Founders Tommy Joyner, Jamie Lokoff, and Mark Schultz Talk Shop

Philadelphia has a new audio post-production option with the opening of Shake Audio Post at MilkBoy. MilkBoy the Studio founders Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff brought sound designer Mark Schultz, CAS, formerly of Post Perfect and Suite Spots Studios, on board for the new operation. Shake has a 700-square-foot space at MilkBoy, outfitted with Westlake Audio BBSM-Series Reference Monitors and 7.1 surround mixing capabilities.

Shake has been making noise right out of the gate, winning six Philadelphia ADDY Awards in April, including four Golds and one Best in Show. We emailed the team Five Questions about the state of the audio business, the cues they're taking from the New York scene, and what inspires them creatively. 

Q: Why is the time right for starting up a new audio post facility?
A: It’s never the wrong time to elevate your craft and introduce clients to something much better. Also, just before partnering with Tommy and Jamie to launch Shake, Mark relocated to Philadelphia after 20 years of working in New York.

Many people are aware there was a change—almost a revolution—in the New York audio post market circa 2001, when a few important engineers broke from the old guard central cluster of key post houses along Madison and Third Avenues in the 40s and opened new studios in the West Village, Nolita and Noho, all featuring living-room concepts with windows. They did away with producers’ desks and brought in comfy sofas, and found a way to incorporate the best monitoring for video and for surround sound. Suddenly no one wanted to be in a dark, closed-in, padded room any longer.

That evolution has hit Philadelphia with the opening of Shake. Our main studio is oversized and modern, has windows and great furniture, and might remind you of a stylish, well-appointed hotel room with great equipment. When people see it, they need to recalibrate what they thought sound mixing rooms were supposed to be. They tend to be bowled over.

Right now Philadelphia is teeming with young media professionals who are rock stars in their writing, shooting, editing and color grading. A significant number feel they have to go to New York in order to get a sound mix that matches the quality of their content. Philadelphia sound mixers don't like to hear this, but this is nothing new. Mark served many Philadelphia agency clients during his New York years.

This new offering is meant to be a game-changer—to meet and exceed clients’ expectations that there is now a place where they belong. 

Q: There's been a lot of consolidation in audio post. What's the market like in Philadelphia?
A: Consolidation is good if it brings key people together and great work gets created as a result. Consolidation is what made Shake possible. It brought together two great music experts (Tommy and Jamie) with a sound design expert (Mark). Great shooters always find the best editors and lock them up for years. Great editors look for the best sound mixers to finish their work. In this way, the best content creators draw on each other for success. It's a really positive thing.

Consolidation can be bad when production companies try to bring audio in house and they end up with the wrong mixer on staff and are compelled to mix with this person as he or she learns the profession.

Q: What's the most important way you expect Shake to stand apart from its competition?
A: Not sure anyone else is trying as hard as we are. Shake is likely the only studio preaching the gospel to its clients to demand more from audio post—reframing the experience as one where you get far more than you anticipated. We are disappointed with any producer who only wants what has always been good enough in the past. The same goes for studios that are more comfortable retracing worn footsteps. When you leave here, we want you to be thinking, "Wow, that was amazing."  

It is also great that we are the only post house joined at the hip to a vibrant, nationally known music recording studio. That keeps us on our toes, and that MilkBoy DNA is evidenced directly in the original music we write and produce for agency clients. Meanwhile, Mark is a bit of a creative tsunami who has incredibly high standards and wants each mix to stand out. Clients respond to that and want to be in the room with him.

Q: Tell us about the most profound change in the way you work—either technologically or creatively—over the last five years.
A: Craft, the craft of sound design and mixing, is by definition something that is achieved with experience, so over the past five years we look at our achievements to answer that.  We have knocked down a substantial number of awards for our work— including four consecutive years winning a CINE Golden Eagle award for our work with Sesame Workshop¬— and dozens of Tellys, and just this Spring, six Addy awards.  We've mixed short form spots of course, but also theatrical films, documentaries, a 17.2 (that is not a typo) surround show for the famous Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and even the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus for DVD.  So we feel we have been getting better and better. Technically, Shake is the finest studio any of us have ever worked in – loaded with top of the line Bryston amplifiers, a detailed 7.1 surround monitoring system, a 65" 4K monitor for picture that drops jaws, and racks full of the finest analog outboard equipment money can buy.  

Q: What have you heard lately that has given you inspiration, soundwise?
james-taylor-before-this-worldJamie Lokoff: We love the James Taylor record that just came out called Before This World, which in (small) part was recorded at MilkBoy and engineered by Tommy Joyner. The album sounds beautiful and raced to number 1 on the Billboard charts. We're very proud to have worked with such an exceptional man in James. Being in the same room with him was truly an inspiration.

Mark Schultz: The sound mix of the film Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson biopic released in June 2015, is particularly excellent and should receive awards consideration.