SNK Studios are delighted to announce that having been Senior Engineer for almost 7 years, Rob Baker is now stepping into the newly created, Head of Engineering role.
Whilst Rob will still be getting his hands on the desk and working closely with clients, he will now be splitting his time overseeing our team of 12 in-house Sound Engineers, across a broad range of areas from a creative and technical perspective. Rob will be working closely with the team on continual improvement of workflows and processes, with a particular focus on internal development. He will also be working closely with our Booking and Production teams to plan for new projects and workflows.
We have no doubt Rob will add huge value to the whole SNK family here and ultimately to our client's experience; ensuring we continue to provide a world class audio service. It's a very exciting development and we all look forward to him getting stuck in - well done Rob!
This month the spotlight is on our Front of House Runner, Jack as we spent some time finding out some fun facts we never knew about him. Jack is a very familiar and friendly face around the Studios, and it is his job to ensure everything runs like clockwork. From setting up sessions, greeting clients to supporting some of the transfer and IT requirements, Jack is always on hand to get stuck in with the busy day to day running of the facility. He also makes a mean cappucino!
What is your favourite way to unwind after a busy day at work?
My favourite way to unwind use to be getting a drink with friends, but as I can't do that as easily now I'd say it was either going for a long walk or cooking a big meal.
How would you define 'success' in life / or at work?
I would define success through happiness, as long as I am content with what I have done then I'd say I am successful.
If you had the chance to do away with one piece of modern technology, what would you abolish and why?
Bluetooth headpones! I have finally made the switch to a phone without a headphone jack an I find it so frustrating!
Which storybook / carton character are you most like and why?
Carton character I'd sat Wile E Coyote from The Looney Tunes (the one who tries to catch the Road Runner) as I can often get obsessed with a goal, and while my creative plans may not turn out the way I had planned- they are often fun to watch unfold.
If you had to have one song on repeat forever, what would it be and why?
As the other Dubbing guys know very well, the song I'd happily have on repeat is Friday by Rebecca Black. Always brings a smile to my face and I love tormenting the guys by playing it at work every Friday.
3 things on your bucket list?
I can't decide! Lockdown has made me realise there are so many places to go and things to do that I couldn't possibly narrow it down.
SNK worked alongside the awesome Octagon agency and Oscar nominated director, Peter Cattaneo to sculpt creative sound design and take care of music & dialogue editing along with broadcasting mixing the various spots. The hilarious TV spot features ex footballer Peter Crouch explaining the ‘New Normal’ and how it affects the return of football. “Sanitised balls? Surely a post-match shower would do it.” has to be our favourite line
This month the spotlight is on one of our Sound Engineer’s Ben, as we sat down (from a social distance) and quizzed him on what makes him tick in life both inside and outside of work. Not only is Ben an award-nominated ADR Mixer, he’s also clued up in the department of sound design, and editing and mixing ads making him an invaluable asset to the SNK team.
What’s your go-to productivity 'tip' or 'trick' at work?
Putting the phone away! Also turning off notifications or putting it in silent mode so I don't get distracted by these intrusive nudges. Tighter deadlines usually help as well, which is usually the case for me as short form and ADR work constitute the main jobs I work on on a regular day.
If you could have dinner with four people, alive or dead, who would it be?
My late grandfather who was an accomplished musician and whom I would have loved to discuss my day to day with.
Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson, who are great debaters and who I believe have very interesting opinions on a lot of different subjects.
Does "not born' count? Because I would like to have a chat with my great great great grandson/daughter/person to take a sneak peak at whether humanity overcame today's challenges or not, and in what way.
Tell us your favourite project to date you've worked on and why?
I would say working on the second series of "Hanna", which I recorded the entire ADR for. It was amazing to be part of such a huge project and take care of the recording from start to finish. Also working closely with ADR Supervisor, Adele Fletcher was definitely a highlight for me!
What couldn't you start your day without?
Glass of water down the throat. Bang. Your eyes open instantly after that.
