HOLLYWOOD: Ocean Way Recording – the legendary Bill Putnam-designed Hollywood studio where Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Radiohead have recorded – has new owners as of this week.
Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc., the owners of the adjacent Sunset Gower/Sunset Bronson soundstages has acquired Ocean Way Recording to form a “strategic alliance” between their 100-year-old film and TV studios and soundstages and the neighboring music recording studios, creating one unified production complex.
Hudson Pacific acquired Ocean Way from longtime owner, engineer, producer and studio innovator Allen Sides, who renamed the facility in 1985 when he took over United Studios from his partner, the “father of modern recording”, Bill Putnam. Putnam founded United in 1957 with the backing of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.
The original control rooms and recording spaces – see Studios A, B and D – have stayed true to Putnam’s designs, which have now spanned several eras of popular music, from Sinatra and Nat King Cole to The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Beck, Kanye West and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And those rooms will reportedly remain “untouched” under the new ownership – with top staff and equipment in place – though common spaces throughout the facility will see some renovations. According to Ocean Way’s day-to-day manager Robin Goodchild, the studios are still very much available for commercial bookings, and clients can expect to see some improvements and additions in the coming months.
“We’ll be getting a face-lift,” says Goodchild. “The halls, lounges, bathrooms and offices will all be undergoing some modernizing and upgrades. We will also be adding some productions rooms.”
As far as the studio business – if anything, the new ownership may drive more scoring and mix-to-picture sessions into Ocean Way. “There are so many great film and TV projects at Sunset Gower/Bronson and now they own one of the best recording studios in the world,” says Goodchild. “There’s no reason some of the scores for those projects wouldn’t be recorded or mixed at Ocean Way. Aside from how good the rooms sound, we’re literally at their front door.
“It may be that we see an increase in the amount of scoring sessions, which generally means large full-tracking and orchestral sessions to picture. Any film score would need to be mixed in surround so I also anticipate and increase in 5.1 mix sessions at Ocean Way.”
As for Sides, he will reportedly continue to provide his technical and sonic expertise to the studio operations. The announcement made clear that the acquisition agreement between Sides and the new owners does not involve Sides’ other enterprises, which include Record One Studios, Ocean Way St. Barth’s, Ocean Way Nashville, Ocean Way Audio and Ocean Way Drums.
Says Goodchild of the sale: “The time was right for Allen to sell the studio. Aside from the fact that his other enterprises are growing and require more of his dedication, after 35 years at Ocean Way he will be spending more time with his family. It made sense to sell to a company who would not only respect the history and importance of Ocean Way but continue its legacy.”
After all, Sunset Gower/Sunset Bronson are historic studios in their own right. Sunset Gower is the former home of Columbia Pictures, which once upon a time housed the likes of Frank Capra, Rita Hayworth and The Three Stooges. Later, TV shows like The Monkees and The Gong Show and were shot here. Now the studios are home to Dexter, Newsroom and Scandal among countless other film and television projects.
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