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Behind the Title: Hackenbacker founder/mixer Nigel Heath

Name: Nigel Heath

COMPANY: Hackenbacker Audio Post Production (@hackenbackerltd)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Hackenbacker is an audio post company based in London’s Soho. We work on high-end television, feature films and computer games.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Founder and Re-Recording Mixer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As re-recording mixer, my job is to bring together all the material prepared by the sound editors on shows. It’s my responsibility to make sure that dialogue, ADR, Foley, effects and score all combine to make a well-balanced and enjoyable mix.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
There’s been a few times in the studio when I’ve felt a bit like part “therapist” and part “mixer” (smiles).

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I’m blessed to get to work with some incredible clients, most of whom I regard as friends. It’s always especially nice to welcome back returning directors, producers and execs.

In a mixing capacity I best enjoy working with the score, I love it when composers attend the mix sessions and have a fun and rewarding time. I do my best to protect their work. Nothing pleases me more when the composer on a show leaves the mix really happy!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I love working early mornings! I can often be found in the studio at 7:30am with coffee and toast throwing faders around very happily! It’s my most productive part of the day!

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I suspect if I wasn’t a mixer, I would have pursued a career in radio or music production.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I can remember destroying my parents’ record player when I was around seven years old! I was investigating how it worked and trying to get it to play “off speed!” So it seems I’ve always had an interest in sound.

Downton Abbey

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’ve mixed all episodes of Downton Abbey (which airs on Masterpiece on PBS in the States), and I am looking forward to the next season. I’m currently mixing The Musketeers, which is now in its second season and is huge fun to work on. I’m very excited and proud to be mixing the series Thunderbirds Are Go!, which is simply amazing! I love my job!

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I’d be lost without my incredible AMS Neve console — it’s become a true extension of me, and it sounds incredible.

My favorite and go-to hardware reverb unit is an Eventide Orville. I use it everyday. I find it a great tool — it has such a lovely natural sound. I’m not such a fan of plug-in verbs, so I have a quite well-stocked rack of gear behind me in the studio!

My third piece of tech would be my two channels of Dolby Cat 430 noise suppression. It powerfully, yet gently, helps me minimize traffic and background sounds with minimal artifacts — again, the “naturalness” is important. It also has the bonus of improving dialogue clarity in certain circumstances. It’s a lovely piece of classic kit!

Can I be greedy and add a fourth please!? It’s my Thermionic Culture Phoenix two-channel tube compressor – simply sublime!! Just pop it across a stereo mix, press play and break a smile!

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m a bit of a Twitterhead — it’s a good place to chat with like-minded (and non-like-minded) sound and music types, as well as seeing what all the crazies and the usual suspects are up to! We’ve actually had a few tasty jobs come in via Twitter as well.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
My average day is around 11 to 12 hours long. I work hard and enjoy playing and chilling hard too — I find it important. It’s not easy to maintain a balance in what is often an all-encompassing career. I have two cell phones, one for general use and one for close friends and family — it means I can get some quiet time when I need it!

I also disappear to the far West Coast of Scotland a couple of times a year with some really close friends — the spot we go to barely has power — and it’s so beautiful! It’s a great place to relax and de-stress. I love it there…it’s like another world!

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