The Jungle Studios sound designer takes us through his aural obsession

If I created a custom printed mug, mouse mat or T-Shirt – or rolled words into a stick of rock – it would simply say ‘I Love Acoustics’. Probably with a red love heart in place of the word ‘Love’…

Now you’d think an interest in the way sound moves in different spaces would be a short-lived love affair, but actually my fascination just keeps on growing.

And I’m not alone. Take a sound designer somewhere new and the first thing they’ll to do is clap their hands to hear the acoustics of the room. We’re people obsessed by what we can’t see.

Sound is invisible, but if you left me blindfolded in any location I’d very quickly be able to tell you how big the space is, what materials it was made from, the shape of the room and my physical position in it. Because sound doesn’t sound the same in every space. By recording a short ‘impulse’ in a location – a clap, the pop of a balloon or a starter pistol for instance – you can accurately capture the unique acoustic characteristics of that space. These recordings are called impulse responses and they allow sound designers to impose these unique characteristics on to other recordings. This is useful. There are many occasions where it’s necessary to re-record dialogue because the audio from a shoot wasn’t clear enough. So if your sound recordist has been diligent enough to capture an Impulse Response on set, you’ll be able to use it to help make the new dialogue sound exactly the same as the original. 

When architects design buildings they pay particular attention to how it will be used and factor in what kind of acoustic approach would be best.  For instance you wouldn’t want a church to be devoid of reverb. I’ve been in two modern churches (I knew they were modern because they didn’t have a spire). And whilst there’s no law that demands a spire on a church, only one of them felt like it was actually a church – simply because the sound reverberated for a long time. Conversely, reverb in poorly designed spaces make them difficult to work in. Open plan offices for example have been proven to lower productivity by 66% and a badly designed classroom impacts negatively on learning. 

But the toughest of all environments over the past year has to be the home recording studio – so hats off to all the voice artists who’ve become amateur acousticians during lockdown. It’s not easy removing your home of unwanted noise and reverb. Being surrounded by flat, hard plastered parallel walls, a floor without carpet and a window that seems to ring when you raise your voice isn’t great to start with.  Add in the lockdown puppy you thought was a good idea, the kids dancing to Go Noodle in the next room, the constant Amazon deliveries, the fridge hum, the boiler and the neighbours and there’s really only one solution – the airing cupboard. I’ve seen many a sweaty head in just this location over the past year and whilst they may be hot places to work they do make for pretty good recordings because they’re small and full of fluffy absorbent towels. 

Talking of home acoustics, artist Doug Aitken went overboard when he built his home in Venice, California. He designed it to be a living instrument – with microphones hidden in his staircase, tuned to have an ascending tone. His tables double as instruments, one made from hollowed wood chambers and the other from marble and stone bars. The foundations of the house have geologically sensitive microphones that detect tectonic movement, the rumbling of traffic and the tides, all of which are amplified into the house.

Acoustics affect us all. We all perceive the world around us through sound just as much as we do through sight – it’s just that some of us are more keenly aware of it. And some, like me, become obsessed. 

The reason I never tire of acoustics is because sound can sound so different in so many awe-inspiring ways – yodelling in the mountains, the ricochet of a bullet, the sonic boom of a jet breaking the sound barrier and the multitude of ways a symphony orchestra will sound in different halls.

I love to explore new places and capture their sonic characteristics. My favourite places to record are inside caves.

A couple of years ago I spent a week in Hope Cove, an area of outstanding beauty that has two sandy bays and, luckily for me, many caves. Caves are magical, not just because they were once homes to our ancestors or smugglers’ booty, but because of their acoustics.

The acoustics in a cave amplify every tiny sound and you become very aware of yourself. It can be un-nerving and you feel utterly alone. Unless of course you’re not and your ‘adorable’ little boy is throwing pebbles into the darkness, narrowly avoiding your head (most of the time). 

