Continuing the expansion into new territories that has become a feature of its business development over the last few years, UK studio acoustic and design consultancy White Mark has successfully completed two radio studios and two music recording studios for Nile Radio Productions in Cairo.
This prestigious project involved rebuilding the existing Nile Radio Productions facilities, which are housed in buildings within the Media City complex on the outskirts of Cairo. State of the art radio on-air and pre-production studios were created for Nagoom FM, which positions itself as the Middle East's No.1 Arabic Current Hit Radio Station, and its English language sister station Nile FM. These stations enjoy enormous audiences in this region of the world and can be heard (and seen) at http://www.nilefmonline.com/video
The brief also required White Mark to design two recording studios that will be used by NRP to create original music content for the stations and develop local talent by making world class facilities accessible to both artists and producers in Egypt. The company plans to set up a production, management and publishing arm to further facilitate this creative development and these studios form the basis of its production hub.
David Bell, Managing Director of White Mark, says: “As NRP was redeveloping their premises, this was a major undertaking that required detailed coordination, design, build supervision and technical infrastructure from the outset. Careful consideration had to be given to the detailed supervision of the Egyptian building company which was unfamiliar with the techniques required for this specialist project work. Scheduling also became a central issue as the two on-air stations had to continue broadcasting throughout the construction and have access to their commercials pre-production facilities. The new buildings are a significant improvement on the previous complex and detailed discussions were held as to the form the new rooms should take.”
Mrs Hala Hegazi, Managing Director and Group COO of NRP, says: “Nile Radio Production and Music Studios have been a long awaited dream for all of us to realize. We are all extremely excited about finally having the studios completed, and to have had the whole operation built by the expertise of White Mark and Langdale Technical is really where the value of the studios is magnified. We are optimistic that the studios will become a milestone in our business legacy and will deliver our expectations and beyond in Egypt and the entire region.”
Mr. Rami Mohsen, NRP’s Production Director, adds: “Needless to say, the team of producers on board feel that this is a huge breakthrough in their working track record and career portfolios. To be able to work and train and manage such world class studios and the technology that comes with them is a massive addition to all of us. This could not have come at a better time in our industry’s business path as our main direction is to focus on Radio production and music label releases in 2012 and beyond. We are all truly excited and feel privileged to be part of this world class launch.”
The project was undertaken against the backdrop of the political changes in Egypt but this had little effect on progress with site visits and coordination meetings taking place as planned on all but one occasion, which was postponed because of the elections.
The two radio studios share common facilities with the on-air rooms both facing a shared Talks studio. Also shared are the machine room and office and reception spaces. White Mark also designed a pre-production suite, which both stations use.
Much of the equipment was migrated from NRP’s former facilities and was re-installed by UK company Langdale Technical, which handled the technical installation for all four studios. Set up of the facilities was handled by Jeff Marcedo, White Mark’s newly appointed agent for India and the Middle East.
On the music side, NRP now has a no-compromise main recording studio that houses a 48-channel SSL Duality, Pro Tools and an extensive range of analogue and outboard equipment. It also has a small production room equipped with Pro Tools and an Avid 24-channel C|24 control surface. Both rooms feature ATC and Adams monitoring and access to a generous outboard equipment compliment.
Langdale Technical Director Bill Ward says: “The project involved close cooperation with the White Mark team and also a lot of liaison with NRP regarding equipment lists and layouts etc. Our involvement stemmed directly from White Mark’s recommendation, although we were already aware of recording studio element thanks to our links with SSL. As far as I was concerned it was critical that White Mark were involved because it gave legitimacy to the project and meant that any issues arising during the build could be quickly resolved because we’ve worked with White Mark sufficient times in the past for there to be real respect and trust between both teams.”
Ward adds that one of the main challenges was getting local builders to understand, and then achieve, the standard both White Mark and Langdale Technical expected. A further challenge successfully met was dealing with Egyptian customs for the import of the equipment and specialist building materials.
“This was a particular issue when it came to the SSL console as the desk was somewhat roughly unpacked by the local customs officials and needed replacement parts by the time it was released and finally delivered,” he explains. “Fortunately we were already on site and were able to make SSL’s commissioning a lot easier by having the console assembled and powered up before their team arrived. This meant we could tell them exactly what parts were needed, which saved a lot of time.”
Working in a country in the throes of political turmoil proved challenging for both White Mark and Langdale Technical.
“Every time we visited the site events seemed to move quickly from stable and calm to highly publicised unrest, but, by and large, we were detached from it because NRP’s premises are on the outskirts of Cairo some distance from the main gathering in Tahrir Square, which is in central Cairo.” Ward says. “On the last trip out, there was a possibility that we might have difficulty getting home as some of the European airlines were very quick to cancel flights. However, as we always travelled with Egypt Air, we had no problems because they were much more understanding about the situation.”
White Mark Managing Director, David Bell, concludes “The new facilities are truly world class and it has been a joy to be part of NRP’s project to empower local talent and bring it to the home audience. The challenge of working with local contractors at the level of quality required for the facility to become what it is now should not be underestimated, but the excitement of the changes in the country provided a very relevant backdrop to the creation of a suite of rooms of which Egypt can be very proud.”
About White Mark:
Established in 1997 by David Bell, John Dunnill, Derek Buckingham and Alan Cundell, White Mark Ltd specialises in production facilities for music recording and the film and television industries. Over the last fifteen years it has designed and supervised the construction of over 500 production suites worldwide. The company’s impressive client list encompasses some of the world’s most famous music recording facilities including Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the UK, Germano Studios in New York, Hit Factory/Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Strongroom in London and private studios for producers and musicians such as William Orbit and Damon Albarn. In the area of audio post production, White Mark has completed over 140 audio studios and many broadcast and video editing facilities for more than 60 companies in Soho alone. The list of clients includes Grand Central, Hackenbacker, Envy, De Lane Lea, Scramble, Lipsync, Molinare, DeLuxe, 750mph, NBC/Universal, Wave, Unit and Boom.
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