Secrets of Success

Secrets of Success

The Brief:

Sky Post Production were delighted to provide full post on this documentary, which sees Nasser Hussain meet some of the most successful leaders in sport to find out how they inspire, motivate and manage their teams to succeed at the highest level. Initially slated as the cricketing life story of England’s 2019 ICC World Cup winning captain, Eoin Morgan, the project quickly mushroomed into a full documentary about the nature of leadership with multiple contributors across the sporting landscape.

The Solution:

Our Creatives tell the story of making this programme;

Editor & Co-Producer, Will Teversham

‘Having gone through the interviews I could see there was plenty of good material. The Director, Joe Drabble, and I felt that a lot of the stories, though interesting, would need to be structured carefully to make good TV. So, with it being a sports documentary first and foremost, the Director, and I decided to reverse-engineer the programme. We'd try to get sporting moments of victory, defeat and controversy into each part which obviously wouldn't work across every part, but it was at least a starting point. Knitting it all together would be the Ben Stokes interview, as his, and Brendon McCullum's, impact on the England test cricket team was essentially the motivation for the programme.’

‘Initially, we weren't going to use any of Nasser in the programme and just use the interviews to drive the story. But that's tricky when you're talking about concepts so then we decided that we would have Nasser in when he was interviewing Stokes, and that these bits would be the starting point for each section, for example: ‘What was the culture when you took over? What do you look for in a player? How do you handle mavericks?’ I also didn't want to use Nasser just as a prop. He's more than just a presenter/producer, he's an ex-England Test cricket captain so has a cachet and gravitas that the interviewees respect. I felt that the split screen gave weight to this, as well as being stylistically pleasing. It did mean that I couldn't cut as often as I might normally, as both interviewer and interviewee were in vision at the same time, but the graphic style helped with that. I felt that because the interviewees inevitably had such long lists of achievements, a simple lower third wouldn't do the job so used full-screen graphics which also allowed me to cut the audio a bit more underneath!’

When asked about being credited as a co-producer, Will said:

‘There are different types of editors with different strengths. Helping with the narrative is something I've always done, especially in longform. When you're working on something like this, it's a blank canvas to start with, so it's very much a team effort with Joe, Nasser and me to work out how the programme will work. Bouncing ideas off each other tends to result in getting the best results and finding solutions to problems as quickly as possible.’

With the project evolving as more and more as more contributors came on board, close collaboration between Editing and Audio would prove to be crucial. Dubbing Mixer and Sound Designer, Monica Ramirez, had to remain alert to changes in the overall structure whilst working through her Mix.

Dubbing Mixer/Sound Designer,– Monica Ramirez

‘Some of the interviews had a noisy background and some others had rustling problems that the Director was concerned about. My main aim was to produce a clear and pleasant dialogue mix. To achieve that I used careful dialogue editing combined with multiple tools from iZotope RX8, each one of them used in a conservative way so it wouldn’t affect the quality of the speech. I complemented that with the use of EQs and compressors on the Pro Tools dialogue chain, automating the settings for each character and moment in the film.’

‘The fact that there were big parts of the programme without any music bed was quite a challenge. Having a music bed is really helpful when you have challenging audio, as it helps with the mix. When no music is present audio issues become much more apparent, and it’s crucial that room tones and background atmospheres are carefully placed and mixed to produce a seamless dialogue track.’

‘A challenge that derived from being a 5.1 delivery instead of stereo was the nature of the archive sport footage, mono or stereo, depending on the original feed. My aim was to produce an emotive mix using music and sound design. For that I created 5.1 backgrounds to enhance the different major sporting moments and create a complete surround experience, but respecting those moments who wouldn’t benefit from that sound design, like vintage archive for instance.’

Whilst Monica was busy creating the soundscape, Mark Reddaway was hard at work delivering the all-important look of the piece.

Colourist, Mark Reddaway

‘The brief from the Director was to create an atmosphere of tension and drama during the interviews, then a sense of euphoria over the archive, whilst trying to keep things fairly neutral. After seeing the piece, I knew I wanted created a filmic feel for it. I created an ‘S’ curve for a pleasing contrast, keeping the highlights and shadows as neutral as I could, while allowing for richer colours in a somewhat overall muted colour palette.’

‘With such an interesting piece where the interviews were the driving force, I graded in a way to give as much focus on the subject, relighting shots subtly to draw the viewers focus to their faces. I also pushed some cooler tones into the shadows to again bring more focus to the interviewee. This alongside adding a touch more contrast in the shadows helped to achieve the Director’s intent. Depending then on the topic there was a subtle introduction of tones to help push the viewer response, for example a little more warmth, brightness and a touch less contrast in the shadows when talking about their winning moments.’

‘The mixture of archive footage from different time periods and sports, alongside the nicely shot interviews and GVs can sometimes make it difficult to give a consistent overall look especially if some of the archive material has already been treated previously. After I had graded the interviews to achieve the Director’s aims, I took a variety of the “hero” shots from the different sports in a timeline together and graded these utilising the same look setup I’d used for the interviews but giving the footage a broader feel and trying to keep the colours used as consistent as possible. Any of the trouble shots, the pre-treated or older archive, I made sure to give a little more of my time in order to help match these up with the rest without introducing too much noise. 

Also depending on what the topic was and the affect they had on their teams at the time determined for me how much more I pushed the grade on the archive. I introduced some slightly warmer tones and a small touch of diffusion to the moments where they completed their achievements to help them feel more euphoric, which the Director wanted, whilst not getting away from the overall look. Such as the winning Ryder cup moments or Verstappen winning the F1 championship.



Although we had access to some great names and some fantastic content, bringing the stories to life on screen and weaving together a thread took some incredible imagination and skill, and Will Teversham is one of the best storytellers you could wish to work with. The team in Post also did an excellent job in a short timeframe to bring the documentary to life. Monica Ramirez’s attention to detail in audio, Mark Reddaway’s perfect grasp of a suitable colour grade, Trev Hart’s stylish graphics and Ernesto Rogata’s sharp eye and ear in online added gloss to the programme. The definition of a team effort!
Joe Drabble