A new 30,000-square-foot, 4K-capable, independent production facility is scheduled to open during mid-May in Playa Vista.
Dubbed Vista Studios, the Silicon Beach-set complex will include four soundstages (the largest is 6,300 square feet), equipment rental, editing capabilities and 24/7 broadcast operations. It's led by industry vets and founders, Randall Heer, CEO, and Frank Gianotti, CMO/CRO, who are among 12 individual investors (the additional names were not divulged, but Heer and Gianotti say they are not from this industry) in the multimillion-dollar complex.
"No one has built a new, ground-up production facility in L.A. that is open to the public in decades," says Heer, an Emmy winner whose career has included serving as manager of engineering for the HD expansion of Discovery Networks and engineer-in-charge for launches of 13 Fox cable networks. "And the technology is changing, so it's a perfect opportunity to be the first to market, if there is, in fact, a market. From what we have seen, there is. If the market is as hot as we think it is, we are going to grow exponentially, very quickly. We think there's a pent up need.
"Our intention is to be a turnkey facility. Productions can come in, deliver a spec sheet of what they need, and we can take care of that under one roof," continues Heer, asserting that he observes an increasing number of broadcasters looking to outsource technical capabilities. "They don't want to spend the money to do what we are doing. It takes too long to build and requires too much expensive talent."
He attributes this state of affairs to rapidly changing technology, including the current overhaul of the over-the-air broadcast standard, known as ATSC 3.0, which is IP-based and 4K capable. Vista Studios is designed to support ATSC 3.0. "We think this has relevance for what we are doing here," says Heer. "We can provide the ability to produce the content; do a deal with Sinclair Broadcasting, for example; and originate the channel here and deliver it to Sinclair."
With various formats often meaning various delivery requirements for features, TV or streaming services, the facility is designed to be format agnostic. The partners also hope to attract virtual reality and other emerging media projects.
Additionally, Vista Studios will serve as a test site and demo facility for a pair of broadcast technology partners, U.K.-headquartered SAM (Snell Advanced Media), which will provide the studios' data core; and Germany-headquartered Reidel Communications, which is supplying the facility's communications infrastructure.
As the partners prepare to open the facility, they are already eyeing additional space with a plan to potentially grow into a 200,000-square-foot campus.