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I recently completed sound post production at Dreambase Studios on Verity’s Summer, a new feature film by Palme D’Or nominee Director, Ben Crowe.

Verity’s Summer is the story of a young woman’s journey from the security of childhood to the compromises of adulthood and moral ambiguities of love. It is also an intimate portrayal of a family coming to terms with the traumas and violence of distant war that are brought back home.

The film stars, Indea Barbe-WillsonMartin McGladeJames DohertyNicola Wright, and Christian Hogas and was shot on location in the North East.

The ambiences are very important in Verity’s Summer and I wanted to create definite ‘backgrounds’ for each scene. The coast is ever present in the film and so from a ‘sound tag’ point of view I wanted to make sure the sea sounds were distinctive and repeatable if necessary in order to reinforce the scenes.

I spent a weekend in West Wales recording lots of different locations for the film. I’d already spotted the film for what I needed to record but I took a rough cut of the film on my iPhone so I was able to get an idea of perspective there and then when making decisions on where to position the microphones for the best recording. I took many different sound perspectives from close up to the waves, to many hundred meters away, at times. I also took recordings of the countryside nearby as these also play an important part in many of the scenes in Verity’s Summer.

A chance recording I made of some sea birds defending territory on one of the beaches was also very useful in several scenes during post production. I chose Wales partly because it offered the same ‘sound feel’ as the visuals had suggested to me but also because it is largely free of interference from transport such as aircraft, motorways and trains. In fact, recording on location in many parts of Wales is, at times like having your own outdoor studio, such is the absence of external sound interference. And I also love visiting this area, so it was a good excuse for a short break!

Ambience recordings were combined with other sounds in order to subtly change the mood of the film as a scene progressed. For example, I was keen to make sure we had simple but dark textures in some scenes, particularly the more difficult dialogue subjects. In others, such as Verity’s garden I wanted to make the sound detailed and comfortable, as the garden is often a place of solace for her.

Among the many Foley sounds we recorded, were a variety of Trangia sounds for when one of the characters (Martin McGlade, as Castle) is eating in his encampment. My Dreambase Studios co-director, Mark Kenna enjoyed a lunch of cold baked beans and stale bread that day in order to complete the Foley recording for the scene, but once edited in it worked tremendously well and was absolutely necessary due to rain interference on the original production tracks.

Verity’s Summer premiered on 21st April at London’s Shortwave Cinema.

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I recently completed the sound post production at Dreambase Studios on British Independent Horror film, Harsh Light of Day. Directed by Oliver Milburn and produced by Emma Biggins at Multistoryfilms. I worked with them to create a dynamic, theatrical mix that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

SYNOPSIS: After returning home from the launch of his book about the occult, Daniel Shergold’s house is broken into by thugs, who beat his wife to death and leave him paralyzed. A depressed agoraphobic in his secluded country cottage, Daniel mourns the death of his wife while being cared for by home nurse, Fiona. He is unable to accept the lack of success the police have in finding his wife’s killers. Daniel accepts a visit from a mysterious stranger who insists he can help him reap revenge. He agrees and is thrown into a strange and horrific transition into darkness. With renewed strength, Daniel sets out to avenge his wife’s murder, but at what cost?

From the outset HLOD needed a soundtrack that was set ‘completely in reality’ one minute and then going ‘off on one’ the next. These dynamics were intended to give the viewer a full gamut of aural experiences, from a comfortable almost anodyne setting to uncertain, or at times excruciating pieces.

Shooting outdoors and on the coast presented the usual sound issues, so wild tracks, Foley recordings and sound design were used extensively to convey the appropriate sentiment in these scenes, from water lapping on a pebbly beach to the atmosphere of a dock yard. In contrast, the ‘sound’ of the house in the film is almost silent, again to emphasise the isolation of the cottage and to ensure the film exhibited plenty of sound dynamics.

The film’s producer Emma Biggins commented at the premiere: ‘the screening went really well tonight – looked and sounded fantastic’

HLOD is released in cinemas on Friday 13th April 2012 and the theatrical trailer can be seen here:

This is the theme I composed in Logic Studio as part of the overall sound design Mark and I did at Dreambase Studios for a theme park ride called Hoverchase 4D. It’s a breakbeat style intended to keep the pace of the ride from beginning to end, and to complement the speed of the visuals and the multilayered sound effects in the ride.

