When you think about sound design or audio post facilities, you know them for three things; the quality of their sound designers, the quality of the campaigns they work on and the quality, style and high spec of their studios. The best have spent years finessing these areas of their business.
Audio post relies heavily on the best quality hardware - microphones, speakers, consoles, booths, servers, and more. With the entire creative industries adapting to new challenges around working from home, sound designers are facing one of the toughest logistical challenges yet. So, how do you take this work remote? We speak to Jungle sound designers Ben Leeves and Alex Wilson-Thames to see how their team have reacted to one of the biggest challenges facing audio post production...
Sound Design: Super Easy if Connected to High Speed Servers
What you may not know is that the majority of sound design can be completed if you have access to high-speed servers. “By linking up to our system remotely we can run sessions with clients and talent from anywhere, the same as if we were in the studio”, explains Sound Designer Alex Wilson-Thame. “Of course, before we were advised to close our doors we had already begun a contingency plan - starting to move the best transportable equipment safely into our homes.”
Microphones, consoles and computers have all been moved into engineers’ homes allowing them to continue sound design work as normal. Many producers and filmmakers are used to working remotely with their preference of sound studio and other post production facilities wherever they are in the world, so the process is not new. But for those who are new to remote working with sound, Alex advises, “It’s just about thinking differently. This is no different to the myriad of creative challenges that producers come up against daily. I think the key is recognising that this work is still possible and ensuring you are working with your sound designer as early on in the process as possible, so that they can guide you on the best process and timeline.”
Voice Overs : They Won’t Have a Sound Booth in the Lounge but they May Have A Good Mic and Heaps of Experience
Voiceover work and ADR perhaps present the biggest challenge in audio post when working remotely. When recording a voiceover it is crucial that there is no background noise, that the audio engineer can work with the talent remotely, and that they can get a clear recording on a good microphone.“Obviously, most voiceover artists and actors don’t have a sound booth in their living room,” says Sound Designer Ben Leeves. “Our preference would always be to have our talent working in a proper studio BUT that doesn’t mean it is not possible. Some voiceover artists have enough technical know-how and are talented enough that they can provide top quality recordings from anywhere.”
As many agencies and brands pivot their strategies to produce content remotely - using alternative production methods including animation, found footage or even repurposing content, the demand for good voiceover work is rising.“The important thing to do now is look at the talent who can deliver,” adds Ben. “Many experienced voiceover artists do their work on the move, from hotel rooms or with their own setups. The best will even own a portable ISDN and a good quality microphone. They will also know how to minimise background noise when recording. These are the type of artists you want to be working with right now.”
“Once we have secured that talent, then we work via video link to ensure they are recording themselves correctly with the equipment that is available to them. We’re currently developing a remote system that will even allow us to control their home set up in real time.”
Foley: No Need to Blow Up the Garden Shed
“Every house and garden is the ultimate foley workshop! If you have ever seen a foley room, you will know that it is mainly full of funny old household nic nacs,” says Alex.
Sound designers will still be able to record their own foley from home, in fact a lot of specialised effects tend to get recorded that way on weekends and evenings. And for the more extreme sound effects - you can’t be setting off fireworks, or exploding the shed - the Jungle team can still remotely access their main server containing one of the most comprehensive sound effects libraries available.
“What we don’t have in the house or garden we do have in our sound effects library. It has every sound imaginable and it is something we have always worked with on a day-to-day basis,” adds Ben.