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Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 | 0 comments

Don’t knock Frozen

Frozen-disneyscreencaps.com-826
There’s a lot of things to like about Frozen. The animation is beautiful, the script is tight, the performances are great, and it even features a catchy tune or two. It’s also got some great sound. Check out the opening ice cutting sequence. It probably had whole cinemas ducking for cover in 3D but even in plain old 2D it works. The effects are great and when you get out from under the ice into the open air there’s that indefinable ‘softness’ to the soundstage that only happens in a snowy environment. And the film has a lot of it; ice, snow, crunchy, soft, cracking, and exploding and it all sounds just right. But my favourite thing about Frozen are some door knocks from right at the start.

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Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 | 5 comments

Emotional Beings A Creature Sound Design Discussion

Cattle grazing through the fields

Cattle grazing through the fields

 

Guest Post by Beau A. Jimenez

Introduction

While on a calming walk, a car drives by me. As it zips by, some jerk in the passenger decides to scream at me as loud as they could. Being caught unaware, I jump. A feeling comes over me. The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I feel scared, concerned, and worried within a fraction of a second.

My roommate’s dog whines and cries as his master leaves the apartment. I can hear the sadness translate to my understanding. It’s a universal sound that says ‘Hey wait, don’t go!’ Through this sound, I can sense how much the dog cares for this person.

There are countless examples of vocalizations that make us feel something. There are emotive sounds that capture happiness, curiosity, sadness, pain, anger, fear and more… These sounds break the barriers of language and don’t need to have comprehensive words to understand their intent. As humans, we perceive emotive vocalizations in a deep-rooted, relatable way. These sounds are more felt than understood. They are visceral sounds that light up our brains in a profound way.

Within this article, I’d like to talk about what happens to us when we hear these vocalizations, talk about examples of emotive creatures in film that demonstrate expertly-done creature sound design, and give my own outlook on the significance and fun of creature sound design.

 

How We React to Vocalizations

We all have a reflex system built into us from birth. It’s a startle-response system that triggers upon an unexpected, loud, or jarring sound. This response can take us from an idle state to a state of high alertness within a fraction of a second. Centuries of predator & prey interactions have designed us to react in a fight-or-flight manner for our survival. That jerk-in-the-car’s scream caused my body to release certain chemicals inside my system, putting me into a temporary alert mode. It doesn’t feel great when you don’t expect it! But in film, it progresses the story and strategically steers the audience towards the sound designer and/or director’s intent.

A great example of a startle-response sound moment is the jarring picture cut into the ‘raptor feeding’ scene in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Dr. Alan Brand holds a supposedly vicious baby raptor is his hands as it coos sweetly & innocently. On the picture cut to the adult raptor cages, an absolutely terrifying blend of shrieks and squeals blare across the front and surround speakers. This puts the audience into a state of high alertness. As a result, the audience becomes cautious of the terrors living within the cages. (Which I believe is the exact goal of this scene!)

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Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 | 3 comments

Interview with Steve Tibbo – Emmy Winning Production Sound Mixer for ABC’s “Modern Family”

Image 3 Headshot

Steve Tibbo, CAS, with cart on set at “Modern Family”

GUEST CONTRIBUTION BY DALE CROWLEY

A few days after this interview with Steve Tibbo, he was nominated for the 6th time for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for his work on ABC’s “Modern Family”, where he has been the production sound mixer on every episode other than the pilot. The episode that was nominated is called “Connection Lost“. We discuss this episode in detail and talk about this complex undertaking as well as many other topics ranging from his work on Modern Family to the gear he uses to record on set and on location, and we also delve into his work in re-recording mixing, ADR, and sound design for film and TV.  This month’s theme is “Favorites” and “Modern Family” is my favorite TV Comedy and sound is my favorite subject.

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Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 | 3 comments

The Business of Foley

SoundDesignFoleyPropRoom
For the last 6 months or so I’ve been an avid reader of Stephen Follow’s blog. I stumbled across it when I was looking for some ideas for a class I was teaching and I’ve been hooked ever since. Amongst other things Stephen writes about the business of making films and offers a tantalising glimpse into the murky world of budgets and film finance.

Beyond some of the more eye-opening content on there (Iron Man 3’s 3,310 strong crew for one) I was drawn to a few sound related stats e.g. the average size of sound departments and also the proportion of a £1 million film budget which is allocated for sound (£16,882 in this particular case). Clearly there’s nothing like a good stat to confuse the issue and a figure like this presented on its own means very little but it did get me thinking about the economies of film sound and for this month, the specifics of the business of Foley.

