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Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 | 0 comments

SoundGirls.Org

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Guest Contribution by Karrie Keyes

SoundGirls.Org was formed in 2013 by veteran live sound engineers: Karrie Keyes and Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato. In 2012, Karrie and Michelle participated in the “Women of Professional Concert Sound” panel at the AES Conference in San Francisco. The panel was hosted by the Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) and moderated by WAM founder Terri Winston. [ed: We’ve interviewed Terri about WAM in the past.] Terri brought together five women working in live and broadcast audio. The groundbreaking panel which also included Jeri Palumbo, Claudia Engelhart and Deanne Franklin, provided young women and men a glimpse into life on the road, tips and advice, and a Q & A with the panelists.

More importantly though, was how incredibly powerful the experience was for the panelists. We had all been in the business for 20 years or more, yet most of us had never met before that day and within minutes we bonded like long lost sisters. We were struck by how similar our experiences, work ethics, and passions were and wondered why our paths had never crossed and how our careers would have been different had we been there to support each other through the years. Each of us are strong on our own, but together we were even stronger and a powerful force. We were empowered. Each of us had been asked hundreds of times in our careers: Are there other women doing sound? How did you get into sound? How would a young woman go about getting into sound?

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Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 | 1 comment

“…desperately unstrategic…” – An interview with Jessica Curry, Director and Composer at The Chinese Room

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Jessica Curry is a Director and Composer at The Chinese Room, a game development studio based in Brighton, UK. The studio shipped their first game, Dear Esther in 2012 and are currently hard at work on their third, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

Designing Sound: Tell us a little about how you got started out as a composer? What kind of projects did you start out with?

Jessica Curry: I started composing when I was a little girl. I begged for piano lessons and loved it from the outset. I was always writing little songs; the first Mozartian classic being “Jessica Curry is in a hurry, she’s going on holiday/Hip hip, hurray, she’s going on holiday.” I think you can spot the innate talent right there. Then a fun three years reading English Literature and Language at University followed by a “what the hell are you doing with your life, you’re working at the Warner Brothers store” talk from my amazing late step-dad who gently pushed the National Film and Television screenwriting Screen Music course application under my nose. From then on, a vast and pretty bizarre array of projects. I often say that I’ve had a desperately unstrategic career but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always follow my heart rather than my head and this has led to some phenomenally interesting collaborations, ranging from a Requiem for a Second Life character for the Royal Opera House to writing lullabies for Great Ormond Street Hospital. So although I’ve very probably sacrificed recognition in one particular field, to me what I’ve gained is the most wonderful and unusual collection of projects and that to me has been worth far more.

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Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 | 28 comments

Women in Audio: Yes, We Exist!

Image by The Presler Project, used under a Creative Commons license. CLick image to view source.

Image by The Presler Project, used under a Creative Commons license. CLick image to view source.

Guest Contribution by April Tucker

Last year, I got one of the weirdest compliments I’ve ever heard: “You’re a real unicorn!” I was working with a mixer who I had recently met (but was an established mixer), and he looked at me in amazement as I asked questions about his workflow. “I’ve heard of Lora Hirschberg and Anna Behlmer, but I’ve never met a female mixer. I’m sorry I’m so taken aback, but I really didn’t think someone like you existed,” he said.

When I heard that the Designing Sound guys were stepping aside this month for women contributors, I thought it was a great chance to say, “Hey look! There’s actually a lot of real unicorns!” Except… it’s been pretty silent. I asked a few women who I thought might be interested, and one woman (who I highly respect) said, “I would rather not address our industry when my invitation is based on my gender. I look forward to writing based on the knowledge and expertise that I can offer as an equal member of the industry.”

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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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