In fact, Britain’s coastline is full of haunting sounds that heighten your aural senses – the wind, the breaking waves, the gulls shrieking and the seals with their lamenting wails. At the coast you become intoxicated by sound.

So, it’s no surprise that the coast is rich in folklore, and from the many tales I’ve read it’s become apparent to me that sailors are the most superstitious people on earth, or sea for that matter. And a lot of that superstition is driven by sound.

They believe that whistling on a ship will summon a storm, that a Siren’s singing lures people into the sea to drown and boats to crash into rocks, that seagulls carry the cries of dead sailors and that seals come ashore and take human form.

Sounds’ invisibility has led to many superstitious beliefs and not just amongst sailors. There are many architectural buildings where sound travels in mysterious ways and creates audio illusions – domes, staircases, elliptical rooms and arches. These architectural wonders can make whispers travel for unexpected distances, make footsteps moving away from you appear to get louder, create incredible echoes and even change the colour of sound and turn it into something new.

The Mayans were great architects and many of the places they designed create amazing acoustic effects. By clapping your hands near the bottom of the steps in El Castillo, a pyramid built to honour the God Kukulkan, it returns an echo that sounds like the call of the Mayans’ sacred quetzal bird. Modern architects understand why this phenomenon occurs but is it somehow possible the Mayans designed this intentionally?

So, I wish more spaces were designed to enhance our aural experience. Because, as I think I’ve already mentioned – I Love Acoustics.

Anyone for a stick of rock?

The Jungle sound designer shares how the industry is evolving, and his favourite sounding places in the world

Thinking in Sound is a new feature that delves into the minds of the industry’s fantastic music and sound specialists, showing us just how creative this part of the industry is. We dig into inspirations, passions, and approaches to work, whilst also getting a taste of how the industry is changing.

In this interview, we speak to Jungle sound designer Dominic Dew about how the industry has evolved over the years and his favourite sounding places in the world. 

LBB > How did you first get into sound and music? 

Dominic Dew > I guess I always had it in the back of my mind. But back in the day when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I didn’t really know anything about the sound world at all. It was very difficult to really fathom what opportunities there are in sound other than being a musician. I assumed I wanted to be a music recording engineer but the reason I got into the post production side of things was because a friend of mine recommended it to me. So, in a way, it was accidental!

LBB > What tends to be your natural approach to a new brief / project? Where do you look for inspiration? 

Dominic > It’s a tricky question because every brief is different. But also, the specifics on a brief are not necessarily always there at the beginning of a project. I do find that a lot of projects you work on, when you talk to creators, they’re still not quite sure how they want something to progress or how they want it to sound or look. And so it’s a bit of a journey. For me, the most important part of any project is to try to get a feeling for the people you’re working with, and learn what makes them tick. From there, you can hopefully offer up ideas that will allow them to get a clearer picture of what they are looking for. That’s the beauty of the creative process and working as a team of people – you help each other find a solution.

A typical example is when I worked on the Peperami ads. The clients and the creative hadn’t really decided how they wanted those three sausages to sound. So I did several sessions with the voiceover playing around with each different character: the beef, chicken and pork sausage. They needed to sound distinct from each other but they also had to have a similarity – as if they were all part of a multiple personality. So we created these personalities through the voiceover experimentation, which the animator could then use to create the look of the characters in their respective scenes. 

Screenshot-2022-01-27-at-12.22.58.png Screenshot-2022-01-27-at-12.22.58.png

Atomic London – Peperami “We Are Animal”

Atomic London – Peperami “We Are Animal”

LBB > So do you prefer to be left to your own devices when you work or do you enjoy being collaborative?

