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Sonic Union adds Bryant Park studio targeting immersive, broadcast work

New York audio house Sonic Union has launched a new studio and creative lab. The uptown location, which overlooks Bryant Park, will focus on emerging spatial and interactive audio work, as well as continued work with broadcast clients. The expansion is led by principal mix engineer/sound designer Joe O’Connell, now partnered with original Sonic Union founders/mix engineers Michael Marinelli and Steve Rosen and their staff, who will work out of both its Union Square and Bryant Park locations. O’Connell helmed sound company Blast as co-founder, and has now teamed up with Sonic Union.

In other staffing news, mix engineer Owen Shearer advances to also serve as technical director, with an emphasis on VR and immersive audio. Former Blast EP Carolyn Mandlavitz has joined as Sonic Union Bryant Park studio director. Executive creative producer Halle Petro, formerly senior producer at Nylon Studios, will support both locations.

The new studio, which features three Dolby Atmos rooms, was created and developed by Ilan Ohayon of IOAD (Architect of Record), with architectural design by Raya Ani of RAW-NYC. Ani also designed Sonic’s Union Square studio.

“We’re installing over 30 of the new ‘active’ JBL System 7 speakers,” reports O’Connell. “Our order includes some of the first of these amazing self-powered speakers. JBL flew a technician from Indianapolis to personally inspect each one on site to ensure it will perform as intended for our launch. Additionally, we created our own proprietary mounting hardware for the installation as JBL is still in development with their own. We’ll also be running the latest release of Pro Tools (12.8) featuring tools for Dolby Atmos and other immersive applications. These types of installations really are not easy as retrofits. We have been able to do something really unique, flexible and highly functional by building from scratch.”

Working as one team across two locations, this emerging creative audio production arm will also include a roster of talent outside of the core staff engineering roles. The team will now be integrated to handle non-traditional immersive VR, AR and experiential audio planning and coding, in addition to casting, production music supervision, extended sound design and production assignments.

Main Image Caption: (L-R) Halle Petro, Steve Rosen, Owen Shearer, Joe O’Connell, Adam Barone, Carolyn Mandlavitz, Brian Goodheart, Michael Marinelli and Eugene Green.

 

Behind the Title: Sonic Union studio director Justine Cortale

NAME: Justine Cortale

COMPANY: New York City-based Sonic Union (@SonicUnionNYC)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We’re an audio post production company. We mix sound for commercials, with a dash of documentary and feature work.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Studio Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I assist with all scheduling needs before, during and after sessions. I try and listen to our clients’ needs and help them problem-solve whenever I can. Within the studio, I act as a sounding board, troubleshooter and cheerleader to every one of our team members. Sometimes, I’m also the comic relief!

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I have two seats near my desk and, unsurprisingly, they are always filled. They are in many ways like a therapy couch. No one hesitates before sitting down and telling me his or her life stories, dramas and troubles. And I love it. Fortunately, we have some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met who have come to work here so it’s a real treat for me. I enjoy hearing their stories or just being an ear when they need someone to listen.

It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a kid, and now that I’m an old fart, I mean, more experienced, people actually want to hear my advice. So for me the most surprising part of my job is the amount of time I spend talking to people about anything but projects/work. I’m considering a future in psychology.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
Farmerswife. Facebook. Email. Instant Messaging. Most of all… my big, loud mouth.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Juggling! My favorite part of the job is scheduling on days that seem almost impossible to sort or turn around — when there are a ton of scheduling conflicts and there doesn’t seem to be a way to fit everyone in. And then, with the help of a flexible client (we love them!), and some brainstorming with the staff, it all comes together and everyone is happy. That makes me happy. And it’s during those moments that I feel a real sense of accomplishment.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When Cheres, our chef, or Jen, our client service person, makes something so incredibly irresistible — fattening — in the kitchen and I’m here and just cannot resist. Let this article serve as a documented record. “This will be the cause of my heart attack one day.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
The moment I have my first sip of coffee in the morning.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I assume by now I would have accomplished my lifelong dream of winning the lottery or one of the many sweepstakes I like to enter. This job thing is slowing down my entry/play time.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I actually thought I would be a celebrity/movie star for most of my life. I had a brief career as a hand model. No joke! It wasn’t until college that I even considered not being in the limelight… and least of all working in audio post. Audio!? No one can see me! But when I found Sonic Union, I was instantly sure this is where I was meant to be. It just fits.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Sonic Union recently worked on some really visually intricate spots for Game of War, mixed by Brian Goodheart and directed by MJZ’s Fredrik Bond, out of Untitled Worldwide; an athletically and aesthetically inspiring spot for Under Armour, mixed by David Papa with music by Phillip Glass, out of Droga5; and a PSA for Above the Influence, also mixed by David Papa, out of Hill Holliday that was directed by Vine star Maris Jones.

We are also really proud of the 2015 AICE Award that mixer Steve Rosen earned for his work on the Adidas Superstar spot. This is the third time that Sonic Union has won for “Best Mix” in the four years that it has been a category at the AICE Awards.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
We are so lucky to be able to work on so many fun projects, that it’s hard to pick just one! But, over the years, we have had a lot of fun working on a number of Super Bowl spots and hearing the buzz about them once they’re released — both positive and negative!

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone/Internet/iTunes. My Television/Netflix. My Keurig.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
It’s always playing in the office, so yes. At the end of the day, after Pat my co-scheduler has left, the office has pretty much gotten used to me playing Zumba music until I leave. I need to get pumped and ready for my class after work. It’s not easy motivating to go exercise at 7:30/8pm at night — ever — so they’re all pretty forgiving in letting me “Zumba out” as they like to call it. I work with some pretty tolerant people.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’ll let you know when I figure it out. I’m certain it will involve vodka.

Main Image: Juan Patino Photography

Behind the Title: Sonic Union’s Steve Rosen

NAME: Steve Rosen

COMPANY: Sonic Union (@sonicunion)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Sonic Union is deeply experienced in audio post and we are proud of our extremely good-looking team of 20 in New York City.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE? Partner/Mixer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
The mixer part of my title is what made the partner part of my title a possibility. I’ve been involved in the New York advertising audio post business for 30 years, and consider myself very lucky to be doing something that I really enjoy every day.

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