WHEN the country went under COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) lockdown last year, like many other activities, the recording and mixing of new music and sound by a team in a studio had to take a break. For many of these recording businesses, the transfer to a digital platform enabled them to continue operations despite the restrictions.
Audio production house Hit Productions was one of the studios that were able to sustain their operations and expand their portfolios, attracting more clients and projects amidst a global crisis.
Established in 1991, Hit Productions has created award winning audio for local and international brands such as Unilever, Coca Cola, Nestle, Globe, P&G, J&J, McDonald’s, and Jollibee. It has also recorded albums for bands such as Ben & Ben, Razorback, and South Border, as well as produced surround sound audio for films including On the Job, Heneral Luna, and Ang Larawan,
According to Hit Productions President and Managing Partner Vic Icasas, it helped that the studio has had remote work protocols in place since 2013. The team was using Slack, Source Connect, and Zoom, all of which enabled employees to conduct online meetings and contactless recordings. In 2019, the company launched a mobile recording van that would go to the talents, enabling them to record their music or speech despite busy schedules that would keep them away from a normal studio.
To record with a remote set up during the lockdown, the company prepared tablet-powered portable recording kits that included a pair of professional headphones, a microphone, and files preloaded with all the scenes or the scripts for the voice actor.
“We deliver it by courier, [the device] is self-operated. Our engineers will be on Zoom with the talent to help set it up and [get] tested. And then the client and the agency supervise the recording over Zoom,” Mr. Icasas said during an online press conference on June 14.
The arrangement was fruitful. Hit Productions was able to handle the sound production for ad campaigns in 2020 such as “Ingat Angat,” a private sector-led health and safety campaign during the pandemic.
“The van that we envisioned to be able to reach out to remote talents has now become an [iPad] in a hardcase. The surround sound room that we use to mix local movies is now actually fully booked,” said Mr. Icasas. They even found themselves working with international clients in the past year. “We are mixing feature films, TV shows for streaming services in Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said. They are also producing voiceovers for a foreign video game company and audio books for Hong Kong-based clients.
THE FUTURE FOR AUDIO RECORDING
Mr. Icasas noted that the accessibility provided by digital tools, remote working, and communication platforms may continue to promote audio production in the Philippines.
“The democratic nature of tools being available, [and] of knowledge being available — watching YouTube lessons — has actually managed to scale up people to the point that we’re seeing more talented applicants coming our way which we didn’t used to see before,” he said.
Prior to the advancements in digital technology and social media, television and radio advertisements “took forever to produce,” he noted.
“[It took] a couple of months to shoot, to color grade, and to produce the music. For radio, [it was] probably quicker because there is no (video) shoot involved. But still was not [at] the amazing pace that social media comes out with new content [and] ads nowadays,” he said.
While television and radio allot airtime of 30 seconds to a minute for ads, “Now you have three to six second ads or bite-sized ads coming out of TikTok, and three or five minutes of mini movies coming out on YouTube,” he said.
“The opportunities for the audio production industry are quite exciting, because of all the different media channels and all the different lenses of advertising that we now have to work with,” Mr. Icasas said.
“Audio [production] is definitely a mature medium, but it’s a moving target. And it is an exciting time to be in the audio business. This is the time to be agile.”