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Posted by on Aug 1, 2015 | 0 comments

The Month of Favorites

Photo by Brad.K. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Photo by Brad.K. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

What is your favorite… sound design project? synthesizer? resource? application? story? piece of gear? technique?

This month’s theme is, to say the least, open to interpretation.

I am sure you know that feeling. The one you get when you come across something that is just too good to keep to yourself and you feel the need to share it with any colleague that will listen. We know that many times what inspires us may also inspire others, and there is nothing better than being able to share something that improves someone’s knowledge base, workflow, or creative process. That is why I know that when my colleagues want to tell me something, I am all ears.

Within our own (slightly insular) professional circles, we regularly share the best of what we currently use, read, and hear. This month, our goal is to broaden our circles and share some of the products, projects, and stories that are our current favorites, and also to hear about some of yours as well.

Care to share?

We here at Designing Sound ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. If you have a favorite story, thought, or technique you’d like to share, let us know. Feel free to contribute to this month’s theme if you have a favorite to share, or maybe next month’s topic is of more interest to you (which will be “Restriction”), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game. Please contact doron [@] this website to get the ball rolling!

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Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 | 2 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 29, 2015 | 0 comments

Tax Considerations When Hiring Freelancers

Image by flickr user reynermedia. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to veiw source.

Image by flickr user reynermedia. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

The path we take in our careers can be a fairly winding one. It’s hard to predict exactly where you’re going to wind up. For instance, last year I found myself in the position where, while working as an independent sound designer after years as a staffer, I needed a team of people to help me complete a project by deadline. It’s not a bad position to be in. I like working, and having the ability (and, admittedly, necessity) to spread some of that work out amongst my peers felt good. There are two ways you can handle that on the billing side.

  1. Have those people bill your client directly.
  2. Bill your client once and and have your team invoice you for their work.

I chose the latter, and it presented an interesting situation when taxes rolled around. This article is to offer some of the key information I learned in the process. I’ll apologize to those people outside of the U.S., because this is going to be specific to the tax system here. There’s a tiny bit in here that might be useful to folks outside of this country I live in, but I won’t be offended if you skip this article.

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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 Jul 20, 2015 | 12 comments

Make Yourself a Valuable Sound Designer

Jason Cushing

Guest Contribution by Jason Cushing

My name is Jason Cushing and I’m one of the co-founders of SoundMorph. Recently, I was chatting with the hard-working and talented Shaun Farley of Designing Sound about the site’s latest monthly topic: the business of sound. There are many aspects to this vast subject, but one topic that might be helpful for those of you just starting out in sound—or even (gasp) experienced sound designers—was the topic of turning yourself into a valuable asset.

This is simply an opinion piece and I don’t claim to be a guru with all the answers. As someone who started a successful online sound company, perhaps I can instill some helpful maxims that will make you re-examine your approach and take your “personal brand” to the next level!

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 | 7 comments

The Mindset of Business

800px-Neon_Open_green

Image sourced on Wikimedia Commons. Click image to view source

Guest Contribution by April Tucker

Early in my career, I watched a couple studios crumble first hand. One was a music studio that went bankrupt because the owner made some poor choices. The other was a post studio that laid off most of the staff in one day; “Black Wednesday,” we called it. I had mixed feelings knowing I’d own a business someday. Learning business skills didn’t seem like a choice – in our field, the odds are that you will be freelance (or take contract work) at some point. What I’ve since learned (through business classes and being in business) is that business isn’t just a skill set; it’s also a philosophy or way of thinking.

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 | 3 comments

The Neglected Topic

Photo by Edward Webb. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Photo by Edward Webb. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

This is going to be an odd month, because we’re not going to talk about sound. Not directly anyways.

There’s a broad range of topics that are often neglected in discussions of our craft, and that’s the business side of things. Media production programs in Colleges and Universities are practically a dime a dozen now…though they certainly don’t cost a little more than a dime. How many of them bother to teach anything relating to the business skills one might need to survive in such a competitive industry? I know mine didn’t, and that was a Master’s program.

It’s probably obvious, but we can’t teach even a tenth of what one might need to know with regards to this topic. None of us studied business. You do pick up a few things along the way though, and maybe we can help a few of you avoid some hard lessons. And maybe a few of you can help us avoid some we haven’t encountered yet.

Care to share?

If you haven’t seen this usual blurb in italics before, we ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. It doesn’t matter to us who you are, or where you’re at in your career. If you’re interested in contributing to this month’s theme, next month’s (…will be “restriction” by the way), or going completely off-topic…contact shaun {at} this website.

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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 1, 2015 | 2 comments

Failure…

Photo by Gustavo Veríssimo, used under a Creative Commons license. Click to view source.

Photo by Gustavo Veríssimo, used under a Creative Commons license. Click to view source.

…and the fear of it. Some worry about it more than others, but we all face it sooner or later. There are varying degrees of failure, and then there’s the old line that helps to put things in a relevant light:

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” [Stephen McCranie…according to Google]

Failure is a part of development and growth. It’s unavoidable, and not necessarily something to fear. So this month, we’re going to try to bring a little perspective to this idea of failure.

For instance, it’s also not necessarily career related. After all, the sound Ben Burtt used to bring a little character to the Millenium Falcon failing to to go into light speed was an inertia starter failing to turn over. Failing devices can sound amazing! So we’re not necessarily going to be all philosophical this month.

It should be an interesting exploration…or maybe we’ll screw it all up. As Adam Savage always says on Mythbusters, “Failure is always an option.” ;)

We here at Designing Sound ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. If you have a story, thought or technique you’d like to share, let us know. Contribute to this month’s theme if suits you, maybe next month’s topic (when we’re going to focus on the business side of sound design), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game! Contact shaun [@] this website to get the ball rolling!

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Posted by on May 29, 2015 | 1 comment

Comedy…”It’s an Interesting Thing to Try and Nail Down” – Interview with Chris Scarabosio

Chris Scarabosio is a sound designer and re-recording mixer who works at Skywalker Sound. This interview was originally intended to be part of our comedy theme in April. Schedules didn’t quite work out, so we’re bringing it to you now…

SCARABOSIO_ChrisDS: So our theme for April was comedy, and I thought yours would be an interesting brain to pick on the subject.

CS: I was thinking about it, “What makes a sound funny?” And it’s kind of hard to figure out. Some sounds are funny, like pops…just suction pops, for whatever reason. What makes that funny? I don’t know. The things I learned funny from are: Looney Tunes, Three Stooges, Flintstones… Kind of dissecting it, and even now doing Minions, it’s just “absurdity.” I think something so absurd makes you laugh, like anvil hits. Something hits that’s nowhere near the weight of an anvil, and it makes this ridiculous, “DONK!” It’s funny, I guess, because it’s absurd.

DS: The exaggeration of it maybe?

CS: Exaggeration, yeah. Something so over the top, that it couldn’t possibly make that sound. That makes it funny.

DS: Those are the first things that I go to as well. For sound in comedy, you think about the slapstick and musical stuff in Looney Tunes, a lot of times they do something that’s completely unrelated. Like if a feather has an anvil sound when it hits. It’s a different type of absurd, not necessarily an exaggeration…

CS: It’s the opposite, right. It’s an odd thing to talk about, because it’s hard to explain. There are no hard and fast rules, other than kind of what we learned growing up and watching cartoons. In doing it, you try different things. I’m trying to think of something…

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