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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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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Crib photos by Chinaedu Nwadibia and Peter Lang