Peer Review: Giselle Hall
750mph's Sound Engineer Giselle Hall talks us through the films and soundtracks that inspire her, the difference between working on long and short-form films, and why Britney Spear's Toxic is the all-time greatest example of audio mixing.
Who are three contemporaries that you admire, and why?
I don’t admire anyone really…apart from my Mum. But I’ve been lucky to have worked alongside some very talented people, pretty much all of whom I’ve learned something from.
I appreciate and respect the work of all my contemporaries ...we all bring our own perspectives.
Putting audio to picture wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about .. I had no idea - the scale of it - it was pretty eye opening at the time.
Please share 3-4 pieces of work that exemplify great sound engineering, and explain why?
Jurassic Park! I mean, I was ten when I first saw it.. the sound of those dinosaurs shook me then and still now. The sound track is incredible too. The new Top Gun Maverick was also such a vibe in cinema. I think the sound did a great job of immersing the viewer.
A Quiet Place is stunning too, I think. The sound of those nasty creatures is super effective but even more clever is use of silence. SO impactful. Off the back of that… the OG Halloween also uses that lurky, quiet calm to keep viewers on edge. And that score - so haunting. Also, that mask.
Above: A Quiet Place (2018) trailer.
What do you like most about the work that you do?
The constant of variation. There’s really never a dull moment.
What was your journey to becoming a sound engineer?
Well, after university and a couple of years travelling, I decided to go back to school for Audio Engineering …not knowing exactly what path it would lead me down ..but with music business in mind. Broad. I know. But I’ve always loved music, so that was my initial thought.
[The move into short-form] was a big, and somewhat intimidating, change for me… but, in the end, a great stepping stone.
When we came to the post production module I was truly intrigued. Putting audio to picture wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about .. I had no idea - the scale of it - it was pretty eye opening at the time. So my fascination started there and then steered my direction.
After powering through that degree I hit the pavements of Soho looking for a job as a runner (in a Post House) to get my foot in the door. Once I did, my direction was clear - work hard and do all the right things to get into the audio department as an assistant and work my way up. It’s been a journey.
Above: Top Gun Maverick (2022) trailer.
What are the differences between working as a sound engineer on long form films and in advertising? What made you move towards the latter?
Hmm; apart from the ‘worlds’ being very different, I think techniques and approaches (workflow) to a project or job may vary simply due to run time but I’d say the skillset is interchangeable for the most part.
I started out in factual long-form and everything I learned then has been incredibly valuable moving forward and into short-form.
The move into short-form started with an opportunity I had to work in an agency. At the time it was a big, and somewhat intimidating, change for me… but, in the end, a great stepping stone.
In every role I’ve had, I’ve been surrounded by supportive teammates and superiors who’ve been generous with their time, experience and knowledge.
What is one thing all sound engineers need?
Who was the greatest sound engineer of all time? Why?
Whoever produced and mixed Britney Spears’ Toxic ..because it’s a banger
Above: Britney Spears - Toxic.
Did you have a mentor? Who was it?
I’ve had many mentors. Literally, in every role I’ve had, I’ve been surrounded by supportive teammates and superiors who’ve been generous with their time, experience and knowledge. Even now, I work closely with some of the most experienced in the industry. It’s a great environment for all of the learnings and growing.
What’s changing in the industry that all sound engineers need to keep up with?
Technology. It’s ever-changing and evolving. There are geniuses out there ferociously working away advancing tech that equip us with better tools and, ultimately, contribute to our ability to do our job better or more efficiently.