A COMPUTER expert who grew up and went to school in North Yorkshire has won an Emmy award. 

When Mark Hills got a call from Los Angeles at 9am on a Monday morning, the last thing he expected to hear was that he’d won an Emmy award, the small screen equivalent of an Oscar.

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Moments later, the former Ripon Grammar School (RGS) pupil and his business partner Marc Bakos – who together created a ground-breaking audio production system credited with revolutionising the industry - were screaming at each other down the phone.

Barely able to believe they had won the highest honour for work in television for their role in the creation of innovative soundtracks for hit TV series such as The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Flight Attendant and Line of Duty, Mark says: “It was out of the blue.”

York Press: Former Ripon Grammar School pupil Mark Hills with his Emmy awardFormer Ripon Grammar School pupil Mark Hills with his Emmy award (Image: RGS)

Mark, 41, who left RGS in 1999 to study computer science at university, is no stranger to awards.

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In 2014, he was part of a large team at British visual effects company Framestore which won both the Oscar and Bafta for best visual effects for Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

But this Emmy – an elite Primetime version, which is one of the most sought-after of the top TV accolades – has his name on it: “This is different because it's for something I conceived, and it has my name engraved on it. I'm very proud," said Mark, whose partner also received one of his own.

"It's great that as a technologist these awards are within reach. We hadn't had any previous contact with the Television Academy, the judges seemed to be really impressed with what we had done."

Their Cleanfeed system, which works for radio, TV and film, connects studios together so that the quality sounds as if it’s all being recorded in the same room: “We made this kind of technology accessible in a way it wasn't before,” said Mark.

The pair have certainly made a huge impact. Impressed Emmy judges credited their pioneering new audio production for changing the way post-production studios are being built.

Mark, who used to be DJ for RGS school discos and went on to work in radio, had been developing a side business in his spare time, creating software for radio stations to enable broadcasters to make programmes from home.

He first got hooked on the idea of digital audio inside computers back in the Eighties when along with his father, Peter, he coded a sound sampler on an old 8-bit computer.

His parents, Greta and Peter, who live in Sharow, outside Ripon, say they are very proud of Mark’s achievement.

“We bought our first home computer, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, when Mark was three years old and his teacher at Holy Trinity School couldn’t understand why he used capital letters when learning to write, but we knew he was using those which he recognised from the keyboard," said Greta.

Mark remains a computer coder at heart, he says, and still finds it difficult to believe he has actually won a coveted Emmy, which is currently propped up on top of a loudspeaker in his London home.

Mark was presented with his award by actress Kirsten Vangsness at a glittering ceremony in Beverley Hills.