The first year and a half in London

Clearly I am not good about news updates as the last one was January 2017!  Since moving to London at that time things have been extremely busy.  Film projects completed since then include: Darkest Hour, Paddington 2, Mary Magdalene, Hippocratic, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Sergeant Stubby: An American Hero.  Album projects include: releases for The Cypress String Quartet, The Dover String Quartet, The St Lawrence String Quartet, The San Francisco Symphony, Composer Mark Abel, and re-releases of John William's original soundtracks from Star Wars Episodes I to VI (which itself is an offshoot of a long-term archiving project).

In April both Cecily and I were back in San Francisco for a few days, to record a solo violin piece by John Harbison - which will be part of a forthcoming solo violin release that will also feature works by Elena Ruehr and Anna Weesner.

Harbison set-up at Skywalker.

Harbison set-up at Skywalker.

Currently I am working on Johnny English Strikes Again with composer Howard Goodall, as well as mixing Stephen Gallagher's score for documentary She Shears.

Later this summer both Cecily and I will be headed to The Banff Arts Centre to record the Castalian Quartet's debut album.

On a side note I have embraced the iPad Pro and the forScore app for sheet music, and am so happy with this solution.  I now have all scores for all current projects in one small package, and no longer have to cart around multiple binders of scores.  At first I was concerned about using it for note taking during sessions, but it works very well. The ability to have multiple layers of notes (recording, editing, mixing, etc...), makes it much easier to read them!  Also after doing a few calculations it seems (surprisingly) that the ipad & pencil will pay for themselves in about eighteen months - in savings from not having to buy so much laser printer toner!


Cypress Quartet's Brahms Sextets

The latest release from the Cypress Quartet of the great Brahms Sextets (Opus 18 and 36), featuring guest artists Barry Shiffman & Zuill Bailey, has debuted at Number 6 on the Billboard Traditional Classical charts!

Produced by Cecily Ward and Mark Willsher - Engineered by Leslie Ann Jones and Mark Willsher - Mastered by Mark Willsher.  Recorded in front of a live studio audience in April 2016 at Skywalker Sound.

Released by Avie Records -



The past few months have been a blur as Cecily and I have been in the process of relocating to London (that's England, not London, Ontario!).  Much quicker than expected we managed to find a great space in North London, and I have spent the past month reassembling my mix/edit suite (while working on several projects) in the new space.

We completed post-production for the Cypress String Quartet's final recording (not final release as we still have a couple of other things in the pipeline) in early October.  This is the two Brahms String Sextets (Opus 18 and 36) - that were recording in front of a live studio audience at Skywalker Sound back in April.  In a first for the quartet these we recording to both Digital and Analog recorders, and the "analog" version will be released early in 2017 by The Tape Project.


Mark is now represented world-wide by Air-Edel

From the Air-Edel site (full release linked below):  "We are delighted to announce our latest signing of Music Editor Mark Willsher! Mark has worked on a huge selection of outstanding productions including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Up, The Social Network, King Kong and many more. Not only is he an established Music Editor, Mark has experience in recording, mixing, and producing film scores as well as working as a Music Consultant."

Pro-Tools Dock Test Drive

I received one of the new Pro-Tools docks to demo at the end of June.  After a week of mixing with it in my system I'm still on the fence about keeping it - but not for any feature/quality reason.  (Edit July 26, 2016:  I have kept the dock and love it - definitely speeds up my workflow significantly and allows me to spend less time looking at the computer screen.)

There are many videos online already about the dock and it's features so I'll keep this quite brief, and I'm not going to talk about the iPad app as currently the app is exactly the same whether or not you have a dock.  If you have an iPad you should use the app regardless.


The good

1) automation panel - this is an obvious huge benefit to anyone mixing with either the S3 or a set of artist mixes.  If you're used to mixing on a large format desk this will make you happy.

2) wheel - now I didn't think I'd be that excited about the wheel but I have been using it for things I never found comfortable with other wheels - primarily horizontal and vertical zoom.  In fact I leave it on horizontal zoom most of the time and find it so much better than zoom in/out toggles or presets.


The mediocre

touch strips... More assignable buttons are great, but I don't get these touch strips - the tactile feedback is not great (I find I have to look at them) and their sensitivity seems unreliable.  I'm probably missing something cool, but I have no idea what it is.


The bad

physical size - imo the unit is too deep and puts the iPad further away than I would like - to a point where I have to "reach" for it.  I find myself not doing things on the iPad (that I had been doing before adding the dock) because of the physical distance.  As of writing this I have not come up with a placement that I am satisfied with.


Overall I think it's a great combination with either artist mixes, or the S3 - and a big step-up from the iPad app alone.  Still having put a lot of time into finding a good ergonomic set-up I am hesitant.



St. Lawrence String Quartet Haydn Opus 20 Quartets

As part of their larger Haydn project at Stanford the St. Lawrence String Quartet is recording the six Opus 20 quartets at Stanford's Bing Concert Hall.

As of mid-June we have recorded three of the quartets including No 2 with a five camera video production.   I am both producing and engineering with assistance from Stephen Jarvis who is also supplying most of the recording equipment.

Recorded simultaneously to Pyramix and Pro-Tools at 96/24 the recordings will be initially released online one at time with an eventual double album set - both CD & Vinyl.

Brahms Sextets "LIVE" at Skywalker Sound with the Cypress String Quartet, Bary Shiffman, and Zuill Bailey

The last week of April was spent recording the two great string sextets of Brahms - the last recording the Cypress String Quartet will make before wrapping up their twenty year career this June. 

They were recorded over four days on the Skywalker Sound Scoring Stage with myself Producing, Leslie Ann Jones Engineering, and Dann Thompson assisting.  For three of the days we had a studio audience of about 30 people (different audience each day).  We recorded a live mix to both Pro-Tools at 192/24 - using a Pacific Microsonics Model Two AD - and a modified ATR104 1" 2 track machine with Tim Da Paravacini tube electronics - (1" machine provided by the Tape Project, and operated by Paul Stubblebine, Michael Romanowski, and Dan Schmalle).

The album will be released later this year simultaneously on Avie Records (Digital) and The Tape Project (Analog Tape).

Upcoming release: Emily Jane White - "They Moved in Shadow All Together"

Emily Jane White's new album "They Moved in Shadow All Together" will be released April 29th in Europe.  Pre-order Vinyl, CD, or download here:

Recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco & New Improved Recording in Emeryville by Shawn Alpay - Mixed by Mark Willsher - Mastered by Emily Lazar.

Vocals, Piano Guitar: Emily Jane White / Drums: Nick Ott / Cello & Bass: Shawn Alpay / Electric Guitar: Josh Pollock

Recording the Dover Quartet at The Banff Centre for the Arts

I was in Banff, AB this past week working with the fabulous Dover Quartet & Producer Theresa Leonard.  We recorded works by Ullman, Laks and Shostakovich over three days in the Music Department's Rolston Recital Hall.  The recording is part of the prize package the quartet received for winning the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition

Recorded to Pyramix at 96/24; the album will be released on Cedille Records sometime in 2017.

Producer:  Theresa Leonard, Balance Engineer:  Mark Willsher, Assistant Engineer:  Ben Erikson