Barbara Lange, Executive Director of SMPTE and HPA, SMPTE
Bernard Weiser, President, EIPMA
Freddie Gateley, VP Sales & Marketing, VocalBooth.com, Inc.
Gabriel “Gabe” White, Marketing Director, WhisperRoom, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at mentoring and sound isolation audio booths.
Larry Jordan: We start with Barbara Lange. She’s the executive director of both SMPTE and HPA. Tonight she talks about her organizations and their focus on mentoring.
Larry Jordan: Next, Bernard Weiser is the president of EIPMA, a non profit organization that provides mentoring services to young people, military vets and others. Tonight he explains how his organization can help your career.
Larry Jordan: Freddie Gateley is the VP of sales and marketing for VocalBooth. His company specializes in manufacturing sound isolation booths for audio recording. Tonight he showcases his booths and how they are used.
Larry Jordan: Gabe White is the marketing director for WhisperRoom, another company that makes sound isolation booths. Gabe explains how an errant saxophone got the company started and how to pick the right booth for your projects.
Larry Jordan: All this plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital film making, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. As I was interviewing people at NAB I kept looking out at the trade show floor and not far away were two booths filled with booths. Sound isolation booths. VocalBooth and WhisperRoom were right across the aisle from each other. We didn’t have time to include them in our NAB coverage, so we invited them to join us tonight so you can hear their stories. While neither introduced new gear at NAB, both provide environments that can improve the quality of your audio recordings. You’ll hear both interviews in the second half of tonight’s show.
Larry Jordan: The first half of our show is dedicated to learning about mentoring opportunities, especially mentoring geared toward younger people.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: And now it’s time for our weekly DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James. How you doing?
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry, how are you? Happy Thursday.
Larry Jordan: Is there any news at all going on after NAB, because man, it’s dead quiet over here.
James DeRuvo: Really quiet. We returned from NAB, there’s just not a lot of news out there except for some firmware update news which we’ve got, and there’s some interesting stories that caught my eye, so we’ve got enough.
Larry Jordan: OK, go ahead.
James DeRuvo: Story number one, RED and NVidia have released the Cine-X app for 8K workflows that they hope will bring 8K to the masses. With RED Cine-X out of beta, it will harness the power of NVidia’s Quadro RTX Titan, and get this, even GEForce graphics cards to handle RED’s finicky 8K R3D image files without the need of any additional hardware acceleration. NVidia’s CUDA architecture is at the heart of it and it’s going to bring real time transcoding and playback that RED says is ten times faster than using the RED Rocket. Future updates will also bring these and other features to your NLE, that’s non linear editor in the near future. Big news.
Larry Jordan: Big news, big image. 8K? Don’t get me started. So what’s behind this partnership?
James DeRuvo: I agree. The fact is our eyes can’t see the difference between 4K and 8K so for future proofing and source files, I guess it’s pretty cool.
Larry Jordan: Just take stock in storage because it’s going to blow through storage.
James DeRuvo: Agreed. This has been ten years in the making. RED had been looking for a graphics card company to step up and help them to do this. They’ve been trying to do this for a while because Jarred Land said that creating the RED Rocket graphics card, he admitted it was a necessary evil and a mistake that they wish they didn’t have to do, but it was the only way they could get real time transcoding and playback of an 8K file. Now that NVidia’s graphics cards are powerful enough, they can do it without the need of that expensive hardware addition. And it’s going to bring DSMC2 workflow to the masses, and with RED offering more affordable camera options, it looks like they have their sights set beyond the realm of high end movie making.
Larry Jordan: OK, RED and NVidia are your first story. What’s story number two?
James DeRuvo: Canon has updated the EOS R with a couple of new features and a serious bug fix that they’re not even talking about. Version 1.2 brings enhancements including the Sony-esque eye detection auto focus for both still and movie modes, small frame servo auto focusing and here’s the big one, fixing of banding issues. While version 1.2 is mostly about bringing that eye detection auto focus feature in play, Canon didn’t mention in the release notes this quiet fix of the serious banding issues that cropped up in the previous firmware update.
James DeRuvo: Several users and photographers complained that version 1.1, the EOS R had color banding streaks and an even noisier image before. It was like a really really bad JJ Abrahams movie. But through version 1.20, the band issues are all gone, but I still think the image is a little noisier than it should be.
Larry Jordan: Alright, well that’s Canon, do you have a story that doesn’t feature a camera?
James DeRuvo: I do. Well sort of. It looks like DJI may be discontinuing their Phantom series drone. That iconic DJI Phantom drone that when you think of drones, you think of that particular model. Most third party sites, and even DJI’s own website, have listed the Phantom 4 Pro as being out of stock for the last several months. And B&H has listed it as discontinued. Now DJI claims that the out of stock is because there’s a shortage of parts that has caused suspension of the manufacturing of the drone, but several new sites have published stories that the Phantom 5, it’s interchangeable lens camera gimbal has been canceled and they’re not going to bring it out.
