First Career Steps – Matt North

Blog Post by Audio Production alumnus Matt North:

Having finished my degree in Audio Production, I am currently working for Ideal Shopping Direct as a Technical Operator. The company broadcasts over four channels and its main channel, Ideal World, is live 17 hours a day. My main responsibilities within my role are varied and alongside operating audio for the shows, I am learning new skills in different roles such as Floor Technician, Video Controller and Camera Operation. The Floor Technician role is especially interesting as I am learning new skills in lighting television sets, testing audio and visual feeds and dealing first-hand with presenters and guests alike.

The audio role within the company is very enjoyable, consisting of running the desk and ensuring all audio is to a suitable level for broadcast, as well as playing out sound effects and VT.

Whilst I am very much enjoying my work, I intend to gain as many skills and as much experience as possible within this role and then potentially move to a full-time Audio Operator role. Although I am doing some audio operation as a Technical Operator, I feel it would be beneficial for my CV and career to possess the official title of Audio Operator for future endeavours.

Ultimately, I intend to pursue my passion for film & TV sound that I developed whilst studying Audio Production. Since finishing my degree, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work as a Sound Recordist, as well as complete audio post-production on a short film with a former graduate from Lincoln, Michael Beddoes. I spoke to him after his guest lecture for R&D and he invited me to assist him on his project entitled ‘Breaking’, which has been entered into the Virgin Media Shorts competition and has received great attention. It was an invaluable experience, teaching me more about the location recording process and I am extremely proud of the finished product.

Through working on ‘Breaking’, I was asked by the film’s producer (Adam Spinks) to be in charge of sound on his upcoming feature film ‘Survivors’, which is being shot over 11 days in September in Surrey. The film has been crowd-funded and is being produced on a budget of around £4000. This was a fantastic opportunity that I could not turn down and since accepting the role, Adam has also asked me to complete post-production work on another short film he has done – and this was my first official paid freelance role. Although it was only a small amount, it is definitely a milestone in my career.

I am currently using my wages from working at Ideal World to buy my first personal location recording kit for the ‘Survivors’ shoot. I have upgraded to Pro Tools 10 and I am also currently enhancing the knowledge I gained from my degree in audio production for film through reading and testing the equipment I have purchased.

After the ‘Survivors’ shoot, I intend to apply for more freelance roles within the industry to enhance my audio portfolio, whilst continuing to gain experience in live TV sound at Ideal World. Afterwards, I hope to move to Manchester or London and apply for work in Audio Post-Production facilities whilst continuing with freelance audio work.

Links here: Breaking, Survivors

Simon Ross – BBC Introducing

Blog post by Audio Production graduate Simon Ross:

Since leaving the University of Lincoln, I have been spending time at BBC Lincolnshire as a Broadcast Assistant for a variety of shows. One of the biggest shows I am fortunate enough to now be part of is the Lincolnshire branch of the nationally recognised BBC Introducing initiative. BBC Introducing focuses on discovering and promoting unsigned artists from around the country by allocating a specific department in all of the BBC’s local radio stations.

Whilst approaching the end of my time at University, I knew I had to start finding work for when I enter “the real world”, so I utilized the potential of the Research and Development module by spending time at BBC Lincolnshire researching their BBC Introducing programme. By doing this, I got to spend time at the studios which I would have otherwise struggled to acquire. For the purpose of my study, I sat and observed what went on during the production of the programme and by doing this I was able to make myself known to those at the BBC.

After finding my way through the figurative door I was invited back to assist the BBC Introducing team, this time setting up studios to record live sessions of bands and musicians to be featured on the Sunday night programme. Before long I was asked by the programme’s presenter and producer, Tim Johns, to join him on 29th June for what would be a special one-off programme broadcasting live from SO Festival 2012 in Skegness.

Arriving at the BBC Lincolnshire studios for 12:00, a lot of the preparations were already done by Tim and other members of the team. Alongside Tim and I, we were joined by stage manager Rosie Duffield, reporter Peggy Walker and Tim’s wife Kristina. We arrived in Skegness just after 14:00 and began by setting up 3 giant “BBC” cubes on stage, hanging banners and sharing flyers round local businesses. Passes were given to all the bands, and we had our “AAA” (access all areas) passes too (ironically on BBC Radio 1 lanyards, though I didn’t complain!).

Fortunately for us, an external sound team were hired for the event, so the only technicalities that concerned us were simply broadcasting the event between 19:00 – 22:00. Our engineer, Adam, worked from an ex-army vehicle behind the stage which was fitted with a multitrack desk and radio desk. This allowed Adam to ensure the radio broadcast and PA broadcast performed to the high standards of the BBC.

The bands were left to do their sound-checks whilst we tested our connections to and from BBC Lincolnshire. Our reporter, Peggy, spoke on-air about the event throughout the day using an iPad which is now commonly used by reporters for their outside broadcasts. Broadcasting software is installed on the iPads allowing reporters to connect and speak on-air from any location at near studio quality.

Once the bands finished their sound-checks, and the BBC Introducing team had filled up on much needed fish and chips, the event launched to a crowd of around 400 people in Tower Gardens and the rest of Lincolnshire via the radio. Funnily enough, once the bands had been introduced by Tim and interviewed by Peggy backstage, we were able to simply enjoy the performances. Due to extensive prior preparations, no obstacles were encountered.

All the bands who performed originate from the Lincolnshire area, except one band who came specially from Sweden on an “exchange scheme”. East Lindsey District Council are now in the process of choosing one of the Lincolnshire bands that performed to travel and perform in Sweden later in the year. Once the broadcast ended at 22:00, a band from Denmark played the stage to the remaining crowds as we packed away the equipment we had brought with us and returned back at the BBC Lincolnshire studios for midnight.

I managed to get home to my bed shortly after 01:00 ready for my usual shift at BBC Lincolnshire the following day working for the programmes ‘Solid Gold Saturdays’ with Melvyn Prior and ‘Summer Saturdays’ with James Lobley and Maria Richmond. I will be working with BBC Introducing again from the beginning of next week, resuming the schedule of recording live sessions.