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Quick Chat: Tono Studios Chief Engineer Jaime Zapata

By Randi Altman

Santa Monica’s Tono Studios is an audio post studio servicing the ad industry. While they do specialize in Hispanic spots, much of their work is also focused on the general market as well.

Tono (@tonostudiosoffers sound design, voiceover recording, mixing and music creation in addition to remote realtime recordings such as ISDN or Source Connect, Voice Over Castings and recording sessions with video conference.

The studio recently completed two new national spots — in English and Spanish — for Conill Advertising promoting the latest Toyota Prius models. Tono provided sound design and sound mixing for the ads.

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We decided to touch base with chief engineer Jaime Zapata to find out more about Tono Studios.

How is creating for the Latin market different than the US market, if at all?
In terms of creativity I don’t find a difference. In my experience working for both markets, I found space to propose and make decisions, which are always taken into consideration. That’s a freedom I appreciate very much from my clients.

But taking into consideration the language — Spanish being my first language — I have an edge in terms of understanding an idea at its fullest and therefore being able to explore different options to enrich the message of the spot. Sometimes the idea or message can change drastically if the comma is in a wrong place, the breathing is misplaced or if the intonation is not delivered correctly. So it’s always good to have a trained ear to get to the right idea or concept. I feel that the final product grows here.

Are your clients located worldwide?
Our clients are based in the US, but in terms of our global clientele we have partnered with studios throughout Latin America to provide the same quality service to our traveling clients. Through these partnerships we also provide our clients with connections to voice actors or celebrities that reside or are traveling abroad, recording them remote in realtime with ISDN or Source Connect.

How much of your spot work is also for second screen?
Twenty percent of our work is seen in social media outlets, giving the option to second screen our work. Most of our work is for radio and television.

studio only

Can you talk about what products you use within the studio?
The studio set-up is based on Mac Intel systems running OSX 10.7 Lion with Avid Pro Tools HD10 software and Avid HDX hardware. The Blackmagic Decklink HD Extreme3 card handles video, and our sound monitoring system runs on a Dangerous monitor ST/SR with Genelec 8040A speakers and Genelec 7060B subwoofer for 5.1. The mic-pre is a BAE 1073MPF dual with Sennheiser MKH 416P48 and Neumann TLM103 microphones.

We have installed the most popular plug-ins from Waves to Focusrite, but my favorites are McDSP for dynamics and EQ, and Altiverb7 for ambiences. iZotope RX3 is my go-to for cleaning and restoring sound.

What is the most important rule you have as a studio when working with clients?
Client first: anything, any time.



We refer to the Prius spots you guys just completed, but can you name a few other recent projects?
• Acura TLX Party TV spot/Spanish
• State Farm VO recording with actor Carlos Ponce. TV and radio/English and Spanish.
• Honda “2015 Core Model Campaign,” all models TV spots
• Nescafé Vive la vida bold TV spot with singer Ricky Martin/Spanish.
• Toyota Camry Park TV spot/English and Spanish.
• Amtrak Holidays – Book Early TV spot/English
• Carl’s Jr. Texas BBQ – Double Down TV spot/Spanish

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