Imaging World Wide….Episode 1: IMAGING South Africa

Today, I’m going to start a little series of posts called Imaging World Wide. In every episode, I will interview a very talented imaging director from another continent showing the unique cultural background, the specifics, but also the techy stuff you all enjoy so much like plugIN combos, Session Setup, Audio Examples and more

Let’s start with episode 1…..South Africa and someone, most of you guys might still know – Brionne Olsen.

After taking part in our Benztown Xmas Contest 2011 it’s time for him to represent South Africa in our series. Check out Brionne’s screen shots, his audio and learn everything about IMAGING SOUTH AFRICA! Enter Brionne

What is different in SA: cultural challenges, how is the radio scene, the environment?

South Africa is really on par with the rest of the world when it comes to the radio industry. The challenge is to spread this right across the landscape. What I mean by this is that in most parts of South Africa there are still a lot of rural areas and open land and largely an agricultural driven environment that makes it essentially still very 3rd world. Where as, all major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are more 1st world in every sense of the word. The Gauteng province is essentially the economic hub of South Africa with a population of 8.8 million with most falling within the mid to high-income bracket!! Therefore being the most competitive radio environment. 5 of the country’s major radio stations are based here and compete for this audience and I so happen to work for one of these competing radio stations – Jacaranda 94.2.

South Africa has 11 official languages, with 9 of them essentially being vernacular in nature aka indigenes. The other two are English and Afrikaans. As most of the world is aware of our political history, so I won’t go into detail – but essentially the latter two languages is what business in South Africa advertise in as most understand either/or – or both languages. So really there is a radio station in South Africa for every language that at least caters for each language or in a bilingual format. Jacaranda 94.2 broadcasts in both English and Afrikaans. So the challenge is, there isn’t a universal method of broadcasting in South Africa and companies /broadcasters and investors have to pick where the money lays and where potential growth is situated. The nature of the beast I suppose.

Which production system do you use and why?

In my 10-year experience I have worked on a lot of DAW production systems. Some due to preference, others due to affordability. I’ve worked on Nuendo, Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools, Soundforge, Adobe Audition, Sony Acid – you name it, I worked on it. BUT I really prefer Steinberg’s Cubase and Sony Soundforge (and a little bit of Audition too)! Sorry if I offend or step on anyone’s toes here, but Cubase is really a great DAW mainly because it’s fast, rendering time is quick and the arrange page is very simple to work on AND because the Germans kick butt, but every plumber has his own tools I suppose. Soundforge is a really great final mastering editor with a lot of awesome compressor options, EQ ability and just allows for a very nice final mix before it goes on air.

What are your favorite plugins (including screenshots)?

This is a difficult question to answer as I experiment with a lot of plugins and with something new every time, BUT I do have a few plugins I use on a regular basis:

For mastering and compression: THE WAVES BUNDLES. Everyone love’s these puppies as it really brings warmth to a final mix and really just make the overall sound nice and fat!

I like to create an overall stereo image over my final mix. So I use S1 STEREO IMAGER just to widen the sound a bit.

Even though I use a lot of the EQ plugins available on the WAVES BUNDLES, I do have my favorite EQ plugin. PSP’s MasterQ plugin. It has awesome presets that are really customizable and has a lot of versatility. With this EQ, combined with other EQ plugins, I create my telephone effects that’s clearer, audible and cut thru the mix. Unlike other telephone EQ effects that distort and actually reduces the sample rate to telephone frequency of 8000 kHz. This quality is really bad for overall mastering and compression. The MasterQ really creates a softer, cut thru EQ sound.

And finally: Ratshack is a simple reverb based plugin, but when you play around with the settings, you can create really good short robotic reverb effects that don’t kill the audibility of your voice. No use if you have a kick ass promo and no one is able to get the message. Ratshack helps with awesome entertaining effects, without compromising on audio quality.

How do you schedule your work (priorities)?

I usually work a week in advance when it comes to basic promos. Station TSL builders or major competition promos are usually 2 weeks in advance from date of brief. Imaging is done on a two month basis where refreshing of pieces are made and a total revamp of imaging is done yearly. Day to-day tasks are really structured and I don’t really allow any work to be bottlenecked. I try to create an even flow of workload for each day, week and month.

What do you love about being the head of production?

To be able to define the sound of a station and to direct audiences into the direction I want. Some listeners are really receptive and pick up the culture and sound of a station really fast if executed correctly. I try to understand my audience and produce awesome, touching and real entertaining imaging and promo pieces. Sound definition is for me the utmost satisfaction.

What is the best production trick anybody should know?

Perfect time stretching techniques. If executed well, you can really get some awesome time delay effects with time stretching.

How do you get inspired and what do you use as source of creativity?

I listen to different radio stations locally and abroad to hear what is trending, but my inspiration comes from talking to people and just chatting about every day life. South Africans deal with any crisis in a humoristic approach, so you actually get a lot of ideas thru people thoughts. It’s just process the idea and make it reality.

Who were your radio production idols, who influenced your work as
a producer?

Eric Chase, Jeff Thomas, William Scott (a local)

What would be your 3 key advises for a youngster?

Allow yourself to dream. Program directors are usually over-cautious people because their jobs are on the line. Don’t pay attention to them, because they work on ratings and revenue – but don’t over step too much. Not everyone is cut out for this line of work, so make sure sound engineering is a passion and natural creative juices flow. Otherwise you are not going to make it. Relax more: creativity comes, don’t force it. Create for yourself a procedure in case you do experience creative block so you have something to fall back on. Most of all have FUN!!

Bio + Demo.

I have been a sound engineer for 10 years. I DJ part-time. I am a music producer as well and love all sorts of music. Hip Hop is my thing, but I love Deep/Soulful House music. Award winning radio imager and nominee. Been around the block a few times and love creative thinking. I hate following trend and would rather make someone follow me. I love the WOW effect on people’s faces. I work for one of the biggest stations in South Africa, Jacaranda 94.2.

Check out FB: search for The PrankSta House DJ/Producer or

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