Inspiration Academy doesn’t operate like a traditional school. Its students learn in flipped classrooms and it has a series of academies that focus on individualized higher level training in everything from sports to film. Each academy exposes students to professionals who have worked at the highest level in their field and offers the latest technologies in the industry.
Take the Inspiration Film Academy, for example, run by Jimmy Duke, president and CEO of Updog Studios, a production company housed on the school’s campus. Not only do students have access to a seasoned professional, they also have a new state-of-the-art 4K studio at their disposal. The studio was the brainchild of Duke and the result of a stellar design and implementation by Crown Design Group, a Bradenton Fla.-based integration firm.
“My idea was to create a multipurpose kind of post production suite that would allow us to do high end projects on a professional level and be accessible for students to use,” says Duke.
The concept behind the studio was a challenging one.The design had to marry high end professional equipment with a user friendliness appropriate for students. Crown Design Group achieved this by creating a space that boasts industry standard gear, but custom turnkey solutions. For example, the entire room can be powered up and ready to go with a simple turn of the janitor’s key.
“In a professional studio you might not need that. You have engineers and audio engineers and assistants that know the room,” says Garrett Walker, co-owner, Crown Design Group. “They’re not going to hurt anything, but in a school it might be different.”
The other unique part of the studio’s design is that it can be used to edit video and mix sound, something that is traditionally done in different places. However, with a limited amount of space and a need to accomplish both aspects of post production work, the studio had to serve a dual purpose which is reflected in the gear installed by Crown Design Group. The studio has Avid Pro Tools HDX as its main audio mixing software and hardware. To control the Pro Tools, Crown Design chose the new Avid S6 console, which only recently hit the market. The studio also features Symetrix gear, Genelec speakers and a Grace Design M906 monitor controller.
On the video side, the studio offers Avid editing software run on an Apple Mac Pro. There’s also a 4K video switcher that runs to an 80-inch 4K monitor, the main viewing screen in the room. Students are able to sit comfortably on a couch and watch a movie on that monitor or play the video they are editing at the production table.
“It’s world class,” says Walker of the room’s design. “You can walk in and do pretty much anything you want.”
Walker even programmed a custom touch panel that allows students working in the room to listen to different inputs with the touch of a button. For example, a student could be listening to an iPod on an 8-inch jack then a push a button and switch to a different input or to simulated surround sound.
“I wouldn’t say those features are something that a professional studio might need because they could do all the routing inside Pro Tools, but for a school it’s great,” Walker says.
From design to completion, the studio took about three months to come together. Much of those early design meetings focused on how to layout the room and simple logistics such as where to put the mixer. Because the studio had to serve a dual purpose, layout was not as easy as it might have been for a more traditional post production studio, but it all came together with no major issues.
So far, the studio has been used to edit a commercial and several smaller projects, but Duke hasn’t yet used the space to edit a feature film. That’s on his list of goals for next year.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s a beautiful room,” Duke says. “It’s the crown jewel of anything that we show around here.”