Larry Jordan: DJI has been riding high recently. Why would they cancel a popular drone model?
James DeRuvo: Well here’s the thing. If you remember, back at NAB they weren’t even there. I’m not buying this shortage of parts story because the Phantom 4 Pro version 2 is just too mature of a platform to suffer from a parts shortage. If this was the Mavic 2 Pro and it just came out with its Hasselblad camera platform, I would have thought OK, I can see parts shortages because it’s a brand new design, brand new model, and everybody wants to buy it. But the Phantom 4 Pro version 2 is overdue for an upgrade as it is. And so here’s what I think is going on.
James DeRuvo: The popularity of the Mavic series and the fact that interest in drones has dwindled due to state and local regulations for flying them, my guess is that DJI is probably going to be streamlining their drone catalog to just a few models, and unless there’s something newer on the way that’s the way I see it.
Larry Jordan: Good point. So what other stories are you and your team working on this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include Universal embraces HDR 10+ for their next gen color standard. Apple is offering tools to convert your Legacy media before the next Mac OS update, and RODE enables multiTrack recording to the microSD card in the RODECaster podcast studio mixer, with a specially formatted polyWave file. And we also have a review for it and by far, it’s probably the best podcasting and sound mixing tool I’ve seen for under $700 for an independent.
Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web to follow these and all your other stories?
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the editor in chief of DoddleNEWS and joins us every week. See you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: See you then.
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website. Thalo.com. Thalo is an artist community, and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo.com features content from around the world with a gobal perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works. Thalo is a part of Thalo Arts, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Visit Thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed. That’s Thalo.com.
Larry Jordan: Barbara Lange is the executive director of two organizations, SMPTE and HPA. SMPTE is the 103 year old global professional association focused on the development of the motion image in motion pictures, television and professional media. HPA is the 25 year old trade association focused on the development of the creative application of technology in content creation and distribution. Hello Barbara, welcome.
Barbara Lange: Thank you, hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: SMPTE and HPA are two acronyms that many of us recognize. But for those that don’t, how would you describe each organization?
Barbara Lange: SMPTE as you described is the older organization. The technologists who are the toolmakers. The elevator pitch is that SMPTE are the members who are actively creating the technical tools that allow the creative people represented by HPA to apply that in real world content creation, distribution, application. So it’s kind of a ying yang thing. The technologists on the one side and the creatives who are applying that tech in the workflows of the business of moving content, camera acquisition, all the way through to display. So they really do work hand in glove together.
Larry Jordan: How do you see the role of SMPTE? What’s its goal? I know you’ve talked about focusing on toolmakers, but what are you trying to accomplish?
Barbara Lange: Actually it’s a good question. Recently the board went through a vigorous three year strategic plan initiative, and so we evolved into thinking of ourselves as enabling the technical framework that allows this global community of motion picture television professional media allows that technology knowledge to be developed and then to be shared.
Barbara Lange: In the form of standards as well, I can’t say anything about SMPTE without referring to the important work that we do to enable interoperability in this global environment. So we’re really there for enabling, the education, knowledge sharing of our standards work and the standards work is there to enable the industry to function. Really fundamentally to take it all the way down to what our engineers have cared about from the very beginning is driving the quality and evolution of motion pictures, and no matter what form they take, whether they’re displayed on a cinema screen or a television screen, or your mobile device, we care about all the technical aspects that go into the image that the consumer is enjoying. Very niche but very important aspect.
Larry Jordan: Well I will confess, as a content creator, I am very grateful for SMPTE’s work that allows me to take a product from company A, connect it to a product from company B, and they’re going to talk to each other and work. That is an amazingly difficult challenge that we just take for granted.
Barbara Lange: Yes, you could be a spokesman. Perfect.
Larry Jordan: I will leave that role to you. At the NAB show last month, there was a lot of talk about getting young people excited about working in media. Especially both engineering challenges for the toolmaker point of view, but people that aren’t producers and directors, the people that are pushing the crafts, and editors and stuff like that. Which means that we’re really looking at mentoring. What are either of your organizations doing to reach out to young folks?
Barbara Lange: It’s an important issue all across the ecosystem. In the case of SMPTE, we have very active students within about 30, 35 different student chapters around the world, and these are students who self organize at a university. They have an advisor who advises them on all things related to what SMPTE is interested in, and the students really get ingrained in the importance of the engineering aspect of media at a very young age. And so we look to foster those students and then hopefully they continue with their relationship with SMPTE across their career.
Barbara Lange: In the case of HPA, a few years ago the HPA actually initiated what they are calling a young entertainment professional organizations program which is all about fostering that next generation. It’s a program where young people who are actually not students, but actually working in professional aspects of the industry, are matched with more mature adults I guess you’d say, and they spend a year learning about the industry from that perspective, having somebody that they can talk to on a regular basis and often these mentorships continue even after their year is up.
