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Calrec Craft Interview - Aston Fearon Sound Supervisor

14/05/2024

Tell us about your path to professional audio. How did you get started and what drew you to the field and technical nature of being an audio professional?

As a teenager I had a growing interest in music, music production and music technology. I studied Music Technology at college in Nottingham. After my course, I ended up freelancing, primarily in live music and live events and after this I went on to work in the broadcast sector.

Can you share more about your background and the range of work you do, including in live sound engineering, studio mixing, broadcast, theatre, location recording, and music production? How do you adapt your skills to meet all of these unique and different areas of professional audio?

I work in various sectors and do sound engineering in a variety of forms. I work in TV, music, theatre and live events. There s a core aspect common to all of these forms of sound engineering, but each area has its own specific workflows and knowledge. I find that my experience in other aspects of sound engineering feeds into my work as a Sound Supervisor and vice versa. Mixing and recording is probably the area I ve had the most amount of experience in across all of these different fields. Getting a good balance and making things sound pleasing to the listener- ultimately, having a good ear and a knowledge of how to make the most of the equipment transfers across all of these areas.

What are some of the projects you've most enjoyed working on? Can you name some highlights in your career so far?

In a broadcast mixing role, some of the productions I ve worked on include: Premier League Football, The Olympics, Australian Open and Davis Cup Tennis, Formula E World Championship Racing, UEFA Women s Champions League Football and BBC News. I ve mixed boxing, rugby and other sports as well. I ve also done a bit of eSports for Red Bull Gaming.

Your clients describe you as knowledgeable , professional , and that you are a quick- thinking problem solver . How do you approach your work to ensure that your clients get a positive experience?

I tend to try and prevent problems that can be avoidable rather than having to sort them out later down the line. Whether that s in the prep stages at my end (before a job) or thinking through scenarios during a rig. Thinking through potential issues in advance is ideal for me. I find it s much easier to have thought in advance about how to resolve problems if and when they do occur. I also try to make good headway during a rig as early as possible. That way things can be ready in good time for a FACs check or a line-up, for example, before other people need them. I find it makes for a more relaxed experience for everyone involved and it leaves space for the lighter moments of the day which is also important. It s not about rushing but I think it s often about being organised, prioritising and verifying things as soon as possible. I never assume that kit and cables are going to be fault free until they ve been tested. I think people I work with and for, are comfortable with my work, in part, because I tend to stay calm. Part of that, I think, is probably about having the right perspective. I find staying calm does help to think clearly and helps others to have a good working environment.

Can you describe a scenario/project where you had to act quickly to adapt a workflow to accommodate a stressful situation or last-minute change?

Often, it s the last-minute requests and additions. Again, I find it helpful to prepare for things in advance if possible and checking if there are any spares available in terms of mics, for example. Factoring in the extra channels and buses on the desk can also be helpful. Sometimes having an aux mix already set up can be handy for something you re sure might well be needed but you haven t been asked for it yet. Then it s fairly quick to allocate any ports and then arrange for it all to be rigged.

How did your relationship with Calrec begin and what Calrec consoles have you used over the years? What Calrec console do you use the most now and why?

When I moved into broadcast sports work as a Sound Assistant, I spent a fair bit of time asking other Sound Supervisors about their workflow and watching them mix in my downtime. I m grateful to them for that earlier input. I also got some hands-on training with Calrec's Artemis console at their Hebden Bridge HQ. When I then started mixing on Calrec desks, I felt pretty comfortable using them straight away. I ve used the Artemis, Sigma and Brio but I mainly use the Artemis. It's a widely-used desk in various studios and trucks here in the UK.

What differentiates Calrec from other console makers in the industry? What features do you favor about their products?

I like the way I can configure a layout on the surface pretty quickly as well as setup and rearrange the fader bays to suit my workflow during different productions. It s very easy to send tone down different signal paths, including inputs, which is very important. And the routing is very straightforward and flexible.

What audio console features are most useful to you and what features do you think you will need from a broadcast audio desk in the future?

One of the most useful aspects of the desk is being able to have different options for backup mics that can be accessed very quickly. Whether it s the Input 2 function or using a B layer. If there ever would be a fault during transmission, it s possible to switch over very quickly. The backstop PFL on the faders is used often. Having the most common functions work well is important, including your EQ and compression, delays and routing, etc. I think Calrec desks are well designed in that sense. It s very easy to access what you need and the colour coding certainly helps.

In terms of console technology, what can you do with today's consoles that wo
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