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Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 | 1 comment

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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Posted by on May 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Accidents? Those are the great bits! – a Designing Sound interview with Warren Ellis

Nick Cave (L) and Warren Ellis (R)

Nick Cave (L) and Warren Ellis (R)

Warren Ellis is unstoppable. The busy Australian is a member of – at least – three different bands: The Bad Seeds, Grinderman and Dirty Three. He plays violin, piano, bouzouki, guitar, flute, mandolin, viola and, yes, probably even more. He is pretty much constantly touring the world, making records or creating soundtracks. Anyone who’s experienced him onstage with Nick Cave knows his powerful presence and amazing musicianship – he’s been a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since 1994.

Together with Nick Cave he’s scored several films, among these The Proposition (2005), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Road (2009) and just recently they did the score for the French drama Loin des Hommes – Far From Men is the UK title – which is based on the Albert Camus short story and set in Algeria in the years leading up to independence.

This month’s theme here at Designing Sound is Destruction and Ellis is someone who’s not afraid of gritty, noisy, textured, explosive, destructive sound – his approach to sound is often to use accidents in creative ways. Here he talks about his methods and inspirations – and why he loves cinema:

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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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Posted by on May 4, 2015 | 4 comments

Ripping Apart the Harmonic Structure of a Sound

Metal_Spectragram

I thought it would be boring to go the obvious route and talk about breaking a real world object for this month’s destruction theme. Don’t get me wrong, breaking stuff is a ton of fun…even more so when you can justify it as part of your job. Instead, I thought I’d try to go a little more creative and tangential. Let’s take a look at some of the fun that can be had by messing with a sound’s harmonic structure. This type of exercise would have been much harder a few years ago, but is now incredibly easy with tools like Izotope RX and Iris.

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Posted by on May 3, 2015 | 0 comments

DSDG: Scouts Honor – Documentary Sound

 

We’re discussing sound for the documentary “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood” with Director Mac Smith and Co-producer John “JT” Torrijos. The live stream will begin at 8PM (U.S. Eastern). If the stream is not available immediately on the hour, it’s simply because we’re waiting for someone to log in to the hangout. You can watch in the embedded video above, but make sure you head directly to the hangout page if you want to ask any questions when we open up the Q&A.

If you’d like to ask any additional questions of Mac and JT, please visit the Scouts Honor facebook page or hit them up on Twitter.

The recording of the presentation should be available shortly after it ends, and it will replace the embedded live stream above.

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