UWE lecturer mixes sound for television series 'The Great British Year'

Issue date: 30 September 2013

Sound Engineer Martyn Harries, a lecturer at the University of the West of England, spent part of his summer holiday mixing the sound for the latest series from the BBC's award winning Natural History Unit in Bristol. BAFTA and EMMY winning Martyn Harries teaches on the popular Audio and Music Technology course at UWE Bristol, where he shares his considerable expertise with students.

'The Great British Year', a celebration of the changing seasons produced by James Brickell, is a 4 part 60 minute series beginning on Wednesday 2 October. Each episode will depict the changes of the land from each season to the next in breath-taking detail. It will investigate why Britain's climate is unique on our planet and why our relationship with wildlife is so enduring and special.

Throughout the series, a range of technological approaches to filming will visualise seasonal change in spectacular ways, from the frost as it shrouds the country, and the winter mist as it swirls in the hollows, to the moment the leaves emerge and woodlands and carpets of bluebells are visited by bumblebees.

Martin Harries worked with Jonny Crew and award winning Sound Editor Kate Hopkins at Wounded Buffalo Sound Studios in Bristol. Kate and Jonny are also visiting lecturers at UWE, with Kate mentoring students on the MA Wildlife Filmmaking course.

Martyn says, “Our particular challenges were to craft a quintessentially British soundtrack conveying the atmosphere and flavour of each season.

“The use of Time-lapse photography gives the sound team a particular set of problems as there is no natural sound with the pictures. Often the scene is depicting events that unfold over days at such a pace that we would not normally notice anything happening.

“The sound design for these sequences owes much to the genre of "musique concrete" and consists of a wide variety of natural sounds manipulated and processed in different ways to transport the viewer into weird worlds or different time continuums. There is of course often other music over these sequences as well so achieving a blend of the FX and music whilst still being able to hear the narration is essential.”

For more details on the Audio and Music Technology course see here.

For details of the MA Wildlife film-making see here.

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