Barbara Lange: These are just two examples of what we’re up to, and certainly not enough, even that. We ought to be doing much more and we’re exploring mentorship programs that other organizations are doing where we can collaborate together because I think we all as an industry need to do more to help cultivate this. Our industry is actually quite exciting. I think a lot of young people graduate, engineers particularly, and they think they’ve got to go to Silicon Valley because that’s where all the exciting action is happening, and quite honestly, media in general has so much going on and it’s very innovative right now. Our task is to encourage these young people to find a career in the worlds that we have.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges I’ve found, because I teach young people as well, is helping them understand how to work with a mentor. What questions they should ask and what they should expect. What advice would you give them?
Barbara Lange: A lot of what I hear from young people is sometimes they feel intimidated and maybe are afraid to even ask a technical question because they feel like they should already know some things, and I think they shouldn’t be afraid to ask any kind of question, whether it’s a technology question or something about their careers. I just went to an event at the SMPTE Hollywood section held on Saturday and a lot of the dialog was around networking. How to network when you walk into a room of people who are either your age, or perhaps a little older, and not to feel intimidated to come out of your comfort zone and learn to network.
Barbara Lange: So it’s not being shy about the fundamentals and getting involved. They just should get involved and ask their mentors pretty much almost anything that helps them to advance their careers. It’s really about being open and my experience with the mentorships that we’ve experienced so far, is that when you have a good dialog going back and forth, tremendous things can happen.
Larry Jordan: It’s interesting hearing you say that. I had a similar experience. I was working with a young producer, who was having a great deal of difficulty talking to or directing people who were older than she was. She just felt intimidated by the fact that they were older, therefore they should be telling her what to do rather than her telling them what to do. So there’s a lot of learning that needs to go on just to get people comfortable with asking questions.
Barbara Lange: Yes indeed, and then of course, the issues of diversity come into play as well. So yes, to be welcoming is so critically important. We hear that a lot from our young mentees that just being welcomed into a room is so powerful, and that means that the older people need to be welcoming. That’s an education for them as much as it is for the mentees. Absolutely. We can all learn something new.
Larry Jordan: We all can, and sometimes it’s nice to say hello to somebody you don’t know. SMPTE is clearly technical, always has been, and that’s a good thing for a variety of reasons. But not all film makers are technical. Is there a way for film makers to keep up with what SMPTE is talking about that doesn’t require an engineering degree?
Barbara Lange: That is an excellent question. I wish I could say that we have a lot of material for that audience. I would actually direct them more so to the HPA. SMPTE is very technical and our audience tends to be of that technical side. But HPA is really for a film maker, for editors, for sound designers, for the crafts people I would say, who are looking to translate that technology into, “Well how do I make this work, how do I understand how this should work?” And the HPA does that through networking events that they hold as well as of course the very famous tech retreat which takes place in February each year.
Barbara Lange: I think a film maker or any of the crafts people would find a good home within the HPA community. Since HPA and SMPTE are the ying and yang of this ecosystem, I think there’s a good translation there available.
Larry Jordan: In the limited amount of time we have left, what are the most important things that you would like our audience to know about both SMPTE and HPA?
Barbara Lange: We are very active in doing a lot of innovation. I think sometimes people think, “Well how could a 100 year old organization possibly be doing anything interesting?” We’re exactly 100 years old and still doing many interesting things. So if the audience has an interest in understanding how this technology works or participating in making a difference in this interoperability that you talked about earlier, then we welcome people to participate and you actually don’t have to be an engineer to be within the SMPTE community. You have to have a good understanding of the technology for sure, but we’re looking for people to participate all the time on bringing their craft into the mix.
Barbara Lange: It’s actually quite a good thing for end users as we call them, the people who are on that HPA side of the fence, to participate together with SMPTE because it’s only together the user community saying back to the techies, “Listen, this didn’t quite work,” or “Yes, that did work, more of that.” So it’s important that there’s a good mixture of both the creative side and the technical working together.
Barbara Lange: So we’re looking for people to participate in the things that we do and we’d love to have those people join us.
Larry Jordan: And for people that are interested in joining, or learning more about either organization, where can they go on the web?
Barbara Lange: Well thank you so much for having me Larry, appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Bernard Weiser is the president of the newly formed Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance, or EIPMA. Additionally, Bernard is vice president for Motion Picture Sound Editors which is also called the MPSE, and is also the producer of their annual Golden Reel Awards. Hello Bernard, welcome back.
Bernard Weiser: Hello, thank you Larry. Glad to be back.
Larry Jordan: I get tired just reading what you’re doing, and I’m not even doing it.
Bernard Weiser: Well my wife thinks I’m out of my mind, and she’s probably right.
Larry Jordan: Tonight we’re discussing mentoring and we just heard from Barbara Lange talking about the efforts that SMPTE and HPA are making. Tell us about EIPMA. What is it?
