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Post-production Sound Designer wins Rycote Sound Award 2022

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BA (Hons) Film Production graduate Elijah Vincent has been named the Rycote Sound Award-winner for 2022. Elijah, who graduated earlier this year, served as both production sound mixer and post-production sound designer on the grad film Choirboy.

On his win and his recognition from industry name Rycote, Elijah said, “It is surreal, as I still struggle to reconcile with my journey as a sound designer. Before AUB, I didn’t realise filmmaking was a career path. It was a pipe dream as I thought it couldn’t be anything more.

“I only applied to AUB on a whim because someone made an off-hand comment asking why I wasn’t thinking about going to film school. My only aspiration for coming was to finally meet other people who had this shared passion for filmmaking, and I was fortunate as, not only did I meet these people, but I also formed wonderful and lasting collaborations.

“It never occurred to me that my work would be recognised by others. It’s a shock to the system and a wonderful surprise that has given me spirited encouragement. This celebration isn’t mine alone; none of this would've been possible if not for the wonderful crews and casts, so it’s a pleasure to bring some kind of spotlight onto their amazing work.”

Since graduating, Elijah has been involved in a variety of audio projects, and not limited to just film. Recently, he’s worked as a sound designer and re-recording mixer for a diverse range of projects, including documentary shorts, dramas and comedy projects. But he’s also branched out into working on podcasts, working as audio editor for the Liminal Podcast, part of the Realms of Peril and Glory Podcast network.

Choirboy follows a young brother who’s become shaken by his sister’s sudden illness, which has made her too ill to sing as she hides away in her room. He joins the local choir in her place, but while this is meant to unite them, it may cause a greater divide. From a sound production perspective, Elijah explains there were several challenges on the film.

“One of the greatest challenges was the choir recordings. These songs needed to be done not only before production but edited and ready for on-set audio playback. But we were unable to record a whole live choir due to scheduling difficulties. So extensive planning and organisation went into recording the choir vocalists separately or in small groups bit by bit, song by song, gradually collecting all the different bass, tenor, alto and soprano parts.

“Then we were left with the exciting challenge of making these separate vocal recordings come together to sound like a lively choir in a church. I must’ve read every resource and watched every YouTube tutorial on how to mix choir vocals. I went through 21 iterations of reverb effect chain combinations, with each one getting closer to the realistic yet magical spirit of the film. This was with the hope that, when the audience watches Choirboy, they'll feel immersed into the choir, not realising all the music was done before we even shot the first frame.”

Rob Hardcastle, Senior Lecturer on BA (Hons) Film Production at AUB said, “Elijah has been an excellent collaborator across the numerous graduation films that he’s worked on this year. He’s demonstrated strong problem-solving skills in production sound, as well as effective conceptual thinking in sound design.”

Despite his winning the Rycote Sound Award, Elijah admits he had no expectation of specialising in sound production and design. However, his passion and creativity were nurtured throughout his degree, which he said offered an extensive view into all aspects of filmmaking.

“Unlike other specialisms, I was involved in every step of the filmmaking process; from the proactive problem-solving of pre-production, to the puzzle of post-production and getting all the elements to click together.”

But what tips does he have to share with current students who may want to replicate his success?

“Keep a balance between your work and your personal life. A strong work ethic only goes so far; you need to take care of yourself, as you’re not going to do your best work if you burn out. I put pressure and high expectations on myself and my work, and while this pressure can be a helpful motivator, it also detracted from my work, as sometimes it was overbearing. I was no longer defining my work; the work was defining me. Remember that you aren’t defined by your work; you’re defined by how you treat yourself.”

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