we were scouting to rent space and building out. That was pretty stressful for a while. We were running wiring and setting up rooms late at night, then taking naps, then getting up and starting over.”

CAP moved into space in the Merrifield section of the D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Va., in November 2012 and held its first session the first week. “We didn’t even have any carpet yet, then came the crush of the holidays,” Scheuring adds, “but the good news was that we were really busy and got our work done.”

That rush “slowed down a bit by February,” so they finally had some time to refine the facility, Scheuring says. “Given the stress of that period, I’m really appreciative of the fact that we managed to hold on to 90 percent of our work. It’s just Chip and I, but we are now at the point that we hire freelancers to handle overflow work.”

Three-Room Setup

Capital Audio Post co-founders Frank Scheuring and Chip Sovek

Capital Audio Post co-founders Frank Scheuring and Chip Sovek

Post-production work at CAP takes place in three mix rooms that feature the Fairlight Constellation XT, two of which are set up for 5.1, the other for stereo—JBL LSR 4328P speakers throughout. All rooms have Waves plug-ins and 55-inch HD video monitors. They also have a 300-square-foot recording booth that includes a 40-inch HD video monitor and four mic lines, with Neumann, AKG and Røde microphones to handle voice-overs.

To accommodate production workflow common to the area, they also installed a main video edit suite featuring a Mac-based Final Cut Pro 7 with a 47-inch, multi-format HD LCD video monitor and a 23-inch HD CRT broadcast monitor—“but we are in the process of adding the Adobe system, because that seems be what our clients are asking for,” Scheuring says. In February, a second video suite is opening with Final Cut 7 and Adobe Premiere. The original video room will convert to Media Composer so that they will be able to work in all formats.

Rounding out the equipment list are Zephyr and APT codec ISDN boxes, a Sony SRW-5500 HD video deck, Dolby E encoding/decoding…and, Scheuring notes, a beer fridge.

As for the main technology, know that CAP is Fairlight Country.

“We are of the opinion that the Fairlight is a faster, more efficient way to go, because it is specifically geared for post-production,” Scheuring says, pointing to the way the controls are laid out on the controller. “Using a mouse and keyboard in other DAW setups can be cumbersome, because you constantly have to drag your mouse around or remember shortcuts. On the Fairlight, all of the controls are at your fingertips and accessible very quickly.”

As far as the facility’s layout, Scheuring and Sovek didn’t have time to hire a designer, but the folks who run the U.S. Green Building Council would surely approve of their foundation: In the mix rooms, CAP features wall reinforcements made from recycled tires, as well as recycled wood floors that were pulled from a soon-to-be demolished house.

Getting’ It Done

“What we’ve done,” Scheuring says, “is the best we could in the time that we’ve had. That said, we’re happy with how the rooms turned out, so there’s no need to make any upgrades at the moment. And we’ve been getting compliments from our clients so far.”

Audio 1 control room at Capital Audio Post, with Fairlight Constellation and JBL LSR 4328P 5.1 monitoring

Audio 1 control room at Capital Audio Post, with Fairlight Constellation and JBL LSR 4328P 5.1 monitoring

Those clients include The Discovery Channel for a mini-series called Heroes of Hell’s Highway, via New York-based production company called Big Fish Entertainment, which also produced the CAP-cut D.C. Cupcakes for The Learning Channel and Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan, which aired on G4TV. In addition, CAP cut an indie film for Open Door Productions, a production company out of Richmond, Va., called Capgras.

Still, much of CAP’s work originates locally, from such clients as D.C.-based National Geographic, and via independent productions. In early 2013, the team provided audio post for a two-hour special for Nat Geo’s international division called The Next MegaQuake, as well as some promos; they also completed work for Maryland-based shotgun manufacturer Benelli USA. On the docket is another feature-length doc for Ogden, Utah-based Highway 89 Media.

What’s next? CAP’s first sound effects library, with the release slated for spring 2014. To be called Snap! Crunch! Pop!, it will contain a variety of noises from various objects that make those sounds. Scheuring and Sovek are also considering partnership opportunities with other local production/graphics houses.

“The idea of competition always seems a little silly to me,” Scheuring says. “You expect it, but you have to understand that there are other opportunities to work together. We find New York to be a very collaborative market, and we’re trying to encourage that kind of synergy here in D.C.”

Mark Smith is a contributing writer to Mix.

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