Numbers Never Lie

THREE HUNDRED...the number of voice-over artists the company has, 13, many audio products they annually generate. Twenty-three...the number of foreign countries its clients hail from. 800 the number of broadcast advertising awards they have.

With numbers like this, it's easy to see why Norfolk's Studio Center is the world's largest commercial production house.

The new owner William Prettyman is intent on keeping it that way. The center has made a name for itself with clients such as McDonald's, AOL, Southwest Airlines, Lowe's, and locally, HRT. Prettyman is looking foward to expanding television production and also remodeling parts of the building.

Although Studio Center has offices in New York and Las Vegas, its headquarters are located at 200 W. 22nd St. [Editor's Note: Studio Center's home office has moved to Virginia Beach. Our new address is 161 Business Park Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23462. We've also opened a new office in Los Angeles, California.] The previous owner, Warren Miller lived here and so it naturally became the base for his operations.

But Prettyman says there's another reason why the company headquarters is here - and will stay here: It's a "pretty fertile environment for talent."

Locals make up a large portion of the talent pool, although the company does use national celebrities on occasion. Boasting some talent that has been with the company since it's inception in 1966, Studio Center can fulfill any imaginable request from a client.
The popular Kristi Michael explains: "You get a feel for what they want, they give you direction, (saying) whether they want a sexy read or a friendly read," and you take it from there.

Michael believes it's not just the voice talent that makes the company so successful, it's their marketing techniques and facilities.
Lee Lively, who has been with the company since the beginning, agrees and credits the company's success to Miller. He became "the best direct mail marketer (in the industry), and in doing so, expanded the market from local to statewide to regional to national and worldwide. The things that have been mailed from this building have brought business."

What marketing didn't do, superior technology took care of.

Equipped with Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and state of the art digital equipment, the producers at the center can communicate with clients and talent in Memphis and Las Vegas simultaneously in a sort of digital three way without diminishing the quality of sound.

Their site ( boasts that "if 'a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it' does make a sound, our expert sound designers can create it for you."

Audio dilemmas aren't a problem either. Prettyman explains: Take the movie Miss Congeniality. They shoot the video in L.A., and it comes out fine, but the audio is muffled. They can fix the problem in the studio, and drop the sound right in, without re-shooting in L.A.

Producer Trent Toner believes this is part of what makes the company so appealing. "People use us because we know what we're doing and we've been doing this for a long time."

Kissea Hall
Portfolio Weekly