28 March 2022

Joshua Cassel: How we’re revolutionising our post-production process

Interviews
Audio post-production can make an enormous difference to the perceived quality of your communications, at countless points across the customer journey.

And our Post-Production department contains more than 25 experts, who spend their days creating the final productions ready for delivery to our clients.

They work on audio for use in a huge variety of places, and have recently edited audio for:

  • Company and product videos, for use online, in stores and at events
  • Ads being broadcast on TV, radio and streaming platforms
  • Sponsored video posts on socials (especially for TikTok and Insta Stories – these are the most definitively ‘sound-on’ platforms)
  • Learning and development teams, who have integrated our audio into their e-learning
  • Gaming studios and virtual reality platforms
  • Internal comms teams, who are trialling podcasts as a new way of communicating with those people who don’t spend their working day in front of a screen

Recently, we’ve introduced a brand-new post-production process that gets applied to every piece of audio we record. We’ve sat down with our Global Head of Post-Production, Joshua Cassel, to learn more about what’s changed, and what it means for our clients.

Pictured: Joshua presenting details of the new process to our team at our recent Annual Conference.

 

Joshua – what’s changed?

Two things. We’ve changed the way we edit dialogue recorded by our voice artists, and the process we follow when mixing dialogue and music together.

I should explain mixing first; when a voice is speaking over a piece of music, the temptation is to simply turn the music down and play the voice at normal volume. But there’s no mix there; mixing means both can play at the same time, and our new process ensures they’re not fighting for attention, but work in harmony.

 

Why is post-production such an important part of the process?

Firstly, it’s where music and voice get combined. It’s a vital step where all the assets we’ve created get brought together.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, people expect perfection. Audiences have been conditioned to expect high-quality audio because it’s what they hear when watching TV or listening to their favourite songs – it’s all been through an edit suite.

Anything less than a professional production stands out for the wrong reasons: it sounds muddy or unpolished, because it’s not what people are accustomed to hearing. We’ve always edited our dialogue to remove breaths and background noises that the microphone picks up, and now we’re going a step further.

 

Why have we updated our post-production process now?

A couple of reasons, both related to technology.

Firstly, audio for telephone systems has long been our bread-and-butter product. But telephone technology is evolving; in the past, copper wire-based lines have only been able to transmit sound frequencies within a very narrow span of about 3,000Hz. New, internet-based technology can transmit a far greater amount of data, over a much great range of frequencies – meaning the fidelity of the audio is far, far better than before.

Secondly, we’re creating more and more audio for clients to use in places other than the telephone system. When we’re creating a piece of audio to be consumed through headphones – like a social media clip, for instance – the high-quality headphones of today have also developed to account for those similar, huge amounts of data that can be transmitted online.

We needed to raise our game to stay ahead of this evolving technology.

 

What would people hear if we didn’t apply this new process to what they’re listening to?

Let’s talk about dialogue first. The mouth makes lots of unpleasant, mechanical noises that are imperceptible to the human ear in normal conversation, but which get amplified in the controlled environment of a soundbooth.

I’m talking about things like the sound of saliva bubbles popping, of your tongue and cheeks hitting your teeth, of your lips hitting one other – all really glamorous stuff! These things, which we call ‘hidden artefacts’, all jump out on the recording; we can isolate these and strip them out in the editing suite.

And when it comes to mixing, the new process means we never lose the dynamic range in the exclusive music we create for clients. Library tracks are fairly generic and follow the same structure, whereas our exclusive tracks can be much more dramatic and varied in instrumentation; if we didn’t have this process, we’d risk losing all the drama, storytelling and excitement we infuse into each track.

 

How did you go about developing a new post-production process?

We consulted with our Executive Director of Production, Jacquire King, to get his insights into how we could evolve our mixing process and stay one step ahead.

Then our team of post-production experts began creating a blueprint that we could follow when producing every new piece of audio. We can’t have clients waiting weeks for every new edit or recording, so it’d have to strike the right balance between speed and quality. This meant making significant investments in new tools, and rigorously testing our proposals to gather feedback.

Ultimately, we’re able to delve deeper into our audio than ever before.

 

So, what happens to sound clips that enter the process?

It’s not quite “if I told you, I’d have to kill you” stuff, but our new process is patented, so I can’t reveal too much.

Essentially, the process gives our editors more creative freedom, and enables us to give every piece of audio the unique treatment.

 

What does it sound like?

We’ve created a couple of audio clips so you can see – or rather, hear – the difference it makes for yourself.

Here’s an example of some dialogue before editing…

 

And here’s all those ugly sounding bits in isolation…

 

And what it sounds like after editing…

 

And here’s that same piece of dialogue, mixed with a music track.

 

Interested in elevating the quality of your audio across your social media, phone lines, training videos and more? Get in touch with our team today to find out more.

Contact

Related insights

Why Alexa isn’t coming for your job – yet

Expert comment

Why Alexa isn’t coming for your job – yet

Pre-pandemic predictions of the proliferation of digital assistants at work haven’t come to fruition — and there’s good reason why.

How brands got us hooked on our phones

Guides & explainers

How brands got us hooked on our phones

A look at how society has become accustomed to sonic logos and their effect on the minds of consumers.

The changing role of sound in electric cars – and how leading brands are responding

Expert comment

The changing role of sound in electric cars – and how leading brands are responding

Electric cars are here, and will be the default choice in years to come. What does the switch to silent-running mean, and how are big names responding?