Bernard Weiser: Well, the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance came about originally to honor somebody who passed away within the MPSE, but our ideas of mentoring and the way we want to go about it, got a lot of attention from a lot of organizations in the industry and very quickly became far bigger than just something the MPSE was going to do. And we put together this organization with members from American Cinema Editors, Avid, Cinema Audio Society, Motion Picture Sound Editors of course, the Recording Academy who put on […], SMPTE is involved, and SoundGirls are involved along with other organizations who are very interested and colleagues of ours that we bring in as mentors.
Bernard Weiser: To add to that is what we all saw as […] was a gap between students coming out of school and learning the craft quite well and understanding what the professional world had to offer and the workflows and protocols that exist professionally. So we gathered together thinking to have this mentoring and guidance for these students to bring them into the professional world and make that easier.
Larry Jordan: Who did you design it for? Who are the people you’re trying to reach?
Bernard Weiser: Well we have it on three levels. The first is going to high schools when we’re invited in by the educators. So we have Q&A panels that will show them the different crafts that are out there within the entertainment industry. So if they have an interest, they start to have an idea what is out there and the different areas they can go into, that there’s more than just writing and directing. Then we also focus on colleges with a graduate program which has the same Q&A panels but goes a little further with our mentors that can be brought in, mentor professionals that can be brought in as guest lecturers at the request of the educators and we can offer group mentoring for them to answer questions and help guide them with what they’re doing to prepare for a move into the professional world.
Bernard Weiser: Then finally, we have the graduate students post grad […] what we call pre-industry individuals and helping them. Now they are imminently going to be looking for a job, and by the way this includes veterans coming out of the military. There’s some great talent within the military. I know this first hand because one of my first jobs for three years was working doing films with the military and for them we can give them one on one mentoring and even short term how to prepare them for the professional world.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges that Barbara mentioned was the need to encourage diversity so that we add more different voices and talents to the mix. What are you doing in your outreach to encourage women and other folks to participate?
Bernard Weiser: Oh that is huge, I’m glad you brought that up. It’s even in our by-laws. I love talking about diversity because the way we see it, since we’re dealing with young people in the business, so much of the industry’s involved now with looking at diversity to fix problems and tap into the past, which is sorely needed and we’re getting there, baby steps at a time. However, for us dealing with students, diversity takes on a different meaning and I get this myself when I have a graduate course that I do and I see the diversity of students that come into this program and the ideas they bring. When you get together students from around the world of different cultural backgrounds, the new ideas that are coming in is just really exciting. These ideas are going to be the future of our industry. And the future of storytelling in the cinematic art.
Bernard Weiser: So we’re reaching out to everybody, talent is what we’re looking for and people who are motivated and color, race, background has nothing to do with it. We try to reach out to all the different colleges which it’s a program that is well funded or a program that is not as well funded. It’s the interest from the students that’s most important.
Larry Jordan: I know that you’re a relatively new organization, but what have your results been so far? How many people are participating in the program, either from a mentor or mentee point of view?
Bernard Weiser: Officially we’re not even quite there yet, although we are starting to have Q&A panels. This Saturday we have a panel going to Notre Dame High School in the San Fernando Valley and we’re gathering names for a database and building up mentors. That takes a little time, we want to do the right thing, make sure our mentors are vetted and properly educated in mindset for doing the mentoring and coming into schools. So the mentoring will probably start more in the fall. Right now it’s just a panel.
Larry Jordan: What are you looking for in your mentors?
Bernard Weiser: Number one is people who can communicate their passion for their job. We’re all volunteers, at least at this time. Sometimes there can be a little bit of a fee if the organization is offering an honorarium. However it is really a passion, and the more veteran professionals we have found have this feeling of wanting to give back some of their talent and pay the things that they have learned forward with the young people who come into our industry and really take it to the next level. What we’re looking for is people with that passion and asking them to come to our website and sign up and request to be a mentor.
Larry Jordan: Well we’re going to get to your website in just a minute, but for people that can’t wait, it’s EIPMA.org, but before we go in that direction, when you’re talking with students, how do you recommend they work with a mentor?
Bernard Weiser: It’s an opportunity to ask questions. That’s the number one thing. Ask any question and gain advice. Because the number one thing a mentor can do is offer guidance for those who are seeking a craft or a technical career in the entertainment industry. So when it’s a one on one mentoring, we obviously want to make sure that they match, that the mentees are excited ask questions, and the mentors to answer them and give guidance. That’s the relationship that we hope will be provided in giving them guidance, and our mentors should be a conduit basically from the students to the professional world.
Larry Jordan: I love the idea that the best way to work for the mentors, ask questions because their role really is to provide guidance. They’re not going to tell you what to do, but they’re going to help you figure out for yourself what you need to do. It seems to me that’s the way to approach it, would you agree?
