Kate Davis

Kate Davis is a Dubbing Mixer with an impressive list of credits to her name, and she is currently the Head of Sound at Directors Cut Films. In 2016 she won Resolution Magazine’s ‘Film/Post Dubbing Mixer of the Year’ title, and she has been nominated for various other accolades, including a BAFTA Craft Award in 2019. Kate sat down recently to talk us through her career beginnings, and some of her most impactful recent projects. She also had some nice things to say about NUGEN Audio’s Loudness Toolkit!

"I was in awe of this weird world, where people were obsessed with how loud a footstep was, or whether a bird tweet was in the right place."

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. Feeling a little lost and disillusioned, I took a gap year and worked 4 jobs with a view to save up and go travelling. Unexpectedly, a family friend asked me to help him out for a few weeks at the BBC’s Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, and suddenly I found myself in this amazing creative environment; pop groups were arriving in helicopters, and the presenters from Countryfile and Top Gear were eating tea and toast in the cafe. Eventually, I applied for a job at Pebble Mill as a post production runner, and even though I turned up to the interview completely overdressed, I got it! I worked my way up over the next couple of years, until I was working as a drama assistant editor on programmes like Dalziel & Pascoe. During that time, I started to feel a calling from the main dubbing studio at the other end of the corridor.

 

Whenever I had any free time, I’d sit silently at the back of the dubbing studio. I was in awe of this weird world, where people were obsessed with how loud a footstep was, or whether a bird tweet was in the right place. Before long I developed an awareness of why the dubbing mixer was pressing stop, and I could see the impact they were making with their seemingly tiny tweaks. A little while later, when they needed a new dubbing editor, they trained me up. I spent six years working as a dialogue editor in a strange little room, and then I slid sideways to track laying and mixing more factual programmes alongside the drama.

"It's always a challenge blending together so many different sources of varying quality, but really satisfying, even though the viewer often has no idea of the work involved."

I used to sing in choirs, and I’m a grade 8 flautist, so I love mixing music programmes. Last year I was nominated for a BAFTA Craft Award for my work on the Amy Winehouse: Back to Black episode of BBC Four’s Classic Albums - that one will always be a favourite of mine. I also worked on Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don't Know Me, a beautiful film which used audio cassette interviews with Teddy, intertwined with archive footage, interviews and music. It’s always a challenge blending together so many different sources of varying quality, but really satisfying, even though the viewer often has no idea of the work involved. I was also lucky enough to mix a live performance filmed with Teddy’s original band and a talented young female singer, weaving in recordings of Teddy’s vocals from back in the day. That was a unique challenge, and a lot of fun!

 

Another favourite was last year’s Climate Change: The Facts documentary presented by David Attenborough. It’s always an honour to work on films that get people talking, and hopefully making steps towards positive change. Other favourites are programmes I’ve been involved in for years, and I’ve become part of the team and their successes; Travel Man: 48 Hours in…, Great Canal Journeys, and CBeebies’ Apple Tree House amongst them. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried, and I’ve loved being a part of each one of them.

"[NUGEN Audio] plug-ins all fit into my workflow seamlessly, they're so simple and easy to use, and I trust them implicitly."

The move from PPM 6 to Integrated loudness was a little unsettling, because I didn’t know how my mixes would fit in with the new guidelines, or whether I might have to adapt my mixing style. There was a lot of speculation, but we all had to find our own comfort with the new rules. I think it was JJ from HHB who first recommended NUGEN Audio’s Loudness Toolkit. It’s so easy to use - I ran several of my previous mixes through LM-Correct, and realised that pretty much everything I did already adhered to the new spec, I just wasn’t utilising the wider dynamic range we now had to play with! Next, I started using ISL on my master fader, and keeping an eye on VisLM while mixing. The plug-ins all fit into my workflow seamlessly, they’re so simple and easy to use, and I trust them implicitly.

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