Emmy winning composer Nathan Barr (The Americans, Flatliners, True Blood, The House with a Clock in Its Walls) opened his Bandrika Studio in Tarzana, CA, a new scoring stage with some noteworthy unique features. Most notable among them is the restoration and installation of the 1928 Wurlitzer theater organ originally built for the Twentieth Century Fox scoring stage. This fantastic instrument was used in a very long list of classic movies, including: The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Star Trek. Fortunately, the organ will have a new life in Nathan’s studio. With acoustic design by Jay Kaufman of Kaufman & Associates, the main stage achieves a reverb time of 1.5 seconds, lending the feel and sonority of the classic Hollywood stages, and giving both musicians and engineers a superbly musical ambience. The stage measures 30’ x 49’ with a 23’ ceiling, while the organ and its complex of pipes, percussion, tremulants, and regulators occupy a two-story infrastructure that extends beyond one end of the stage. The organ was in storage for over 21 years and has just undergone a five-year refurbishment and brings one of old Hollywood’s famous voices back to life in an acoustic space designed to complement her delicacies and robustness. A challenge successfully met by designer Kaufman was to create an acoustic balance that would provide the proper ambience for the organ as well as for small-to-medium sized orchestras and, as Barr is well known for, individual solo performances. There is also a large acoustically treated isolation room adjoining the stage.
The comfortable five-hundred-ten square foot control room features unobstructed visibility to the stage and is outfitted with B&W 802D3 monitors, an 82” monitor for viewing picture, an Avid S3 controller with dual 32” monitors, Protools HD, Goliath interface, an assortment of outboard mic preamps, Grace M906, and a Doepfer 88-key controller. Kaufman’s acoustic design for the control room yields an exceptional listening experience whether you’re at the mix position, producers desks, or seated at the sofa in the rear of the room.
The facility started out as a two story, 10,000 square foot office building. About 1/2 of the 2nd floor was removed to make room for the 23 foot high main stage. The stage, control room, and organ facilities are independent, decoupled structures, all sitting on individual 12 hertz floating floor systems. A very impressive NC10 noise floor is achieved under all conditions, and the isolation between the control room and stage is top tier. Organs typically produce significant background noise from its 15 horse power blower motor, and from the regulators and tremulants. Since the organ was to be incorporated within the scoring stage, and not a typical theater, the isolation design played a prominent role. The organ is so quiet it has been dubbed the new "gold standard" by many prominent organ experts.
In addition to the technical facilities, there are an abundance of creature comforts as well: a full gourmet kitchen opens to a large lounge with sofas and a dining/conference table and, being on the second floor above the control room, features a large full-height observation window looking down onto the stage with wall mounted speakers being able to monitor an ongoing session. The facility is also the home of many automatic acoustical instruments Nathan has collected over the years. In addition, there is an office for Mr. Barr and his assistants, and a separate production office. And, a rarity in Los Angeles, there’s plenty of secure parking for all!
Acoustician - Jay Kaufman & Associates
Studio Design - Jay Kaufman & Associates
Architect - Soler Architecture
Contractor - RS Construction
Integrator - Nikitek