Meet Max: the SAE Oxford Audio student who has been working on popular Sky Arts show

13 Aug 2019

Max Riches is a second year Audio Production student at SAE Oxford. He has been working hard on his dissertation, which is exploring ambisonics and their relation to audience perception of spatial quality. He took some time out of his busy schedule to chat to us about some of the projects he has been involved with over the course of his studies at SAE. 

He recently did sound recording work on the popular Sky Arts show, Portrait Artist of the Year. The show involves an esteemed panel of judges who travel across Europe in search of the brightest star in the art world. Each episode features a regional competition, where contestants are challenged to produce a portrait of one of three famous sitters. The judges select who moves onto the semi-final. The three finalists get their work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the winner receives a $10,000 commission to become a permanent part of the British Library. 

Max worked alongside camera man, Josh Montegue, and Georgia Maskery the Producer. He was on set to do all the behind the scenes shots which are published online as promotional material for the show, including interviews of the contestants and the celebrity portrait sitters. Max secured the Sky Arts roles with the help of SAE Oxford Audio Production lecturer, Christos Manolas, who knows Georgia through his work with Brookes University. 

Max described his experience on the shoot: “It was very challenging to begin with, as I had only really ever done student films before. There is usually only one or two cameras on these sets, and it’s easy to reshoot scenes. But there were 19 people miked up at any one time on the Sky Arts set - it was a big set up!” 

Regardless of how daunting the task was to begin with, Max clearly impressed because he has been invited back to record the sound for further behind-the-scenes material for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. This show will involve more outdoor shots, with trips from Sussex all the way up to Scotland taking place later this year.  

Max has been working in sound recording with a view of working towards securing a role in post-production sound once he graduates. He said: “Sound recording is a really good in into the industry, and is a good way of seeing and understanding the processes that go on behind the scenes. But I always wanted to do post-production before I came to SAE.” 

With such experience under his belt, it’s perhaps no surprise that Max is the go to Audio assistant amongst his fellow Digital Film Production students. He has worked on Callum John’s espionage thriller, Designation Limbo, and Sam Gosiewski’s major project. Max said: “No one makes projects like them; they’re extremely ambitious!” 


One of the most enjoyable projects that Max has worked on as an Audio student was doing sound design for Animation. This project involved the students freesourcing animations and remaking the soundtracks - this involved sourcing music, over-dubbing ADR for the female character, making dragon noises himself (which Max layered with tiger and lion sounds and pitched appropriately), adding fighting sounds, using drag and drop effects, and some Foley. In total the project was about nine minutes long, so it was a substantial piece of work. Max feels his skills have developed significantly since this first year project, so is too shy to share it (although we think the dragon noises might have something to do with that...). 

Max is currently in the process of trying to acquire a business loan so he can purchase the equipment he needs to do more freelance work, although he has more than a few freelance credits under his belt already. 

He was the sound recordist for a promotional mini-documentary that aims to establish a non-profit media centre which will fund a hostel to help the homeless. The shoot took place in London, and followed Janies Homeless Friends, on their regular food, clothes and sleeping bag handouts. Max was also involved in recording a number of interviews with members of the public. Max said that the project was a really rewarding experience and was inspired by the man behind the project, who used to work at Barclays, but has been living on the street in an effort to get closer to the people he is trying to help. 

Max also recently worked as a sound recordist for the feature length folk-horror film Onus, which was shot in a big manor house in Wales. Max said this was a cool project to be involved with because the crew got to stay upstairs in the house. The work was intensive, with 15 hour days across the week-long shoot.

The film is being created by writer/director Alex Secker and producer Marcus Starr, the makers of the award winning Follow the Crows. They have been inspired by classics such as The Wicker Man, Rosemary's Baby and The Shining

We’re impressed at just how many projects Max has been involved in over the course of his time at SAE. We hope his major project delivery goes smoothly, and look forward to seeing what other exciting opportunities he will secure in the future.