Managing Director Thomas Dalton talks to Behind the Glass Magazine
Managing Director Thomas Dalton recently spoke to Debs Skeldon from Behind the Glass magazine about why he started the business and his vision for the future. Behind the Glass have kindly let us republish the article below.
Brighton is known for its large and vibrant cultural, music and arts scene and one of its gems is Brown Bear Audio. Founded 8 years ago to offer fully remote sound design and post production services, its owner Thomas Dalton shares his journey on building the business.
“I founded Brown Bear Audio with a focus on providing the very best talent and solutions to working remotely”
said Dalton. “Prior to starting the business, a large majority of my work as a freelance sound editor and mixer was already being completed remotely and as new technology and cloud services emerged, I wanted to streamline the whole process to give clients the best experience possible. As we grew, we moved to larger premises in central Brighton and expanded our team of remote sound specialists to include re-recording mixers, dialogue editors, sound designers and composers, giving us the talent and capacity to complete projects across all disciplines of audio post-production. We now provide a fully remote and hybrid service to a wealth of customers across the world including the BBC, Discovery, Netflix and Warner Bro.”
Dalton started his career as a live sound engineer and mixer after completing a degree in Music Technology. “Working in the live industry for 15 years has taught me the skill of working with artists to understand and translate their audio vision whilst also applying a sprinkling of diplomacy and problem solving along the way” he added. “Through a desire to spend more time with my family and work less unsociable hours I transitioned into audio post-production. Working initially from my home studio I built up my portfolio as a sound designer and mixer completing projects for a range of clients.”
Dalton believes the success of the studios is down to his talented team, personal service and constant desire to give clients the best experience. “We continue to refine our workflow and evaluate emerging technologies to ensure we are offering the best solutions for remote collaboration.
We love working with producers to help them realise the full potential sound can have in their project and our aim is to build lasting relationships with clients that encourage their creativity and ours.”
Dalton has gone to great lengths to make working remotely a client-friendly experience.
“Through extensive R&D we have developed a workflow that is flexible, safe and secure. It’s our creative team that set us apart though and enables us to provide the highest level in creative excellence. Whether it’s a simple dialogue edit or a full sound design piece we want our clients to be 100% happy with the sound of their project and won’t stop until they are.”
Ensuring Brown Bear Audio is at the forefront of the latest technology for remote collaboration and offering some of the best craft talent in the industry obviously helps maintain its success but only by constantly evolving and re-evaluating will it remain successful. “Having the scalability to expand capacity, depending on the workload and project, without carrying the fixed cost of an expensive facility also allows us to offer a much more cost effective solution, which helps in today’s market of ever shrinking production budgets” added Dalton.
During lockdown, Dalton took the time to improve his live review process to enable smooth and secure real-time collaboration with clients. “Previous technology we used has had an unworkable amount of latency as well as issues with sync drift, compression artefacts and audio quality. Soon into lockdown we discovered Evercast, an ultra-low latency streaming platform with built in video conferencing. The team at Evercast kindly arranged a demo and I was instantly blown away by it! It has given us the ability to collaborate with clients, in near real-time, anywhere in the world which was previously difficult to achieve without additional hardware.”
As for kit, Dalton runs the latest version of Pro Tools Ultimate with 5.1 monitoring by Dynaudio and Genelec. “We have just completed an upgrade to the studio with the purchase of an Avid Studio MTRX, 2 x S1’s and a dock, which will give us the capabilities to expand into Dolby Atmos in the future. We have a big upgrade roughly every 5-7 years based on what will aid productivity and enable us to do our work more efficiently.”
Over the years Brown Bear Audio has been lucky enough to work with some amazing artists, actors and broadcasters. “One highlight was having Kiefer Sutherland in the studio recording ADR for the remake of The Fugitive, which was great fun. We also recently completed the sound design and mix for a series of films for Nike, which was a really enjoyable project as we were given full creative freedom to design the soundscape of the films.”
As Brighton has a large cultural and arts scene Dalton makes sure he has strong ties with the community. “The production community in Brighton and the South East is vibrant and varied and we have been lucky to work with many local production companies. There are only a few post houses situated down here so being a reliable resource for production companies has helped build on our success. We also work with many local actors and agencies to facilitate voiceover and ADR recording, as talent doesn’t always want to travel to London, especially in light of the pandemic.”
His vision of where he sees the industry heading in the future combined with his high level of technical knowledge and a drive to make the process of remote working as easy and seamless as possible has contributed to Brown Bear Audios success. “Now that the industry is more open to remote working across all forms of post production I think we will see more and more companies adopt a hybrid workflow, where the majority of work will be completed in smaller remote studios before being taken to a larger facility for final mix and sign off. For some projects this won’t even be necessary as review, amendments and sign off can all be done remotely with the solution we have. As we progress through this unchartered landscape we see ourselves leading the way in remote workflows. Leveraging the power of the cloud is the future of post-production and we want to help companies embraced this new way of working and the benefits it brings.”