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Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 | 5 comments

David Farmer Special: The Lord of the Rings [Exclusive Interview]

Here is the final article of the great David Farmer Special, an interview we had with him, talking about his work on LOTR. I tried to ask for the stuff you can’t find detailed in other interviews or the BTS of the DVDs, so… Hope you enjoy it!

Designing Sound: When did you start on the films and how what were initial conversations with Peter Jackson and company like?

David Farmer: My first trip over was with Chris Boyes (who recommended me for the project – thanks Chris!), and Phil Benson (Supervisor on PJ’s “The Frighteners”). Both of those guys had met Peter in person before, and Phil had done an entire show with him, so I was a bit nervous. When someone flies you halfway around the world, you feel like there’s a lot on the line. We also took a little detour through Sydney. New Line was apprehensive about doing the sound job in NZ, so they wanted us to look at some alternate mix stages in Sydney. We toured several, and then continued on to NZ to check out Peter’s facility. It was clear to all three of us that Peter’s was where we wanted to do it. To some, it might have appeared we were just kissing up to Peter, but that was just a fringe benefit. We sincerely liked his stage the best, and thought it was where we could deliver the best work.

The first time I met Peter and Barry Osborne, we were visiting his theatre where he was reviewing dailies, and the first thing I see on screen is the ring in the snow from Fellowship. It’s still probably my favorite shot of the trilogy. It’s just a gorgeous shot, and it drove home in one instant what I was getting myself into. This was going to be BIG. We didn’t chat much right then. Peter was going about his day, and we were getting the grand tour too. From there, we went to WETA, and saw a lot of the preliminary work being done in CGI–many of the lighting tests, Gollum skin textures, and animation tests. I was blown away by what WETA was doing, and again, could tell this was going to be BIG. Next, came the tour of WETA Workshop, led by none other than Richard Taylor. He showed us all the armor and props and went into great detail how they had come up with them and all the work that went into them. You know how costumes & props usually look fake & plastic to the naked eye? These things looked amazing even in person. Again – this was going to be BIG. In many ways, that day set the tone for how I would approach my sound process. I had to live up to all that excellent work. I was determined NOT to be the weak link in the chain. It was an incredibly inspiring day, and the inspiration carried me though all 3 shows.

I’m not sure if it was the same day, but Chris, Phil, Mike Hopkins, and I went to Peter’s House where we could chat in a more relaxed fashion. Peter, Fran, and Phillipa were there, and we discussed the films for quite some time. We talked about music & sound effects, and I do remember that I got to mention my favorite “advice” regarding how effects & music can work together. Sound Effects (for events on-screen) don’t have a choice where they can go. They pretty much HAVE to be in sync with the picture. Music can choose to come before or after, but it isn’t necessary for music to hit action – or at least music does have a choice. If both music and effects hit the same moment on screen – neither one will have the intended impact. They’ll just take away from each other. I try to make that point to every director I work with. What they do with it is up to them, but in any case, I’ve said my piece. Aside from that discussion, the most memorable part of the night for me, was the beer. Peter gave us each a bottle of Mac’s Gold – just an off-the-shelf beer, but it has this old-fashioned pop-top. Mike explained to us that you need to pull it off fast, and gave us a little demonstration. However I did it wrong, and beer went spewing all over my lap & Peter’s carpet. So off to the kitchen Peter went, came back with a towel, and cleaned me up. What a first impression I must have made!

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 | 11 comments

Making Orcs with Chuck Russom FX's Dogs Library [Video + Review]

Some days ago, my friend Chuck Russom sent me an amazing library for beta testing and for doing a demo/review in the same day of the release, which is today. So here we go!

The Library

The library is called Dogs, and includes 158 sounds at 192kHz/24-Bit, recorded from 14 different trained dogs. The sounds are really great, include all kind performances and have a pretty good amount of different vocalizations and voices made by different kinds of dogs.

Chuck made a really fantastic work on this library, giving an amazing collection of animal sounds that can be used in a lot of different ways, including -of course- creature sounds. That’s what I’m going to show you today. I took this trailer from “Warhammer: Age of Reckoning” and redo all the sound myself from scratch. The challenge with the library was to made all the Orcs vocalizations using the dogs library only. This is what I got:

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 | 2 comments

Chuck Russom FX Releases Dogs SFX Library

Chuck Russom has announced the release of his Dogs sound effects library, from his independent company Chuck Russom FX. The collection includes 158 sounds recorded at 192kHz.

