Studio 43: A Sound Treasure for 41 Years

Monday, November 10, 2014
Photo of students stretching a big yellow band
Students stretch a band to make sound for their project to re-create sound effects from a Harry Potter movie. ​Photo: Annastashia Goolsby.

The Broadcast and Electronic Communications Arts Department has a hidden treasure stashed in the basement of the Creative Arts Building: a state-of-the-art sound recording studio, affectionately called Studio 43, after its room number.

The studio was built in 1973, though the department has had some professional recording ability for radio, television and music since the ’60s.

To keep up with the speed of new technology the studio has received minor equipment upgrades every two to three years. In 2009 the studio underwent a total overhaul, where everything from wiring to walls were replaced or updated. This was the first total remodel since the studio first opened its doors.

Even more treasures were transferred from the studio space during the renovation. “We have master tapes of San Francisco bands since the 1960s,” said Professor John Barsotti, who both teaches in and oversees the use of the studio space.

Barsotti, who joined the faculty the same year Studio 43 opened and the same year he completed his Bachelor’s degree at State, remembers some fairly well-known folks who have used the recording studio. They include Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Eddie Money, who apparently recorded his demo there.

These days the studio is only for student use, specifically BECA majors in the Advanced Audio Production classes, studying sound design for motion pictures and post-production. Graduating senior Matt Strasser spoke passionately about how instrumental the studio has been in teaching him the hands-on skills that he will later use in the field.

“These studios are very important because this is where we learn (everything) — how to mix, how to edit, how to record,” Strasser stated.

Another aspect of the BECA studio classes that students enjoy is the closeness of the program itself — “There’s a cool kind of companionship that goes with being an audio student,” Strasser said.

Alumni of the Studio 43 family include Oscar-nominated sound editor Chris Scarabosio (B.A., ’90) and Grammy nominated producer and audio engineer Steve Miller (B.A., ’78), who recently returned to campus to talk to students and be inducted into SF State’s Alumni Hall of Fame.

Strasser and a close-knit group of seven other students are reworking eight minutes of sound from the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, noted for its complex mix of action, dialogue and music.

“(For major motion pictures) all the sound is redone in the studios. From every footstep to every ambiance to every word of dialogue,” Barsotti says.

—Lynn Brown


Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department

Photo caption: Students stretch a band to make a sound for their project to re-create all the sound effects from a Harry Potter movie. ​Photo: Annastashia Goolsby.

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