Nick Ryan is a multi award winning composer, sound designer, artist and audio specialist, widely recognised as a leading thinker on the future of sound. His extensive and diverse practice, as an audio expert, involves working with film, motion graphics, animation, TV drama and documentary, interactive media, technology innovation, instrument making and orchestral ensemble.
In parallel to a highly practical career, creating and crafting audio, Nick is regularly invited to speak, consult, brainstorm, inspire or produce ground breaking projects that push the limits of what is thought possible in audio. Nick has developed a reputation around his key passion for 'doing things with sound that have never been done before'.
As a practitioner and thinker he has worked with organisations throughout the world such as The MIT Media Lab, The BANFF Centre for the Arts, The Montreal Film Festival, Screen Australia, The European Broadcasting Union, The BFI, BAFTA, TEDx, Aldeburgh Music, The Royal Institution, Tate, BBC Research and Development and UK Government Department of Trade and Industry.
Whilst working with the BBC’s ‘Imagineering’ Department as a futurologist in 2004 he won a BAFTA for ‘The Dark House’, a groundbreaking interactive binaural (3D audio) Radio Drama which he co-devised, scored and mixed live on air on BBC Radio 4. During this time he co-authored two Government reports ‘The Future of Music’ and ‘The Future of Radio’ which predicted future global trends in the creation, distribution and consumption of music and radio in light of digital technology.
In 2007 Nick, and musician, physicist and long time collaborator John Matthias, released ‘Cortical Songs’ – a four-part ‘symphony’ for twenty-four piece string orchestra based on theoretical models developed in 1950s, which describe the rhythmic ‘firing’ of groups of neurons in the cortex of the brain. Described by The New York Times as ‘moody and lovely’ and voted as no.5 in the top 10 classical albums of 2009 by TimeOut Chicago, the album features remixes by Thom Yorke, Simon Tong, Gabriel Prokofiev, Jem Finer and others.
In 2008 Nick, with colleagues Jane Grant and John Matthias, won the prestigious ‘PRS Foundation New Music Award’ for the ‘Fragmented Orchestra’ project – a giant sound installation and ‘living’ musical instrument that captured fragments of sound from 24 locations across the UK and transmitted them in realtime to a central performance space at the F.A.C.T. Gallery in Liverpool, forming part of the programme of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year, 2008. In September 2009 Nick became an Honorary Doctor of Music at The University of Plymouth.
In 2009 Nick, alongside a specialist team of engineers and storytellers, created Papa Sangre – the first ever real-time 3D audio game implemented on a handheld device. Papa Sangre is a video game with no video – it’s a first-person thriller, created entirely in sound, for the iphone platform. Players navigate the 27 levels using only their sense of hearing. Among many awards the game received the ‘Most Innovative Game‘ Award at the International Mobile Gaming Awards, the Develop Award for Audio Achievement and two BAFTA Nominations. Papa Sangre’s sister game ‘The NIghtjar’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch, also sound directed and designed by Nick, was released in 2010 to similar acclaim.
Much of Nick’s sound design work, including The Dark House, Papa Sangre and the Nightjar has involved creating complex and elaborate 3d audio worlds. He has become a world expert on the development of ‘binaural’ (or ‘3D’) audio in media. In 2010 he was commissioned to interpret four chapters of Ken Follett’s latest Novel ‘Fall of Giants’ into 3D sound for Pan Macmillan’s enhanced iPad version of the book and to create a 3D mixes for Nike’s latest advertising campaign featuring the Spanish footballer Andrés Iniesta.
“At the forefront of the development is the sound designer Nick Ryan, who uses techniques in “binaural” recording and adapts them for digital media” [The Guardian 28th March 2011].