Dogs Sound Library from Chuck Russom FX features vocalizations from 14 professionally trained animal actors.  This collection includes barks, whines, yelps, growls, snarls, and sounds that I can’t even begin to describe. Dogs was recorded and mastered at 24 bit 192K. Delivered to you as 24 bit 192K metadata-embedded wav files. 24bit 96K versions are also included.

If you want to know more about the recording process of this library, you can visit our brother site Sonic Terrain, where Chuck has written a great detailed article about the library. Also, I’ve made a demonstration+review of the library. You can see it here.

Dogs SFX Library is available now from Chuck Russom FX at $75.

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 | 5 comments

Soundminer HD Details: Crossgrade Pricing Options, v4Pro Comparison, Group Buy

Yesterday, I saw that some people were having some doubts regarding the new Soundminer HD. I could answer some of them but I find more appropriate to ask directly to a person on the Soundminer development team, so I collected some questions on Twitter, Facebook and Mail, and here is what Steve Pecile kindly answered to me:

Well, first of all it seems your readers are confused as to what HD is. It is NOT a replacement or equal to v4pro. v4pro is our very highest asset manager. It is costly but it does many many things that no other product does. It remains as our top end product and will remain as such. Many editors however have said, ‘we’d love to use Soundminer but its too expensive’ as you yourself noted. They then use AF or Itunes or even the Pro Tools workspace. So after speaking to editors we decided to make a version of the product that was less than half the price with the key features most of these kinds of users need. HD is that product.

It is packed with great stuff and for the money, nothing can touch it, but it isn’t v4pro!

Designing Sound Reader: So… Soundminer HD doesn’t have the VSTRack? Could be implemented in the future?

Steve Pecile: It will not have the VSTRack as that is a feature of only v4pro.

But it does have a high quality fast search engine that is miles ahead of any of its competition. It has support for reading all kinds of metadata. It has alternate search options that none of our competitors can offer. It has a high quality editor and simple to use transfer system that allows it to intelligently drag to other applications even at $199. And even the basic version can edit the ‘Description’ field for metadata.

For a bit more they get spot to timeline, AVID support, Final Cut transfer, Nuendo 5 spot to timeline(not finished yet), Pyramix spot to timeline, ability to add metadata to any fields, Field assign for instant and ease adding of metadata and a 64 bit conversion engine using iZotope technology. All for $399!

Specific answers are as follows:

DSR: Could you tell us more about how SMHD+ handles multiple DBs?

SP: HD Basic is set up like Miniminer. There are two preset databases – one for Music and one for FX. In HD plus, you can make as many databases as you want and even import v4 databases. Just select the one you want…

DSR: What are exactly the differences between V4Pro and HD Plus?

SP: Apart from what I noted above, V4pro is a different class of product. V4pro supports higher order things like the various field recorders, iXML fields, import quicktime movie, VSTRack for design, multi-channel transfers and monitoring, Rewire, Rewire Synchronization, Find and Replace, Copy, append, numeralize, import CSV tabbed text and other metadata functions, REGEX scripting, HTTP playback, etc.. HD is designed to take the ‘BEST OF’ from v4pro – high quality boolean search, advanced alt search, some new searching methods like Live Filter and Launch pad, easy to use editing and transfers with every effort made on quality for the things it does. that’s why we chose iZotope’s 64 bit SRC to be added to HD Plus.

One shouldn’t expect v4pro for this price but there’s a lot of v4pro in here and no shortcuts on quality making it far better than anything in its price range.

DSR: Is there an option to upgrade from HD+ to v4Pro?

SP: Always… It’s the difference in price.

DSR: I’m a user of SM XP. What are the differences between it and the new HD versions? Is there a way to upgrade to HD Plus from XP?

SP: This is noted on our site – $100 moves you to HD Plus for windows

DSR: Is there an upgrade path for Miniminer users? Is it possible to audition sounds while rolling picture in Pro Tools?

SP: Again noted in our page that you copied….$50 to move from Mini to HD basic.

DSR: Would love to know if there’s a ‘favorites’ feature, beyond the weighting. also, does the group buy work by tim prebble for crossgrades?

SP: Crossgrades are not part of the group buy. They have to be new licenses. There is a ratings field but not a ‘favourites’ repository at this point apart from the project section in HD plus which could also provide that kind of feature over and above weighting and rating per file.

Also, Tim Prebble has announced a Soundminer Group Buy, where you can get up to 20% discount from several Soundminer products.

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