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Paxman, Bonneville lend voices to Talking Statues project

SNK Studios records actors and presenters for innovative public project

Sing London – the arts producer behind the celebrated Street Pianos project – is giving a voice to over 25 statues in Manchester and London.

From 19 August, when a member of the public encounters a ‘Talking Statue’ and swipes their smartphone on a nearby tag, they will receive a call from the likes of Isaac Newton or Queen Victoria… (You can see what happened when PSNEurope tried it out here.)

Well, not really. Sing London has commissioned a number of leading UK writers to write and record monologues from the statues’ perspective. SNK Studios, the voice-over and audio post specialist, has worked with to record and produce these Talking Statues monologues. Actors, presenters and comedians Vocal contributions include those from presenter Jeremy Paxman, actors Hugh Bonneville and Patrick Stewart, and comedians Sara Pascoe, Marcus Brigstocke and Hugh Dennis.

Alistair Bolt, SNK studio assistant, told PSNEurope: “We recorded the monologues over the past 2-3 months in three of our studios on the Tottenham Court Road (pictured).”

SNK used Neumann U 87 and Audio-Technica 4033 condenser mics to capture the voices. “Both we find are great microphones for voice-over work – not just for their sound but for their reliability and robustness.”

Bolt said each reading was completed in only three to four takes. “Some light editing and tidying up was done with some compression on the output so it was suitable to be played down the telephone – something unique to this project.”

Editing was performed in-house by engineers Seb Juviler, Ben Siegal and Dan Jenkinson. “Generally the readers/actors were so experienced that, in a way, their talent and professionalism did a lot of the editing work for us,” adds Bolt.

Co-ordinating the studio time was SNK studios manager Sam Dillon, who added: “It’s been a big project from a logistics perspective, we’ve worked closely with our long-term client who were producing the voices to accommodate so many busy schedules!”

Smart phone technology for Talking Statues was provided by Antenna Lab, a ‘cultural technologist’ and creator of museum guides. Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street, Peter Pan in the Royal Parks, Whittington’s Cat in Islington and Sir John Barbirolli at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, are among the statues chosen for the project.