MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
Senior Sound Engineer // Advertising
Mark is a Senior Sound Engineer and board director at 750mph. His natural talent for finely crafted sound design, mixing and composition has contributed to award winning work with leading creative agencies and directors for brands including Marmite, Cadbury, Asda, Nike, BBC and Jaguar.
His work on BBC idents collected Best Sound Design at The Music+Sound Awards, a Silver Clio and the 2017 LIA award for Sound Design.
Marmite ‘Gene Project’ through adam&eve, directed by James Rouse (Outsider), was highly awarded in 2018 including a Gold Cannes Lion for Film, a Graphite and Wooden Pencil at the D&AD Awards, two Gold British Arrows, a Clio Grand and Silver. Twirl ‘Beach Huts and Coast’ directed by James Rouse and led by VCCP have both recently collected Gold Kinsale Shark Awards, for Cadbury UK.
More recently he has shown that his talent stretches seamlessly across long form film such as CH4 Random Acts ‘The Bite.’
Read on to find out more…
It would be great to hear about your career path so far…
My Dad was actually a sound engineer for commercials and TV shows - his job always fascinated me when I was a kid. It was an early 90's Spitting Image show, ‘The Winjin Pom’, that really piqued my interest. A magical, flying camper van that incessantly moaned as it was driven around by a band of Australians on a mission to travel the world – it blew my 10 year old mind! It was the first time I really appreciated what the role of sound engineer/designer could mean, creating an entire soundscape for an entirely make-believe universe.
Whilst at University I managed to secure work experience at Clearcut Sound, they asked me back during the summer break and then offered me a job! I quickly worked my way up from runner to transfer and then into the studio, spending 12 years there, before moving to 750mph in 2015, which is where you'll find me now.
What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on recently?
It's a bit cheesy, but I'm lucky enough to work on so many amazing projects that it's incredibly difficult to pick a favourite.
I loved working on the BBC4 Music Idents that I won the MAS Award for last year because it was such an interesting brief, such beautiful imagery and I was pretty much given creative freedom.
The Under Armour project was really interesting because as the job evolved the team decided to use almost no music, building up the brooding atmosphere and tension using sound design instead.
Playing with the stems from Rival Consoles for a Jaguar i-Pace concept film was great too as he is one of my favourite artists :-)
And has there been a most challenging?
I worked on a VR tasting experience for Guinness which was one of the most interesting and challenging jobs I've been a part of.
The agency had employed scientists to research the colours, shapes and types of sound that would enhance each aspect of the aroma and flavour profile of the 3 beers in the tasting experience. We were sent a spreadsheet outlining the pitch, shape and length of the sounds that should match each beer, and tasked with using "sonic seasoning" to design sounds that could bring out the various elements.
The visuals were brilliantly abstract, so it was great fun creating intense musical sound design that not only matched these strange shapes and textures, but also adhered to the science.
Guinness kindly sent the agency case loads of beer, so everyone really enjoyed the review sessions... although the final approval session was 9am!
Everyone was really happy with the end result - the visuals and sound design genuinely heightened the senses.
I'm slightly disappointed that I never got over to Ireland to see the general public’s reaction... especially as the experience was installed in the middle of supermarkets!
What tech / tools do you rely on most heavily?
There are so many great plug-ins and bits of kit out there and I love geeking out, playing with the latest tools to shape, stretch and mangle sounds, but there are a few I couldn't live without.
Izotopes RX restoration suite is not only a life saver when it comes to rescuing less than perfect dialogue or noisy shoot sound, but it can also be used really creatively because of the way you can spectrally play with the audio. You can also get some really cool glitchy artefacts from heavily over processing clips by abusing the various modules within RX.
I also use Ableton a lot because its time stretching capabilities are incredible, and the Soundtoys and Valhalla plug-ins are just so powerful yet so easy and fun to use.
Can you offer any advice relating to approaching sound in an ad?
It's important to think about the intended emotion of the film or specific scene you're working on, and how sound design (or lack of sound) can help to increase these emotions.
Does it need a delicate touch to subtly guide the viewer deeper into the world that's being created? Or a punch in the gut/ears to throw them right into the middle of a crazy, hectic experience.
Do we need to hear every tiny detail of what's on screen to create an unswervingly believable universe? Or is silence a more powerful and unexpected choice to create a moment of clarity?
750mph is one of the most successful sound house in London and they’ve certainly won their fair share of Music+Sound Awards! What does the next year or so hold?
2018 was an amazing year for 750mph. We were delighted to receive so much recognition for our work at various festivals throughout the year, no pressure to keep it up!! We're so thankful to the whole team and the clients that made it possible.
Working with a bunch of people so committed to pushing the boundaries in sound design creates a great atmosphere in which we all help to keep the standard so high, and we are definitely all fired up for another amazing year.
And lastly, how do you think a competition like The Music+Sound Awards impacts the industry?
We live in such a visual world, it’s so important to shout about this part of the industry and the role it has in bringing it to life.
George Lucas said that sound and music make up 50% of a movie and Danny Boyle went even further and said 80%... It's great to see that more and more people are appreciating the importance that sound has in defining the viewing experience, and that audio is less and less an afterthought at the end of a project.
Shining a light on the incredibly talented group of people that are creating the music and sound in this industry only helps to increase this awareness and appreciation of the work we do.
Find out more about Mark and 750MPH on their website, here