Bernard Weiser: Yes. I think one of the best things at many events that we have already participated in is round table discussions where the professionals are telling their stories, how they started in the industry and the ups and downs that they had to go through, because it becomes very individual. When you have an issue that’s based really on a passion for storytelling and a passion for the craft, people are coming from many different backgrounds and each story is slightly different. But each story has a commonality. Often times it’s that passion is the number one side of it.
Larry Jordan: Yes, everybody’s story is different. I got into video because I got fired from radio. I’ll tell you about that sometime. For people that are interested, how do they sign up? Can they get on a list?
Bernard Weiser: Yes. The website is EIPMA.org, and there is a section there for contacts and to register their name, give us their email and we can get back to you as we develop with our events that we’ll have coming. We hope in the fall to have an event for educators […] invited to that also.
Larry Jordan: That website is EIPMA.org, not .com, EIPMA.org, and Bernard Weiser is the president of the newly formed and still evolving Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance, or EIMPMA. Bernard, I wish you great success, there’s a huge need for this and I hope you’re successful so good luck.
Bernard Weiser: Thanks so much.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers. From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Freddie Gateley is the VP of sales and marketing for VocalBooth.com. VocalBooth has been building modular recording booths for over 20 years and they have some really cool technology that I’m looking forward to learning more about. Hello Freddie, welcome.
Well in my intro I say you’ve been building modular recording booths, but that probably doesn’t give us enough detail. How would you describe what VocalBooth does?
Freddie Gateley: So really what VocalBooth is is a solution to anytime you need either to create isolation or you just need a really good place to record.
Larry Jordan: Now what does that mean, isolation?
Freddie Gateley: One thing that we can’t quite get out of all of our recordings is just outside noise. I mean we can do our very best to filter something out, but we’ll always have the need for a real quiet space so we have clients call up that need to get rid of airplane noise, they have noisy neighbors, maybe they need to keep themselves quiet because they really like to just record whenever they have the inspiration that could be at one o’clock in the morning.
Freddie Gateley: So for all of those situations, we can provide something that’s going to do that.
Larry Jordan: I have to deal with yodeling goats outside, so I can understand completely the problem.
Freddie Gateley: Oh absolutely, I’ve heard it all. You’d be surprised.
Larry Jordan: We’re talking to two companies that do this kind of work, we’re talking to you and we’re also talking with the folks over at WhisperRoom.
Freddie Gateley: Oh yes, absolutely.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your gear? Is it a complete room? Is it something that moves around? Give me a better picture.
Freddie Gateley: Our booth is going to be portable and modular, so it’s something that you don’t need to do a hard install, a hard build on. We build modular panels that can be constructed in any number of ways to set up your booth, to take it back down, to reconfigure it. You can expand it, you can upgrade it to higher levels of isolation, it’s something that can grow with you, contract with you, it’s really for anybody that doesn’t want to put the long term investment and commitment into a hard build.
Larry Jordan: So it sounds like it’s a small room within a room?
Freddie Gateley: Yes absolutely. It can be a small room, sometimes it’s even a really large room, but that’s the one thing about Vocal Booths, we go up to 16 by 32 feet. But we start at about a four by four, so it’s all over the place with what we do.
Larry Jordan: How do we decide how to configure it?
Freddie Gateley: We like to say that our salesmen are really going to be consultants. I mean that’s really what we’re after is we’re going to talk to you, we’re going to find out how much isolation you might be needing, so again, what are you competing with outside? What are you trying to accomplish inside of your booth? And then from there we can look at your space and decide how much space you actually need to do that. We go over 200 different sizes. We can go in one foot increments and if you’ve got something really specific, we can even make it fit right within that small space, or large space, whatever’s going to work just right for you.
Larry Jordan: I’m looking at your website. You’ve got a Diamond series, and Platinum series and Gold series and Silver series and a Guitar series and a used instrument series and a couple of other. How do we pick?
Freddie Gateley: Yes, lots of precious metals and gem names flowing around there. What we basically do, if we’re going to boil it right it on down, we’re going to have a single wall design, we’re going to have a double wall design. Again, talking about what do you need to keep out at that point? Our single wall one is going to be the Gold or the Silver series and that’s going to provide a pretty good level of isolation for your office or your home. Once you start competing with traffic noise, I’ve even got some clients that have sent me some videos of road construction going on right outside the window, when they step inside their Platinum series booth that double wall one, it goes right away. So they’re not losing time, losing revenue.
Freddie Gateley: And then we can even go levels higher than that. Our normal consumer’s not going to need that so we don’t always advertise that on our website, but you know, we can go straight up from there. Once you get into that, you decide your size, then the Diamond refers to our Diamond series which is our diamond shape. So there’s no parallel walls in a booth like that. Makes a really nice recording area, and it fits really nice into a corner.
Larry Jordan: A question, I’d like to breathe. How do I get air in this thing? If it’s so sound tight that I can’t get sound in there, how do you get air in there?
