Although best known for its Award-winning audio post production work on major television drama series, London-based facility Hackenbacker is also an important location for music industry clients who want high-end post production for their DVD projects.
Hackenbacker’s Director Nigel Heath started his career in music studios, working with many well-known artists and mentors. Given this background, it is no surprise that music still plays a major part in Heath’s repertoire as a sound mixer.
Recently Hackenbacker has undertaken a prestigious project for Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Rós, mastering the audio for a 75-minute live film that is currently on a worldwide cinema tour and is also being released on DVD/Blu-ray this month, alongside a double live album.
Entitled inni, the film was recorded over two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace by director Vincent Morisset. Unlike the first Sigur Rós live film heima, which was released in 2007 with the aim of placing the band in a cultural and geographic context, inni (which literally means inside) strips away everything except for the performance of the four musicians, thus perfectly capturing their ethereal sound that combines classical and minimalist elements with the falsetto vocals of frontman Jónsi Birgisson.
Morisset’s aim was to create the feel of actually watching the band perform live – something that critics describe as ‘intensely personal’. To do this he has almost entirely removed any awareness of the audience or any sense of the venue, and he has used multiple camera angles to get very close to the musicians so that viewers can see the effort and concentration involved in delivering the performance.
Inni was originally filmed on HD digital before being transferred to 16mm film, then projected and partially re-filmed through various glass and prisms. Editor Nick Fenton then reassembled the film, combining archive interviews and concert footage with the new material to create an impressionistic and hugely imaginative work of art.
Hackenbacker’s involvement in this project stems from an initial booking enquiry through the usual channels. As a fan of the band – and realising that the job was perfect for the studio – Nigel Heath pulled out all the stops to enable the booking to go ahead.
“It was at a particularly hectic time,” he recalls, “but my assistant, Alex Fielding, and I were so keen to work on the project that we made it happen.
“Mastering the project was great fun, helped by the fact that the material provided by the band’s sound engineer Birgir Jon Birgisson, which was recorded at their Sundlaugin Studio in Iceland, was superb in terms of content, execution and presentation. They’re obviously - and very rightly - famous for their attention to sonic detail and quality and this really helped make for efficient, happy and relaxed sessions is our studio.”
Birgir Jon Birgisson attended all of the mastering sessions, along with band member Kjartan Sveinsson.
He says: Putting the finishing touches to Inni at Hackenbacker was a real pleasure. Nigel and his team seemed to be really into it and from the minute we walked in, we got the feeling that their aim was the same as ours - to create the great experience of Sigur Rós playing live. The room at Hackenbacker sounds fantastic and I remember thinking that I would probably never hear Inni sounding like that again. I really hope I get the chance to work there again in the future.”
Heath adds that he was particularly struck by the very relaxed nature of the sessions, where the atmosphere really allowed creativity and input to flourish.
“I remember wishing that some British artists could learn a little from this,” he says. “We had a great time – especially at the post-session curries. I’m really very proud to have been a small part of this wonderful and boundary-pushing project.”