Virgin Upper Class passengers: they get drinks, they get beds, they get chauffeurs. And now, unbelievably, they've got their own recording studio installed at Heathrow Terminal 3. Specifically, an Avid Pro Tools editing suite in the terminal's airport lounge, the Clubhouse. The suite features Pro Tools 10 with the Complete Production Toolkit, an Artist Mix control service and an M-Audio Axiom Pro 25 keyboard housed inside a ‘pod’ designed by Guy Wilson of AKA Design in London, which bears more than a slight resemblance to the sleeper pods found onboard Virgin’s Upper Class cabin. Avid’s Ben Nemes spearheaded the project. A conversation with Virgin Atlantic’s head of brand allegiances, Charles Vine, led to a demo of a small-footprint Pro Tools rig in the canteen of Virgin Atlantic’s offices in Crawley. Both companies recognized they shared a similar customer base of “international jet-setting rockstars” said Nemes. Installing a Pro Tools system in Virgin’s Clubhouse allowed the company to say to its passengers “We know what you do, and the brand name of what you use,” he continued. Nemes added that it’s also about knowing what can and can’t be done with the minimal amount of gear passengers can carry with them: “Yes, of course people have their own Pro Tools system on their MacBook Pro,” he said. “But if you’ve got two or three hours to kill there’s only so much you can do on a track pad. You’re going to be aching for a mouse or a keyboard; something you can get your hands on. It’s about having familiar things like faders to grab.” The editing suite was installed on 10 May, after Virgin Atlantic’s last departing flight took off. The suite is unmanned although concierge staff have been given a full day’s training on how to get someone started using the system, and where to direct them should things go wrong. The assumption is that the people interested in using the Pro Tools already know what they are doing, explained Nemes: “It’s kind of like a pottery wheel. People aren’t just going to rock up and play with it; you can really make a mess.” The Heathrow Airport studio is – so far – the only one planned, though Nemes said Avid would “be open” to further installations, as well as expanding the software provided to cater to professionals in other creative industries. The Heathrow studio, meanwhile, has already contributed to the release of a single by the aptly-named band Cloud (pictured, at the editing suite). Virgin Atlantic spokesman Greg Dawson commented: “With a name like Cloud, this band had to be the natural choice to release the very first single. The final edit for their first single Free My Soul was completed live at the Avid edit suite on 14 May and released within four hours of finishing the last note.”
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