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Posted by on Mar 31, 2010 | 4 comments

"The Hurt Locker" – Exclusive Interview with Supervising Sound Editor/Re-recording Mixer Paul Ottosson


Some days ago, I asked to Paul Ottoson for an interview on the sound of “The Hurt Locker”. That was days before the Oscars night, so he becomes very busy, but he made an effort and sent me the answers to all the questions I did. Many thanks, Paul!

Designing Sound: Tell us… How did you get involved with “The Hurt Locker”?

Paul Ottosson: I got a call from one of the producers and the post supervisor. They had this great script they wanted me to read and the director wanted to meet with me if I liked the script. I loved the script and went to meet with Kathryn and Mark, the writer.

We sat and talked for a bit at her office and got along really well. They liked that I had a military background. Kathryn also mentioned she had not intentions to have any music beyond something over the credit roll. It would be up to me to design the entire thing. I liked the idea even though I knew it would be hard.

DS: How was your relationship with Kathryn Bigelow on the film? How was the importance she gives to the sound of the film?

PO: I loved working with Kathryn. We talked a lot about the overall sound of the film. It had to be very organic and yet have a design to it. We always needed to be there and most of the time in some kind of danger even though we might not see it most of the time. We ended up playing the perspective of every person in the scene a bit differently.

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Posted by on Mar 30, 2010 | 4 comments

Erik Aadahl Special: Reader Questions

So, this is the end of the Erik Aadahl Special. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Here are the answers to all the questions made by the readers on comments, email, twitter, etc. Thanks for participating!

Designing Sound Reader: Hi Erik, I see you’re using the 191 for most of your SFX gathering. Do you ever record in other stereo formats like XY or ORTF?

Erik Aadahl: Some people find the 191 Matrix box cumbersome, but unfortunately it’s needed to power the mic no matter if you shoot XY or MS because of its funky pin arrangement.

I never use the 191 in XY mode. I like the flexibility of shooting MS when I’m editing, to dial in a stereo spread that I like. When I record, I set my Sound Devices 722 to monitor MS-decoded over the headphones.

But if I want to smash up a mic I’ll use a more bulletproof XY mic like the AT825. For atmospheres, spaced pairs can give a nice wide image too. I haven’t shot ORTF (microphones angled 110 degrees, 17 cm apart) since film school but I do like the effect of it. 99% of the time I shoot MS.

DSR: Hello Erik. I just finished to read your interview. Thanks for all the questions, terrific stuff! I read you studied in the university and got lots of learning there. I’m curious about the status of a self-studied person (like me) in the film sound industry. Did you know someone who learned sound design by himself? I really worry about it and would be great to hear your opinions about this kind of education.

EA: Yes I went to film school, but I have to say that most of what I learned was on-the-job. There’s no match for learning from a mentor and just going through the experience. A lot of what I know is from endless hours experimenting and working. The best education was starting in television, where I had to crank out an hour’s worth of editing every 5 days, switching from sci-fi to period dramas to animation from week to week. I learned more practical knowledge that way than in film school. But I still have tons to learn. The learning should never stop.

DSR: What was the special trick with the rack of plugins controlled by a Theremin Erik Aadahl discovered when he was working on Transformers – Revenge of the fallen.

EA: I’ve been getting that question a lot. The most important thing I want to convey in all these sound design dialogues is this: it’s about the process, not necessarily the end goal. For me, the art of sound is not about reproducing the work you like, but experimenting, improvising, making a challenge for oneself and finding your own voice. That’s the fun of it!

I like to be open about how I make sounds, but the modified theremin is one of the few things that I’d like to keep secret. With it, we made signature sounds for Transformers ROTF that I’d like to keep exclusive to that universe. We’ll be evolving the technique even more in Transformers 3.

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Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 | 3 comments

Randy Thom on the Sound of "How to Train Your Dragon"

SoundWorks Collection has just released a new sound for film profile featuring Sound Designer Randy Thom, talking about the sound of “How to Train your Dragon”.

Supervising Sound Mixer and Sound Designer Randy Thom talks about Dreamworks Animation 3-D thrilling action-adventure “How to Train Your Dragon”. Find out how the roster of dragons were brought to life and the unique approach Skywalker Sound takes when working on their film’s sound.

Also, Jake and I are working on an interview with Randy and the sound team on the film. Will be here soon!

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Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 | 7 comments

BIG News on Designing Sound: Merger with Filmsound Daily, New Tutorials, Sections and more!

Filmsound Daily is now merged with Designing Sound

I’m proud to announce that “Filmsound Daily” and “Designing Sound” are now the same site. Jake Riehle (owner of Filmsound Daily) and I have been working very hard on this, so now we’re so excited proclaim this new stage for Designing Sound.

Jake: I’m excited to jump aboard such a great and active sound site.  I started intent on providing a frequently updated film sound blog with short but in-depth interviews all the while posting other related links as I found them. In the last year or so my posting had slowed to a crawl and the thought of ramping back up an acceptable level of activity on the site seemed daunting.  I started reading a few months back and Miguel’s ability to publish a constant level of great sound content was what motivated approaching him with a proposal.  If we combined our efforts, not only would I be able to rely on Miguel’s motivation to keep the site updated, by publishing all posts on one central site we could  help our readers spend their sound blog time a little more efficiently. We both have some great ideas for the future and as stated above I am stoked that we’re joining forces.

Miguel: Filmsound Daily was one of my biggest influences when I started Designing Sound. I really enjoyed all the informative interviews and related articles Jake published there.  I’ve learned so much from this project (Designing Sound) and made a lot of good friends. I believe this merger will be a great thing for all of us. By collaborating together we could reach new territories and imporve the site every day. I’m really excited about this new stage for Designing Sound.

Our Mission

If we want to grow up in the industry, if we want to see the directors, developers, artists giving more importance to sound on their projects, we need to collaborate between us and learn from each other. Sharing knowledge is the best way to improve our skills, learn more, keep abreast and help to make sound as important as the other fields. That’s the reason I run this blog.

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Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 | 12 comments

"Battlefield: Bad Company 2" – Exclusive Interview with Audio Director Stefan Strandberg


Some days ago I’ve been playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The game is really great and addictive! and the sound is also fantastic. That’s because I wanted to talk with Stefan Strandberg, the audio director on the game. We talk about the new challenges the, the recordings, dialogue, implementation and more. Let’s read:

Designing Sound: Stefan, please give us an introduction of you and your career, and tell us how you get started in the game audio industry.

Stefan Strandberg: I think the moment when I actually started in this industry was the moment when I started noticing sounds in games, and especially bad ones. The thing is, I don’t want to notice them, I really don’t. This was 12 years ago and I expected complete experiences but the majority of the games I wanted to play were lacking fundamentals in the sound department.

I really could not stand it. I wanted to play, but instead I started designing and replacing sounds in existing games. I was working with music production at the time and expanded into working as a freelance sound designer for commercials, web and games. 7 years ago I started at DICE working with Rallisport Challenge 2 and from there on it has been more or less Battlefield audio production to this date.

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