Spotlight on…Warner Bros. De Lane Lea: Facility Expansion Plans and the Future

Features  |  17 September 2018

Director of Operations and Business Development Cara Sheppard gives UK Screen Alliance an insight into WB De Lane Lea’s new facility plans, and thoughts on SVoD in the future of post production.

The award-winning audio post production house Warner Bros. De Lane Lea has flourished for over 70 years in the post-production business. Their highly skilled technical team, operations, and support staff work closely with their creative talent to deliver specialised and collaborative creative expertise, dedicated to the craft of post-production for motion pictures, television, gaming and commercials.

Cara Sheppard
Pictured: Cara Sheppard, Director of Operations & Business Development

In the 71 years since it was founded WB DLL has been a stalwart of the Soho audio post production landscape – can you give us some insight into the company?

In the 1940s, Major De Lane Lea, wanted to improve the way dialogue in film and TV could be recorded and replaced, so that dubbing between French and English was quicker and cheaper with better quality. This led to the establishing of a company called De Lane Lea Processes Ltd. and a laboratory in Soho, the heart of British post production.

The 50s, 60s and 70s saw the company opening a variety of studios in London for voice recording, Film, TV and ad mixing, music recording and orchestral score recording. It was during this period that a ‘who’s who’ of music talent passed through the doors including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. In 1970 the company made the move to its current home on Dean Street, which it still occupies today, and shifted its focus more towards Film and TV sound.

After 47 years at its current Dean Street address, you are set to relocate in 2021 to reopen in Greek street. Can you tell us more about this project and it’s impact on your range of facilities?

We’re very excited for our move, namely because we will have the luxury of being in a facility that is purpose built for what we need in order to deliver an exceptional level of service to our clients. Not only will we will we be expanding the volume of services, but we will also be growing in size and being able to offer the ‘ideal’ facility to our clients surrounded by world class talent alongside and the most technically advanced facilities right in the heart of Soho.

Are there any drawbacks to being in the current facility?

As with most post facilities in Soho, being in these beautiful historic buildings, which in terms of location and character is great, however these wonderful old buildings don’t often lend themselves to being naturally sound proofed or having the ideal dimensions for building D.I theatres – which often means a fair amount of structural changes being needed. Also, as great as these buildings are they often require much more maintenance and repair than most modern, purpose-built facilities.

Congratulations to Asa Shoul and the team on joining the company for the new Picture Services department – how is the launch for the new department going? 

Thank you, the new facility expansion has gone incredibly well – it’s certainly no small task expanding a working facility, but the build is complete, testing is well underway, and the official opening is any day now. We have worked incredibly hard to ensure that we don’t inconvenience our current productions whilst the works have been going on, which has meant lots of evenings and weekends and drilling at lunchtimes! We’re at a huge advantage in the sense that we have no legacy picture technology here which meant we essentially can build a new picture post facility from the ground up without having to compromise workflow or technology. A blank sheet of paper to design the most technically advanced post facility in London is everyone’s dream and then we get to do it all again when we open our new facility in 2021.

WBDLL new facility model
Above: Model of new WBDLL building, Greek Street  

WBDLL work both within traditional tv and film post production, is this diversity in work important to you? What have been your favourite projects?

I think with the emergence of VOD platform content creators such as Amazon and Netflix, the industry has dramatically changed not only with what they themselves want but also in terms how their presence has changed what the terrestrial and cable broadcasters expect from their content also. What we once knew as ‘TV’ content has changed quite radically not only in budget but also in terms of workflow and even talent. Consequently, TV and Features are much more closely aligned than they were before which means they coexist very well especially within a facility and TV drama now has similar expectation of service and delivery that tentpole features do. We genuinely love working on both and I think it’s incredibly important to keep the right balance between both not only for our talent and crew but also for our clients, I think working across both and the variety of work ensure we can deliver the best possible service to our clients in terms of the variety of what we can deliver and also in the skillset and experience we can provide to the productions.

WBDLL crimes of grindelwald 3
Above: Warner Bros. De Lane Lea has credits in the upcoming film
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 

More broadly, how do you see the UK VFX & Post industry currently, and would you hope for the future?

The UK post and VFX market is currently booming and the demand is currently outstripping the service providers hence the need for expansion and growth in all areas. With Brexit looming, I think it will be interesting to see how that unfolds and the effects that it will have, I believe it will make us even more reliant than ever on the UK tax incentives – which are incredibly important to our industry in general.  I would hope that with the expansion of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc and the emergence of even more high-volume content providers such as Apple that this will mean the demand not only stabilises the market but also sees a slow and steady expansion over the next 10 years or so.

Warner Bros. De Lane Lea website

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