Each episode of House Hunters International follows people searching for a new home abroad, with the assistance of a realtor. The production company hires a local crew from the country the episode is taped in, to capture all the audio and video, which is then delivered to hsr|ny for processing. The audio team at hsr|ny performs the sound mix using video edited by Leopard Films, House Hunters International’s production company, as their reference. Meanwhile, the MOTIVE team creates two sets of animated graphics for every episode: one is a global animation, which starts with the episode’s city of origin, zooms into space, and then zoom backs to the destination location. The other is an animated map of the destination city, which shows landmarks and other relevant elements.
“I love working with hsr|ny and MOTIVE because they expertly deliver two critical elements to the show – the audio and graphics, both of which are essential to portraying the whole story of each of our house hunters,” says John Bertholon, Co-Executive Producer, Leopard Films. “Our audience needs to be intoxicated by the story we’re telling and the expertise of the engineers and creatives at hsr|ny and MOTIVE help us do just that.”
Bertholon can often be found working with hsr|ny to mix the sound at the companies’ facility in New York City on any given day. Chad Roucroft and Tom Gehring, sound mixers at hsr|ny, both work on the series, alternating from episode to episode. When in session, it takes about seven hours to complete a mix for a typical episode of House Hunters International. In Pro Tools, staff members remove most of the background noise that comes with raw footage, leaving some intact to add to the show’s naturalistic sound, look and feel. Gehring, also notes that a major challenge is keeping the audio consistent from show to show. “The local crews always send us good quality sound; it is just that some portions of it is better than other portions,” Gehring says. “We’re just trying to make it sound the best it can.”
Roucroft explains that a big part of what they do, about sixty percent of their day, is to edit sound elements to better move the story along. “For example, if you want a husband or wife to say, ‘We’re really looking forward to this part of our lives,’ we’ll take different parts of different sentences and put them together to ensure it sounds natural. In the industry, these are known as “Frankensteins.”
Creating the graphics for each episode presents its own set of issues. “The map type of graphic, which depicts the destination town, includes any iconic highlights, such as the Coliseum in Rome or the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” says Will Hong, the MOTIVE artist who handles graphics for House Hunters International. Some cities lend themselves well to this, but if you’re in a lesser-known location, such as Ulan Bator, Mongolia, then you might have to show more graphics that are specific to the person’s experience, such as a school they will be teaching in, or the train station they’ll use for their commute. In these instances, Leopard Films helps us decide what kinds of graphics to create.”
MOTIVE also performs the final online edit for every House Hunters International episode. Leopard Film’s offline edit is very tight by the time MOTIVE receives it, so senior editor Stephen Hoppe, who handles this edit, usually only makes minor corrections. He checks to ensure that the graphics and color correction are of consistently high quality, as well as conforms any uneven shots.
“House Hunters International is an excellent example of the value the collaborative efforts of hsr|ny and MOTIVE bring to the client,” says MOTIVE Executive Creative Director Chris Valentino. “Since the episodes take place in some exceptionally gorgeous settings, it is absolutely critical that the look and sound is picture-perfect. That’s why our graphics and design skills and hsr|ny’s renowned sound services make for an especially powerful combination. Along with Leopard Films’ superb video editing talent, they help to truly bring the show ‘home’ to the viewer. We are looking forward to a continued relationship with all parties well into the future.”