What is the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
You should always give your best, even for things that appear trivial, as well as being courteous and fair in your work. I guess it's more from personal experience, but basically work opportunities can come from anything and anyone. There is no project that should not require your full attention once you agree to work on it. Sometimes you get really interesting work from the people you least expect. Also, I like to think that someone could pull out anything I ever worked on and that I would know I gave my best to make it sound as good as possible.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ok this one is a bit of a weird one, but I wanted to be a veterinarian that specialised in dolphins. I had a thing for dolphins - loved them. I had dolphin posters in my bedroom, a dolphin pillow cover, dolphin toys, the whole lot. I got sick of them eventually, even though I still think they're pretty cool.
Here at SNK Studios we’ve been trying to figure out how we can best support the Black Lives Matter movement in ways that will make a genuine difference.
There’s fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, but we realise that action is the only way to move towards true equality. We recognise that silence hinders progress and so we’d like to make our stance clear.
We at SNK Studios stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
No person should have to live in fear of the authorities, have fewer opportunities or experience abuse and judgement based on the colour of their skin. Racism has no place in today’s society.
The immediate action we have taken is to create an open forum internally based on the principle of allyship to share resources that will help us all learn and educate ourselves on the scale and severity of the issue.
This is just the beginning for us. We encourage all suggestions from our team and any difficult or uncomfortable conversations that happen along the way, as we question our privilege and educate ourselves.
We’re not perfect, but we will talk, listen and learn together about how we’re going to play our part better in the future.
All lives will not matter until Black lives matter.
In the past week, 8D audio seems to have gone viral with everyone wanting to know exactly what it’s about and if it’s something new they can use in their advertising, content or music.
IRIS seemed to kick things off and it wasn’t long before I was sent the 8D Spotify playlists.
At SNK Studios along with our partners at Red Apple Creative, we’ve been producing ‘immersive’ or ‘3D’ audio for years. One of my favourite campaigns was a collaboration with Spotify and BBC Studios for Sir David Attenborough's Seven Worlds, One Planet nature documentary.
We produced seven spots using the distinctive sounds from each continent to create a disruptive and wildly immersive campaign, an example of which can be heard here (best experienced through headphones).
So when I heard of another dimension being added, I asked the experts who make music and immersive audio everyday, what they thought.
Here are some of our sound engineers’ responses on 8D audio:
Ben Darier - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
Here is a quote from IRIS website: “This is achieved through a proprietary algorithm which splits out and increases the phase information sent to the brain”. So we know that they’re playing with phase. Listening to their A/B tests, it sounds like they’re boosting the mono signal and giving it a bit more warmth, making the voice sound a bit closer. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very similar to binaural synthesis (creating “3D” sounds from regular stereo sounds, like we do at Red Apple Creative). Nothing “8D” to it.
The 8D Tunes channel uses the same process but in a lot less subtle way, panning around the head of the listener (it actually sounds to me like it’s pendulating at the back of my head for some reason). It is just a little audio trick and doesn’t add anything to the music in this context as far as I’m concerned.
There is apparently 9D, 10D, 11D music on the market too, which could mean these musicians (or marketing directors) have found the remaining dimensions to make string theory valid?
More seriously, how can it be 8D when there are only 3 spatial dimensions as far as today’s science goes?
Rob Baker - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
To my ears, it sounds like it is using a very similar technique to our “immersive” or “3D” mixes. They have used a room reverb / impulse in a few examples with a mono source which gives the listener the sense of listening in a specific space. This method allows the sound source to move more noticeably around the space. We usually avoid this feature of the software when mixing for our immersive 3D audio as it doesn’t sound as clean and polished for an advert.
I’m confident 8D is a buzzword for an existing technology (and one that we already use). There seems to be a fair amount of audio processing going on - spatial processing using phase effects, room reverb / impulse response, EQ and overall signal / level balance. Some of the 8D audio is nicely detailed and well treated, but it’s more showing off the effect than improving the music. I would imagine Dolby Atmos to binaural downmix is being used in a few cases.
Personally I don’t see much point in 8D music where it’s slowly panning around the listener’s headspace as, for me, this makes the track sound a lot worse. You also have to create a mono source from the original stereo audio which detracts from the music just to create the 8D effect.
