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Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 | 0 comments

Hard Patching: Modular Synths

Tim Prebble's modular

Tim Prebble’s modular

The first time I saw a modular synth, I was taken aback by the massive nest of patching cables, seemingly flying off in all directions and connecting various devices with countless knobs and flashing lights, somehow creating all kinds of strange sounds. Coming up in a mostly digital world, such a mass of wiring was somewhat foreign to me. Sure, I had put together studios before, but those kinds of wiring setups were far more linear, at least as far as I was concerned. While I had spent a lot of time with Propellerhead’s Reason, virtually patching together all kinds of sound modules, I couldn’t even begin to compare it to the sight of a rack of analog modular hardware. However, I finally got to sit behind a modular at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California last year, and after just a few moments of fiddling, I was hooked.

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Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 | 1 comment

“ADC, it’s easy as 1 10 11″ – A Retrospective from the Pros

Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

I was born in England in 1988. Some of my earliest memories involve old BBC and Mac computers. I grew up listening to CDs, MiniDisks, playing “Duck Hunt” on my sister’s NES. The dial-up modem sounds are imprinted on my memory. I recall my father ordering books from Amazon.com back when that’s all Amazon sold. In my teen years I assembled my own computer to save money and grew to appreciate the inner workings of a computer. What I’m trying to say is, I’m an early product of the digital age, it’s all I’ve known.

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Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 | 0 comments

Designing Sound Discussion Group – Scouts Honor

Image hot-linked from the Scout’s Honor website. Click the image to visit it.

UPDATE: We’re going to have to reschedule the talk due to some last minute scheduling conflicts. Date still to be determined, but we’ll keep you posted.

We had originally intended to schedule this talk back in November; during our focus on documentaries. Circumstances conspired against us, but a good idea is a good idea. So I’m happy to get this on our schedule this now. This coming Sunday (Feb 22nd), at 4PM U.S. Eastern time (1PM Pacific)Sometime soon, we’ll be hosting our next Designing Sound Discussion Group to talk about Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood. We’ll be speaking with one of the film’s directors, Mac Smith, and one of its co-producers, John “JT” Torrijos. Scouts Honor is a unique documentary in a couple of ways. First off, it’s follows the Madison Scouts, a drum and bugle corps out of Madison, Wisconsin, on their 2012 tour. The other thing that makes it unique is that this is the first film for both Smith and Torrijos in these roles…who both have day jobs at Skywalker Sound. We’ll be talking with Smith and Torrijos about the film, their experiences taking on a different role in film-making, and the methods used to sonically capture some spectacular recordings of live performances. [ed. I've heard them...in theater...and they are IMPRESSIVE!]

As usual, this will be hosted via Google Hangouts and will have time for Q&A at the end of the discussion. Come here this Sunday to watch the live-stream and to find the direct link to the Google Hangout so you can join the conversation. See you all on Sunday!

YouTube Preview Image

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 | 13 comments

A New Approach to Internships?

Maybe a little less preparing this... [Photo by flickr user chichacha. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.]

Maybe a little less time preparing this… [Photo by flickr user chichacha. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.]

Guest Contribution by Timothy Muirhead

Although we all like to talk about sound work as a very creative discipline it is also a technical one.  Universities and other post secondary institutions really have their hands full trying to teach both sides of the craft – the hows and the whys.  Most come up short on one side or the other and that is why the industry has come to rely so heavily on the concept of the internship to complete the educations of those just entering the work force. I know the work placement I did at the conclusion of my time in film school taught me more in 4 months then I was able to absorb in the previous three and a half years I spent in classrooms. The schools narrow it down to the individuals who are dedicated, and give them time to focus on the craft and decide if it is indeed right for them. It teaches perseverance – but the internship is where you really learn the trade.

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Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 | 0 comments

Forget the 1s and 0s…

Photo by flickr user .tungl. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Photo by flickr user .tungl. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

We may be firmly in the digital age, but analog signals are always going to be a major part of our work. After all, unless you’re using a digital microphone using the AES42 spec, we’re at least going to be dealing with the signal path from the mic to preamp to AD…not to mention the reproduction path of DA to power amp to speaker. Analog will never truly go away, nor do people want it to. The resurgence of modular synthesis and the growth of vinyl sales are both evidence of that. We also still have techniques that we can apply to our digital workflow that were practically a necessity in the days of analog. [ed. …something I’ve posted about in the past.]

This month we’re turning our focus to analog to remind ourselves of how relevant the “older” technology still is, and the many ways people are still using it today.

As always, we encourage guest contributions here on Designing Sound. We’ve got something a little different planned for next month, which we’re keeping under wraps for now. April’s topic will be Comedy. If you have something you’d like to contribute to this month’s topic, April’s, or something off-topic…please don’t hesitate to reach out through our contact form or directly to shaun {at} this website.

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Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 | 0 comments

Deep or Shallow?

Image by Nick Page. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Image by Nick Page. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Guest Contribution by René Coronado

To a large degree, the purpose of learning is less to purely gain knowledge for the sake of it, and more to gain knowledge in order to use that knowledge to do something.

I propose that there are two basic types of learning: shallow and deep. Both types are useful, and both have positives and negatives.


 

Shallow learning is learning that comes by reading or watching instructions and following those instruction to the letter. Examples would include getting driving directions from your home to some place in town you haven’t been to yet, watching a youtube video on how to create a Skrillex styled wobble using Massive step by step, or building an IKEA bookshelf.

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Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Forging New Territory: Audio Design Education, Non-Traditional Disciplines, & Diversity


Chanel Summers & a Huxley[2]

Guest Contribution By Chanel Summers

As a woman who has built her own career on a platform of game audio, game design and game production, I am passionate about programs that teach and empower women to follow a similar path. As there are such few women in the field of video game audio, fewer are even aware of the opportunities. I have been on a mission to try and change that – trying to introduce this field as a career option to young women and show that women can lead in this field and be highly successful — and perhaps even change the complexion of the video game industry. The reason this is so important is that for an industry or a creative medium to achieve its full potential, it must draw strength from diversity — a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, and experiences. Each person approaching opportunity from a different starting point keeps things fresh, vibrant, exciting and new.

That is why I found myself, two years ago, at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, an all-girl’s school in Bellevue, Washington, proposing a summer workshop called, “Artistic Expression in Game Audio Design”. The workshop would give young women an artistic and technical foundation in audio for interactive media and expose them to the career possibilities in video game audio. It would be based on the class that I created and teach at USC’s Interactive Media & Games Division in the School of Cinematic Arts (“Audio Expression”), taking a semester-long course and turning it into an intensive one month long workshop for Forest Ridge. Because we chose not to “adapt” the material for a younger audience, these girls would get the same material I teach to undergrads, grads, and PhD students. In fact, it would be even more intensive, as they would have class every day for four hours each day rather than once a week. By choosing not to “dumb down” the curriculum for students just because they are younger or new to the field, we showed that we respected the young women, which they in turn responded to with vigor.

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Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 | 0 comments

Audio Education – A view from the middle

brainstorming-411589_640
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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Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 | 7 comments

Life Lessons and Audio Education

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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Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 | 0 comments

It Never Ends…

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].

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