Neil Parfitt, who composes music for children’s animation that spans preschool, teen comedy and Japanese Anime that often carray a wide range of possible themes and characters, employs a Flock Audio PATCH system to assist in more quickly auditioning signal chains and speeding his workflow.
“In 2015, I had DAW fatigue, and got tired of just staring at a screen all the time so started buying some of my key outboard gear,” Parfitt recalls. “So I began using analog outboard on the front end, and also during mixing on the back end, and things began to get really complicated.” Once he began using PATCH, things changed: “PATCH has changed my set up from ‘set and forget’ to a sonic playground because I can easily reconfigure everything at any point and has actually made me appreciate outboard gear even more.
“I love the sound of having things hardwired, but in the past, you couldn’t experiment in the same way as you can in a DAW with software,” he continues — it was more ‘set and forget and there was not as much experimentation. Now, PATCH has allowed me to play with my gear like Lego. I feel like I can experiment freely without crossing this threshold of going ‘in the box’. It has made my system a giant sandbox playground. I can load different presets and changes are seamless for any of my projects.”
Parfitt’s work, uses a wide palette of sounds and folding them into a musical narrative. Depending on the vision of the producers, selections can range anywhere from cowboy music to huge orchestrational mayhem: “My work is always different and is never monotonous,” he says. “Last week I was writing sprinkly ballet music, and this week I am writing conga driven island beats. You just never know what is going to come.”
Parfitt explains his typical creative process: “Normally we get the animation and spot the video with the director and producer and figure out where all the music needs to go. Then they let me loose for six days and I have to compose all the individual music cues — it could be ten pieces, it could be sixty, depending on the episode. In addition, these music cues may span different music genres within the same episode, so PATCH has been vital in creating, saving and accessing these different sonic flavors.”
Each show is a little different. One might contain epic Hollywood kinds of sounds, and another one might be piano and mallets. Parfitt was the composer on The Remarkable Mr. King, a children’s television series about a short-sighted little lion: “The producers wanted the soundscape to be gentle with some light mallet percussion, marimba, vibes and shakers — gentle sounding instruments because it was for a very young audience.”
From a technical perspective, Parfitt adds that his PATCH connected to the master insert on his Neve 8816 summing mixer. “From there, all my analog gear kind of acts like sweetening,” he says. “I can do mid-side, parallel compression, and other kinds of processing. But on the flip of a dime, if a client calls, I can instantly load a different preset which automatically takes that same outboard gear, I can run my synth through it and record it. PATCH has allowed me to reconfigure my entire workflow instantly and that what hooked me into it.”
He’s looking toward acquiring the new PATCH XT in the near future: “Once I get the larger version, I can tap each stereo output of my summing mixer and insert dynamics and processing there. Also, PATCH XT has so much I/O that I will be able to gain access to all sorts of gear that generally sleeps on a shelf until I need it. I’m really looking forward to being able to access all of this from within the PATCH App.”