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Conor Barron at his Half-Light studio in the Marina Commercial Park.
Conor Barron at his Half-Light studio in the Marina Commercial Park.
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Trading Stories: Post-production in the half light

How did you get started?

About nine years ago, I was working for Apple in Bristol as an audio production training specialist. I was in UL before that, where I got a masters in music technology. 

When I came back home to Cork, I took over a room in my parents' house as a studio. Half-Light was the name, and it was all audio post-production. I took out an ad offering my services. 

Initially, I was doing soundtracks for local short films and mixing for short films and ads. I was there for about two or three years when I got the feeling that there was a lot of interest in this. 

I started putting plans together for an audio post-production studio in Cork City, and, in 2011, I had a studio construction company from Dublin working on it in the Marina Commercial Park.

I opened it in 2012, and it was a real 'Field of Dreams' situation - 'If you build it, they will come.' There were no guarantees of anything, and the film industry in Cork was quite young, but a company from London contacted me about a show they were doing with Rachel Allen. 

She came in to do a voice over for a whole series. Then I got work with a company doing ads for Currys PC World. It just so happened that their voice-over artist was based in Cork, so I was their go-to-guy for a few years. It just started to build from there. 

What kind of work have you done in recent years?

I made a connection with RTÉ Cork, and they have sent some of their mixing work my way. I worked on A Taste of Success with Dáithí Ó Sé and John Creedon's Road Less Travelled. 

Services offered include a green screen in the studio.
Services offered include a green screen in the studio.
I also recorded voice over with Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons. We recorded voice-over together in the studio for a documentary commissioned by the Mercedes Benz F1 team on their racing achievements. That was one of my favourite projects. 

I did work for a TV show for Marvel TV. That is a huge name to work with. It was a small job doing automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) but on a big show. Sometimes when filming a show, the dialogue isn't picked up correctly, so ADR is when it is re-recorded in a studio and matched to the video. 

What was it like working on Cork's biggest production, The Young Offenders?

It was a really terrific feeling. I worked with most of the cast and the director, Peter Foott, on both the film and the TV show. Peter gave me a call asking if I would do some work and he sent me a rough cut of the film. 

I took one look and said I had to work on that project. It's been really good for the industry down here. It put Cork in the spotlight. It let people see that it's a great location for filming, that there is a lot of great talent, and that we're able to turn out great productions, given the opportunity. 

How did you make the move into video post-production?

This is something I've been working on for the last 12 months. Clients wanted more services under the same roof, so I put together a picture-editing and colour-grading suit in the studio. 

There are lots of benefits to having one company do it all. It's time-efficient and cost-efficient for production companies. 

It doesn't seem like there is anything like this in Munster either, so it means that companies don't have to go outside the region for the service. 

There is also a green screen in the studio, where we can film what's called 'piece to camera' with great quality in a soundproof recording studio. Our website - halflight.ie - has a full rundown of what we offer.  

Have you got any staff?

I'm the only full-time person here, but I do have a team. It's still too early to have full-time staff, but there are people I work with who are brought in depending on the project. There are top notch people working in this area in Cork. 

What's in the future for the business?

With the new services, I feel like I've reached a base camp - it's a big achievement but there is still a huge journey ahead. 

I've also been doing work with Film In Cork and training will be a big thing for me going forward. I've already delivered some workshops, and soon I'll be advertising a workshop for actors who wish to get work doing voice-overs, helping them understand the industry better. 

I want to open doors for people. It takes a village for something like this to be successful. This is a facility, and I want to facilitate the industry inCork. It's not a glory run for me - I want to spread it around as much as I can and connect production companies to talent. Cork is rich in talent but not opportunity, so I'm trying to create the opportunities.