These three USC Film School grads take on audio their way
By Mel Lambert
“White Light Audio is a boutique sound facility that provides premium sound services for all phases of film and digital media production,” states Ginge Cox who, with co-founder Heika Burnison and sound designer/mixer Jan Bezouska, form the core of this new operation based in East LA. “We can work on any segment of an entertainment project and be present for every phase — from a project’s inception to final delivery.” Recent projects have included a number of feature films, shorts, episodic series, commercials, documentaries, voiceovers and trailers.
The three young filmmakers met at USC Film School while completing MFA studies in film/TV production, each with a specialization in sound engineering and design. “We’re a passionate collective of tech creatives that live for all things audio,” says Burnison. “And we are one of the only independent sound studios to offer both production and post sound services in-house.”
To date, White Light Audio has provided production and/or post services for over 30 projects, including the films Devil’s Night (2014), Lake Los Angeles (2014), Vimana (2014), It’s Better in Italian (2015), Suburbanite (2014) and three upcoming features this summer, including James Franco’s Actors Anonymous, based on his acclaimed novel.
“We started by offering sound services and equipment to fellow USC students who needed to film their own productions,” Cox recalls. “We wanted to offer reasonable sound packages but, at the same time, provide the best sound quality possible. The idea grew into White Light Audio and our one-stop solution.”
“Our ADR and Foley stage features a number of covered pits for textured footsteps and the like,” adds Bezouska. “The sound editorial and 5.1-channel re-recording space boasts a state-of-the-art Slate Pro Audio Raven MTi MultiTouch production console for our Avid Pro Tools HD systems, 5.1 monitoring is via Focal SM Series loudspeakers. We also love working with Waves Diamond Bundle plug-ins, and Izotope RX 4 Advanced.”
Bezouska says the Raven MTi is a very intuitive edit/mix surface that streamlines the studio’s editorial and mixing workflows. He calls the 27-inch, six-touch display intuitive and fast. The surface connects to a DAW computer via standard DVI and USB 2.0 ports and uses the industry-standard Ney-Fi protocol to provide remote control of all DAW edit, mix and plug-in parameters.
White Light Audio (@whitelightaudio) offers full production services for film and TV shoots, including location scouting. “We will visit a client’s intended shooting locations to review potential sound challenges,” Cox explains. “This allows us to anticipate audio issues that might occur on shoot days and eliminate the sound problems that lead to unnecessary costs during post.”
“Our pre-production meetings let us develop sound solutions during the critical stages before principal photography,” Burnison notes, “and help develop creative choices to deliver the most effective audio for a client’s project.” During production recording, WLA provides a two-to-three-person crew that manages a Schoeps CMIT-5U shotgun mic, a Zaxcom Nomad digital mixer/recorder, a Zaxcom IFB 100, Zaxcom TRX900LA wireless transmitter and QRX100 receivers and the Countryman B6 and Sanken COS-11 lavalier mics, plus Comteck 216 wireless monitoring.
“During editorial post, our sound editors work with a client’s production audio to prepare elements that best complement the edited images,” Cox continues. “We can pull from an extensive library of sound files in our digital libraries, or record original tracks to create a world of SFX. In addition, we have access to several talented Foley artists, props and surfaces to create unique sounds. We can also handle ADR and voice-over recordings in our custom-designed sound booth.”
While Burnison acknowledges that the studio’s production and post equipment is the latest and greatest, she points to their training and love of sound as key to their success. “Thanks to USC, we were fortunate enough to study under some of the greatest sound designers in the business. Because of that, our creative team possesses an appreciation of the needs of both production and post — we recognize the vital relationship between the two.
“Having produced many of our own graduate-student films from the ground up, we know the importance of the collaborative environment that a sound department needs to develop with directors, producers and other crew Our goal is to help them achieve their dream during a complex process. Sound is such a powerful tool – creatively and emotionally. We love showing people how the right audio work can elevate a cinematic experience,” Burnison concludes.