Bell Theatre Services Re-Recording Studio & Screening Room

November 2020

During a rare two-week window in work at Bell Theatre Services Re-recording Studio, the opportunity was taken to re-envisage the workflow and signal processing within our re-recording studio facility at our offices in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, UK.  

From what had been originally designed as a space for the evaluation of digital cinema projectors in 2003, the room has since evolved into a full Dolby ATMOS re-recording studio, with ATMOS DCP replay/QC, 4K digital projection as well as all 35mm and 70mm film DTS and magnetic audio formats.

Signal flow paths were originally performed by a combination of patching and analogue switching and as various new formats were required this became ever-more complicated.  During the Summer of 2020, our colleagues at Point1Post, who are regular users of the facility, began a major upgrade to to their Pro Tools systems. 

Point1Post predominantly work on feature films in 5.1 and Dolby Atmos. They work with a wide variety of clients who all have specific workflow requirements. The latest upgrade was designed to streamline the client experience, increase the operational capacity and to simplify the syncing, routing and patching on the back end.  

The new setup is powered by 3 16 Core Apple Mac Pro 7,1 computers. There are now 2 Play Off Machines that each offer 768 Voices and a dedicated 192 Input Stem Recorder. At the heart of the system is an Avid MTRX. This is a user configurable Audio Interface, Routing Matrix and Monitor control. It connects each Pro Tools system to the Dolby Mastering Unit and has the ability to quickly recall complex routing configurations and monitor profiles with a mouse click. 

Given the investment in this new equipment, it was clear that the analogue patching and switching needed addressing.  Having re-evaluated our requirements, it was decided that QSC offered the perfect solution with the implementation of a Q-SYS ecosystem.

The existing baffle wall was modified to accommodate five QSC SC-424 loudspeakers and two QSC SB-7218 sub bass loudspeakers driven by QSC DPA4.2 amplifiers.  The existing surround channels were upgraded to be powered by QSC DPA4K8Q amplifiers.

Two fully redundant QSC Core510c situated in the projection suite are used as the backbone for signal processing with the digital audio stream sent to the power amplifiers backstage.  Pro-tools enters the system either as a Dante stream for ATMOS mixing, or as AES for 5.1/7.1 from the MTRX.  ATMOS QC and DCP replay are enabled by the integrated AES67 receivers within the core.  Legacy film formats are introduced via a Dolby CP650 audio processor in the analogue domain.

Audio routing takes place within the core as does the logic switching between the various formats.  To achieve consistent audio reproduction between the various formats, time alignment and EQ is performed within Q-SYS.  

Point1Post Re-recording Engineer Adam Daniel said “We are so pleased with the new system. The speakers sound fantastic. The Q-SYS touchscreen allows us to switch between audio formats, check the system status, power cycle the amplifiers and even control the stage lights from the mix position. All of these improvements give us more time to concentrate on the creative process.”