Artis in the Spotlight: Thomas Dalton

Artist in the Spotlight – Thomas Dalton

Restoration isn’t just about film – although we can’t get enough of that here at Filmworkz – it’s also incredibly important in audio production, but sound doesn’t have to be ancient to be restored. Thomas Dalton, Managing Director of Brown Bear Audio, explains how this process works, why remote post-production has only recently picked up, and what to do when a high end drama needs to redo a scene six months on… 

Despicable Me 4 (Coming July 2024)
Despicable Me 4 (Coming July 2024)


Thomas Dalton started his career in sound at 15 learning how to DJ. In best efforts to make his passion a living he went on to study music technology in all educational avenues he could access. ‘University gave me a really good base grounding in lots of different areas of music, production and music technology. I really enjoyed the live sound module and the audio post production module of music technology, so that’s where I decided to try and steer my career.’  

Dalton went on to be a live sound engineer as well as doing audio post-production jobs, like mixing, on a freelance basis. He worked in live sound for the best part of a decade but when commitments required him to be more available on the weekends – which is when most of the gigs were – he stepped back and set up Brown Bear Audio

A lot of Dalton’s work as a freelancer at the time was being done remotely, which gave him the idea: ‘hey, who don’t I offer my clients a wider breadth of talent whilst trying to refine the remote workflow to make it as streamlined as possible?’. Brown Bear started by providing professional audio post production services remotely, offering solutions to producers who couldn’t always make it to the studio. Since 2012, the team has grown into 16 people strong, and whilst most work is still done remotely, they have state-of-the-art studios in Brighton. 

GRACE (2021 - Present ) ADR by Brown Bear Audio
GRACE (2021 – Present ) ADR by Brown Bear Audio

Dalton said the industry was still slow to embrace this lifestyle until the pandemic, which made working from home the norm for many people. This reluctance to embrace a changing work environment could stem from security concerns about intellectual property but equally the expectation that a high end service needed a fancy facility in the heart of London – Dalton says ‘it’s a mindset thing’. He just needed to show them what was possible by thinking outside of the box. 

‘We fill a gap by providing fully managed audio post services at a rate between freelancer and facility. We have a core team of inhouse staff but we also have our remote team of freelance sound designers, mixers, producers and composers, so depending on what the job entails we’ll put together the best team for it. It also allows us to expand capacity quickly at busy times’. 


An audio producer’s day can be very varied, depending on what projects are going on. For Dalton, a typical day includes several voiceover sessions, or Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) sessions recording lines for film and dramas, and mixing on projects, whether that be a long form piece, a TV show, or a short form like an advert or corporate piece. ‘No two days are the same, which is exciting!’ 

A perk of the job? ‘I end up learning about quite a lot of different subjects as we work on a fair amount of non-fiction work’. For example, Dalton now knows that Lancia, the Italian car makers, were responsible for the birth of the modern motor car as it is in its current form now after working on their film. Nifty little bit of knowledge for a pub quiz. 

Another recent project saw Brown Bear working on the McLaren Artura: Performance. Redefined., creating the sound design with a team and sending a sound recordist to the shoot in Spain. With mics strapped to the exhausts – internal and external – they built a palette of sounds to experiment, layer, and augment in post production. ‘We were really proud of it because it’s just such a great showpiece of sound design and how far you can take it’. 

Different genres of media can have different requirements: non-fiction projects can be some of the most challenging because of the variety of sound files from B roll or footage shot in varying locations. This inevitably sounds different to recordings done in sound booths or controlled environments. On some shoots, there may not be a person dedicated to sound and it will fall to the cameraman whereas in high end dramas you may have a whole team dedicated with multiple microphones (this brings its own challenge of having to cut between the microphones in editing!). All this contributes to work in post production to make it sound professional and of broadcast quality. 

Brown Bear worked on Channel 4’s Amputating Alice, a feature documentary following the story of Paralympic Champion swimmer Alice Tai as she voluntarily undergoes an amputation and then races to be ready for the Commonwealth Games. ‘It was a really inspirational documentary to do and it was really great to learn about her journey. This was an interesting one for adding sounds as there’s a montage sequence telling a summarised story where we could play with the sound design’. 

Amputating Alice (2023)
Amputating Alice (2023)

‘It’s our job as sound designers to take the viewer on a smooth aural journey. As soon as there’s anything slightly jarring for the viewer or it doesn’t sound right or natural, straightaway they’ve been taken out the story. They know the sound is weird and they’re not thinking about the story anymore’. 

Brown Bear provided ADR for blockbuster films like Disney’s Cruella, Universal Pictures Despicable Me 4, and Netflix’s hit TV show Sex Education. This is required when lines need to be rerecorded once a film has been shot or a director decides another line is needed for the narrative once editing has begun. If a certain bit of audio is done in a noisy or windy environment or there’s a disruption to the audio, it’s not always possible to rescue it in post production with modern audio tools.  

Sex Education (2019)
Sex Education (2019)

Actors will come into the studio to re-record their lines and it can be a challenge to get back into the same headspace – ‘footage is cut months and months after it’s shot – it’s really normal for an actor to struggle to recreate these moments’. Brown Bear’s location in Brighton is an important factor too, with a lot of talent based in the area and the general South East. Brown Bear can save them a trip into London, and are able to connect to another facility as they record through a playback system. These extra bits of audio will normally be put over a shot of the back of someone’s head so you don’t see the lips moving. 


Audio restoration encompasses quite a broad spectrum; it can mean taking old recordings and restoring them to sound the best that they can often already transferred to a digital file, but the majority of the time it is cleaning up and making badly recorded dialogue or substandard recordings ready for broadcast quality. The latter will almost always be done in every single job, requiring clean up using tools like Izotope, Cedar and Accentize. 

Hunt Vs Lauda: The Next Generation (2022)
Hunt Vs Lauda: The Next Generation (2022)

Dalton explains that they have tools that can do a spectral analysis of the audio to look at where your issues are and hone in. For example, if you’ve got a piece which is covered in cicadas, you can go in and look at the audio waveform and spectrogram and draw out and colour out all the bits where you can see this cadence because the cicadas will be at a higher frequency than voices.  

Editing podcasts is another availability at Brown Bear, which can also require audio restoration. If a call or an interview is done over zoom, the sound can be compressed or echoey but with production tools it can be brought up to sound as if they are in the studio with you, removing all the roominess in the background. 

Big Kick energy With Maisie Adams and Suzi Ruffell
Big Kick energy With Maisie Adams and Suzi Ruffell

‘It’s our job to try and save audio for film so it doesn’t have to be re-recorded via ADR. We will try and use everything at our disposal to make whatever line of dialogue sound the best it can and in keeping with the rest of the dialogue’.