Nick App Series Moves To TV With Aid From Alchemy Post

Alchemy Post Sound help bring the world of Nick’s “Welcome to the Wayne’ to life. Photo credit: Nickelodeon

The animated series Welcome to the Wayne recently debuted on Nickelodeon, becoming the network’s first original series to move from digital to broadcast.  Created by Billy Lopez, the show centers on the adventures of two 10-year-old boys living in a Manhattan high-rise , called The Wayne.  It originally launched in 2014 as a series of shorts on Nick App and Nick.com.

The show’s sound team, led by supervising sound editor Bobb Barito, re-recording mixer Matt Longoria and the foley team from Alchemy Post Sound, are crucial to bringing Welcome to the Wayne to life.  From the idiosyncratic footsteps of the leads to  eccentric environments and oddball gadgets, the Alchemy team are devoted to each detail.

“The show has so many colors and there’s so much going on in each episode that it’s hard to sum up as just one thing,” says Barito. “We have monsters, gadgets and machines.  It’s everything from big, cinematic action scenes to slapstick humor. We mesh it all together into a coherent sound design that helps tell and elevate the story.”

Even for an animated series, Welcome to the Wayne features an unusual number of custom sound effects.   Because the lead characters are children, their tools and gadgets are made from items that would be handy to them.  Nothing is overly high tech: in fact, their construction is exactly the opposite.  To achieve sounds that reflect this assembly, Barito and his team use items such as ratchets, retractable claws, and toys, often playing up the sounds they make for comical effect.

“The kids are involved in solving mysteries and they use gadgets that are all toy-based,” Barito explains. “We used actual toy sounds for that.”

Sound is also used to subtly evoke the show’s New York City location. “The producers really wanted you to feel like you’re in a high-rise in the middle of Manhattan,” Barito notes. “In the Wayne, there’s this portal; people get sucked in and sent someplace new. We used New York City subway sounds for that. You can hear clattering metal as characters move through the portal, and the subway’s signature ‘ding’ when they arrive.”

Most unusual for a cartoon is Welcome to the Wayne’s heavy use of foley sounds. Among other things, foley artists Joanna Fang and Foley mixer Nick Seaman create individualized footsteps for every character.  The personality of each character is reinforced by the sounds chosen for their steps, such as disciplined and formal sounds for a shier, studious character, or squeaky sneaker sounds for high-energy characters.   For one character who’s animated design includes cheap flip flops, Fang and her team had to control the sound of the authentic item to create a proper balance.

“We have a nice pair of squeaky shoes for that, but it became a question of ‘how much squeak do you want?’” said Fang.  “In order to control it, we throw baby powder on the floor.  That creates just the right amount of slip resistance.”

Because foley plays such an important role in the finished product, the mixing team spends a great deal of time  layering the effects with the dialogue to achieve a balanced blend.  Great focus is also bestowed on those areas where sound is added for comic effect.

“We perform every single footstep with picture, but staying in sync isn’t necessarily the best idea. Sometimes, you have to break the sync, cheat a footstep, to give it an extra bit of pizzazz and help sell the joke,” said Seaman.  “It’s a funny show, so there is a certain amount of goofiness in everything we do.”