Soundscalpel's Interviews with Ric Viers and JR Fountain

The guys at Soundscalpel have published two interviews on their articles section, one with Ric Viers (The Sound Effects Bible, Blastwave FX, The Detroit Chop Shop) and other with JR Fountain (Big Room Sound).

Some sounds must be very difficult to record/create. Are there any particular sound effects you have had to make that stand out as problematic and what was involved in creating them?

Designing sound effects is relatively easy – not super easy, but easier than the recording process. This all hinges on the ingredients, just like baking a cake. The fresher the ingredients you have, the better tasting cake you’ll make. So, the ingredients are paramount. You have to work hard to record the best source material. The problems I encounter are almost always isolating a sound from its environment. Studio recording is less troublesome because you can control the environment, but in the field – anything goes! Choosing the right location to record is a critical decision when planning. That one decision will determine the outcome of your recordings. No matter how expensive your mics and recorders are, if the background is noisy then the recordings will be noisy too.

Ric Viers Interview

Some sounds must be very difficult to record/create. Are there any particular sound effects you have had to make that stand out as problematic and what was involved in creating them?

Sure, often times you come across various things that are challenging. I must confess though most of my challenges haven’t been nearly as cool as some of the big name sound designers. One that was very bitter sweet for me was working on the film Wild Ocean 3D. It was an IMAX film that told the story of one of the last big sardine migrations that happens off the coast of South Africa. It showed how all of these different animals would converge to prey upon the sardines and the climax sequence of the film revolved around these birds called cape gannets that dive into the ocean to eat the fish. The underwater footage they shot was just breathtaking. We’re talking huge schools of sardines, like tens of thousands all swarmed together in what they call a “bait ball” and then probably hundreds of cape gannets dive bombing in to eat them.

My job on the film was to cut everything that was underwater. I knew there was no way I could use stock library sounds to cut this sequence so I went out into the creek behind my parents’ house in some hip-waiters and began experimenting with splashes. I needed something fast and percussive and ended up finding that an axe and a hammer were my best props. So I would throw them as hard as I could straight down into the water, micing it from above and below the water and making sure not to hit my toes! I think I recorded like 50 or 60 splashes of each the hammer and axe cause I didn’t want the sequence to sound loopy. I would use these recordings along with a pitched down/subsynthed version for the bird’s impacts. Then I recorded myself skimming my hand, brooms, brushes etc. across the water very quickly to use for the bubble trail the birds would create once they were in the water. Any sort of swimming whooshes and moves I then recorded in a neighbour’s pool. I’d do the old trick of putting a condom over my mic and dip it into the water a couple inches and then swish my hand or various props in front of it. Once it was all said and done this sequence rocked.

The bitter part came when the directors decided to favour the music pretty heavily during the mix meaning you could barely hear any of my work…oh well. That’s unfortunately one of the things you have to get used to in this line of work. Thankfully the music for that film was off the charts amazing though.

JR Fountain Interview

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