Composer Cribs – Yessian, Flatiron District, New York City

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Always put yourself in a position to win.

Whether the topic is football or mixing for original music and sound design, you can’t argue with that logic. At Yessian, they’re playing that strategy to the hilt, with a smart new facility in the Flatiron District, just north of their former digs in Union Square.

As Yessian sound designer/mixer Weston Fonger is about to show you, there’s more than one place to put the mix position. And you’ll see that where he sits isn’t the only thing that makes this advanced new music for picture studio stand out.

The mix position is in the back of the room, facilitating client communication, in Yessian's Studio A. (Photo Credit, all photos: Ric Kallaher)

The mix position is in the back of the room, facilitating client communication, in Yessian’s Studio A. (Photo Credit, all photos: Ric Kallaher)

Composer Name: Weston Fonger


Location: Manhattan/Flatiron District

Soundtracks Served:   I create sound design, record voiceover and mix for a wide range of applications including commercials, music videos, television shows, feature films, interactive web, and even a few themed attractions!

Clients/Credits: This year I was fortunate to sound design and mix two animated feature films that were contenders for the Academy Award Nomination: Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’ and Signe Baumane’s Rocks In My Pockets.

I also had the opportunity to work with acclaimed director Jonas Åkerlund on music videos for artists like Beyoncé, Coldplay, and David Guetta. Recently I worked with Jonas on a feature documentary about the band Roxette, which should be coming out soon.

Most days I’m lucky enough to stay very busy with numerous advertising projects for brands like Pepsi, DosEquis, United Airlines, and Microsoft.

Big Premiere: Yessian was founded in 1970 in a converted bait and tackle shop in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Today, Yessian has grown to include additional studios in NYC, LA, and Hamburg, Germany. Yessian is run by its founder Dan Yessian, and his sons Brian and Michael.

The side angle on Studio A.

The side angle on Studio A.

Room Inspiration: Our old studio was in the Union Square area of Manhattan on 11th Street. The company was growing and the Yessians took the opportunity to expand and build a new state-of-the art facility.

After looking at a bunch of spaces we landed in a gorgeous old building on 5th Avenue in the heart of the Flatiron District, where there is a great community of post-production companies, production companies, and ad agencies. Once we found the location it was up to Brian Dorfman of Orchard Design Group to design the space and studios. We wanted to build a workplace that suited our needs as a growing company while taking into account the needs of our clients.

There are two larger-sized rooms here with a big common live room between them. Studio A, where I spend my days, features a client area in the front of the room facing a VO booth and TV, with the mix position located at the rear of the room.

Studio B, the home of our Creative Director / Composer Mike Dragovic, has a mix position located at the front of the room facing a window to the shared live room, with the client area at the rear.

Studio C, Assistant Mixer Philippe LeSaux’s room, is our smallest studio and features a forward mix position and client area at the rear of the room with direct access to the VO booth.

One really great design feature of our space is the backlit glass-encased brick wall, which runs through the whole facility. It extends from the front lobby through all the studios and the live room. The exposed brick and original columns really tie in the history of the building while adding a cool focal point and design detail. The entire facility utilizes clean lines and a blend of modern and organic elements, which really help the whole place come together as a bright and comfortable environment to work for staff and clients alike.

Creative Director/Composer Mike Dragovic occupies Studio B.

Creative Director/Composer Mike Dragovic occupies Studio B.

Key Personnel: We have 9 people here in our NYC location. Our studio here is headed up by our Managing Director/Executive Producer, Marlene Bartos with our two producers Jeff Fiorello and Emily Smith. In studio B is Creative Director/Composer Mike Dragovic, and in studio C is Assistant Mixer/Composer Philippe LeSaux.

Workflow Requirements: After years of sessions with clients behind me I was really looking forward to a room where I felt like everyone could be part of the conversation, and a mix position in the rear affords me that opportunity.

When I’m working on sound design or unsupervised work, being in the rear of the room also puts a nice bit of air between the big Genelec 8050s on the front wall and the mixing position, which really lets me hear a lot more detail in what I’m working on.

As an alternative there is also a small 5.1 nearfield environment built around the mix position consisting of Genelec 8030s, with the center channel on a motorized stand so it can easily be concealed when not in use. This is also true for the center channel on the front wall, which hides behind the TV on a motorized mount.

The nearfield environment comes in really handy when clients need to have a discussion and I can focus on the mix without disturbing their work.

The mixer area of studio A is built around a brand new Avid S6 console. This board is really great to work with and offers a ton of flexibility in workflow. The custom desk was built to put the controls at the mixer’s fingertips, and everything is very ergonomic which is amazingly helpful during long sessions or intensive projects.

Studio B was built to function both as a creative composition suite as well as a fully functional 5.1 mix room when we need to use it for post sessions. Studio B features Genelec 8030s and 8020s, and the room is centered around an Avid Artists Series controller, a Dangerous ST/SR monitor controller and a built in Doepfer weighted keyboard which sits in a custom desk. Our Creative Director / Composer Mike Dragovic has an impressive collection of vintage microphones and outboard gear, which lend a unique and highly sought after sound to his and our collaborative work.

Studio C also functions as a multipurpose room with a Dangerous ST controller, and a Doepfer keyboard in a custom desk.

Room to go live.

Room to go live.

What is really key in the studio design was the ability of all the rooms to have a large amount of parity and interconnectivity. All the studios and patch bays are wired in a way that allows us to take a project from one room and open it in any other room here seamlessly with I/O’s remaining intact, and plug-ins/synths ready to go.

The flexibility of this space is also amazing. Each room features at least two built-in channels of mic pres (John Hardy M1’s in A and B), but we also have a floating lowboy rack with an assortment of vintage Calrec and BAE mic pres as well as a UA 1176 compressor which can be wheeled into any room and connected quickly to add an additional eight channels of pres.

To further add to our interconnectivity each room is inter-patchable, giving us the ability to set up mics in any control room and use that room as an additional live room for large sessions. This is aided by a closed circuit camera system with cameras in each of the rooms allowing clients, talent and staff to see and interact with each other from any room in the space.

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  • steve

    i think its time sonic scoop start posting articles with hi res images available beyond the thumbnails embedded!

  • Justin Colletti

    Agreed Steve! I’ve discussed this with the editorial staff, and we have started to make that the norm again on all stories. Thanks for speaking up.