Freddie Gateley: That’s a good question. You know, letting our clients breathe tends to bring us more repeat customers for sure. That’s something from day one, this company being about 22 years old, we’ve always been working on making our ventilation better. So you want to be able to breathe but you don’t want to introduce fan noise into your recordings. You don’t want to have to turn off your fan every time you’re recording. We do a lot of stuff for narrators who are doing long form narration. They’re reading these books and they might be getting out 30, 40,000 words in a day. They have to be able to stay in there, and stay cool. So, we have some fan technology where the blades are almost silent. They’ve got very cool little things, little vortices generators on the blades so that they don’t sound like they’re chopping the air. And then we also have a kind of a labyrinth of wood and foam that it plugs into and then past that insulated ductwork so keeping that way outside the booth but being able to draw air through.
Freddie Gateley: We size the ventilation to every single booth that we do so that it’s going to keep you cool. And just in the evolution of the ventilation, we started in the beginning needing something like a vent silencer system. We needed a remote or something to turn that ventilation off. But as technology got better, we just keep introducing stuff that eliminates all that, so all of our fans go at high capacity, and they also go completely quiet.
Larry Jordan: How about electrical connections? Can I connect to remote computers or mic out to an amp?
Freddie Gateley: Our basic set up is a cable passage port. It’s about a three inch conduit, you can run your cables through there, and then you wrap some foam around it. It almost works like an ear plug and then we have some other caps and stuff that we put on the inside to really increase the isolation. But again, this is where we get different levels of clients, so that would be great for somebody maybe in their home office. They just want to have an uncommitted, nice little space that they can set one of these booths up quick, but we do stuff where we can do full conduits for people. So something that’s going to be more of what we call a semi permanent install, we can run all the conduit through there and have it ready for jay boxes, for lights, for recording signs, for all kinds of electrical. We offer jack panels, so there’s a longer answer to your question.
Larry Jordan: Freddie, I was just looking at the floor plans that are available on your website, and you’ve got some interesting shaped booths, but is there one in particular comes to mind as being somewhat out of the ordinary?
Freddie Gateley: Oh yes, absolutely. We love to do stuff that’s out of the ordinary. Just recently we got a call for a booth that had to fit specifically into a rotating table and they had a very specific footprint, and we ended up making like an octagon booth that rotates. So this booth goes on in the museum, you can go in there and record your stuff, while you rotate. I don’t know why you rotate, or what their exact things are, but it’s for the Wonder Museum in Chicago, if somebody goes and sees it, send us a picture, because I can’t wait to see it in action. We do all crazy stuff.
Larry Jordan: I know that you’ve talked about the fact that you’ve got something like 22 different configurations and modularity is one of the strengths that you’ve got, but I also need to be able to afford it. How much am I spending to get started with a typical small space for a narrator?
Freddie Gateley: We’ve always tried to keep our Silver series as really that entry level model, something that’s affordable to people. Every single year when we’re looking at price increases for everything, we do everything we can to keep that the same, or at the very bottom so that one is $4895 shipped anywhere in the US. It’s going to come with a solid core wood door, it has nice STC rated acoustic glass windows in it, that silent ventilation system and nearly 100 percent acoustical coverall on the inside with nice pyramid studio foam and again that price, it includes shipping anywhere in the 48 US states.
Larry Jordan: How big is the space?
Freddie Gateley: The space is going to be a four foot by four foot booth and it’s going to be about seven and a half feet tall.
Larry Jordan: Because you’re shipping it in pieces, can it be put together by mere mortals or do we need to hire a contractor?
Freddie Gateley: 95 percent of my clients are going to go ahead and assemble it themselves. So it’s going to come in finished panels. Everything just bolts together. All of our stuff is T nutted, there’s no need to drill anything in, there’s no need to make your own holes or spray glue or anything. You just take a finished panel, put it in there with a power screwdriver, just bolt it together. Your largest panel is a four foot wide panel so about 50 pounds. When you get to the door, depending on how you’ve configured that, you may curse a little bit, but it’s going to be a little over 100 pounds to get the door in. So we always say find some buddies, maybe some beer and pizza, and you can definitely get it done really quickly. So once that booth is all put together, you’re looking at a sitting rate of probably around 900 pounds.
Larry Jordan: If there was one thing you wanted people to keep in mind about VocalBooth gear, what would it be?
Freddie Gateley: Something that’s really unique about VocalBooth is that we control everything that goes into this booth, and that’s something else that’s grown through the years. When we bring people into the factory and when they come through and hang out with us, they’re really surprised to see how we control everything from the beginning to the end. We have a full metal fabrication shop that makes all the steel corners, makes all the brackets and everything that we use in our booths. We have a door machine, we have a whole door crew. All their job is is making sure that all of our acoustic doors are nice and sealed, good solid core acoustic doors. We have guys that take care of all the windows, every panel is put together here, all of the stuff is felt wrapped and we even have the foam produced for us back in the mid West, so a lot of the materials, everything that goes into it here, we build each one of these booths all the way up to completion, quality check it, and then it goes into panels into a crate, and ships off. So we can control the quality all the way from the beginning to the end, and then make sure that everything actually fits together nicely and when you get that box, we know exactly what went into it. We know exactly how it’s going to go together for you.
