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White Mark’s Fast Studio

In this week's report Phil Ward finds out the ins and outs of White Mark's new and affordable rapid-build concept Fast Studio with its co-founder David Bell.

Pictured is mastering engineer Nick Cooke in Extreme Music’s new mastering facility, part of Sony ATV’s extensive production capabilities. It took just seven days to build, proving that UK acoustic and studio design consultancy White Mark’s new service dubbed Fast Studio is aptly named. Quick-time construction is made possible by pre-fabricated acoustic modules, designed to dovetail flexibly into existing spaces, thereby saving time and cost – and preserving the character of original interiors when required. Phil Ward quizzes White Mark co-founder David Bell… Is every off-site module custom-created for each individual client, or are there any ‘generics’? Having looked fundamentally at what we do as studio designers and addressed the issues surrounding the development of an economic, quick and minimally invasive method of creating acoustically controlled environments, we have designed a series of standard acoustic modules. These provide the fundamental palette of control tools required for shaping an acoustic environment. We have not ducked the central issues of low frequency control and have produced units which give the full range of reflection, absorption and diffusion needed. Each Fast Studio solution will be unique, but will be created from a fixed number of basic building blocks which are customisable in appearance to suit the aesthetic of a wide range of spaces. Would you agree that people are now looking for more ‘character’ from studio locations, rather than antiseptic neutrality? I don’t think anyone looked for ‘antiseptic neutrality’ in a creative environment and we’ve certainly worked hard over the years to avoid creating it. A studio, writing room or performance space is a ‘place apart’ from the norm; it’s a creative environment that must have empathy with the work taking place within it, but it must also be practical to use. The freedom given by modern recording techniques has allowed greater choice of where to work. The Fast Studio system is a logical extension of this approach. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to work in your flat in London to post-produce radio programme content at low audio monitoring levels, to rent a cottage on an isolated farm to work on a music project or to wish to record voice-overs in a building surrounded by industrial noise. The requirements for these contrasting situations are very different and we’ve sought to create a further option for all users. What do Fast Studio customers need to send to you to get started? Unlike many of the ‘panel’ systems that are available, Fast Studio is conceived as a system for WML to use to provide a rapid studio build where isolation is not a major issue. As with all our projects, we’ll need to talk to the client and, preferably, visit the site to make an a detailed assessment. Once this is done, basic work can be specified and the required panel components identified. Basic work to improve the building can be undertaken almost immediately. The panel system can then be delivered within a target time of two weeks, and the studio checked acoustically for best monitor placement and equalisation if needed. In answer to the question, then, just a phone call will start the process – and an estimate of cost can then be derived.