by Chris Joye
What strikes one most upon first entering Coupe Studios in Boulder is the variety of projects in progress at all hours of the day. “We've usually got anywhere from 5 to 10 projects cooking at a time,” states partner and producer, Eric Singer. When I visited Coupe for an interview this month, those words were certainly true: I observed multiple producers, sound designers and engineers hard at work on various projects across the five different studio rooms. This pre- and post-production studio has been a premier studio in Colorado since the ‘90s, and while it is known internationally, it focuses an immense portion of its resources on local Colorado projects.
Coupe is known for top-notch music composing and engineering. In 2012, Coupe scored or mixed eleven feature-length films—and at least half of those productions were located in Colorado. In addition, Coupe has the capability of ISDN recording (Integrated Services Digital Network—i.e., recording in real-time with any other ISDN-capable studio in the world), which allows Coupe to work with talent all over the world. Despite this far-reaching capability, Eric Singer was adamant that “[w]e definitely try to support locals whenever possible. Colorado agents and talents are every bit as pro as anyone you'd find in LA or NY. That said, when a CO-based client is looking for fresh VO options, or foreign language talent, we cast all over the world. We record via ISDN for multiple sessions every day, whether that means creatives here with us, or the other way where the talent is local and the agency is somewhere else.”
Of course, as one of the busiest studios in Colorado, Coupe needs the staff to keep up with composing, recording, mixing, casting and meeting deadlines. One of Eric Singer’s tasks is to ensure that Coupe is entirely capable of handling short turnarounds and multi-tasking on projects: “The way we often work is to have one of our producers oversee your entire project while composers are working in one room, a sound designer is working in another, a copywriter is working on your text, and someone else can be working on your VO casting. Obviously it's often nice to be able to do all those things in a specific sequence, but when that's not an option, we can handle everything simultaneously.” And if budgets are of concern, Coupe is known to work with clients to get what they need, within budget, in a timely manner. Coupe has numerous capabilities even within tight budgets and/or timeframes, such as the ability to license out an indie band song for a film, fix a bad scene with some quick ADR, or automate a stereo mix to spread out to a simple surround field. An average turnaround for requests can be as little as a few days (very roughly speaking, of course, as it depends on many factors: the agency, the client, their processes, budget, etc.). “We work on everything from student films to extremely high-end productions. On most student film budgets, we can't do an original score, spend 8 hours cleaning up one scene of dialogue, and do huge sound design in surround, but we'll find other ways to get them what their film needs,” Eric explained. Studio time can be expensive, but it is very refreshing when a studio is focused on serving the local needs of producers, directors, composers, and film crew in budget-conscious ways.
You might wonder: how does a studio acquire new projects and keep clients coming back in an industry where music and audio library companies run rampant, where filmmakers can license a track of music for as little as $1.00? While it isn’t always easy, Eric explained “I think what keeps people coming back to us despite all of these other options comes down to two things: most importantly, creativity. No technology can ever replace what a great composer, sound designer or mixing engineer can do. Second, responsiveness to requests. You might find a great song you can license for a buck (and there are some great ones!), but when the client asks you to turn down the keyboard part or remove the vocals, you're out of luck. Generally speaking, the kinds of productions we want to work on are the ones with people who get what we bring to the table, and want to be part of a collaborative process with us.” While some production libraries offer “alternate” versions of a track of music you may license, clients of such libraries are ultimately still limited in various ways with the tempo, mix, instrumentation, melody, or originality of the chosen piece (like someone else using the same track in an ad about dishwasher detergent). Having the power and flexibility of a real composer, VO talent, or sound designer can be overlooked, but should not be by those who want to engage in a truly collaborative and unique creative process.
Much of Coupe’s media work focuses on documentary and outdoor adventure films. Coupe frequently works with Colorado-based Sweetgrass Productions on its outdoor ski films, National Geographic on its documentary films, and countless Warren Miller films. 2012 also brought Coupe its first 3D film effort: a French film titled At the Very Last Moment. 2012 also involved the first Oscar-winning film on which Coupe worked: Saving Face. Currently, Coupe is working on a project for Blue Moon Beer, a returning client who brokered a deal with Coupe to use The Lumineers (a Denver-based band) a few years ago for some TV ads and cross promotions. Blue Moon Beer and Coupe are now using South of France, another Colorado-based band, in some new productions. Coupe recently worked on the pilot episode of Those Who Can’t, a Colorado-based comedy show. In addition to film scoring, VO, ADR, and other media-related post-production tasks, Coupe is bustling at night with local bands, including Devotchka, The Fray, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, and Minuskus, to name but a few who have utilized Coupe's services. Most musicians and composers would be envious of Coupe’s extensive gear list (you can check it out at http://coupestudios.com/studios/equipment-roster/).
Contacting Coupe is as simple as heading to their website – http://www.coupestudios.com - and e-mailing or calling them. It is also good to remember that Coupe works within a myriad of project stages and budgets, so don’t let financial or project woes stop you from at least making initial contact. The staff at Coupe will help you on your journey to completing your project with great service, communication, expertise and the professional quality you would expect from one of best choices around for anything audio-related.
Read the full interview - Coupe Studios
Coupe Studios is an audio facility in Boulder specializing in original music, creative sound design, music licensing, VO casting and all things audio.
Chris Joye is a Denver-based film and television composer and multi-instrumentalist. A dual-major graduate of Berklee College of Music in Film Scoring and Bass Performance, he has credits in numerous feature films and documentaries, television and web commercials, and has music being licensed with companies such as Red Bull Media House UK, The New Yorker, MTV, and VH1. He just completed his fifth album geared towards commercial licensing (under the moniker Cue – http://www.facebook.com/cuefilmmusic) and is composing for a feature film in Chicago in production. Contact him through the Colorado Production Guide™ today.