Dominic > My favourite way to work is to have some time to get my head around the project first and create a few different options before getting feedback. I think it is a nice way to work – to give a sound engineer time to put their own mark on something. Once you’ve got enough material in there to critique, then it’s nice to have the creators in with you. If you’re in a room with five clients behind you talking and commenting on sounds you’re auditioning but not intending to put in, it can slow the process down and sort of becomes counterproductive. A lot of the sound process can be quite irritating to listen to for the clients too – if you’re looping something over and over again, applying different filters to it, for example. I don’t want to drive them crazy so if they’re in the room I tend to wait to do that part – which hinders your creative process. So that’s why I find it useful to have that time to myself at first.

LBB > What have been some of your most memorable projects so far?

Dominic > Sky Living wanted to create a big brand ad and it was all about trying to play with really, really strong sound design. And with the track they wanted it to be almost non existent to start with, but then grow and present itself towards the end until it kind of blasts into existence. So that was a really nice project to work on from a sound perspective. It was all just sound design and music. 


Sky Living – Brand Promo

Sky Living – Brand Promo

LBB > How do you feel that the role of sound and music changed over the years?

Dominic > When I was a kid, we all used to talk about ads. Because they were all quite good – there was a lot of humour in advertising. And there was a lot of risk taking. I do feel, personally, that advertisers are very worried about offending anyone now. So these days you do find that a lot of the time all of the humour is stripped back to the point where it’s lost. And an ad is no longer really a talking point. I think we’ve moved away from interesting content with advertising. Not all of it, obviously, but I think that there are far less ads that people talk about. Weirdly, there used to be something about advertising that you always used to look forward to in an ad break. We could probably get back to being a little bit more risque with advertising. What offends one person and doesn’t offend four million is probably not offensive. I think that anyone who gets a single negative comment from anywhere just goes, right, let’s just pull that. Which is a shame.

Then there’s things like YouTube and online content where you now get the option to skip an ad after just a few seconds. So there’s definitely a move towards trying to make that first four seconds of an ad count and give all of the message that it needs to. As long as you can make that first five seconds as punchy and memorable as possible, then I guess advertisers are hoping that that will do the job.  But I personally think within four seconds, there’s very little you can do creatively to make something memorable. Anything that’s memorable needs time to develop a story. 

LBB > And how has your own relationship with music and sound changed over the years?

Dominic > There’s an awful lot of stuff that’s changed in what you can do with things like audio plugins and the emergence of new technologies. What used to take an hour to do, you can do in a matter of seconds now. And you have limitless different parameters – you can transform a voice, for example, from being in a recording booth to being in the Albert Hall or being in a tin can. Plugins can emulate hundreds of different scenarios so you can pretty much put anyone in any situation within seconds. 

LBB > Are you much of a collector when it comes to sound?

Dominic > I certainly like to record stuff. I’ve got this little handheld recorder which is a really lovely little piece of kit – it’s lighter than a phone so you can pretty much take it wherever you go. And every now and then I find myself in a place or scenario that I think sounds really nice and I’ll just record it. Particularly sounds that you can never really find in a sound effects database. It only takes two minutes to set up and record and then you’ve suddenly got a sound effect that you can use above the stock sound effects. As a lot of the main sound effects libraries are American, if you want a park in London you’ll only have American kids running around and American sirens and things like that. So it helps to have your own for authenticity. Different parts of the world sound different.  I took my recorder to Marrakech and it’s the most eclectic sounding place I’ve ever been in my life. Everything’s echoey, it was the most incredible thing to record. 

LBB > Is there anywhere you’ve not been yet that you’d love to visit from a sound perspective?

Dominic > I went on safari years ago in Kenya to the Masai Mara. That was pre-digital handheld recording devices so I’d love to go back there and record as much as I can. It’s such an extraordinarily different world and the sounds at night are incredible as there’s no sound pollution – no planes, cars or anything so you can capture the sound of nature. 

LBB > Lastly, what hobbies or passion projects do you have outside of sound and music?

