The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Empty Sea Audio!
Name: Empty Sea Audio
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Year Founded: 2007
Interviewee: Founder | Creative Director: Mark Camperell
Specialties: Sound Design, Mixing and Music Composition for Film, Television, Branding and Video Games. Sister company, The Library by Empty Sea sells royalty-free sound packs for editors, sound designers and content producers.
What inspired you to start your company?
Empty Sea Audio was started out of necessity. I had been laid off from a full-time job and I was looking for a way to differentiate myself from the other freelancers in the market. Starting a company seemed like the logical choice.
How did the team meet?
Most of our team met in the Recording Arts program at Loyola Marymount University.
What was the first job someone hired you for?
The first real job we were hired for was to provide editorial and mixing for the cast commentaries on Season 1 of NBC’s Heroes.
What was the most technically challenging work you’ve created?
Technically, some of our most challenge work comes from foreign market commercial spots. All of the different specifications can be a challenge to manage for each region. Thankfully, there are new tools that allow us to easily monitor specs.
Which work or brand are you best known for?
I think the project we are best known for is a high-powered, action webseries called DR0NE. DR0NE had some star power to it, as the executive producer was Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) and it starred Lance Reddick and Kenneth Choi. The biggest challenge was to choose and create sounds that gave the robot sentience and emotion.
Which project is your most underrated?
We did a series of shorts for Retrofit Films and Marvel that aired on Disney XD as interstitials. It was called Marvel Mashups and it took animation footage from the Marvel vault from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It was recut as comedy, much like SeaLab 2021. This project was challenging because we had to make the sounds and voice over fit the time period for each episode. I think in all we did like 80 of these and they were 2 minutes long each so it was a feature’s amount of material. At the same time it ran through virtually all of the classic Marvel cast of characters so there were superpowers aplenty to account for.
What is the smartest work you’ve seen in the past year that didn’t come from your shop?
Some of the best work I’ve seen in the last year comes out of Riot Games. Their audio team is absurdly talented and they work with some fabulous vendors as well. Right on pace would be the work the cinematic audio team at Blizzard puts out.
How has the business changed since you started?
More and more, agencies and production companies are asking us to partner with them directly to build out audio rooms in their spaces. We then staff these rooms with our folks. This seems to be a new trend in the last three years or so.
What emerging tech trend will have the biggest impact on your business?
Remote location tracking was just introduced by Avid at NAMM. What this means is that going forward, ISDN may be a thing of the past. Remote VO talent and musicians will be able to integrate directly into ProTools without needing expensive connections and infrastructure. The result, better collaboration and lower overhead.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Our biggest challenge is to be able to consistently find the right people for our projects. Our business is volatile and freelance in nature. A lot of times, we are juggling freelancer schedules. Thankfully for now, we have a stable of folks we trust to get things done.
What advice do you have for agency producers or creatives?
Vendors should be creative partners who shepherd you through and around obstacles in the creative process. Trust them to provide you with what you want and what you need.
What do you make of the trend where brands are skipping their agency of record to work directly with production partners?
I think it just shows the nature of the business these days. There are always ebbs and flows to how brands prefer to work. Right now brands seems going more on-demand, more direct, more agile. We’ve even seen brands crowdsourcing their creative.
What is the best thing about working at Empty Sea Audio?
We are passionate about two things. Sound and storytelling. We aim to cultivate our passions every day.
Where is the best bar in Los Angeles?
The best bar is in our office! No joke.
Which industry boondoggle is most likely to send your employees to rehab: Cannes, AICP or SXSW?
I’d have to say SXSW. One of our composers, Ryan Ross is also in the band The Lonely Wild. They have played the festival the last three years (including 2015). Their tales of its greatness leave us speechless every time!
Care to share a joke?
Not a joke, but an anecdote about the effective use of sound to evoke an emotional response. “See a dog, hear a dog. That’s sound editing. See a dog, hear a dog, poop your pants. That’s sound design.” Can’t take credit for that one. I heard it from Tom Ozanich, a sound designer and mixer at Warner Bros.