This post was written by Jeff Shiffman & Kate Finan, Co-Owners of Boom Box Post.

Boom Box Post is a post-production sound studio with a specialization in sound for animation. As co-owners, we have always been drawn to animation as a medium in which entire worlds are created by some of the most talented visual artists of our time. Animated works can just as easily be set in the time of dinosaurs, the far reaches of outer space, or a technologically advanced future as they can be set in an everyday high school classroom or a middle-American home.

In the world of sound design, these varied settings and ensuing situations open myriad possibilities for creativity from the ground up. 

We began Boom Box Post as a boutique studio founded on a passion for design. We left our major studio jobs, found a rental space, and let our business grow organically by offering our clients our extensive animation knowledge and experience as well as a promise to treat each new project as a creative diamond.

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We were small and scrappy, but we looked at the artistry of each new project and custom-fit sound design that not just supported but enhanced the story and the creative aims of the showrunners. Word spread that we were offering a unique level of sound design and mix, and our business began to flourish.

We were able to bring on a staff and enfold them into our passion for creativity, which ultimately became our company model, and soon we needed a facility to support our burgeoning staff and client list. 

Boom Box Post is a mission-driven company, formed at the onset with multiple goals which together fuel our creative drive. Our first aim was to change the gender makeup of our field. In creative industries where each person brings their own experience, culture, and perspective to their work, we believe that diversity is key. With women and gender non-conforming individuals making up 5 percent or less across the entire sound industry, we knew we needed to be agents of change.

Before starting our company, co-owner Kate Finan experienced both sexism and harassment in the workplace, which have been tacitly considered fair play in an industry overwhelmingly dominated by men. We made it our goal to hire 50/50 male and female/gender non-conforming individuals, quickly reaching and exceeding this benchmark.

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Our second focus was on education. We wanted Boom Box Post to be a learning studio where instead of hoarding trade secrets, creative work is openly shared and celebrated. Internally we accomplish this with our monthly Lunch and Learn program in which a member of our staff, from apprentice to seasoned veteran, teaches a masterclass on a topic they find interesting. With an open mind, we all become lifelong learners.

The sharing of knowledge continues outside of the studio through our internationally celebrated blog, now in its ninth year of weekly publication. 

Lastly, we have built an apprenticeship program around weekly lessons and real-world feedback from members of our staff. The apprenticeship is a paid position, allowing for candidates of all economic backgrounds to partake.

Our dream facility would foster our company-wide goals and creativity: both for our clients and our team members. We explored the idea of moving into an office space that we merely needed to tweak to fit our needs. But, we soon realized that nothing fit our idea of how a post-production sound studio should be: bright, airy, open, communal, and geared to the technical needs of our high-end film and television projects.

We rapidly came to the conclusion that if we wanted a facility that truly fostered creativity, we would need to build it ourselves. 

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We began the building process by purchasing what had formerly been an auto body shop in Burbank, CA. The building was an empty shell with over 20-foot high ceilings, allowing us the opportunity to build high-ceilinged mix stages as well as add a comfortable mezzanine for editorial suites.

The building also featured five large roll-up garage bay doors, which we immediately knew we would convert to a massive wall of all-glass windows and doors to let in as much natural light as possible. 

Once we had the building, we hired an architect, an acoustician, and an audio/visual supplier to join our building team. We needed to create the creative spaces that we wanted through architectural design, the technical spaces that we needed for our projects through acoustical design, and the complex wiring and gear setup necessary to get the job done at the highest technological standard in our industry. 

Our architectural team found a way to fit all of our wish list items into the building: three large state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos re-recording mix stages; three 5.1 mix suites; seven individual 5.1 sound editorial suites; one large communal editing suite; a client seating area outside each stage; a two-story open communal kitchen and lounge in which staff and clients can relax, congregate, and have fun; an outdoor seating and lounge area; individual gender-neutral bathrooms; and a mezzanine hallway and staircase open to the communal lounge. All of these features came together to create the light, bright, and easy creative flow that we were craving. 

We designed the interior to take advantage of the natural materials of the former garage such as concrete floors and bare cinder block walls, with the addition of warm elements like oak wood, black steel, bright white drywall walls, a graphic wallpaper feature wall, plenty of plants, and, of course, our hallmark Boom Box teal on every door.

Simply put, it was the opposite of the dark and serious sound studios we had previously worked in. 

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Together, our acoustician, A/V supplier, and Dolby helped us to design the technical aspects of our facility, such as the mix stages, mix suites, and editorial suites. This entailed more than you might expect: from ultra-quiet upscale HVAC systems, multiple layers of drywall between rooms for ultimate soundproofing, and even a room built within a room for each mix stage. Every last detail was addressed to create the optimal listening experience studio-wide. 

Once the design was completed, construction began. Again, our building team came together regularly to chart progress, answer the endless technical questions that arose, and quickly solve unforeseen setbacks. In the end, everyone agreed that this was one of the most complex building projects they had ever undertaken due to the level of specificity that we needed in the technical spaces and our high standards of design. But, we were all extremely proud of the end product: a post-production sound studio that truly embodied who we are as a company and our creative ideals. 

In completing our new state-of-the-art post-production sound facility in 2022, we built ourselves the opportunity to bring all of our goals to the next level. With more space to grow our staff, our gender-inclusive hiring program expanded further, and with everyone under one roof, our environment has become even more conducive to group learning and education. 

When we built the new space, we did so with an eye for the growth of business as well as project size. It was scary to expand our physical space during a global pandemic. However, it did not take long to realize the risk was worth the reward. Alongside the expansion of our depth of knowledge, we expanded our physical re-recording mix capacity, opening ourselves up to an entirely new class of larger format projects and features.

The first feature film posted entirely in the new space was Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. The film benefitted extensively from our new mix stage, where the space has been tuned specifically for our specialty, animated content. In animation, the dialogue is recorded in a controlled studio environment.

To combat the lack of liveliness, our mix stages have all been constructed to allow some life back into the mix, to create an accurate representation of how animated content plays in real-world listening environments. The new mix stages served us extremely well on the film, which garnered us a Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award, our industry's highest honor. 

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Additionally, we have had the pleasure of supplying sound services for numerous other animated projects in our new space such as Nickelodeon’s Transformers: Earthspark, which was also nominated for a Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award; Dreamworks Animation’s Gabby’s Dollhouse, which has been nominated for several industry awards and has been a top children’s program on Netflix for all seven seasons; and Disney’s new flagship series, Mickey Mouse Funhouse

As project size and scope increase, so does visibility. We decided to build our mix stages large enough to easily seat ten clients or more. The rooms are tuned in such a way that there are no bad seats in the house. We made them large but still intimate and comfortable, which works extremely well for both television and feature mixing. Having recently begun several high-profile projects which are utilizing the added client space and new formats, we couldn’t feel better about our decision to expand. 

We built Boom Box Post with a focus on creativity. We believed that employing a staff of diverse, enthusiastic individuals can truly create something special, representing many perspectives and resonating with the world at large. After years of establishing ourselves as a creative force in the animation industry and thought leaders in the sound industry at large, we took the leap and built a physical space that embodied our creative vision. With our incredible staff now in a state-of-the-art facility with room to grow, we have fully realized our dream.

This post was written by Jeff Shiffman & Kate Finan, Co-Owners of Boom Box Post.