Larry Jordan: And where’s here?
Freddie Gateley: We are in Bend, Oregon.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the products that VocalBooth offers, where can they go on the web?
Freddie Gateley: Vocalbooth.com. Don’t be afraid to put in a quote request or to just go ahead and call us up. We love to talk to you, like I said, we’re consultants, we’re not hard sales guys. If we can work out something for you and it’s going to make sense, we’d love to help you.
Larry Jordan: Website is all one word, vocalbooth.com and Freddie Gateley is the vice president of sales and marketing for VocalBooth.com and Freddie thanks for joining us today.
Freddie Gateley: Thank you very much Larry, I really do appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Gabe White is the marketing director for WhisperRoom. He creates and implements annual marketing plans, develops the calendar of campaigns and events and oversees the marketing of WhisperRoom products. And learning about WhisperRoom is what today is all about. Hello Gabe, welcome.
Gabe White: Hey Larry, how’s it going?
Larry Jordan: Now that I’m talking to you I’m excited because the last time I worked with WhisperRoom was about 20 years ago and I suspect you’ve been doing new stuff since then, so tell me what WhisperRoom does.
Gabe White: We are a manufacturer of sound isolation enclosures. These are not soundproof booths, they isolate noise. So we have 26 different sizes of rooms, each one of those 26 sizes is available in two levels of isolation. We have a single walled model. That reduces ambient noise by roughly 50 percent, and then if you want a very isolated enclosure, we have a double walled model. With a double wall, ambient noise is reduced by roughly 75 percent.
Larry Jordan: Well I want to go into more detail about the booths themselves, but explain to me. You emphasize that it’s not soundproof, it’s isolation. What’s the difference?
Gabe White: Most of the time, a soundproof booth would be a permanent structure made out of a very heavy component such as steel or concrete or something like that. Sound isolation, you can still hear a little bit of noise on the inside if someone’s using power tools or something right outside the wall. Essentially it’s a sufficient environment for recording, product testing, whatever you use it for it reduces noise to a level that is far beyond sufficient to accomplish what needs to be done.
Gabe White: One reason why it’s a sound isolation enclosure instead of soundproof, is the fact that they’re modular and portable components. If you build it and work in a space for five years, and then move somewhere else, you can take it apart with a screwdriver and a few hours, and reconstruct it in a new location. We could make a soundproof room, but it would not be portable at all.
Larry Jordan: Why did the company get started?
Gabe White: The owner of the company, he was learning how to play saxophone while living in an apartment.
Larry Jordan: Say no more.
Gabe White: There was a learning curve where you don’t really sound too great, so he rustled up some complaints and he had the option to move into a home, or find a way to soundproof the space so he could practice at night. So he built a prototype WhisperRoom on his back patio after having some buddies come over and stuff. They’re like, “Hey this is a pretty good idea. You should make this a product.” After some time and much thought, he obtained the original patent on a portable module sound isolation enclosure so that was in 1990. We have improved the product over the years and we’ve kind of got it down to a science now.
Larry Jordan: Where’s the product made?
Gabe White: The product is made in east Tennessee, Morristown? That’s about an hour away from our Knoxville office so we have a manufacturing plant and do everything ourselves.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you’ve got 26 different varieties of room. How do we decide which one to pick?
Gabe White: If you were living in an apartment in New York, floor space is very important, so how big of a room do you need? Our smallest room is three and a half by two and a half feet, so very comparable to the size of a small closet in an apartment. Then the largest room is eight feet by 16 feet. Between those two sizes, they go up incrementally, so the next step from three and a half by two and a half, is three and a half by three and half. So if you’re just doing voiceover work, a very small booth is perfect for that. If you are a musician who has to get an amplifier or a guitar and sit in a chair and maybe have a computer in there with you, maybe a four by six foot booth is ideal for you.
Gabe White: We don’t leave it up to the customer to decide what size. Obviously it’s their choice, but typically they’ll get in touch with us. They’ll have an idea, maybe two or three different sizes, and we talk them through what specifically they’ll be using the booth for. We really work with a customer on a one on one basis after we prepare a quote and make sure that they have the perfect size booth for themselves.
Larry Jordan: Well just for the sake of discussion, let’s pretend that we want to create a narration booth for narrators for films. So say it’s three and a half by three and a half feet. What would be a starting price?
Gabe White: A starting price for three and a half by three and a half, would you like that single walled or double walled?
Larry Jordan: Let’s make it single.
