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With many Filipinos now having the opportunity to go global and be recognized by an international audience when it comes to creative content, does the Philippines have a chance to be known also on the technical side, particularly as a global hub for audio production?

Hit Productions’ head Vic Icasas, a music and audio production professional with over 25 years of experience in creating award-winning soundtracks for advertising, film, TV, radio and digital content, gave a resounding “yes.”

I believe the Philippines is set to take on a higher role in audio production for global film, television, music, gaming, advertising, and other key creative industries. Without discounting the negative effects of the pandemic, we can acknowledge that it also created a silver lining for the audio production industry by showing us that we can accomplish our work remotely. This opens up a multitude of opportunities for Filipino production houses, studios and the like to be discovered outside the Philippines,” he explained during a press conference held recently.

Icasas explained that there are three megatrends that account for the global rise in audio production in the Philippines. These megatrends are the democratization of digital tools used for audio recording combined with the proficiency of Filipinos in digital technologies; the fluency of Filipinos in the English language; and the advent of remote working that has made the world flat.

Hit Productions, a 17-time winner of AOY Audio Production House of the Year Award that was established in 1991, has evidently become an embodiment of these megatrends. Other than remote and contactless recording, Icasas, together with founding partner Dennis Cham, have also designed mobile solutions using a Hyundai van that has been retrofitted to become a sound studio on wheels as well as tablet-powered portable recording kits that can be deployed via courier. They’ve used these tools to work with some of the biggest celebrities in the country such as Dingdong Dantes, Sarah Geronimo, Marian Rivera, and Luis Manzano. They’ve also invested heavily in software and audio plugins to tweak and improve the quality of work-from-home voice recordings done during the pandemic to the point that the sound virtually equate to studio quality.

(L-R) Audio engineer Mark Villar, audio engineer Daryl Reyes, music composers BP Valenzuela, Peter Legaste, Robbie Factoran, Hit Productions CEO Vic Icasas, music dept head Mike Villegas, and music composers Anj Villegas and Arnold Buena belong to the most awarded music production team in Philippine advertising.

With all of these resources and tools in their arsenal, Hit Productions is poised to handle any project that comes their way. And just as these digital tools have been helpful to Icasas’ company, they will be similarly instrumental to other production houses in the country as well. 

Going digital also helped Hit Productions cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. When it broke out worldwide, millions of people, organizations, and governments had no choice but to go digital. But even then, the economic effects of the pandemic and lockdown measures made it significantly more difficult for everyone to follow and maintain their usual routines and operations. One of the hardest hit industries in the Philippines is the entertainment and audio-visual industry. In fact, within the first few months of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, 865,000 workers in the audio-visual industry, majority of which are freelancers, were displaced due to the pandemic.

Fortunately, agencies and workers in the industry learned to pivot and run operations remotely. Hit Productions was one of those studios that was able to sustain their operations and even expand their portfolio with more clients and projects despite the global crisis.

According to Icasas, it helped that the studio already had remote work protocols in place even as far back as 2013. Tools already in use prior to the pandemic such as Slack, Source Connect, and Zoom enabled Hit Productions’ employees to conduct online meetings and contactless recordings, so much so that recording sessions on Zoom were no longer any different to recording audios in a physical studio with the producers, engineers, and talents separated by glass vocal booth windows. The arrangement proved to be fruitful as Hit Productions was still able to handle the sound production for the campaigns of some of the biggest brands in the country like Globe, McDonalds, Jollibee and Emperador Brandy, to name a few, in 2020. 

Their success over the past year proves that they, along with other companies in the local entertainment and advertising industries that were able to similarly sustain operations, are capable of weathering a crisis and taking on work for local and international clients even without physical facilities and geographical limitations.

There really are no limitations today in the entertainment and audio-visual industry―not even a global crisis. Philippine-based agencies and production houses are undoubtedly now set to take the global stage.

What many Filipino-led studios fail to realize is that we have the potential to make it in other countries as much as we do in the Philippines,” Icasas said. “Thankfully, with all of the digital tools and mobile and remote solutions available at our disposal today, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go beyond where we are now. It’s time for us to produce more world-class ads, films, shows, games, and campaigns while staying close to our Filipino culture.”

MAIN PHOTO: The Hit Productions Management Team led by (L-R)  Hit Productions chairman and founding partner Dennis Cham, audio post head Regie Ambas, client services head Sharon Ambas, CFO Edith Humirang, music department head Mike Villegas and CEO / managing partner Vic Icasas at the 20th Agency of the Year Awards.

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