Alex Hudd - Post-Production sound designer and mixer

Alex Hudd – Answer our questions!

What is your background and how did you get in to your profession? I’m a musician who’s been playing and recording my own music for many years. I gained a degree in Electronic Engineering and spent 13 years as a Dolby Sound Consultant to the motion picture film industry across Europe and Asia, before starting up Dreambase Studios. I guess I didn’t so much get into my profession as evolve into it through years of experience, completely bypassing the traditional ‘film school’ in the process!

How did your involvement with Horizon come about? I’d met up with director Paul [Dudbridge] during visits to the Bristol Film Makers gatherings when they first started up. He subsequently asked me to sound design and mix his touching short film, ‘Ashes’. From there he approached me to ask if I’d be interested in doing the same for Horizon. After reading the script and seeing the exciting concept I couldn’t refuse!

What is your process? How do you approach each episode? My process varies. Initially it’s watching the rough cuts and discussing the basics of what needs to be done from a sound design point of view. We ‘spot’ each episode for sounds that are needed, such as footsteps, gun shots, impacts, explosions, sirens, etc.. I’m also thinking about technical sound issues - mainly with dialogue - along with atmospheres and feelings that need to be generated via the soundtrack. It’s surprising how much of this can be planned from the script stage. Ideally I like to get on board a film at it’s inception, as sound is fifty percent of the overall film experience! We also discuss the ‘big’ sound designs; in the case of Horizon it might be the alien ship, for example. From there we generate common sound assets to use across the episodes. I usually start with getting the dialogue in a good shape. Every other sound is then referenced to it in terms of level and often, placement.

What software/hardware do you use and why? I use Apple’s Logic X for specific sound design/composing; it’s wonderful for compositions and experimenting with sound layers and processing. I use Avid’s Pro Tools 10 or 11 for track lay, editing, and mixing because I can take the project to pretty much any professional studio in the world if it needs re-mixing for a foreign version, for example.

What does post sound bring to the episode? Sound - especially music - is the emotional signifier in a film. What it brings, if done correctly, is a sense of being there. And hopefully an emotional connection, or at least sympathy with the characters in the series. Sound brings drama to a film - we hear the impact sound of a crash or feel the impending doom of a low frequency drone sound. We understand the distress of a character if their lines are delivered as such. If I do my job properly no one should really notice the sound. Instead they’ll be carried through each episode with rhythm and the appropriate emotions as the plot develops. That’s always the plan anyway!

What have you learnt during the time working on the show? I’ve learnt how to deal with new sound design tasks such as designing the sound for the alien ship in the sky. To be honest I always learn something new on every show I work on, even if it’s developing and furthering the skills I already have. I didn’t work on location in this series but I got a sense of the camaraderie there must have been from the performances I’m witnessing during the sound post process. I enjoy meeting new people and developing new relationships too, as you never know where they might lead next: I have some great friends in the film industry, some of whom I’m lucky enough to work with regularly.

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