Gabe White: Single wall’s a little under $4,000 so the booth itself, the stock room, is $3955, but all of our booths include basic features, so you have a window on the door, enough studio foam to cover about one third of the booth and a handful of other things. The cool thing about our rooms are you can customize them a little bit to fit your needs, so if you’re in a studio using the booth, maybe you want a large window to see out into the production room? So you can install a variety of window sizes and we can put that there on that wall. Then on top of that too, if maybe it needs to be ADA compliant, it won’t work on our small booth that size, but you need a wheelchair ramp or a wide access door, maybe you’d consider moving up to a five by five foot room, and we have different lighting, ventilation system. There’s different things that go into it, but a three and a half by three and a half is a little under 4,000.
Larry Jordan: How do you keep air flowing? I’ve decided I want to survive my narration session so how do I keep breathing?
Gabe White: We have a ventilation system. It circulates air from the environment the room is set up in. So they have one intake ducter box then an exhaust box , so if you’re in an air conditioned space, that air system will regulate the temperature of the booth to be equivalent to the environment that it’s set up in. Our ventilation system is stock with each booth and then we also have a ventilation silencing system so additional duct boxes with baffles to further get rid of the noise of an air flow which is very very very minute in the background when you’re inside the booth.
Larry Jordan: In tonight’s show we’re also talking with the folks at VocalBooth who make sound isolation booths as well. How would you distinguish WhisperRoom from what they make?
Gabe White: VocalBooth are one of our direct competitors. They have a nice product, good looking product. The main difference is our manufacturing process. We build everything, if you order a booth today, on Tuesday, we could have it there by Friday. So our lead time with shipping is what I would consider a primary advantage over VocalBooth. Then when you get down to the nuts and bolts of things, there’s other things, but that might just be a bias.
Larry Jordan: What are some of your more unusual installations? What comes to mind?
Gabe White: We’ve done some in the past. We’ve done mobile booths in the back of semi trucks for hearing tests. That’s the fun thing with the installation, the end user gets to put the booth together. We ship them on a flat packed pallet and everything is individually boxed.
Larry Jordan: Gabe, what is it that intrigues you about marketing WhisperRoom? What is it that gets you excited about the product?
Gabe White: It’s a very unique product. One thing that gets me excited is that I essentially am part of the target market. I’m a lifelong musician and I’ve played in bands in the past and record in the evening. So it’s something that’s directly up my alley. And as far as marketing something like this, it’s a very niche market so there are many ways to attack it, but at the end of the day we’re selling sound isolation enclosures and that’s not as competitive as say a basketball or some sort of common widget.
Gabe White: A lot of our customers, they’re familiar with our brand, they’re familiar with competitors, many of them are highly educated on sound waves, live rooms, dead rooms, but at the end of t he day it comes down to whatever you’re recording. In my opinion it’s the microphone, the room, and then your skill. So those are the three facets I would say that affect maybe a buying decision or something like that. I think it’s a really cool product and when I first saw it, I was like “Oh man, that’s a really neat idea.” So I’m glad to be a part of the team here working on taking this product to the next step and into the future.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more about the products that WhisperRoom offers, where can they go on the web?
Gabe White: They can visit Whisperroom.com. All the pricing is listed, we like to be transparent on that and all the optional features have a price, so we recommend you just get on there and check it out and feel free to give us a call or request a quote online while you’re there.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, Whisperroom.com, and Gabe White is the marketing director for WhisperRoom and Gabe, thanks for joining us today.
Gabe White: Thanks Larry I appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking about mentoring. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and when I’m not hosting the Buzz, I’m often teaching college kids about media and communications. Last week, I was part of a committee interviewing potential faculty for part time teaching positions. One of the people we interviewed was a recent graduate, a woman, whom we were considering for a position teaching computer programming. As we were talking, we asked her why she wanted the job? And her reply caught my attention.
Larry Jordan: “When I graduated from college with a masters,” she said, “I had a lot of knowledge, but once I got a job I realized that I still needed to learn how to apply that knowledge in real world situations.” That to me is the essence of mentoring. A mentor doesn’t teach you a subject, rather they help you figure out how to fit what you know, into the much larger puzzle of the real world. A mentor helps because they’ve been there before and can guide you along the way.
Larry Jordan: One of the greatest compliments a student can give a teacher is asking them for advice. Not about something covered in class, but in how to help them get their career started. I’ve been fortunate to help many students make the transition from school into the workforce. For those of us who made that transition a long time ago, it’s easy to forget just how stressful and bewildering it can be to shift from being a scholar to a worker. And that is where mentors fit in.
Larry Jordan: The secret to being a good mentor is listening. A good mentor doesn’t solve your problems, they share their knowledge to help the person being mentored, figure out how to solve their problems themselves. A mentor provides a sounding board, and advice backed by experience. And good mentors are invaluable. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Barbara Lange with SMPTE and HPA, Bernard Weiser with the EIPMA, Freddie Gateley with VocalBooth, Gabe White with WhisperRoom and James DeRuvo with DoddleNEWS.com.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Transcripts are provided by Take1.tv. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by Smartsound.com.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Paulina Borowski, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2019 by Thalo LLC.