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The Influencers

From Brief to Delivery in 24 Hours

INFLUENCER: Ben Leeves, Sound Designer at GCRS, examines the opportunities and challenges of global collaborations

From Brief to Delivery in 24 Hours

In today’s digitalised world, cross-border interaction defines multiple facets of both our personal and professional lives. Global collaboration, borderless communication and an international mindset are the cornerstones of a successful modern business. In this evolution, the arrival and proliferation of the internet is without doubt one of the biggest game-changers. Yet, even though it might seem that this has opened the door for everyone to become players on the international field, truly embracing global capability still involves a skillset that goes beyond the digital world.  

As an industry, the creative industry is - at its core - a collaborative one. The process of sharing resources, working towards a common goal, within one timeframe, is possible today on a global scale. With the opportunity and an increased need for cross-border working, modern businesses need to adopt specific approaches. Which discloses another trait of our industry - we are a service-minded industry. 

At GCRS, the way we work is ever evolving as a result of global working. But one thing stays the same; our service-minded, flexible and collaborative approach. 

Being a sound designer is a diverse job that requires a wide-ranging set of skills; the ability to listen is one. We’re not only referring to listening in terms of developing the audioscape, but listening to the client. This skill is essential in order to bring their idea to life. On a global scale, strong communication skills in terms of being able to adapt to various cultures and potential language barriers is crucial. Being a strong intercultural communicator, able to read and translate context and local variations, is part of being service-minded and adding to the goal of translating the client’s need and bringing it to life. 

Communication and planning is key to maintaining a smooth workflow when operating on a global scale. Time is of course a crucial element in this respect. With all the technological advances in the world, we will always be restricted by the simplest of limits, such as time zones. Yet with a little flexibility and creativity we can overcome this hurdle - there are 24 hours in a day after all. When we received an email from Cosmo Street Editorial in New York, at 21:40 GMT, looking to create sound design for a Scotts commercial that was required the next day for a recording session in New York, we relished the challenge of the ticking clock and a global collaboration. 

At 03:00 GMT we received all the visual assets needed to start working on the sound design and by 05:30 we had a sound brief. Everything was ready for me to kick off this session at 11:00 GMT. Working over the next three and a half hours I created a full sound design track to enhance the overall feel of the mix, including all Foley too, and at 14:45 GMT our files were uploaded to send to the States.

An hour and a half later, we had approval - with no changes required - and were ready to transfer our assets to the voice over studio in New York for a final mix. By 17:10 GMT, they had all the assets needed for the voice over session to begin at 13:00 EDT. Briefed and delivered in 24 hours - who would have guessed we were all working on different continents.

This way of working shows that a service minded attitude mixed with vigorous organisational skills allows us to tackle some of the challenges presented by global workings in a manner which is true to our core values as a company. Truly embracing cross-border collaborations forces us to innovate - it encourages us to broaden our horizon and challenge our frameworks.

Ben Leeves is Sound Designer at Grand Central Recording Studios