Stir Post Audio, launched in 2015, offering clients two state-of-the-art locations in Chicago, each helmed by one of two engineers/sound designers on staff: Nick Bozzone, who migrated to Chicago after cutting his teeth with POP Studios, in LA, and Michael Mason, a Chi-bred audio talent formerly with CRC.
Weighing in on what 2017 may hold for the dedicated audio post houses and agency clients, Mason says “I’m seeing more spots produced strictly for YouTube and social media. Not being tied to the standard lengths gives agency creatives more freedom to tell a story and draw people in. I’m able to let the mix build, ebb and flow more. It’s not all in your face and out in :30. It also gives me more of a chance to stretch out sonically and create more dynamics, which I really like. The sound design and music score become more important elements in longer formats because the audio has a chance to breathe.”
Mason is currently working on a project in which several segments were shot with a GoPro VR system. He’ll be creating all the sound design in post. “With virtual reality, sound is a key element in putting the viewer in that space, so I’m super excited about this project and doing more like this in 2017.”
There is also a continuing blurring of the line between content and advertising, he notes, and sees that trend expanding in 2017 resulting in the proliferation of lengthier projects produced for alternate media platforms other than network broadcast. As an example, he cites a 22-minute Webisode he just worked on that was picked up by The Discovery Channel. “The content is so interesting to Discovery that they’re running them as is with the product mentions doing a light sell throughout.”
Overall, he says, “I predict we will need to keep evolving our approaches creatively and technically as media and advertising continues to change.”
Bozzone agrees with Mason and elaborates on the need to be highly skilled and adaptable to be up to the task of creating sound design and mixes for the abundance of alternative formats that play on multiple media platforms. “No longer are ads strictly focused for television alone…Audio content needs to be able to play (and play well) on all sorts of speakers. Everything from theatrical pre-movie ads, to the consumer's 5.1 home set-up, to playing out flat-screen speakers, to playing off of iPads, cell phones and headphones. The way your mix sounds on all of these mediums is a nod at how skilled and knowledgeable your mixer is.”
Bozzone is currently working on a feature film, in addition to numerous broadcast and Web commercials, an example of the diversity of work he sees in the course of his gig. He predicts that the demand for dedicated audio post pros remains healthy for 2017 despite many ad agencies building in-house studios. “The landscape is crowded and competitive, but there is an advantage to having someone whose skills have been honed and refined and tested by fire, and has decades of experience doing sound everyday and needing to be really good at it to stay at the top of the game. The difference is revealed in the final mix and how things sound over a variety of platforms."
Mindy Verson, one of two EPs at Stir, looks at 2017 trends from a client services perspective, noting that hers seem to be “working in overdrive these days and look to us, as producers and mixers, to relieve them of as much of the stress that we can.”
With that in mind, in the coming year Verson is committed to staying ahead of their clients by “anticipating their needs before they need it,” and staying on top of technology that enables Stir to complete projects to the “highest of standards faster, better and more cost-effectively than ever before.”
Says Verson: “Storytelling and humor and tug-at-the-heart spots will never go away, especially in light of the political climate. I believe clients will want to use messages and stories of hope to heal the consumer, on both sides of the aisles, and to encourage buying and confidence in what the future holds.”
PHOTO: (L-R) Bozzone, Verson and Mason