Located in a mews just off Berwick Street in London’s Soho, No.8 is an award-winning creative sound and vision studio. Established in 2019 No.8 services clients across the high-end post-production landscape of editing, audio, music, colour grading, VFX, CGI and animation across advertising, music promos, film and television. Led by Creative Director Jim Allen and Managing Director Barny Wright, its stable of talents includes award-winning sound designer Sam Robson, who joined as Creative Director and Partner, as well as Alex Gregory, who joined as Head of Colour.
“Creative talent is at the core of everything we do,” says MD Barny Wright, “and we are always looking to identify and develop future stars. With this, the ambition is to widen the net and bring in people from a wider range of backgrounds; people who can bring fresh and interesting creative viewpoints and ideas.” It’s the reason No.8 has committed to support the inaugural Young Arrows awards as a sponsor.
Post-production is a protean landscape, subject to waves of technical innovations, new developments and experiments. “On a creative front we are at a point now where if you can think it, you can do it,” says No.8’s senior sound designer George Castle. In areas such as sound design, he adds: “there’s always a new, weird, and wonderful tool coming out that allows you to bend and manipulate sound in a creative and experimental manner.”
But one of the drivers of post’s ever-changing landscape is the ongoing evolution in hardware capability. “A big thing that has really helped this is computer speed,” says George. “You can now work as fast as you think, without slow renders or crashes interrupting the creative process.” As such, it’s the equivalent of a real-time imagination in secure casing, instantly and effortlessly able to transform its shape and nature at the same speed as the creative process working on it.
Given the prominent, front-of-house role that technology plays, the main challenge for the people at No.8 is on a technical level – “making sure that you are up-to-date with all your technical specs such as video formats, audio levels and frame rates,” says George. “It's great to create amazing sound design, but it’s the little details that can trip you up along the way. I do, however, think it is a great time for new sound designers to get into the game, as the entry-level equipment price has never been cheaper.”
For an example of a piece of work to highlight, George points to a series of films for the Nike brand, Jordan, that were exceptional in their subtlety and minimalism. “Nike was a beautiful project to work on,” says George, “because it was extremely cinematic in its craft. Equally, the sound design was extremely delicate. too. As there was no voiceover and no huge music track, it had to sound exceptionally ‘real’, and we worked in detail to ensure the reverbs of the environment felt exactly right. All of this made the project feel very genuine, which was refreshing and a pleasure to work on.”
For George, whose first piece of kit as a teenager was an eight-track console to record the band he played drums for at the age of 14, new incoming trends in the world of post are derived from the social landscape. “The increasing popularity of video content on social media has introduced us to a whole wave of young engineers,” he says, “who are learning and sharing techniques through platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube."
“As well as this, young engineers often have their finger on the pulse as to what best new technology is out there, which is always refreshing. The advantages of the new technology available is that you can bring your ideas to life so quickly,” he adds, reiterating his reflection that the latest evolutions in hardware and software mean creatives in post can literally work at the speed of thought – which will probably change the way creatives think. “Now your creativity can flow, uninterrupted by any technical issues,” explains George. “However,” he adds, “all this incredible technology falls flat if you don't have the most important thing, and that is enthusiasm and passion.”