Dominic > So, Jungle until lockdown was a Fairlight studio, which is impossible to use outside of the studio environment. All the engineers at Jungle had to rapidly install and learn ProTools practically overnight. In fact, my first ever ProTools session did happen overnight – on the night that the full lockdown was announced in March. I did the sound on the first Chris Witty/Mark Strong TV broadcast at about 3am that morning so that it could go on air the following day.

So, without doubt the biggest challenge / project that I have had recently is running sessions remotely, recording VO’s who are also at home, so that everything can run like a normal session, with clients listening in and directing, all to picture. On completely new-to-me software!

In many ways, I believe that it’s one of the best things to have come out of lockdown for me, in that Jungle has transformed into a ProTools studio. And I’ve been able to use this as an opportunity to learn a whole new DAW which I’ve been wanting to do for years!

The Jungle Studios sound designer reflects on the rapid lessons he had to learn back when Covid first separated him from the ergonomic perfection of his professional studio, almost a year ago

Before attempting to climb a mountain it’s important to get yourself in great physical and mental condition. You’ll also need the right equipment to aid your ascent and to keep you hydrated and well nourished. You should always prepare for the worst, the weather up a mountain can change in an instant and without adequate shelter and warm clothes you’ll never make it to the top.
Advice I wished I’d known last March. 

When the government announced we should work from home, the old me thought it would be impossible. The hardware we use at work could brave any storm but it isn’t portable. I considered moving into the office with a sleeping bag for what I assumed would be about three weeks.

However, taking the government’s work from home advice seriously, Jungle made a decision to switch to a new software-based system. Which fitted in my rucksack. Which meant I could transport it home on my bike to what was to become my Lockdown Basecamp. 

Until that day I hadn’t ridden a bike for nearly 35 years. It took me three trips and one near fatal accident to get all the necessary kit home. I’ve now learned that when you’re passing a white van and they indicate to say they’re turning, they’re not saying “Go on, be quick, come past!” No. They are in fact turning.

Finally back home, I was surrounded by a jumble of tech ready to set up Basecamp. A successful foraging trip yielded two trestles, a few different sized planks, a couple of paint pots to rest my speakers on and a wicker screen discarded by the neighbour. Four hours later my new studio was complete. However, as someone used to the ergonomic perfection of Jungle’s studios, it left something to be desired. 

First off, I couldn’t get my knees under the desk. My chair could only go backwards three centimetres before hitting the bed. Or forward three centimetres before skinning my shins.

It was Friday afternoon. My next session was on Monday morning at 9am. I only had the weekend to learn a completely new software and hardware system. I had a mountain to climb and I was staring into the abyss. Undaunted, I took my first steps. Heading to Google I demanded to know “What is Zoom and how do I use it?”… 

Monday morning arrived too quickly and suddenly my first ever fully remote session was upon me – 12 clients at home on Zoom. A voice over shrouded by a duvet in an airing cupboard somewhere in Camden. And me in my bedroom. Surprisingly, it went rather well. But after waiting three hours for the VO takes to arrive via WeTransfer I had to hop on my bike, dodging lockdown-avoiding white vans to collect them in person.

Now, when climbing a mountain, it’s important to stay in close contact with your fellow climbers. Our engineers WhatsApp group soon deteriorated into a stream of GIFs and jokes, until the person who would become my Spiritual Guide (Piotr in IT) told us that we’d all be able to communicate much more professionally via Office 365 – on something called Teams.

This was a vastly improved method. But for the next week he’d launch an avalanche of emails telling me to download yet another new device or app. After installing what seemed like the millionth bit of software with a twenty-factor verification code my head was spinning faster than ever. And I’m an ex break-dancer.

In a very short space of time, everything had changed. The gear I knew, the systems I was used to, the 23 years of files I’d stored – all now existed in a very unfamiliar, seemingly dark Cloud. It was as though someone had walked into the office and thrown everything I’d ever known out of the window. It was mentally exhausting.

In the first month I climbed the steepest part of the mountain. I was constantly booked and it was hard to catch my breath. I worked all day, long into the night and weekends. There was no respite. It seemed audio production was immune to a pandemic.

