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Audio-Visual Company Stays Cool Under Fire


When an early-morning fire struck the offices of Spectrum Sight & Sound recently, it was a matter of bad news-good news-bad news for the 5 1/2-year-old Hollywood-based company.

The bad news was that Spectrum, a small firm that specializes in corporate audio-visual presentations, had nearly completed a $50,000 videotape project for the annual meeting of Core-Mark International, a candy, cosmetics and tobacco distributor with offices in Los Angeles.

The good news was that the master tape, sound track, slides and other essentials were stored in a fireproof file.

The bad news was that the file fell through the floor during the fire and popped open. The contents suffered partial heat and water damage.

"It really put a crimp in things," observed co-owner Lori Lemons.

The Core-Mark production consisted of months of taping on location in the United States and Canada in addition to hundreds of one-of-a-kind slides that were to be transferred to tape--visuals that couldn't be duplicated in the few days Spectrum had before its deadline.

Lemons said that altogether about "point-one percent" of the Spectrum's effects, including company records and the Core-Mark project, survived the fire. But it was enough to keep Spectrum going. In hastily rented quarters, the company was able to treat and clean water- and heat-damaged tapes and slides with some fancy computerized "paint-box" enhancement and bring in other small shops in the area--including some of Spectrum's competitors--to help out with the reprocessing.

The crash program paid off: Core-Mark, which had flown executives from all over North America to Los Angeles, got its tape in time for the meeting.

Lemons said last week that the insurance claim is still pending. Spectrum, in new quarters, is restoring its facilities "a piece at a time" with more up-to-date equipment than it had before the fire. She noted that few small businesses bother with the expensive fireproof files, but in Spectrum's case, "It was worth every penny."

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