BroadcastPro Middle East takes an exclusive tour of the hottest new audio production house in Dubai Early this year, Dubai became home to yet another boutique audio house one of the few in the emirate compared to the burgeoning number of video production houses. Mango Jam, the brainchild of ex-ad man Wilbur DCosta, promises […]
BroadcastPro Middle East takes an exclusive tour of the hottest new audio production house in Dubai
Early this year, Dubai became home to yet another boutique audio house one of the few in the emirate compared to the burgeoning number of video production houses. Mango Jam, the brainchild of ex-ad man Wilbur DCosta, promises to bring something new to radio commercials and audio production in the region. The audio house has been designed in conjunction with Beirut-based specialist 21db Acoustic Solutions.
DCostas childhood passion for radio and the need to offer an alternative to the commercials we hear on the medium today compelled him to quit advertising.
I have always loved radio, says the executive director, fondly recalling the little black box that dominated the entertainment scene in India, his homeland, three decades ago.
As a child, I grew up with the little black box. When Becker won his first Wimbledon, it was radio that brought the news to our ears. Today, the voices that dominate in radio are high-pitched and fast-paced. Our idea was to attempt something different for those who desired change, he adds.
The result was Mango Jam.
As kids, we had fun making mango jam and we relished the process of making it as much as we did the end product, explains DCosta.
We would hunt for mangoes that had fallen down, put it all together, get a big pot ready and everyone would stand around it and stir, stir, stir thered be a lot of fun and laughter and talking around one big fire. And the mango jam was divine. I believe creativity is as much about the process as it is about the end product. If its not fun, I dont think the end product will reflect any of those values. The creative workflow here is akin to the process of making mango jam, hence the name!
That collaborative effort is obvious in the way DCostas team of three sound engineers work on projects.
All three are composers and sound engineers but also play an instrument. Ramy Estephan plays the guitar; Joe Najm plays the drums; and Brenton Afonso is part of a band, says DCosta, who also plays the guitar.
We have an organic approach to work at Mango Jam. All of the creatives (music composers) sit in on a brain storming session, before heading off to explore their ideas. We then pick the best two to develop them further. The composers have access to each other, even if theyre not working on a project. This has helped foster a sense of ownership across the board.
It has also helped us learn from each other, because everyone at Mango Jam brings something different to the table. Even when it comes to radio spots, several VOs are evaluated for the project and the entire session (complete with sound effects and music) is prepared beforehand. So when it comes down to the actual recording, there are no hiccups, says DCosta.
The team recently undertook a project for the UAE Ministry of Education, where it had the liberty of creating the sound track first. This was passed on to the film director as a reference before they shot the commercial. Contrary to popular opinion, DCosta says creating the sound track first makes a huge difference to the final product.
We create a reference track. That track provides the director with reference points on how to shoot. The director can then guide the shoot better and the editor can make his cuts based on the mood created in the sound track, explains DCosta.
The audio house has three studios, each of which is decorated in a specific colour scheme.
The primary studio supports 5.1 and has a purple colour scheme.
This is our show studio, says DCosta.
We have 5.1 speakers to enable 5.1 output. Generally, if we are working on a feature film, we may need 5.1 output. Otherwise, most of the work here is still on stereo, DCosta points out.
The studio is equipped for 5.1 surround monitoring with FOCAL CMS-50s speakers and sub, as well as pristine stereo monitoring with FOCAL TWIN 6BE speakers. It is also equipped with Protools HD9 and Logic pro 9 via the Avid HD I/O soundcard as well as a C24 controller desk.
A specialist acoustician was flown in from 21db in Beirut to review the design. Based on the design set by Mango Jam and input from 21db, most of the acoustic solutions were either procured from UAE-based distributor MediaCast or shipped from Europe.
Special attention has been paid to acoustic treatment at Mango Jam.
The bulk heads fitted on the studio ceiling, for instance, look like they are part the studio décor but actually help deflect sound. This is to ensure that the sound engineer in the studio only hears the audio coming out of the speakers. The curtains are made of a special fabric designed to treat sound. In addition, the recording booth is fitted with a second layer of glass, which is again part of the acoustic design.
All of our recording and control rooms are treated with VICOUSTIC acoustic material. We have a voice over (VO) booth with a beautiful view and most VO artists never fail to mention it. Its a shame the curtains have to be drawn when work is going on to ensure there is no sound interference. We have triple glaze and vacuum created between the window pane and a second layer of glass as part of the acoustic design. This has only been installed in the recording room, explains DCosta.
Besides Avid solutions and Focal speakers, the audio house is kitted out with an array of musical instruments for composition including guitars and accessories. The Gibson Hummingbird; Fender Telecaster Standard American; an array of guitar effects (reverb, delay, distortion, overdrives, octave generator); a full drum kit; analogue synthesisers: Daves Instruments Prophet 08, Doepfer Dark Energy and Ibanez bass guitar are some of the other toys at Mango Jam.
Fortunately, the audio production house has already begun making a name for itself in the market thanks to creating some awarding winning work that scooped two silvers at Dubai Lynx and a bronze at New York Festivals.