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Remote Recording: How Innovative Audio Engineer Mateo Barragan Remains Ahead of the Game

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Mateo Barragan - photography by Carolina Rizzotto

Mateo Barragan - photography by Carolina Rizzotto

It comes as no surprise that the recent global pandemic has impacted the way Hollywood operates, with recording studios, television and movie sets all coming to an unsettling hault. However many are taking to the worldly shake-up with incredible drive and adaptability.

Audio engineer Mateo Barragan, one of the industry's finest, has tactfully remained ahead of the game, with his technical expertise and innovative approach to think quickly on his feet.

Since 2016 Mateo has been a key audio engineer at the Grammy-Award winning “Igloo Music Studios” (“A Star is Born,” “La La Land,” “Mary Poppins Returns”) which is stationed in Los Angeles.

With their strong ability to persevere through the pandemic, Mateo and the team at Igloo set-up an impressive remote-recording system to support ongoing voiceover and dubbing projects.

The new system delivered sanitized tech packages to artists home, allowing the engineers to take remote control over the provided audio equipment in order to record the artist. This effective technique allowed the artists to focus solely on their performances, while the engineers could manage the technical aspects of the recordings from a remote location.

“In order for this system to work, we had to learn how to use different types of software that allowed us to stream audio, do remote desktop control and implement these tools to our recording necessities.” Mateo says.

“It was definitely a learning curve, thanks to this process we were able to get back to work even to a point where we were recording dialogs for several shows and movies, almost to the same rhythm pre pandemic.”

Thriving in success and with an impressive repertoire of roles credited to his name, including “La La Land” and “First Man,” Mateo was the score editor for the 2019 fan favorite film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” as well as the digital engineer for the Grammy-Award winning album “Un Azteca en el Azteca” by iconic Latino artist Vicente Fernández.

Much like the worldwide reputation of the “Deadpool” films, of which Mateo was the dialog editor for the hit 2018 sequel starring Ryan Reynolds, finding someone who has not yet heard of the notorious “Fast & Furious” franchise would be pretty hard to come by.

For nearly two decades the action-packed films have been blowing up the big screen, and are home to some of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, such as Vin Diesel (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “xXx”), the late Paul Walker (“Into The Blue,” “She’s All That”), as well as Oscar winners Dame Helen Mirren (“The Queen,” “Red”) and Charlize Theron (“Monster, ” “Bombshell”).

The gripping spin-off “Hobbs & Shaw,” which takes place between the eighth and ninth films in the franchise, stars some of Hollywood’s most loved action heros, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Moana,” “Baywatch”) Jason Statham (“The Expendables,” “Snatch”) and Idris Elba (“Thor,” “Avengers”).

Considering the film was directed by David Leitch (“Deadpool 2,” “Atomic Blonde,” “John Wick”), audiences could expect nothing less than extraordinary stunts, nail-biting drag races and skilfully choreographed fight scenes.

The powerful score, which was an eclectic mix of music and sound was the driving force to bring the on-screen action to life.

Mateo’s role as the score editor was vital to the success of the score, with his contributions ensuring that every intense scream and humorous one-liner was met with precise audio pairing. The explosive film was a box-office smash, grossing nearly $760 million dollars worldwide and taking home multiple wins at prestigious award ceremonies across the globe.

"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" movie poster

"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" movie poster

While Mateo has become recognized for his work on numerous Hollywood blockbusters over the years, his skillset as an audio engineer extends far beyond the film world alone. The vast nature of his expertise has allowed him to transition easily between working on everything from voice over and animated projects to video games and orchestral arrangements, which has given him a competitive edge in the entertainment industry.

Through his solid position as an audio engineer with Igloo Music, Mateo was tapped to work as the digital engineer on the Grammy-Award winning live album “Un Azteca en el Azteca” (2017) by Mexican superstar Vicente Fernández.

Mateo was personally chosen by Igloo studio head Gustavo Borner (“Birdman,” “RoboCop”) to work on the critically acclaimed album.

He shares, “Working alongside such an established engineer like Gustavo was a great experience.”

Throughout his impressive career, Fernández has earned three Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, 14 Lo Nuestro Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, he has sold over 50 million copies worldwide, making him one of the best-selling regional Mexican artists of all time.

Considering the recording of the album was based on Fernández’s last live performance in Mexico, Mateo’s skilful ability to remotely work with downloaded files was essential to the success of the record.

The album consisted of an extensive range of digital audio files, which required Mateo’s impressive data management and organizational skills to support the final production.

Mateo says, “As a digital engineer I was doing a lot of editing and in a very similar way to the editing of a music score for a movie, it is very important to never over edit and over process so that the performance of the musicians stays natural.”

One of the many key attributes that made the award-winning album so unique, was the diverse range of live instruments and stage sounds used in the final performance.

“All of these [instruments] were being recorded during the entire show, which means there’s one or more audio files for each one of them… so you can imagine the amount of digital data that we had to manage,” says Mateo.

“The highlight definitely came when I found out that the album won a Grammy... it was a great feeling.”

Mateo Barragan - photography by Carolina Rizzotto

Mateo Barragan - photography by Carolina Rizzotto

Expanding his career with drive and diligence, Mateo spent the past year working closely with voice over director Phil Bache (“Tomb Raider,” “Skyrim”) on the recent Netflix trilogy series “Transformers: War for Cybertron,” as well as the sophomore release of the BAFTA award-winning video game “Life is Strange 2.”

“The pace of the voice over recording sessions for these projects were extremely fast, I definitely had to be at my top in order to not miss any of the directions made by Phil,” explains Mateo.

“[Phil] is a very fast director, and we also tend to do a bunch of on-spot editing during the sessions in order to build the best performances from the talent lines.”

With a vast and impressive repertoire of work under his belt and the determination to tackle any challenge, Mateo has established himself as not only a leading audio engineer, but one who is capable of adapting to any curve balls thrown his way-- such as those that have come in the wake of the current pandemic.

“Mateo has always been good at adapting to all the different situations and keeping our work efficient,” says Igloo Music founder Gustavo Borner. “I believe what makes Mateo good at what he does is that he’s very passionate about working with music which translates to him always giving a little extra on each project.”

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