Full English worked closely with directors Erin Sanger and Taylor Hess in the post-production stages of the film to create powerful, yet subtle sound design with a crisp final mix to fully engage viewers and elevate this passionate story.
Full English Post announces that it did the sound design and post-production audio mix for The Crossover: The Story of Laurence Moses Bryant, which took home the Best Genre Short Film honor from the 2019 Mammoth Film Festival.
I don’t need to tell you that podcasting has blown up again and with heavy hitting content like This American Life, Serial, and Mark Maron’s WTF it’s easy to see why. Content is better than ever. But with an influx of great content and more listeners comes a lot of crap and poorly produced podcasts in a saturated market. Anybody can buy a $50 microphone and start recording, and in fact, with increasingly popular companies like Anchor, you don’t even need the damn microphone! This offers amateur users great accessibility and a lot of interesting and niche content. As a result, you might be wondering, “how can I stand out from the crowd?”. I’m here to answer that question and take you from a bedroom podcaster to a studio quality podcast pro.
Moving 3,000 miles from jolly ol’ England to Brooklyn was definitely a challenge. So, when the opportunity arose to move my post production audio studio from Gowanus to Crown Heights, just 3 miles away, I didn’t even bat an eyelid! This entry of The Pub discusses the how and why I scaled up my Brooklyn based post production studio to a larger facility.
I personally hate the word ‘entrepreneur’. To me it conjures up images of wannabe rich people just trying to think up ways to create the next fad and make their millions. I’m sick in my mouth a little bit if somebody introduces themselves as an entrepreneur at a networking event but perhaps that’s just me. By definition an entrepreneur is; a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
For this month’s post on The Pub I thought I’d bring it back to basics and explain exactly what it is that I do. A lot of friends, family and first-time acquaintances assume I do ‘something in the music industry’. While there is music in the work I do, I rarely work anywhere near the music industry! This article will discuss what sound design is, the tools and processes involved and how sound designers contribute to the final stages of content creation.
Sound engineers don’t have the best reputation for being pleasant, bubbly folk that just love to go out their way to do you a favor. We’re grumpy bastards. If you’ve ever been to a music gig you would have no doubt noticed the pasty-skinned, long haired, black T-shirt wearing (usually Metallica or Led Zeppelin), slightly sweaty guy behind the mixing desk furiously fiddling with knobs and buttons. I say ‘his’ because there is a serious lack of female presence in the sound engineering industry...but that’s for another blog post. You’ve seen this person and I challenge you to find me one smiling. This goes for the type of sound engineer that I am too, a dubbing mixer (re-recording mixer) or sound designer working on post production audio for TV ads and films. We are seen less by the public eye but are grumpy on a different level. Shut inside a windowless basement staring at a screen all day playing the same 2-second audio clip over and over for hours, and grumbling about why there’s 11 people from the agency sat behind us for a simple voice over recording.
The term ‘Virtual Reality’ always reminds me of some cheesy 80’s or 90’s movie that involved chunky headsets and dreamed of a future with flying cars and household robots doing everyday chores. The actual reality is that we have self driving cars (thanks Tesla), household robots we can ask questions (“Alexa, stream Total Recall”) and chunky VR headsets. So, we’re really not that far off. Virtual Reality has actually been around for decades, mostly in the gaming world, but with the growth of head tracking headsets like the Oculus rift or even Google Cardboard with your smartphone, it has made the consumer VR experience accessible and more within reach than ever.
Music has always been sexy. And I don’t mean baby-making Barry White music. I’m talking about the industry, the stigma and characters that surround music. It’s cool to play, listen to or be involved in music. I guarantee even Mozart saw some action from the groupies in his time. Sound design is different though. Generally, audio for content has always leaned more towards the geeky side. Take the awesome sound design of the Star Wars movies...most people know it’s great and can recognise the famous lightsaber sounds but who actually cares how it was made?
WeWork, The Farm, The Productive; you may have heard of at least one of these if you have visited any urban dwelling in the last three years. If you haven’t, the term ‘co-working space’ or ‘shared workspace’ should have penetrated your eardrums at some point, perhaps whilst buying an overpriced organic latte from a trendy vegan coffee shop.
There is no simple answer to this loaded question. Designers and marketers will obviously tell you a hard YES with a bunch of good reasons why. A lot of startup blogs and entrepreneurs say to concentrate on getting the clients/business first before committing to the investment of professional branding. For me, and for a lot of small business owners/start ups, I was in a bit of a quandary about this catch 22 scenario.
Welcome to the Square Mile. This is the name I call my studio weighing in at a humble 77 square foot. 7’x11’ to be precise. So…what is one to do with so little space? Research is the first port of call. Most project and bedroom studios are around this size so there’s plenty of information out there on acoustic treatment and utilising the space efficiently. Using that information and translating it to a professional environment that is client friendly, acoustically sound and comfortable is a taller task than one might think though.
I’ve had the idea to start my own studio since I first showed interest in the audio realm when I was about 13. In fact, at the age of 14 or 15 my brother and my dad built a recording studio in the garage to have jams and make a bit of cash from recording local bands. I remember saving up for a Tascam Multitrack Recorder and being amazed by the fact I could solo each instrument in the demo track installed on the build in hard drive (that’s right, no cassette tape on this machine!). I started playing around with the EQ and reverb, changing levels and effects. I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning to mix! It was fantastic.
It’s no secret that a lot of my time in the studio is spent cleaning up dialogue. In fact, for a longform documentary I will generally spend more time on the dialogue tracks than on the sound design and mixing. This is mostly because the dialogue tells the story. It’s the main focus of a film introducing characters, setting the scene, and gives context to the content. This applies to films as well as talking-head/interview style docs. The trouble is that dialogue (as opposed to voiceover) is almost always recorded on location and depending on that location, determines how easy my life will be in post production.
There are a lot of how-to articles and videos on the net about building acoustic panels for your studio or control room. They're really handy additions to any environment that requires less acoustic reflections and they're cheap and easy to make. I need mine to tighten the acoustics of the listening position in the room I'm currently in. Generally I'm sound designing and mixing commercials for TV which can be less forgiving when it comes to quality control than mixing music. My goal is to make more of these with bass traps also but for now I just built two panels that will be placed at the left and right mirror points from my speakers. Quite honestly, the way in which I built these is not that different to everything else on the interwebs except I did mine in 100-degree weather with a PBR in hand in about 2 hours for $22 per panel. My point is that this is easy to do and shouldn’t be a gruelling or tedious process.
361 days of sunshine on average per year, a yearly average temperature of nearly 80°F (27°C) and a 74% average humidity per day. For a pasty skinned, slightly ginger-bearded sound engineer that spends most his time in a windowless basement, I will tell you that this is most definitely a climate change I am not accustomed to. Florida is called ‘The Sunshine State’ for good reason. Even when it’s a cool 90°F (32°C), the humidity puts the ‘feels like’ part of my weather app to over 100°F (nearly 38°C). Well, this is where I live now…sort of.