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An Evening with Eddy Joseph (March 9)

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 | 0 comments

Those local to the Brighton area (UK) will have an opportunity to hear the acclaimed Supervising Sound Editor Eddy Joseph (Enemy at the Gates, Quantum of Solace) in conversation. On Monday March 9th, Eddy will be in conversation with Lisa Holloway on a bill that also features an interview with the music recording engineer Hadyn Bendall (The Hounds of Love, The Last Emperor).

Tickets are priced at £10.00 and are available from The Space website, where there are also further details about the event.

http://www.thespace.uk.com/

SoundWorks Collection: The Sound of Unbroken

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 | 0 comments

WWII Prisoner of war drama ‘Unbroken’ will compete in both the ‘Best Sound Editing’ and ‘Best Sound Mixing’ categories at the 87th Academy Awards ceremony on February 22nd. What better time to plug this video from The SoundWorks Collection, featuring an interviews with audio post team who worked on the film.

SoundWorks Collection – The Sound of Unbroken

Audio Education – A view from the middle

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 | 0 comments

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Clearly the fates have decreed that I should not only be involved in the writing of a new audio degree as education month comes around, but that I should also be well into my own studies, working towards a Master’s degree in Sound Design. However, in getting to this point, my own audio education has meandered along most of the routes one might take in the pursuit of a career in audio. I’ve volunteered at studios, received on the job (and in the pub) training. I’ve studied at private colleges and run my own studio. Each of these diversions had an intrinsic value and it’s unlikely I would be in the position I am now without having taken them. However, as both a lecturer and a student, I am acutely aware that there are mixed views as to the value of a formal audio education, not just from potential students, but also from employers and practitioners (i.e. this interview from a few weeks ago). So I thought it might be useful to talk a little about the nature of writing an audio degree, from the middle so to speak. (Just to note, I am based in the UK so this relates to the process’s undertaken here. I can’t speak for anywhere else.)
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Gary Rydstrom’s Strange Magic

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 | 0 comments

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Normally we wouldn’t make any fuss about a particular film’s release, but this is one’s a little special for our community. Gary Rydstrom has had several opportunities to sit down in the director’s chair for short films in the past, but this film, Strange Magic, is his first feature. We often talk about promoting the importance of sound as a story-telling tool, but here we have one of the most vocal and respected proponents of that idea with his hands on the reins. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see the film, I encourage you to show support and check it out. It opens in the U.S. next Friday, the 23rd.

Life Lessons and Audio Education

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 | 7 comments

Photo belongs to Vancouver Film School, used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Photo belongs to Vancouver Film School, used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Guest Contribution by April Tucker

Having a degree in audio can be a double-edged sword. This was a lesson I learned after one of my earliest interviews, not long after completing my Master’s Degree (in Sound Recording). I was new to Los Angeles and interviewing for part-time tech work. It seemed to be going well until the interviewer said, “I don’t even have friends with Master’s Degrees… why would I hire someone with one?” I had just been discriminated against for having a formal education.

There’s a lot of lessons about working in entertainment (like that one) that you hear about and prepare for, but you can’t really process until you experience it yourself. Another example is being out of work. Even if you’re financially prepared, nothing can prepare you for the mental game that happens when you’re going through it the first time.

Given that our field is very experience-driven, one might ask, what’s the point of formal audio education? As someone with two audio degrees (and ten years in the field), I can confidently say that there is value in some audio education; students can practice, experiment and fail in ways that you can’t do in a job. There’s skills that can be learned faster through focused learning or practice (like technical ear training, acoustics, or electronics). My concern with audio programs is that they tend to be too focused on teaching niche vocational skills (like large format consoles and microphones), or too short for a well-rounded audio education.

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Interview: Sweet Justice

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 | 1 comment

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Sweet Justice is a “full service game audio production company based in the South of England. Founded by industry veterans Chris Sweetman and Samuel Justice. With a combined experience of over 3 decades of frontline experience in the games industry, we have worked on a large number of AAA and independent titles. We have won multiple awards for our work within game audio.” 