At the same time I was having to adjust to new lockdown distractions: my wife jumping around to Joe Wicks, my daughter walking to school each morning to stare forlornly at her empty school playground and my boy screaming, fighting and generally resisting any suggestions of learning.

Doomscrolling on the BBC News app was making me anxious and social media became my only window on the outside world. Instagram teased me with the possibility of another life. My wife’s cousin had sold everything, bought a small piece of woodland, built himself a cabin and gone off grid; no visitors, no work, no deadlines; just nature and a wood burning stove – which he kindly beamed daily into the bedroom I rarely left. I felt utterly trapped.

There were days when technology would fail me without reason, and I would strongly consider simply jumping off of the mountain. That’s when my spirit guide came into his own – like a Ninja he’d remotely log in to my computer, fix the issue and send me a wink emoji saying “Problem is Chris, now engineers need to be IT also! But don’t worry I’m here when you need me.”

Then one day, in the middle of a particularly stressful session, a thought suddenly struck me. At the top of my garden is a log cabin. My wife’s old office, vacated when the kids were born. What the hell was I doing in my bedroom with grazed shins – and why had it taken me months to think of it!?

The final ascent from Basecamp to Log Cabin was the best thing I’ve ever done. 

Now, after three lockdowns, everything is obvious and astonishingly simple. I just wish I could go back to March 2020 and tell the old me not to worry. Climbing a mountain is tough, stressful, energy sapping and fraught with difficulties. But having overcome those obstacles I’ve been rewarded with more freedom, happiness and joy – and a job that’s as pleasurable as it’s ever been.

From my cabin I can see the whole of London and I’m surrounded by nature and my family. I feel blessed. And I no longer have need for my spirit guide.

…Piotr is typing…

Alex Wilson-Thame and Ben Leeves reflect on transforming the Jungle workflow in 2020 and what it takes to fundamentally change the way sessions work

2020 has seen every business accelerate full-scale transformation. Remote working is certainly the business trend of the year. However whilst many in the creative industries like agencies, PR companies and VFX companies were able to easily transfer work online, quite typically the world of sound design has always been centred around physical studios and physical hardware. From March 2020 onwards those studios had to adapt, and fast. Many jumped on innovative solutions in the forms of portable kit and remote sessions but these quick fixes needed to be made sustainable and seamless in the long term .

For the team at Jungle, they made a quick decision to completely transform their working processes at the height of the pandemic, in March. This not only required updating all hardware from Fairlight to ProTools which allowed them to keep working at the same capacity throughout the pandemic, but taking the leap to fundamentally change the way the entire studio operated internally and with clients. 

Managing Director Graham Ebbs explains, “It was funny because whilst we thought the pandemic might cause disruption for some time, I initially thought it probably wouldn’t go on past a year. But when we looked at the value of taking everything into the cloud we realised even if the pandemic went on past July 2020 it would be worth the full overhaul. But that meant not just the systems for our engineers, but for the entire production and bookings team as well. It’s clear now that remote working is here to stay across the industry. In terms of cost savings and work life balance we predict this could be the norm across the board. So, it was of paramount importance we could offer a seamless remote working solution for clients that could continue beyond the pandemic.”

In this interview, sound designers Alex Wilson-Thame and Ben Leeves take us through how Jungle overhauled their business in the middle of a pandemic and how they borrowed from the gaming world to make it .

Fundamentally Changing The Way We Do Sessions 

“When we first went into lockdown, we were quick to make the decision to upgrade everything from Fairlight to ProTools in order to enable us to be cloud-based,” explains Ben Leeves. “We’d been thinking about it for a while, and the lockdown just pushed us into action and helped us see with a bit more clarity. It took a good few months of planning and prepping throughout lockdown because of the amount of media that is backed up on a completely different system that needs to be transferred across.”