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 | 2 comments

Lessons of a Reckless Freelancer, or How I Learned to Love the Paperwork

Stella W2

At least my cats were on top of things.

When I first started up as a freelance sound designer and re-recording mixer, I had never been responsible for running a business. Working for myself seemed to be the ultimate job; I could set my hours, pick my projects, and do things how I wanted to do them. Beyond this freedom, what else was there? As it turns out, I completely glossed over that whole “how to run my own business” thing, charging headlong into freelancing with no real understanding of what that entailed. Had I taken just a few moments to sit down and read a bit about being your own boss and business, I would have saved myself a whole lot of trouble down the road. Here are a few of the bigger things I learned along the way; hopefully, you can learn something from my mistakes.

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 | 10 comments

Failure in the Pursuit of Perfection

I can’t stand articles that begin with a definition. So please, forgive this imperfect opening to what should really have been a perfect article.

Photo by Flickr user Terrance Heath, used under Creative Commons License.

Photo by Flickr user Terrance Heath, used under Creative Commons License. Click for source.

Most definitions of the term “perfectionist” agree that it describes someone who “refuses to accept any standard short of perfection”. I feel that the colloquial use of the term describes someone who “will be dissatisfied with their work which standards fall short of their perception of perfection. I think this interpretation reflects how perfectionists, whilst dissatisfied with their work, don’t necessarily ‘“refuse to accept” the outcome, that their high standards typically only apply to their work, and that perfection isn’t an agreed upon standard (in most cases) but more of a personal qualitative perception.

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Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 | 4 comments

Pure Data Destruction

Internals of Pd Destruction Patch

The “guts” of the Pd Destruction Patch

Guest Post by Leonard J. Paul

Introduction

To fit in with May’s theme of “destruction” at DesigningSound.org, I wanted to create a patch that demonstrated how Pd (Pure Data) could be used to create interesting sounds of “digital destruction” with a fairly minimal amount of implementation. Hopefully this patch will be helpful for those wanting to learn a bit about Pd.

Just to dive into things, I made a few illustrative recordings of me playing around with the patch to try to get some entertaining samples:

I found that using Pd patches worked pretty well for the index file and that switching index files while the patch was running helped to keep things interesting. The recordings are unprocessed to give a good idea of what the patch is capable of. With a bit of mastering and effects they could be used for building blocks for different types of sound design and music as well.

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Posted by on May 28, 2015 | 11 comments

One Is Not Enough: Understanding Bias in the Audio Community

image by wgbieber, click limage to view source

image by wgbieber, click limage to view source

Guest Post by Kate Finan

The studio owner skimmed my resume and nodded several times. He glanced up at me, back down at the resume, and then carefully set it back on his desk.

“Your credentials are great. The chair of the Sound Recording Department recommended you very highly, and we have a close relationship with him. So, we will hire you… We will hire you, but you won’t last. We will make sure of that.”

He paused, and I waited for an explanation.

“We don’t hire women. Studio policy,” he stated matter-of-factly.

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Posted by on May 26, 2015 | 6 comments

“On Thin Ice”: A Sampling Session Retrospective

Guest Contribution by Chris Burgess

There are two points to this article.  The first is, if you see something you want to do, get out there and make it happen.  The second, being that when an opportunity presents itself to you, be aware enough of your surroundings to scoop it up (and then record some awesome sounds).  What follows is an account of my attempt to record dry ice on various metals.  What I learned and the mistakes I made in case others wish to repeat this session for their own use.

DSCN2045

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Posted by on May 18, 2015 | 1 comment

DESTROY! …with Caution

Photo by Flickr user Kit, used under Creative Commons License

Photo by Flickr user Kit, used under Creative Commons License

I love building things. I spent a great deal of my childhood building all kinds of creations out of LEGO and K’NEX (and I still do). Of course, one of my favorite parts of the building process was the necessary destruction of the older things to make the new. Working with sound, especially taking apart the normal, everyday sounds to build new and interesting sounds, has always struck me as an extension of this. Though I’ve gleefully annihilated countless LEGO creations over the years, the scars on my fingers from sharp plastic bricks are there to remind me that while it can be a great deal of fun to destroy all the things, a tiny bit of caution can go a long way.

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