I was fortunate enough to convince Chris Sweetman and Sam Justice to do an interview where we chat about productivity, education, staying fresh, and even telling a story with sound.

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It Never Ends…

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo by Matylda Czarnecka. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Photo by Matylda Czarnecka. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

First off, happy new year to all of our readers!

We’re going to kick this year off with a slightly different topic. We’re going to take a look at education. There will be some discussion of academic programs certainly, but that’s not necessarily the sum total of this topic. I know that personally, I’ve learned far more since finishing my “formal training” than I did during it. The courses I took certainly got me started and greatly affected the way I’ve approached my career, but it’s important to realize that your education never ends. Well, maybe it does, but it shouldn’t. Folks progress to the head of our field by shutting their brain down once they’ve got a piece of paper. The really good practitioners, and this is true in any field, continue to train, experiment and challenge themselves throughout their career.

So, what do you do to step up your game?

…and that’s not a rhetorical question. If you’re not new to the site, you probably already know that we always encourage and welcome guest contributions from the community. If you’re interested in adding to this month’s discussion, contact [shaun {at} this website].

Our Favorite Sounds of 2014

Posted by on Dec 24, 2014 | 1 comment

 

Photo by Hunter Desportes

Photo by Hunter Desportes

 

The year 2014 has been one of many great articles, interviews, and discussions here at Designing Sound and we want to thank all of our readers for their attention, suggestions, contributions, and overwhelming support. There have been so many great films, shows, games and events this year that we thought we would share some of our favorites for you to go back and check in case you missed them!

This post is full of links and Youtube videos, so please be patient on the loading. I assure you it is worth it!

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Time And Psychoacoustics

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 | 5 comments

When designing audio we are often thinking of time across a large variety of units: samples, milliseconds, frames, minutes, hours and more. This article is inspired by a conversation I had with Andy Farnell about a year ago at a pub in Edinburgh, right before a sound design symposium, where we discussed about time and the role it plays when it comes to designing audio.

Like most other audio designers out there, I started twiddling the knobs and sliders well before I had an understanding of the underlying DSP. It was eye-opening experience to realise that almost every single DSP effect is related to time. So let’s start looking at a few common DSP tools used in everyday sound design and analyse how time and the precedence effect plays a role, starting from hundreds of milliseconds all the way down to a single sample.

Precedence Effect

The precedence effect is a psychoacoustic effect that sheds light on how we localise and perceive sounds. It has helped us understand how binaural audio works, how we localise sounds in space and also understand reverberation and early reflections. From Wikipedia:

The precedence effect or law of the first wavefront is a binaural psychoacoustic effect. When a sound is followed by another sound separated by a sufficiently short time delay (below the listener’s echo threshold), listeners perceive a single fused auditory image; its  spatial location is dominated by the location of the first-arriving sound (the first wave front). The lagging sound also affects the perceived location. However, its effect is suppressed by the first-arriving sound.

You might be familiar with this effect if you’ve done any sort of music production or mixing. Quite often a sound is hard panned to one of the two stereo speakers and a delayed copy (10-30ms) of the sound is hard panned to the other speaker. Our ears and brain don’t perceive two distinct sounds, but rather an ambient/wide-stereo sound. It is a cool technique for creating a pseudo-stereo effect from a mono audio source.

The first 30 seconds in the video below shows an example of the precedence effect in action. The delayed signal smears the original signal with phasing artefacts after which it seems to split from the original signal and become a distinct sound of its own.

Echos And Reverb

Echos are distinct delays. Reverberation is made up of early reflections which are delayed sounds that arrive first at the listener  (right after the direct sound) followed by a tail that consists of many such delays diffused into a dense cluster. Artificial reverbs are quite often approximated using networks of delays that feedback into each other (convolution reverbs behave a differently).

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