First past the post

A flurry of new films with an Olympics theme has contributed to a medal-winning summer for Soho’s Goldcrest Post, writes David Davies.
Publish date:
Updated on

It would be very easy to assess the Olympian effect on the UK industry in terms of the flagship host venues and surrounding musical events. But post has also been a significant beneficiary, as confirmed by eminent London facility Goldcrest Post’s recent quadrathlon of Olympics-related projects. Backed by the BFI and Adidas, feature-length documentary Personal Best follows the journeys of four British sprinters over a period of six years leading up to London 2012. Director Sam Blair – who also recorded audio for the movie – worked with sound designer Gunnar Oskarsson and Goldcrest’s Mark Paterson (pictured) on the mix, employing a set-up based around an AMS Neve DFC Gemini console, Pro Tools and some much-loved outboard, including a Lexicon 960 and TC Electronic 6000. “In Personal Best, we made some quite big decisions during the mix that really improved the film,” says Blair. “Mark is very good at sensing if a scene isn’t working sound-wise.” “In particular,” recalls Paterson, “there was a major conversation about how best to convey the noises and atmosphere of the arena. The result, I think, is a film with a highly distinctive soundworld.” Paterson also worked on A Running Jump, a 40-minute comedy directed by Mike Leigh. Premiering as part of the London 2012 Festival, the film charts an East London family and their experiences of various sporting activities during everyday life. For Paterson, it was another welcome opportunity to log studio time with Leigh, for whom he had previously mixed audio on Happy-Go-Lucky and Another Year. “It’s a real pleasure to sit and watch him coming up with ideas,” marvels Paterson of the esteemed British director. “Mike’s philosophy is essentially quite simple – he doesn’t want anything that gets in the way of the characters or the performances – but that does mean that you need the dialogue to be as clean and ‘real’ as possible. There’s nowhere to run to on Mike’s films.” Actor Timothy Spall is no stranger to Leigh’s company either, having appeared in several of the director’s most memorable movies, including Secrets and Lies and Vera Drake. More recently, he signed up to star in Boy, an emotive nine-minute short directed by Justin Chadwick about a carpenter – played by Spall – who works at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park and is battling to cope with the loss of his cyclist son. Music, sound and visuals carry the narrative in a dialogue-free picture that saw producer Barnaby Spurrier join forces with Goldcrest sound designer Adrian Rhodes. Over a two year-period, the pair also collaborated on a quartet of short films designed to introduce British children to the Olympic and Paralympic mascots. Rhodes even lent his vocal talents to the “squeaky communication” of the mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, whose adventures were crafted by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. “From a business point of view, it has been great to have additional work here as a direct result of the Games,” confirms MD Keith Williams. “I’m sure there are several [other] post houses benefiting in a similar way. Now let’s go and win a few medals!”



Audio post's Soho rollercoaster ride

The UK audio post-production sector continues its unpredictable course. The comings and goings in London carry on but many facilities are investing in expansion and refurbishment as economic conditions improve. And while Pro Tools remains dominant, Avid is not having things all its own way.


Expansion and awards at Envy Post Production

London facility Envy was named Best Post Production House at the 2013 Broadcast Awards last week. Dubbing mixer Andy Hodges and managing director Dave Cadle discuss the company's continuing growth and clients' changing demands for audio in an ever more competitive TV market.


The sound design of The Swimmer

Sound designer Paul Davies on creating an aural montage conveying a sense of Britain for the short film The Swimmer, director Lynne Ramsay's contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.