20th Century Fox boasts a remarkable history that spans eight decades, making it one of the premier major movie studios in the world. Yet before the opening movie credits, before taking a seat, even before purchasing tickets, there is the behind-thescenes magic of editing and dubbing. At the Fox Studios Post Production Services Facilities in Los Angeles, AMX Control Systems and Touch Panels play a leading role in bringing together the surrounding screening room and re-recording technology. AMX helps to put the final touches on the movie as a whole. And that usually makes the difference between a popular film and a $100 million blockbuster.
So Many Possibilities
Within any of the four screening rooms and three feature dubbing stages at Fox Studios, AMX control transforms high pressure into high production.
"These rooms at Fox are the most advanced, high end rooms in Los Angeles," said Steve Sutter, Founder of Sand Hill Media (Berkeley, CA), the exclusive integration company for this high profile project and long-time AMX Dealer. "They have every film, video and digital format available, the latest video projectors, custom modified film projectors, linkage to remote locations, highend everything. It can get complicated with so many pieces of equipment, so many switches, so many possibilities. Its insane at times. To have to screen a movie or to mix it with all of this gear in front of you, without AMX, you are bound to make mistakes more frequently. Once the people at Fox became accustomed to using AMX to automate the processes, they no longer even think of walking into a room without this level of integration. They have visited other screening rooms in town and leave wondering how those other studios exist without AMX."
Although this is not the only post production facility in Los Angeles running a control system or automation, Fox Studios represents the most comprehensive installation of AMX technology. Over the course of three years, from 1999 to 2002, Sand Hill Media integrated the screening rooms and mixing stages with AMX Axcess Control Systems, 10.4-inch and 5.5-inch Touch Panels. "Most studios do this kind of thing in little jumps," Sutter said. "They build a little at a time. At Fox, they committed to everything, to put AMX everywhere."
Four Screening Rooms - Two AMX 10.4-inch Color Active Flush Mounted Touch Panels. One positioned in the middle of the theater for end-user convenience and another mounted in the back booth area. Plus two AMX 5.5-inch Touch Panels.
Three Feature Dubbing Stages - One AMX 10.4-inch Color Active Touch Panel custom modified to fit into the consoles woodwork. Three AMX 5.5-inch Touch Panels in the booth.
One Video Transfer / Editing Department - Multiple AMX 5.5-inch Touch Panels positioned in the equipment rack to help control video systems audio routing.
Less than six months after the projects completion, Sand Hill Media has already returned to the Fox Studios lot in an effort to handle a series of upgrades - at the request of studio executives, of course. This natural evolution leads to NetLinx, the most capable family of control products from AMX. "They love it so much that they came to me and said, All this stuff is great. What else can you do that is just as great because we want to be there," said Sutter. "It is a very competitive industry, so Fox has to be at the edge of technology in order to sell their facilities to directors and producers." In fact, many movie production companies and well established directors and producers come to Fox because they prefer the technology and features offered by the Post Production Facilities. It has become the defacto home of Director Steven Spielberg for post production of his Dreamworks films, according to Sutter.
Screening Room Magic
Enter studio executives, ready to videoconference with a director filming at a remote location and preview the days takes. The operator in the booth already knows to dim the lights to a certain level, to activate the microphones mounted in the ceiling, and bring in the the video feed on cue. This expert operator must switch the proper electronics quickly, accurately, and in the right order. A moment ago, the screening room sat silent. Suddenly, it is alive with moving images and sound.
"The stress level goes way up," Sutter explained. "So has the reliability thanks to AMX. These film screenings, videoconferences and other presentations come off without any worries and the downtime is negligible. Whether Rupert Murdoch (owner of media conglomerate News Corporation Ltd. that includes 20th Century Fox) or a famous actor (like Ben Affleck, who has starred in such blockbuster movies as "Daredevil" and "The Sum Of All Fears") walks into the room, the increase in tension is worth it because AMX makes it all work right."
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