Hoverchase 4D was produced by Lightworx Media and is distributed by The Juice. The trailer can be seen here.

I’m in the process of designing a binauaral head with the aim of using it to capture sounds for some of the projects I work on, both commercial and personal. This might include ambience (winds, traffic hum, water, etc.) or even location dialogue. I know what you’re thinking – surely that’s just for playback on headphones? Well true, it’s at it’s best in that application. However I’m also experimenting with settings that will translate the location binaural recordings into effective audio sources for playing on normal loudspeaker systems. Binaural is already mono compatible though.

The head

So what happens first? Well I bought a polystyrene head off Ebay. I chose a man’s head because I couldn’t find a woman’s one that I liked and this example was suitably macho and ‘hi-tech’ – I think!

'Straight Outta Ebay'

Microphone mounts

I then fixed some large wood screws in each ‘ear’ of the head. These will be used to hold the microphones in position. I found the 5 x 70mm Screwfix ‘Goldscrews’ to be best for this purpose, with a sure-footed thread into the poly and enough diameter to spread the load in the relatively soft head material.

'Screwed'

The paint

I painted the head with some household paint that I had left over from decorating the cinema room. The Dulux ‘Potters Wheel’ matt emulsion gave a hi-tech [that word again!] look to the head.

'Paint Your Head'

The next time

That’s it for now. In Part 2 I’ll be painting it again (and maybe again), and I’ll be making the all-important ‘shock mount’. We will also look at the mics and various accessories that go with the head.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

I’ve recently been on location, recording sound for new Swindon-based film ‘Billiam’. It’s a story of how one brother literally met his other brother!

The film is produced by Bald n Hairy Films (Billy Rees and Doug Kirby) and also directed by Doug Kirby.

For part of the film the superb Oxford Brooks Ferndale Campus training centre in Swindon proved itself as an excellent film set with most props on site already. The film also has a number of external scenes shot around Swindon.

Some of the other internal locations (in normal houses and flats) posed challenges both from a camera and sound point of view, partly due to very limited space and poor acoustics. Once a small bathroom has a camera, tripod, lighting and actors there’s not much room for the microphone too but fortunately we managed to get some good sound in the end. Possibly the most cramped location was lying down across the back seat of a small hatchback car complete with sound mixer, recorder and leads draped on top!

A very tight, multi-location filming schedule meant that the first take was often the rehearsal, so all crew members and actors were kept on their toes in order to get it right first time.

Dialogue mics were interchanged between shotgun and hyper-cardioid, depending on the space we were recording in.

I’ll be completing the sound post on this film at Dreambase Studios later on this year so stay tuned for another Blog regarding that stage in the production.

The clip below is an out-take from one of the bar scenes in the film. Enjoy!

I recently had actor Richard Cambridge at Dreambase Studios to record his new commercial voice reel. To compliment Richard’s excellent and wide ranging vocal performances, I also added some sound fx and music loops to complete the commercial content. Also included is an example of Richard’s narrative.

I used a Neumann TLM-103 mic in to a TL Audio 5051 channel strip to record Richard’s voice. Sound fx and music were added as appropriate from the Dreambase Studios library.

The commercial spots were adapted and written by Richard himself and myself, in order to demo a wide range of creativity and delivery from one voice.

If you need a similar service for your voice reel or indeed any other voiceover, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and see what I can do to promote your talents.

I recently completed sound post on a TV commercial for Leo Abse and Cohen. The commercial is currently airing on many of the Sky channels right now and was produced in Bristol by Lightworx Media Ltd. I worked with Lightworx to sound design and turnaround a high quality TV mix in a relatively short space of time at Dreambase Studios.
Head of Programming at Lightworx, Jonathan G Brown, commented: ‘Absolutely sterling work on the mix, the client was very happy overall’.
You can watch the advert here (select ‘Leo Abse and Cohen Commercial 2011’ to view).