Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sound designer Scott Benson Explains How to Mix a Movie in 72 Hours, and How Sound Designers can work with Animators at Bucks

Bucks sound design student Scott Benson just recently finished mixing and editing the sound on a feature film  - all done within 72 hours. We asked him how he managed to pull of what looks like an insurmountable task, and also how our animators can get the best out of collaborating with sound designers to make great films here at Bucks.

The Confusion of Tongues

Bucks: You just recently finished mixing and editing the sound on an entire feature film - tell us about it!

Scott: yeah I have literally just finished! It's been one of the most demanding yet satisfying projects I've worked on to date, The idea behind it was that a whole feature film could be shot and edited within 72 hours. And, having personally stayed up for 60 or more of those hours, I'm proud to say that it's not impossible!

The Crew

I personally mixed the whole feature film as well as cleaning up all the audio and placing appropriate sound design where needed. The film was shown in the Imax cinema in Birmingham the same day it was finished, which was the most scariest thing ever, because i hadn't heard the sound after it had been rendered to picture. To my great relief it all went perfectly in my eyes; there were a few bits and bobs out of place here and there, but that is to be expected!

Sound Designer at work at Bucks

Bucks: What software did you use?

Scott: The software that I used was completely Pro Tools (Warren Bassett, my lecturer, would be proud of me!) Before starting at Bucks I had never used Pro Tools or even really wanted too, as I much preferred Logic, But when it comes to audio post production, in my eyes, nothing can hold a candle up against Pro Tools.

Bucks: How big a challenge is it to mix an entire feature film?
Scott: Mixing a whole feature film under normal circumstances is a huge undertaking in its own right, usually calling for a team of mixers each having their own jobs, but doing it with in 72 hours, that's crazy. But, as they say, pressure creates diamonds, and that couldn't be more true for this project. I really surprised myself at how well I worked and how fast! Even though it was constant non-stop mixing, I'd do it again in a heart beat!

Bucks: What should animators at Bucks do if they are hoping to collaborate with a sound designer?
Scott: When looking for a sound designer, there are a few main things to look for I think, and they are: 1. keenness and contactability. Now, it's all fine and dandy having the best sound designer in the world, but if they're not going to keep in contact with you then what's the point? Having someone who is keen will help to ensure the project's smooth running and completion on time.

The second would be, obviously - skill. Most sound designers will have worked on a sort of show reel, even if if its just muting their favourite films scenes and playing around with them. That's what I did; I didn't have much of a show reel when I started Uni, so I made one!

And finally, ask around, being on an animation course I'm sure plenty of your peers will have worked with sound designers and they'll know which sound designers collaborate well!

Scott Benson

Bucks: What is the single most important thing to know about sound design?

Scott: The single most important thing to know about sound design....this is a tough one, because I could go on for hours about technical specs of certain methods of additive synthesis. But, at the end of the day, knowing that won't get you a job, yes granted it'll help, but if you don't apply yourself you wont get anywhere, you can have all the knowledge and graduate with a 2:1 but if you haven't made contacts and built up your people politics you'll fall flat on your face. It's as simple as that, I can see it on my course, there are so many gifted students who could do so much, but they're not always applying themselves.

So, in my opinion the single most important thing to know about sound design is to know how to find work and make contacts who will last and grow alongside you, because without that, there is no sound design!

For more about the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks. And find out about how our online video tutorials work 

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