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Member Spotlight: Johnnie Burn

One of our D&AD Membership perks is our Members’ Spotlight feature that takes a moment to celebrate the work of different industry professionals. Each interview gives creatives a virtual soapbox, asking what they’re currently working on, what are they most proud of, and if there were one piece of work they wish they’d been responsible for, what would it be?

Meet Johnnie Burn...

Introduce your agency
The vibe at Wave is very much focused on people, and working together to embrace individual creativity and potential within the sound world. Across London and Amsterdam, we have approximately 20 sound designers at various stages of career. Our designers will traditionally start as runners and grow with us to the stage where they, like the more senior designers in the studios, produce award winning sound design on a daily basis.

The majority of our work comes from short form media, although we have increasingly delved into the world of film (Under The Skin, Birth) and other types of media too. With the digital world creeping in we know it’s not possible to sit in the comfort of traditional TV advertising forever, and are becoming involved with more designers, artists and other exciting projects to push the boundaries of sound and creativity.

As a self-proclaimed extremely modern family, we are entirely open to the ‘work-hard-play-hard’ protocol to live by – our partying legacy proceeds us. At the heart of it though, we’re just a bunch of massive sound geeks that flock to the science museum when the Denman horn comes into town.

What are you currently working on?
My big project recently was Under The Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johanson. We spent seven years on it from conception to release, which gave us the chance to really experiment with different soundscapes – some made the cut and some didn’t.

One field recording we particularly enjoyed took place in an anechoic chamber – a large room that has zero echo ability in it. It’s way beyond the technical spec of a normal soundproof booth. If I was standing in it talking to you and turned around you wouldn’t be able to hear my voice through the back of my head. It’s quite an odd sensation, it has zero reflection and it allowed us to record from a distance of a good 30 feet with a directional microphone, but have it sound close up yet distant at the same time. 

Since Under The Skin I’ve been working on a commercial for Canon, and another feature film due for release next year.

Under The Skin - Official Trailer

What work are you most proud of?
When Guinness surfer came out in 1999 the reception was phenomenal. It was the first piece of work ever to win two D&AD Black Pencils, a feat that gained it global recognition and even today tops lists as being one of the most exceptional pieces of advertising to date. 

It was the work that launched Wave into existence, and for that I am extremely proud. It also serves as a reminder that as long as you have good creative ideas and people to work with, you can produce good work. The studios didn’t exist at that stage, and at one point we sat working on the (albeit glamorous) floor of Glasswerks, next door to where Wave London stands today.

'Surfer' picked up two Black Pencils, two Yellow Pencils, and five In Book spots at the 2000 D&AD Awards.

What work from our Archive makes you think ‘I wish I’d done that’?
There have been some really fresh ideas gracing our screens in recent months. The obvious choices are Forsman & Bodenfors who did a great job with the Volvo Epic Split campaign; and Dentsu Tokyo bossed live sound design with their ‘Sound Of Honda’ spot.

'The Epic Split' scooped a Black Pencil for Digital Marketing and a Yellow Pencil for TV & Cinema Advertising at the 2014 D&AD Awards.

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