Meet audio producer & poet Stuart Russell – the second in a mini-series of posts, dedicated to the audio producers & artists whose work will be showcased at Solo Arts’ Audio Cinema night, Tuesday 2nd May 2018.
Meet Robert Cudmore, one half of YAP Audio Production, along with Matthew McLean. They’re the audio drama production company behind “Aftermath & Other Audio Drama Stories” which tells tales of the post-apocalyptic, horror, sci-fi and comedy; now blending their two-series post-apocalyptic drama Aftermath with a series of short, one-off pieces.
Ryan Watson, who runs the Juice Festival Blog, wanted to find out more.
Hello, Creatives! It’s not often I post about me on here, but today I feel compelled to. I’m honestly thankful for pretty much everything in life right now.
I’ll keep it brief.
So my name’s Jay, for those who don’t know me. I’m the guy who runs 99% Perspiration – the podcasts (both editing and hosting), the Facebook network, the Twitter, and this very blog. It’s a lot of work, and I love it. But it’s a third “job”, and it seldom gets the attention it deserves.
Juice Festival blog’s Ryan Watson caught up with me over lunch to chat all things creative, and why I make 99% Perspiration. (You can read part 1 of the interview here, where we talked about questions, interview skills and preparation.)
We chatted about networking skills, building up confidence, creative opportunities, and about the inspiration behind making 99% Perspiration.
Could you tell me about some of the challenges in building up the audience for 99% Perspiration?
Podcasts do take a lot of work, a lot of time to build up – you’ve just got to keep going at it really. I haven’t increased numbers as much as I’d originally hoped for, but I’ve increased numbers a fair bit since I began. We’re into the thousands now, it’s taken a long time.
It’s interesting that you say numbers have not gone up as much as you’d hoped by now…
Yeah, I was hoping to have conquered the world by now. (Jay laughs.)
I love my job. Maybe I don’t find the chance to make audio documentaries & dramas as much as I’d like to (and certainly not as much as I envisioned back when I was a media production student), but being an Academic Tutor of radio & teaching how to create strong audio documentaries is something that fills me with immense joy.
I love helping my students turn their interviews into something so much more.
It’s all very well & good that I can teach people how to edit audio. But then if you Google “how to edit with Adobe Audition”, there’s no shortage of helpful advice. What can I bring to add value? There’s a fine line between being able to edit audio, as in actually use the software, and being able to edit audio effectively.
So, drum roll please. This isn’t a “101” on the basics of Adobe Audition and editing, oh no. This “Top Ten Tips” is all about how to make the most of your speech content.
Mike Duddy is a freelance Sound Recordist / Post Sound Mixer / Audio Engineer, based in the North East of the UK. His recent projects include working on ITV’s Beowulf, the BBC’s Dumping Ground, and on various feature films.
Mike taught two sessions with our first year radio production students yesterday (where I lecture on audio production & journalism) on how to use boom poles effectively, and what to expect from a career in sound recording.
So, the essentials. “Being a boom operator is all about creative problem solving.” Mike explained the art of being as discreet as possible whilst carrying out the role on set, whilst seeking the best quality audio possible.
“A little difference in space makes a big difference in sound, so you have to get as close to the dialogue as possible, without getting the boom in frame.” They’re the very basic principles, of course, but the more you research and the more you practice, the more skilled you can become. Down to memorising the spacial qualities of each lens being used. That way, “if you hear a crew member shout out for a specific lens change, you’ll know instinctively how close you need to be.”
Mike asked the class what qualities they thought were essential to boom operation. Second suggestion in both groups; being tall. “Being tall is helpful, of course, but it’s not essential.” What’s more essential to the profession is patience, steadiness, an ability to pick up scripts and sequences, and most of all, top-notch stamina.
“You’re always chasing the best “polar pattern” (each different kind of microphone picks up a different shape of sounds around it). It depends on the actors, of course; Hollywood types are professional at repeating movements and delivery in the same way with each take.” But that’s not always the case, and a lot of the time he’s just acting on instinct to best capture the dialogue.
It must be a difficult task, to predict the movement of actors, but I was even more surprised when Mike revealed how he achieves this: “I’ve learned to read neck muscles, they’re usually the first sign that someone is turning their head.”
We’ve chatted about some of the fundamentals of recording sound, but what about the business end? Some students asked Mike about how easy it is to pursue a sound career in the screen industries.
“Broadcasting companies like ITV and the BBC take on very few staff across their TV projects, and mostly use freelancers. It’s standard to get on board with a fixed term contract, for instance my work on Beowulf was a 27 week contract.”
His advice mirrors Joanna Makepeace‘s recommendations in the latest episode of the 99% Perspiration podcast; “It’s mostly ad-hoc work – you’ve got to email producers, email line producers. You’ll often get work from knowing people, knowing sound mixers, knowing boom operators, knowing film crews; so get out there and meet people.”
“It is quite a competitive industry. There’s a lot of jobs, but a lot of people. Stay professional, keep emailing. Don’t pass up opportunities to meet people, to do work experience.”
“A lot of people say they’re keen to get into the industry, but many of them don’t get out there, aren’t proactive. You’ve just got to do better than the guy next to you.”
“I watch a lot of TV shows, and you can get names from the credits and shoot them an email. And then put yourself forward for shadowing, ask if there are any opportunities going…”
And finally, one of our students asked the all-important question of how much you can make from a sound design career working in TV.
“You can get up to about £300 a day working with TV crews as a boom operator. Which is better than a lot of professions!”
“And there’s a lot of work in commercials as well – there’s massive companies who spend millions on 30 seconds, so that’s great to get into; not just for sound, but for other industries too.”
If you want to find out more about Mike Duddy, and what it’s like to have a career in sound recording, make sure you check out his website.
Jam-packed episode for you this week.
On the 7th October, the Student Radio Association held training days around the country, inviting various radio professionals to give talks about their work, share their stories, and offer advice to tomorrow’s radio professionals.
And that’s exactly what 99% Perspiration is all about! We’re were lucky enough to be invited to the North East & Yorkshire training day. So if you’re interested in heading into radio/audio work – whether it’s presenting, producing, journalism, or voice over – then listen on. This is the podcast for you.
This Week’s Guests:
This week, a huge thank-you is in order to Steph Finnegan & Rute Correia, who recorded interviews. This episode of 99% Perspiration would not have been possible without them.
And until next time,
Stay productive, stay awesome!