Hollywood Post-Production Empire Expands With RedNet

05 Oct 2017

Focusrite Interfaces Help Create a Fast, Efficient and Cost-Effective Networked Environment For The Formosa Group

If you’ve ever stayed at the end of the movie to see the credits, you’ve seen their names: Supervising Sound Editors, Re-Recording Mixers and Sound Designers like Karen Baker Landers, Lon Bender, Doug Hemphill, Per Hallberg, Scott Hecker and Mark Mangini. These and other talented individuals now constitute The Formosa Group, a collective of professionals who are cornerstones of the sound teams for titles like Game of Thrones, Transparent, SWAT, Scorpion and other hit television and film properties. Brought together by the rapidly changing dynamics of Hollywood’s culture and economics, The Formosa Group brings massive technical and creative talent to bear on the content explosion taking place in recent years. To keep up with demand, The Formosa Group turned to RedNet Dante-networked audio interfaces from Focusrite to bring increased efficiency and effectiveness to their expanding campus of facilities.

In recent months, as The Formosa Group has expanded to seven locations around LA, they have invested deeply in RedNet, acquiring 38 RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges, 10 RedNet D16R 16-channel AES3 I/O’s, a RedNet A16R 16-channel analogue I/O interface, and a pair of RedNet 6 MADI bridges, which complement the dozen-plus RedNet AM2 stereo audio monitoring units already in place and the existing RedNet 2 16-Channel A-D/D-A interfaces that have been working in facilities such as Formosa NoHo in North Hollywood and Formosa Santa Monica.

Formosa’s impressive machine room.

“Our mantra has always been ‘simplicity,’” says Bill Johnston, Vice President of Engineering at The Formosa Group. “That’s what the RedNet technology does for us — it makes things simple, transparent and very reliable.” Johnston points to a common signal path now used in several of The Formosa Group’s facilities, in which the output of all of the studios’ Avid Pro Tools HD systems are interfaced through RedNet HDR32 units, then into a BSS Soundweb London BLU-806 Dante-compatible processor and then into the Crown DCI Series amplifiers used to power the facilities’ monitoring systems. “We’ve been using the BSS processors as the Dante interface for the amplifiers, but now that the newer Crown amps are Dante compatible, we’ll be able to go directly into them in the future just using the AM2 units,” Johnston explains. “At that point, we have a digital audio signal all the way until it reaches the actual speakers.”

Johnston says putting the facilities on RedNet has streamlined their workflow significantly, in the process bringing costs down. “Once the audio is on a network, we can pull it from anywhere to anywhere just by bussing it, so we don’t have to send it through a router,” he says. “That eliminates the need for, and the expense of, MADI routers and MADI interfaces.” In fact, he says, selling the studios’ old MADI infrastructure has helped pay for more RedNet throughout the new facilities. And since RedNet has its own internal clocking — the RedNet A16R also outputs word clock — it can sync easily with the rest of the digital infrastructure in each studio, further expediting workflow. “We’re using multiple Pro Tools systems but through RedNet, we only need a single Sync I/O for everything. In fact, Avid told me, ‘You can’t do that — it won’t work.’ And I said, ‘But we’re doing it and it is working!’”

RedNet devices are used to interface between a variety of different systems and protocols, and equipment from Avid and BSS.

RedNet’s speed, accuracy and ease of use (Johnston says RedNet is “the very definition of plug and play”) make for an enhanced creative environment in which to work. “RedNet is fast, so it’s never in the way,” he says. “That’s always the biggest problem with any technology — it gets in the way of being creative because it takes some of your mental bandwidth to deal with the technical things. With RedNet, you don’t even know it’s there, and that’s the best thing you could ever say about any technology.”

RedNet will continue to be deployed throughout The Formosa Group’s facilities, including as the signal management for the Dolby Atmos speaker array for Formosa Santa Monica, the former Pacific Ocean Post facility. “It just makes things so much easier, by increasing out throughput and doing so totally transparently,” Johnston says. “And that lets us get down sooner to what we do best.”