Richard Donaghue, senior audio producer at GPS shares tips on the best working from home sound solutions from the team.
There’s no denying it. Covid-19 has thrown us a right googly (or curveball, if a cricketing idiom is likely to leave you stumped).
For an industry that’s constantly evolving, utilising new technology, and adapting to each new project or client, we tend to hate or, at the very least, be incredibly resistant to, change (turns out that some of us working in this business are human after all). But change isn’t just going to come - it’s here. For the short term. The long term. Permanently.
Okay, that’s nothing new. The media and advertising landscape in 2020 is almost unrecognisable to how it was prior to 2008. The recession saw giants fall and new contenders rise, driven and enabled by technology and the need for efficiency. At the same time, cultures shifted - people were looking for, and demanded, something different in their lives. Faster internet connections made the world a smaller place and, along with smartphones and social channels, changed the way we created and consumed media in all its forms.
So what’s all this got to do with sound?
Well, it’s all these economical, cultural and technological changes that have stood us in good stead for the current crisis. You will have noticed from all the posts across social media –post-production has adapted staggeringly well. (In fact, on many projects, the ‘post’ in ‘post-production’ has long been a misnomer.) And our (virtual) doors are well and truly open.
But while ‘WFH’ hasn’t quite resulted in the rulebook being torn up, it has certainly transformed the game and ultimately means that we’re having to do things differently. In other words, to (gulp) change.
The sound studio can be a uniquely collaborative, fun and engaging environment, where everything is subjective and therefore open to be discussed and challenged. Rightly or wrongly (okay, definitely wrongly), it’s also one of the final steps in the process before a project is released in to the wild. As such, the studio is the place where you truly feel everything coming together, the place where all the blood, sweat and tears finally feel worth it, and the place where life’s injustices are put right over a maki roll and some edamame beans (funnily enough, in the past two weeks, all those essential lunch time bookings seem to have dried up).
So how are we managing audio production and audio post-production differently? And how are we adapting to ensure that we continue to offer our clients our unique range of services?
- Firstly, it’s business as usual (almost). We’re continuing to offer a full, end-to-end post-production service. Albeit without amazing coffee.
- All of our sound designers are available to work from home. So you get the same award winning talent as you would do if you booked a studio at either our London or New York facilities.
- All of our sound designers and transfer engineers are able to “remote in” to our physical studios or work locally on systems we have provided to ensure they have a fully spec’d home studio with full access to our servers, infrastructure and extensive SFX library. So they can continue to work as a stand-alone department and collaborate fully with our visual departments to ensure we continue to offer our end-to-end, joined-up approach to post-production.
- It’s not our first rodeo. We’re no strangers to recording voice overs remotely, with or without physical client attendance. See our tips below on how to make the remote recording process as smooth as possible.
- We continue to offer a full audio production service, including worldwide voice casting, radio and podcast production, plus music searches and licensing.
- All of our producers are working from home, ready to talk about any upcoming projects you may have and the bespoke, creative solutions we can offer to clients.
To those remote recording tips:
- Find out what recording equipment and home studio set up your voice over has. Sometimes they may have superior equipment but be recording in an acoustically poor space, or vice versa.
- Ask for a test recording once you have shortlisted your voice overs and send them to us to assess quality. And just like any remote recording we did before, we will run a test with them ahead of the session and offer advice where necessary that will improve both the quality of the recording and the ease with which the session runs.
- Under current circumstances, every recording session will run differently and be dependent on a number of factors including the requirements of the job itself; the set-up, equipment and connection capabilities of the VO; the number of people who want to listen to the recording and how they are able to listen in. We need to know as many details in advance of the recording in order to offer the most suitable and practical solution.
- Allow more time! Allow more time ahead of the session for tests. To devise and confirm recording solutions. To resolve potential connection issues. For the actual recordings to take place. Allow more time, depending on the recording solution agreed, to listen back to takes, and to review mixes.
- Ensure the entire team is aware of the procedures that are in place. Ensuring a clear understanding of the processes and maintaining strong communication links before and during the recording will only make for a better outcome and, hopefully, maintain that unique studio environment.
- It’s business as usual. Almost. While most audio services remain the same, every recording will be different, and a clear understanding of the new process is important.
- At this time, talent needs to pull together. Creatives. Clients. Engineers. Producers. We’re in a new normal and it will take time for everyone to adjust.
- Communication at every stage of the process is more important than ever.
- Check out our Lockdown Inspirations page to help sow the seeds of creative solutions in the age of Covid here