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Plug n play post setup

Dennis Ho has built his latest post-production facility to be ready for the day when conventional videotape is a thing of the past. However, his 24,000-square-foot Hollywood facility, Digital Jungle, isn't going tapeless anytime soon. Right now, he says, the equipment he would need is too expensive, unreliable and, in some cases, nonexistent.

However, he understands the need to engineer Digital Jungle's three machine rooms and five component digital editing suites to be ready for the time when all outside tape elements are digitized and stored as files as they move through the various stages of the post-production process.

The solution was a system for keeping each bay independent while allowing it to share resources, a concept Ho refers to as "plug 'n' play post." As part of this strategy, all of Digital Jungles'tape machines are set up on 25 different mobile carts, so that any one can be used in any position, in any bay, without having to route or reconfigure the bays for any given session. Changing out a machine takes at most 90 seconds, according to Ho.

"It doesn't matter if the machine is analog or digital, composite or component," he says. "All signals needed for it to work are there without throwing a switch, plugging a patch, or changing a menu setting."

The plug 'n' play post setup will enable Digital Jungle to purchase complete bays without worrying whether they conform to the engineering of the rest of the facility. Likewise, removing an old or out-of-date bay won't disrupt any of the other bays.

When it opened on Jan. 1, Digital Jungle's technical footprint was about 10,000-square feet and included component digital-edit suites, graphics suites, a telecine suite, and a 5.1-channel surround-sound audio mix and mastering bay.

Digital Jungle's two linear D1 editing suites include GVG editors, Abekas A8150 and A83 component digital switchers, a Dveous dual-channel DVE and K-Scope dual channel DVE, an Abekas Diskus DDR, a Delta character generator, and a Graham-Patten D/ESAM digital mixer. For nonlinear editing there is an Avid Symphony with 180 GB of storage. Digital Jungle also has a Media 100 digital video editing system.

The telecine suite contains a Rank Cintel Turbo 2 telecine and a Da Vinci Renaissance 8:8:8 color enhancement system. One graphics suite contains a Quantel Henry Infinity effects editor. The other is set up with a G4 Mac for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and AfterEffects and Avid Elastic Reality software. The 5.1 surround-sound mix and mastering bay includes a 24-track Pro Tools workstation, a Studio Dyaxis workstation, a Panasonic DA7 5.1 mix board, Genelec 1030A bi-amplified monitoring system, ADR/Foley Stage, and a Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun microphone.

Ho sees himself as something of a contrarian in the Hollywood post-production business. At a time when many facilities have consolidated, closed or relocated to the west side of Los Angeles, Digital Jungle was built from the ground up in Hollywood. The total construction cost was $2 million. Ho would not disclose the equipment cost, but admits that it was more than the construction budget.

Digital Jungle supports tape formats including D1, D2, Digital Betacam, Beta SP,_-inch, VHS, DA88 and DAT. No high-definition services are currently available, but with the plug 'n' play setup, the facility will be high-def ready.