Spool Studios

Spool Studios


Spool are an award-winning film production company. They are one of the few Dolby® approved post-houses outside London. Clients include Universal Pictures and Pathé and they have produced DVDs for groups like the Arctic Monkeys. Multiload provided Spool with an optimum solution for recording and sound dubbing studios, which fulfilled their expectations.

The Brief 

The Spool team were converting a large space into custom-built state-of-the-art film and post-production studios, including a Dolby® Digital EX-approved film dubbing and mixing theatre, stereo mixing suite, voiceover booth and Foley studio, with three additional editing suites. White Mark, the world-renowned studio acoustic architects, were hired. A control system was required for the main dubbing theatre where MR11 lamps and fittings were used and where predetermined balances between light levels were required.

The Solution 

White Mark recommended Multiload to Greg Marshall, Technical Director. He was delighted to find an analogue lighting control system such as MoodMaker which didn’t require regular visits by software engineers for re-programming or troubleshooting. It would be easy to install and programme and, importantly, require no input at all from Multiload.

By allowing sound engineers to programme brightness levels, subtle adjustments to the lighting scheme could be effected, with optimum results. Another benefit of using MoodMaker Scene-setting System was the ability to set six moods (four pre-settable scenes, full on/off) on six channels of lighting.

Spool designated Scene 1 as ‘review mode’ (light at the back, dark at the front, with the screen fully viewable); Scene 2 as ‘automated dialogue replacement’ (a couple of front lights, allowing actors to read their scripts without washing out the screen); Scene 3 as ‘intermediate’ (mixed conversational purposes); and Scene 4 as ‘general working environment’.

The voice-over, Foley, and editing rooms each had two channels of lighting requiring simple dimmer brightness control. Two rotary push-on/off analogue rotary dimmers from Multiload’s RPS series were installed in each room, controlling several Multiload VoltMaster Intelligent Transformers. VoltMaster had the advantage of being future-proof, allowing 12V LED replacement lamps to be used when appropriate. It was essential, as in all film and recording studios, to eliminate transformer hum or buzz, keeping electrical noise to a minimum. VoltMaster is perfect for this purpose as it can be mounted 50m or more from the light source. It also produces extremely low-level RFI and gives four times the lamp life of other types of transformer.

Spool had looked at alternatives to VoltMaster for low-voltage lighting, including remotely sited multiple-outlet wire-wound transformers or high frequency electronic transformers placed close to the light fittings. But problems can occur with these, including significant volt drops across the cable, premature failure, audible noise, and high levels of RFI.

When I heard Multiload had an analogue lighting control system, this was a eureka moment for me. They have created a reliable and user-friendly lighting control which is in keeping with the exacting technical requirements of a Dolby® EX installation. We are delighted with the result.

Greg Marshall, Technical Director, Spool