The first framing infrastructure went up in the studio about 5 months ago assembling the large wall that splits the tracking room from the rest of the facility. Since that time, each month has brought about another thin sliver of definition for both the size and ultimate shape of the room(s) we’ll soon call home. Each month, and its successive trade, has brought about its own set of challenges. We’ve seen some setbacks, none of them out of the ordinary for a project of this scope, and we’ve achieved a lot of small victories along the way. Experienced architects of war will tell you that no plan of operations extends with any real certainty beyond the first contact with hostile forces, and this is in line with one of the key learnings I’ve taken away from this project. You prepare your strategy for your goal, and then you prepare to quickly change strategy as the journey develops.
We started our shooting hiatus in August of 2016. Before we moved out of our old facility over 15 months ago, we drafted a series of contingency plans to ensure our survival without an active factory. Because our contractor told us we could be without a studio until October 2016, we ramped up production in the early summer and stockpiled enough new courses and products to get us not only through the fall, but through the end of the year. That was plan A and B. Turns out it still wasn’t enough. We parted ways with one contractor and picked up with another at the beginning of the year as we prepared to break ground on the new studio. The timeline extended.
Plan C took shape in winter. Our cache of new course content was thinning and although large scale roll outs like the learning paths and other new programs helped prolong our stream of new launches, it was time to find a local studio to set up temporary shop so we could bring in a slew of our artist/educators and crank out new courses. We were lucky enough to find a great local soundstage that had a large white cyc wall and decent acoustics. That February we hosted eight artists and shot fifteen courses between them. Fortunately we were able to bring our primary shooting equipment too, and although it was a grueling load-in/load-out, our artists and students will attest to the consistency of the products we netted. We performed that same heavy setup and tear-down routine on four more occasions over the following months. I remember wrapping each with the same sentiment, “Well, that was fun, but here’s hoping our next shoot is in the new studio.”
We were well aware that the new studio project was going to be a long haul, but hey, it would be worth the wait, and we were up for the endurance challenge considering the payoff. So, when you hear from your contractor that things are going to take a few weeks or so longer than expected, you shake it off. When you hear things are going to take a few months longer than you expected, you emote a little more, and then you move on to your next contingency plan. We’re all in at this point. By the time September 2017 rolled around, I think we must’ve been on plan D or E. Because we were getting so close to a shootable space in our new studio, we adapted the construction strategies to allow for completion of the 600 sq.ft. tracking room first, in which we could temporarily set up shop and resume shooting new courses whilst continuing to construct the control room and other areas. That means having each of the subcontractors do half of the job now and half the job later, which added logistical complexity, but we have a great team and they were able to make it work.
So here we are, it’s been a rough six months, but the studio is coming out to be an outright incredible space, and we’re finally in the comfort of our own facility, albeit temporarily in a single room configuration. We fabricated and hung our own temporary acoustic panels and made some other plan alterations like drywalling over some of the future door and window openings. One could say it’s a bit cozy with all of the equipment, studio engineers, and artists all doing their thing in the same room, but hey these are “first world problems” in our overall universe. The beauty of this whole experience has been in what our students have experienced; every financial and timeline setback, every additional contingency plan, the tactical grinds to make post production fit launch schedules, and the sweat and stamina we’ve laid out to build and breakdown temporary studios along the way; it’s all been in an effort to maintain an uninterrupted learning experience for our students. You’d never know we’d been homeless for a stretch if we hadn’t pulled back the curtain and showed you the machinations along the way! But we’re loving this journey, and hopefully you’re loving it too. Here’s to the journey, and having our first official shoots under our belt.