Chris Bristow - Sound Engineer, Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
Yeah this just seems to be moving effects with essentially the same treatment we currently use for 3D audio. Whilst it might make it feel maybe more engaging as your brain is forced to follow the sound, there’s definitely nothing going on that is technically different from what we use for current spots, it’s all just turned up to 11 as they say. I think it’s safe to say that this is a marketing buzzword - I think overall it just takes away from the music a fair bit!
Al Bolt - Sound Engineer Red Apple Creative and SNK Studios:
I’ve never heard of it. I’ll caveat this by saying I’m usually pretty cynical with stuff like this, so apologies if anything comes across bluntly; but to me it’s not founded in any science and it’s just a bit of a marketing gimmick. I can’t find anything on the site that says what it actually does which is always a red flag - anything really geared towards high fidelity always wears details like this on its sleeve. Using my ears, turning on the ‘IRIS’ function just applies a bassier EQ, turns it up and gets rid of any panning (making it mono), their example of Wish You Were Here doesn’t do it any favours. This takes out any intricacies in the work that the mixer and mastering engineer would have done. On certain tracks it might sound more impressive, just because the EQ is more favourable to headphones, but this could be achieved by the EQ in your phone settings if you desired.
The 8D Spotify playlist seems to me to be just ‘3D audio’ (binaural) - someone has spun the track around and added their own sound design, just a bit of a fun idea really, much less disagreeable than ‘IRIS’ (the name is just a bit misleading).
There’s no indication of what IRIS is actually doing - there’s nothing we couldn’t do with existing spatial audio techniques that we use for our ‘3D audio’. The 8D playlist is just someone having fun with a spatial binaural panner. It’s just buzzwords.
So there’s the verdict: 8D audio is nothing new and in some cases, it’s making binaural or standard immersive and stereo sound worse.
Finally, I decided to put it to the test and asked our resident composer superstar and sound engineer wizard, Ben Bell to make one of our SNK Publishing Library tracks 8D.
We have a long-standing relationship with Crisis, the national charity for homeless people. Crisis has decades of experience working with people who are homeless, providing support to help rebuild their lives.
Protecting yourself against Coronavirus is harder when you’re homeless; People who are sleeping rough are more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions, they can’t regularly wash their hands and it’s impossible to self-isolate. So, what can you do to help?
Crisis’ In This Together Homelessness Emergency Fund will get vital care to vulnerable people. Crisis are keeping their doors open, delivering essentials packages to homeless people - packages that include food, tissues, hand sanitiser and hard copies of the latest Government health advice - as well as providing people with mobile phones so they can stay in contact and informed. They’re also supporting and funding local grassroots charities and shelters with emergency grants.
Mass sporting events like the London Marathon are essential sources of fundraising and their cancellation could have a massive impact on the essential work of many charities, but virtual events could be the answer. Crisis’ Step Together online step challenge has been extended into April. You can set your own step target and ask your friends and family to sponsor you. Each step target you can choose from represents a key fact from Crisis research that informs their invaluable work. Use your daily exercise to do some good!
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Now more than ever we value donations to keep our frontline services running, and to support smaller, local homelessness charities with their emergency response in these unprecedented circumstances. We know that with the public’s support we can protect people facing homelessness from the worst effects of this outbreak.”
There’s never been a better time to start watching a new show, or that film you meant to catch at the cinema but never got around to seeing.
While COVID-19 has resulted in the delay of productions and the postponement of many theatrical releases, including the latest James Bond installment No Time To Die, it’s not all bad news. Some studios are choosing to release their titles digitally so we can watch from the comfort and safety of our own homes.
Recently released films, plus those to due for release soon, available well ahead of the normal digital release schedule include:
The Call of the Wild
DC’s Birds of Prey
The Trolls sequel, Trolls World Tour
Pixar’s latest creation Onward, which will also be available to stream on Disney+ in April
Not forgetting everything that BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 Netflix, Amazon Prime and now Disney+ have to offer!
With so many streaming platforms out there it’s difficult to know where to start, so we thought who better to do the hard work for you than our sound engineers and producers? They’ve crafted original audio for thousands of hours of TV and cinema, so we picked their brains for their favourites.
Here’s our team’s recommendations for some of the best films and TV shows to stream right now...