Alex Wilson-Thame adds: “ProTools is definitely more adaptable for remote working, which unfortunately Fairlight isn’t so we’re predominantly using ProTools going forward. But we will continue to run both systems for now. We do still have access to Fairlight in case we want to revisit a legacy project, for example.”


Krow – DFS ‘Comfy Carol’

Krow – DFS ‘Comfy Carol’

A highlight from December, Jungle worked on Aardman & DFS’ Comfy Carol for Christmas 2020

“During the transition to ProTools, it was just amazing to see how the staff members here adapted to a completely different system whilst still offering a professional service on new software that you don’t necessarily know the full ins and outs of yet,” he says. “Everyone’s been fantastic and learning something new has just reignited everyone’s passion.”

To get to grips with remote working and streaming content, Jungle was inspired by the gaming world. Ben says, “We’ve looked into the way Twitch users stream content and sort of incorporated it into our systems so that we could then share content. That’s how we got to a stage where we can share a picture and the engineer and so forth, within the Zoom call.”

“The next step will be the live mixing of video at the same time as the audio,” says Alex. “If the client wanted to see the voiceover, you can switch the camera over or be able to see everything at the same time.”

“Changing the fundamental aspects of our sessions while going into lockdown was a huge task for everybody” Ben says. “It would have been far easier to go into lockdown with a system that you know so it was pretty impressive to see how seamlessly everybody managed to transition to it. By May, we were working in a completely different way than we had been before March.”

A Boost in Productivity

Equipped with more powerful tools and a greater ability to work offline, Jungle have seen an unexpected boost in productivity, despite the numerous lockdowns. “We can effectively take a computer home with us, plug it in, and continue what we were doing in the studio,” says Ben.

Alex explains, “All of our new ProTools systems are portable. We’ve got the gear both in the studio and at home, so it’s literally a case of taking just the computer – the core of it – back with us. Now everyone is running on the same set up so we can work in sync without the disparities of different technological hold-ups.”

He continues: “We’re also upgrading our internet connection to the studio building to then allow us to access our servers quicker from home. Working on the cloud has been great because we’ve got such a big sound effects library with monstrous file sizes, so, before we had to take parts of the sound effects library on a hard drive home. Whereas now, everything is accessible from the cloud and I can access it at the same speed as I would in the studio.”

For Ben, “The key has been managing to smooth the process right down so that effectively if Alex was in a house in Scotland, and I’m in my house finishing a session, in theory – other than internet speed – Alex could open that session up in five minutes time and continue working on it. But we couldn’t do that when we first went into lockdown. So that’s been the best and biggest change.”

“We’ve been able to record 3D sound from home and there have been no problems with the client because I can send them the mix in real time at full quality,” Alex adds. “So working in lockdown hasn’t stopped the big creative jobs. It’s still quite a fluid environment and it’s surprising how how well it does work in a lot of creative projects.”

“I suppose a lot of people have gotten used to it now,” says Ben. “In my next session, I’ve got two VOs in the booth and all the clients are dialled in on Zoom so they’ll be up on the big screen so we can all see each other. Some people prefer it because you’re actually closer to the voiceover than you would be if you’re sitting in the studio – it’s more intimate in a way.”

“When we worked on the Take That concert for Compare the Market, the producer actually said to me it was actually easier organising it than it would have been normally because everybody’s at home. He only had to call them up as opposed to running around an agency trying to catch somebody in the right department. It was the same with the Little Mix one we did soon after, which got shortlisted for Best Virtual Gig at the European Music Awards too.”

iPads > Huge Consoles 

For the next step in 2021, Jungle will be looking closely at the hardware and how to incorporate their full upgrade into the studios effectively.

“At the moment, we’ve not been able to look into the hardware side properly because of lockdown,” says Alex. “Once we get back into the studios, we’ll be upgrading with new hardware. We’ve definitely pushed the current system to its max potential in the meantime though, even managing to work on the new feature-film length documentary, Audrey, on this remote system. Track-lay and sound editing was completed by our junior engineer, Hannah with theatrical and streaming dubbing mixes by myself.”

