Employee Spotlight – Lisa Ries

This month kicks off the first of our Employee Spotlights, where we celebrate the amazing people who work here. Our June nominee is Lisa Ries, an Audio Engineer in Post Production. Lisa has been with us for four years and holds over 15 years of experience. She has worked on major films and TV shows in LA, such as Sharknado, Z Nation, Black Summer and Storybots. Through her time in the industry, Lisa says she has learned the importance of being thorough and quick on her feet. She loves to learn and considers herself a lifetime student of her craft. Check out the full interview with Lisa below!

How long have you been at Mills James?

This September, I will have been here for four years.

What drove you to a career in audio post production?​

I didn’t always want to do sound or audio post production. Since the movie Twister came out in 1996, I wanted to be a storm chaser. I went to the University of Oklahoma for Meteorology and ended up taking a music class. We watched the movie Amadeus and that started my love of music for film and wanting to be scoring mixer. I immediately researched a school where I could do that and found Full Sail University in Florida. The following year, I moved and graduated with a degree in Recording Arts and then made my way to LA in 2005. I applied for a job at a studio that made Mockbusters and learned everything I know now.

Where were you before Mills James?

I lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and worked for a company called The Asylum. I’ve worked on over 200 feature films and TV shows (the Sharknado movies, Z Nation, Black Summer and StoryBots). It was a fantastic, fast-paced environment full of stress and fun. I learned the importance of being thorough and quick on my feet at what I do.

What is the most unique project you’ve worked on?

The Sharknado movies were probably the most unique. Throughout the series, there were different types of tornadoes that needed specific sounds, different creatures, locations and situations. The cast was amazing to work with, so getting to do Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) with them was a lot of fun. One of my favorite ADR sessions was in Sharknado 3 with Mark Cuban who played the President of the United States. As the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, he and I teased each other about basketball when I told him I was a Lakers fan.

What motivates or inspires you in your job?

I get inspired by TV shows and movies that have incredible sound or quality of work. It pushes me to keep learning new skills and finding new ways of doing things. I love to learn and consider myself a lifetime student of my craft. ​

How have things evolved in audio post production?

The software we work on is always advancing and adding more features and functions. As soon as you become an expert in a program, they launch a newer version. Dolby Atmos is on the rise and something I am learning as it is a different beast from 5.1. AI is also a hot topic right now so it will be interesting to see how that changes mixing and editing, it’s already changed the voiceover landscape in that we’re able to use AI to replace voiceover artists. ​

What is the importance of audio on video?

I always like to quote George Lucas, “Sound is 50 percent of the moviegoing experience”. I believe that to be true for more than just movies. Not only is there the technical side of knowing what sound mixing is required and the expertise of knowing how to clean up poor audio from set, but there is also the creative side that brings the video to life. Music and audio add emotion and feeling, while the sound design enhances and magnifies what you’re seeing onscreen.