Opinion Pieces

Opinion Pieces

Interview with Milos Stojanovic

Sound Editor, Dubbing Mixer and ADR Recordist Milos Stojanovic who has worked on titles such as Top Gun: Maverick, Outside The Wire, Killing Eve, Spiderman- Far from Home and Doolittle talks about his career and his new venture Voice Ark.

Growing up in a musical family, music has played an important part of his life since early childhood. “On one side there were professional musicians and on the other vinyl collectors and music  enthusiasts. Both were keen to share their knowledge and influences and I was often at the receiving end and at their mercy. After some years of exploring my father’s record collection I started realising there is something else at play apart from great musicianship that makes these tracks so appealing to the ear.” This became of great interest and prompted a journey of musical discovery, exploration of production techniques and sound engineering; finally arriving at sound for the moving image and sound design. “Once I became aware of the impact sound has on storytelling and its ability to  subconsciously influence the audience, I was captivated with the process and there was no looking back.”

Stojanovic has always had a very broad interest in all things sound and was happy to take on any task at hand “The fact that I primarily work as Sound Editor and ADR Mixer was a happy coincidence in my case as I enjoy both of these areas of sound post-production. However, I’ve always been open to exploring all areas of sound post-production since the beginning of my career and still work in various roles including mixing, editing and recording.”

His first job was working as a runner for Crow TV (now Radiant post) in 2008. “I was over the moon and happy to take on making teas and coffees in the afternoons/nights whilst completing my final year of studies during the day. Luckily for me, the role of night time audio assistant quickly became available and I was the first in line to jump at this opportunity! I learnt a lot from the role in terms of technical aspects of post-production and the importance of having persistence and patience while treating everyone with the same regardless of their age, experience or position.”

Stojanovic’s work gives him a great deal of job satisfaction. “Many of the jobs have given me a unique opportunity to play a tiny part in recreating scenes on screen and to witness some incredible acting talent and directing from the production and sound teams. It’s hard to single any one title in particular but my favourite projects to work on are usually the ones where there’s an opportunity for involvement early on in the process and time and freedom for creative input.”

We asked what he finds are the main challenges of editing and ADR recording. “For me the biggest challenge working as a freelancer has to be hopping around studios for sessions with quick turnarounds. Often it happens that by the time everyone’s settled in and I get to meet the production team and the aims of the project it’s already time to wrap things up and send the session over. This is where communicating clearly and effectively becomes of huge importance in order to quickly find out as much as possible about the project, story and what the client wishes to achieve with a certain performance or element of sound.”

Whilst working remotely during lockdown, Stojanovic experienced location acoustic challenges that affected the recording process and the quality of the recordings. As a result of research and planning supported by his previous experiences of mobile ADR work he has launched Voice Ark. “Since lockdown there have been occasions where acoustic environments have been less than ideal; producing recordings that sound out of context and that are difficult to blend with production sound.”

“When it comes to any type of voice recording, in my opinion there are 3 major elements in running and completing a session successfully. These include the actor’s performance, the room acoustics and microphone placement along with the technical know-how of the engineer. Whilst freelancing on a range of ADR sessions since we first went into lockdown in March 2020 I’ve experienced on several occasions the negative effect unpredictable acoustic environments can have on a recording, making it not only difficult to monitor and judge quality but also producing recordings that are difficult to blend in with production sound. This is especially the case with exterior scenes that require more projection from the actor and reveal any unwanted acoustics.”

Since the first lockdown we have all been relying on new technology to work from home. “Smooth communication is another element that needs to be very high on the list of priorities and always possible between the actor / engineer and anyone joining the session virtually or in person, regardless of the setup. Prior to the pandemic Source Connect and ISDN along with Zoom or Skype were the usual forms of establishing a connection between the talent and the production team who are located in different parts of the world but I have since started exploring and utilizing new workflows to record actors and control remote rigs. This meant acquiring some of the tools I was already familiar with but also exploring new solutions which have since been added to the bag. I normally pick a combination of tools depending on job requirements but some of my favourites at the moment are Audio Movers, Session Link Pro, ElTeeSee and hardware-wise the AJA u-tap capture card.”

With the new ways of working we have had to adapt to how we do things. “In general terms most of the things I do haven’t been affected. I still work from various facilities when possible and do remote editing and mixing from my home studio like I used to do before Covid. The biggest impact so far has been on client attended sessions as monitoring and giving feedback on ADR and running the session successfully often requires more planning and additional tools and kits being used. Another challenge can be reviewing and signing off mixes without the client being present and sometimes within a completely different environment to where the content was mixed. This means that sessions sometimes require additional time for notes and updates and communicating clearly and effectively become even more important for completing the job successfully.”

As for how he approaches projects, well that depends on the project. “Every job is different and I always work with the client to determine what their expectations are and do my best to make the most of the available budget and put the time we have to good use. Delivering a sound track that’s both sonically interesting and matches the production team’s vision is always the main goal but can be challenging at times which is why a few years ago I set up a network of freelancers called Sound Professionals. The benefits of working this way is that we support each other as colleagues while covering a wide range of content and genres and providing all aspects of sound postproduction while still meeting some of the more challenging tasks and deadlines.”

So what other changes has Stojanovic seen over the years? “When I first started working in the industry it was pretty common to have the whole sound team working on a project under one roof. This not only applied to in-house staff working for facilities but freelancers as well. It was a fantastic way for someone junior, like myself at the time, to learn about different aspects of sound post-production and meet many colleagues within the industry. Over time this gradually started to fade away as a concept in the freelance world and only seems to take place on some larger scale productions. Of course with the current situation with the pandemic this is the preferred method of
working for a lot of people for obvious reasons, so studio sessions usually take place with a minimum number of people required to do the job. As vaccinations are rolled out in the UK I expect there will be a gradual return to a more relaxed working environment, however as technology and connectivity keeps improving there will undoubtedly be many of those who will simply choose to work from home whenever possible. For all of the reasons above I think it will be of highest importance to always strive to keep our craft as collaborative as possible and ensure everyone is given an opportunity to learn, gain experience and exchange ideas with their colleagues in whichever way possible, especially those starting out in the industry."





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