“We’ll be looking at what smaller studios need compared to the bigger studios, for example,” says Ben. “These big desks may be great on a film mixing stage but for most jobs you only need a smaller amount of faders, so we’ll be taking a look at the setups and hardware in each studio.”

“These desks take up a lot of space in a small room so you can minimise the setup and make it work more effectively,” Alex agrees. “Even on iPads, you can do everything you can do on a large format console but all from an iPad. It’s fantastic as a digital mixer.”

2020 has served up a new feature film version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ like you have never seen before. This retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic story from sister-brother directing duo Jacqui and David Morris is part contemporary dance, part audio play, part theatre production and a part feature film all in one.

In this adaptation, the novel’s well-known characters are portrayed by dancers and voiced by a variety of top acting talent including Martin Freeman, Simon Russel Beale, Daniel Kaluuya, Carey Mulligan and Andy Serkis. The narrative follows a Victorian family as they prepare for their annual performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which takes place in a toy-theatre where the real dancers and stylised sets come alive.

With high profile voice actors and a unique intersection of visual, aural and performance arts, Jacqui and David called on the help of Jungle Studios to craft the sound design for this special piece. We speak to Chris Turner to find out how he brought both the humbug and the Christmas magic to this intriguing new film.

LBB > How long were you working on this feature?

Chris Turner > I spent almost a year between other sessions sound designing and bringing all the elements together as well as field recording for the film. Stuart and Alex then spent a month with me as we finalised the piece. 

LBB > How closely did you work with the director?

Chris > I worked very closely with Jacqui – we caught up about once a fortnight. It was an interesting process as knowing how to approach the sound design was, without a doubt, puzzling. However, with the strength of all these arts and talent combined – world class dancers and choreography, award-winning A-list actors, a theatre set with so much detail I still can’t stop looking, direction with an understanding of how all these elements would come together and the best adaptation of Dickens I’ve read – it was obvious that it needed a multi faceted approach. 

LBB > So how did it work on set, were there any challenges?

Chris > The film was recorded to temp music, so no production sound was usable except for the intro and outro sequence. For this reason, every sound – from footsteps to chained up ghosts – is designed to be heard without distraction. What you hear is exactly what we want you to hear.The second challenge was working in tandem with the composer. As he was writing the score we were designing the sound and therefore there were many conversations about how the key, tempo and tone would fit the scene.
The third challenge was not having any of the VFX elements to work with as we went. In many ways, this allowed us to design the ghosts that we imagined rather than designing to a visual cue.

LBB > How did you strike a balance creatively between the theatrical elements and the cinematic?

Chris > Overall we felt there could be a chance of a disconnect between the acted voices and the dancers. For this reason, we added far more detail into the foley elements than would generally be needed. There are many subtle layers that bring the choreography into the real world when needed and fade it out when not. 
To bring the recorded dialogue into the stage environment we used a technique that hasn’t been used in quite some time – Worldising. We hired a theatre and played the dialogue into the room, recording the real reflections and echoes in that space. When the worldised element was brought into the tracklay to mix the film, suddenly all the elements came together.

LBB > Where did you record the elements to make it sound like the mid-1800s?

Chris > Creating Victorian England is a painstaking job. Of course, there was no traffic or no planes then. The street noises were completely different – even accents in the background were different to what you’d hear now. As a result, many of the soundscapes and scenes were recorded in Bath due to it being very pedestrianised and cosmopolitan. Here we were able to record crowds, church bells and background tones free from traffic and planes.

LBB > What was your favourite part of this project?

Chris > My favourite piece of sound design in this film is the church organ playing Hark the Herald at half speed. The most difficult part was syncing the chain link foley to the action and processing it to give a real sense of the weight of them.