Post Production Showcase: Technicolor

We’re pleased to reveal that Technicolor is among the six post-production houses that have made the final list for the first ever Audio Media Post Production Showcase – a feature highlighting the varying work across the field of audio post-production for feature films, shorts, TV, and advertising.

Technicolor’s pitch comprised British cult sketch show ‘Cardinal Burns’.

We spoke to Technicolor’s Jules Woods, re-recording mixer of ‘Cardinal Burns’.

What was your brief/concept for ‘Cardinal Burns’?

Commissioned by Channel 4/Left Bank Pictures, the brief was to create a cinematic feel for the British cult sketch show starring comedy circuit favourites and award nominated Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns; this was achieved via full post production, including full sound editorial and mixing, colour grade, online editing, and VFX carried out by Technicolor.

What was the sound mix process like?

We worked with supervising sound editor Harry Barnes on this series of Cardinal Burns. To meet our brief, the show demanded a very rich tracklay. Along with the sound design and Foley, each episode was crammed full of commercial music, score, and of course the fantastically written dialogue. The amount of content that came together for each episode resembled more what you would expect from a feature film session! All these layers of audio that would create the sound we wanted from the show, however in turn this required that the balance of all these elements be incredibly detailed and handled with care throughout the series. The mix was fairly complex, due to the varying genres of each of the sketches and the specific style of sound design and mix that each genre required. We spent a day pre-mixing each episode, but the ‘magic’ really happened on the day of final mix, when the session was attended by the whole Cardinal Burns Team. It was a truly collaborative session. Seb and Dustin attended, as well as the show’s director, producer and several other members of the production who came together for the final mixes. You could see how personal the project was to everyone in the room; everyone had a vivid idea of how they expected each scene to sound. The sessions were full of excitement as the team heard the soundscape of their series come together.

Technicolor’s Jules Woods

Can you run me through the technology set-up?

The series sound mix was done on a Pro Tools|HDX2 system with Avid ICON control surface. I used a range of Avid and Waves plug-ins for controlling EQ and dynamics. There were some very noisy sections of location sound – including some dialogue shot under a bypass – iZotope RX2 handled the noise and artifact removal very well. Altiverb 7 from Audio Ease looked after the reverbs, not only do the built in impulse responses fit most situations, but the ability to import our own added to the flexibility. The loudness levels of the show were monitored throughout using Dolby Media Meter. The balance of every single sound element was so specifically mixed that I wanted to ensure that what the client heard at the review would be what they heard on TV. I didn’t want to have to adjust my mix to meet R128 after we had finished.

How long was the production process?

Each episode was given two days. One day for premix, and one for the final mix and review.

What special challenges did it present?

Each sketch in the series had a very distinctive style, and these spanned several genres of film and television, each with their own traditional style of sound that we wanted to replicate. This included an 80s cop show, a 90s game show, an interview style documentary, and a kids TV programme. Visually, the series had an incredibly cinematic feel and I wanted to make sure we could create an incredibly rich soundtrack to build on this beautiful film-like quality.

How was the response from the public?

The first series aired in 2012, and since then has won several awards. Cardinal Burns has become a cult series with a very loyal fan base. This, with the positive ratings it received, is a testament to the quality of the show. With sound as an integral part of the viewer experience, I am extremely proud to have worked on the series and be part of its success.

Lastly, what are you working on now?

I am very excited to be working on a number of high profile projects at the moment – Our Girl, Lewis, and Midsomer Murders to name a few.