BBC Earth – Earth Is Yours

In all the work I have done for the BBC Worldwide Channels in the last decade, ‘Earth Is Yours’ is by far the top 1 project in my favourites I’ve been fortunate to be called on!

After working for a few years with Producer Steven Imrie, he called me up one day to talk about the project. It was for BBC Earth and the plan was to showcase what the channel was all about. The discussion started off with an unusual twist, Steve asked me if I could cut a music track without pictures but with a certain crescendo and a progressive build up structure to it, he sounded like he had a very clear idea, he gave me a rough skeleton as to what the music structure should be like. I was pretty excited, to know that I would be first to cut the music track so he could cut the visuals to, makes perfect sense to me! What I didn’t know, Steve was a musician too, he plays guitar but had never been very loud about it! Trust those lovely Kiwis to keep a very low profile  and  kick mega asses in what they do!!

Anyway, a few days later I received 5 different music tracks to cut together, the music genres were very different, some had a very light choral and heavenly vocals to them, some turned into a pretty intensive beats and orchestrations but one in particular made my jaw hit the ground, it was a Dubstep track with such a massive drop!!! I told myself, geez, Steve? Are you really sure of that track?? It’s not BBC Earth branding at all!! Sounded pretty daring and bold to me!! Nevertheless, I started putting a 4 mins track together, we went back and forth about 5 or 6times to get the structure he wanted.

Eventually, it was good, I sent him the track and didn’t hear from him for quite a few weeks… After checking in occasionally to see how he was doing, everything seemed to follow it’s course. The day came when I received the offline cut, it started very very calmly with beautiful, soft and heavenly vocals, into a progressive build and was left completely speechless when the drop came in!!! The edit was absolutely stunning, cut spot on to the beat, goose bumps were flying everywhere in my body out of excitement for the rest of the track, when it ended, it dawned upon me that the sound design work I was about to embark on was not going to be easy at all, I got very agitated at the idea of having to deliver to the visual standard Steve cut!!!

It took me many days of extremely detailed and intense work to find the right sounds and layers for the shots, lots of trial and error, do, redo, delete, do it again, no… not good enough, push further and further, do again, try something else, 1 frame earlier, no, later, no, 1/2 a frame earlier, mmmmhh…. still not getting that hitting feeling, try a 1/4 frame earlier… lucky accidents happened a few times and after 5 days of intense work, I had something that was holding together pretty well, I was almost comfortable enough to send a WIP1 (Work In Progress) to Steve…

It took us many many back and forth to fine tune the track so we would both be happy with it. I remember doing the final mix with him on Skype, to share the impressions and feelings, live, of what it was sounding like. Steve would ask me to bring this level down 1 or 2 dB’s, this one up 3 or 4 dB’s until we both agreed that what we had put together sounded very satisfying.

Once approved, I thought I was done with my happy stereo mix, that’s when I received an email requesting for a 5.1 Surround Sound mix as they would play the edit to the Networks in Singapore in a Cinema room!!! Which I did in another 2 days and sent off the masters.

The track had been so well received that BBC Worldwide Channels decided to submit the track for some awards. They submitted it in a few festivals where it did really well but for the first time in the history of the New York Festival, we smashed it big time!!

The edit took 22 awards in 24 categories. Two for best sound design and scooped in almost all the other categories, including the Grand Award!!! I remember Steve calling me and sharing his joy, I could hear that he had been celebrating for quite a while, may be days!!! Bless him!!

Like an excited little kid, I asked, ‘So, am I going to get a piece of metal for this?’  I was told that if I wanted a piece of metal, I had to order it through the New York Festival… Never mind the piece of metal… What I truly treasured was the entire, unassuming, yet so tedious process we went through to get this right the way we liked it, that was very special to me!! We  sort of made history for a little while! :0)

Thanks again Steven Imrie! You really rock!!


Click HERE to view the edit