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Transmogrified: Look What They’ve Done to My Studio, Ma

We all love Larry Jordan, don’t we? Larry is an industry guru—was an editor, now an Apple FCP X and Adobe trainer.

We meet up each year at the NAB Show. He loves my Production Diary. I love his weekly newsletter. These days he is obsessed with his new studio, like a 6 year old at Christmas. It used to be DTS’ preview theater, now it’s all his.

Totally Smitten

It’s nice to see a grown man so in love with a new toy. Of course, I’ve been there myself.

Way back in 1976, I have four sound studios in London, called Molinare. Like a crazy fool, I order Ampex VPR-1 videotape recorders. And you know what? When I order them, I never think about new premises. £100,000 of video kit and nowhere to put it … but like Larry, I am in love.

Camelot with Cobwebs

Then, 1980—my Molinare video studio.

Tricia and I wander the streets of London looking for a video studio. One day she comes back, “I’ve found it and it’s brill!” She is right! A huge, deserted school building only two blocks away.

We pluck up courage and see the owners, the Peachey Property Company. Humble and unworthy, we have the keys to the great cobweb castle.

Four Floors, A Basement and a Stowaway Cat

The door creaks open. We wander inside the deserted building. Spiders run and hide. Papers scattered up and down the never-ending stairs. Empty rooms with remains of food and unwashed coffee cups. Gulp. It’s dark, cold and scary. 20,000 feet of empty space, save for the mice, cockroaches and a disheveled cat.

Yes, We’ll Take It

Peachey quotes us £2 per square foot on a repairing lease basis, meaning we take full responsibility for the upkeep of the rundown building. Then the gob smacker: “If your take over the adjoining warehouse, we’ll drop the rent to £1.”

We now have 40,000 feet in central London and a stray cat. Peachey later tells us they wanted the place occupied and gave it away. They thought we’d last a year. Ha!

Cue the Horse

Now, 2015—same space but now it’s a 3D stereoscopic grading theater.

The first thing we do is move in and live in the fourth floor gymnasium. Alan, our builder from heaven, sandblasts the walls, floor and ceiling. We find local kids and pay them cash to clean up the mess. Mindy the cat has a shampoo and manicure.

Alan builds audio studios, edit suites and turns the garage into a shiny new video studio.

Click! I take the photo. We buy the red Merc but not the horse.

Now ’n Then

So here it is 35 years later, 2015. Molinare has changed hands several times. The new owners, headed by Steve Milne, have turned my garage-cum-video studio into the largest preview theater in Europe.

And hey, it does 3D stereoscopic color grading—hmmm, maybe I could book it for my 3D tall ship doc? Just a thought.