Frame.io Cribs: Picrow (Hollywood, California)

Picrow (originally known as Pictures in a Row) offers production and post on streaming content, episodic series, films, and commercials of all kinds. We paid a visit to explore their unique, one-of-a-kind crib.

Here’s a unique overview of the facility, a 3D birds-eye view of the building at 736 Seward Street, just off Melrose Avenue:

Two areas of the facility are highlighted in sequence in this video. The first includes artist workspaces, the audio booth and the server room, and the second is the former practical effects stage that once birthed the first views of the Starship Enterprise in the 1960s. Furthermore, where there are exterior walls, ivy appears in the rendering, just as it does on the building itself.

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“Somebody will be sitting in the conference room in a meeting and see a book, and want to go get it…. It’s not the normal thing in this business.”

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A false ceiling in the previous building hid everything above the line where the books begin.

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The company logo embedded in the glass.

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The largest of three conference rooms is a comfortable teleconferencing space for the production staff.

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Producer Sharon Groh heads up a worldwide shoot for an undisclosed client. Picrow functions as a true studio, production co-existing with post and effects.

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Lilly Campbell, also depicted in the featured image for this article, is one of the staffers who work on the shows that Picrow produces for Amazon, including Mozart of the Jungle, Red Oaks, and Transparent.

Inspiration

“There have been production houses who have been led down the street to look in the window for inspiration,” co-owner and producer Peter Lang tells us. “Developers have brought architects to look at it. We sort of forget because we see it every day, but people do often say ‘it’s the most beautiful space in Hollywood’, or ‘it’s my favorite space,’ or ‘I want to live here.’ We tell them, we do live here, come on over.”

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Adam Sakellarides works in After Effects. The facility uses iMacs after finding they offer better stability as well as price/performance compared to the alternatives. A JVC broadcast monitor and a second system display flank the CPU.

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Lisa Rucker – editor, animator – shares an office with Adam. They collaborated on the widely viewed mograph piece about fracking, My Water’s on Fire Tonight.

Migration

Pictures in a Row started in 1995 “in an apartment above Sunset Blvd.,” and when they outgrew it moved to a spectacular, historic building also on Sunset that was once John Wayne’s office in Hollywood. “When we had to leave that office in the Hollywood Athletic Club (in 2006) we cried.” But the owners were inspired to go looking for a place they could own.

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A leafy oasis in the heart of the facility

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The koi were inherited from previous owner Ray Feeney and spawned on the day the building was acquired.

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The lunch room, adjacent to the courtyard

Serendipity

They targeted a modest building on Seward Street, and as they prepared to make an offer, noticed there were just 3 cars in the parking lot of the building across the street. Following this discovery, they inquired directly with owner Ray Feeney—effects wizard, motion control pioneer and Sci-Tech Academy Award winner (for the Solitaire film recorder used by Pixar)—and found that he was ready to sell the offices and effects stage and move on.

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These freestanding structures house editorial and production suites.

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Gregory Nussbaum’s editorial suite is a “corner office” with client seating behind the desk.

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His system is driven by a Mac Pro; because he favors Red Giant Colorista for color work, there is no color control surface on the desk, but Greg swears by his programmable Logitech G602 Wireless Mouse.

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Additionally, Greg relies on not one or two but three stylus-driven inputs. The iPad Pro is Lightning-connected with AstroPad, for color correction and paint work, and the Apple pencil provides the “best stylus experience on the planet.” There is also a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 and a Microsoft Surface device.

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On the positive side, the 64GB dual D-700 12 core Mac Pro lives in the suite because it is fanless and quiet. However, the attached Promise Thunderbolt converter for a 15 TB RAID, dual 4GB fiber connection and assorted USB drives do alter the minimalist aesthetic of the trashcan Mac.

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A fibre-attached 164TB RAID provides storage of footage and assets for the facility.

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Fibre enables 4k UHD connectivity.

History

Earlier incarnations of this facility included a photographer’s studio where (allegedly) the first photos of Marilyn Monroe, still in foster care, were shot. In the 1960’s, it housed Westheimer Optical, the effects facility that shot and composited space scenes for the original Star Trek Series. In other words, this is where the Klingons first attacked the Enterprise.

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The upstairs conference room continues the literary theme featured downstairs.

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A shared office with couch space for visitors.

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Richard DiLorenzo records talent in the booth behind him in Adobe Audition.

Creativity

To retrofit the building, false ceilings were removed to take the conference room to its full height. With the help of set designer Keith Greco, who had worked with Peter and Electra Lang, freestanding office structures were constructed under the roof, leaving a stage area which is still in use. Builder Eric Borne and 4 welders led by Alberto Miyares created this infrastructure over the course of the year. Essentially, everything glass and steel that is now in the space was added. “Someone would have an idea and Alberto would do it.”

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The bones of the former practical effects stage can be seen above the suites; this is where the USS Enterprise and other vessels were shot for the original Star Trek series.

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The smaller upstairs conference room

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Although dogs aren’t always so well represented as they were on this particular day, they are welcome. Here, Bobo guards the entrance.

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Violet reminds employees that filmmaking is hard work, requiring breaks.

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Zachary Nussbaum is, in fact, a mograph animator/designer, not the company dog-sitter.

Literary

Picrow is also unique for the number of books, literary and otherwise, found on its many, many shelves and tables. Explains Peter, “We have tens of thousands of books. In our old place, we built a lot of bookcases, and some of these came straight over from there. We had so many books, we needed a place to put them. Some rare books as well. None of them were bought as prop books.”

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Shelves of books transform an office into a study.

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Light decor

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The retro feel of Eames furniture and hard-bound volumes

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Co-founder Peter Lang and a motto on duty from Phillips Brooks.

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Peter’s background as a Harvard physics undergraduate leads him back to the writings of Richard Feynman. Yes, many of these books are actually read.

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“Somebody will be sitting in the conference room in a meeting and see a book, and want to go get it…. It’s not the normal thing in this business.”

Do you have a crib you’d like to see featured on Frame.io? Drop us a line.

Crib photos by Chinaedu Nwadibia and Peter Lang

  • Great feature yet again! What a great collaborative space this is! I love it, and thanks for revelling this company, I didn’t know them

    • EmeryWells

      Glad you’re digging it Boyan. We’re pretty excited about these. I’ve personally always been so curious to see inside other companies and now we can!

  • Sam Troz

    Awesome idea for a blog series! This is helping give our studio ideas for when we carry out rennovations.

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