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Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 | 1 comment

Spectral Analysis: Interview with Gordon Durity

Many thanks to Brad Dyck for contributing this interview. You can follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Dyck

Gordon Durity is the Executive Audio Director of the EA Audioworks team, which supports the audio development of the upcoming Need for Speed release available on November 3rd, 2015 for PS4 and Xbox One (PC due in the spring of 2016). I’d like to extend my thanks to Gordon for sitting down to chat with me.

Brad Dyck: Could you describe some of the responsibilities you deal with day to day?

Gordon Durity: I look at all the titles that I’m in charge of – all of the sports games, Need for Speed, Plants vs Zombies and mobile products just to keep track of where everything’s going as far as audio content and quality. I do R&D as well, looking at where our technology is headed, what’s out there competitively, what we’re building in-house, what we need to build for emerging platforms, and what we need to re-factor to make things work better. Because we’re a central team, I spend time with the senior leaders of the titles we service whether it’s FIFA, Madden or Need for Speed, just to make sure that we’re completely aligned with our dev partners.

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Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 | 0 comments

Interview with Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace) on Restrictions

Earlier this month on a rare rainy Bay-Area day, I sat down with composer and musician Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) to discuss last month’s theme of “Restriction”. Rich is best known for his work in video games having composed music for “Fez”, “Bit.Trip Presents: Runner2”, “Gunhouse” and the forthcoming “Mini Metro” and “Hyper Light Drifter”. Most recently his score to the critically acclaimed motion picture “It Follows” received unanimous praise.

photo credit Nika States

Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace) – photo credit Nika States


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Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 | 4 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”


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 | 4 comments

The Business of Foley

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 Jun 4, 2015 | 3 comments

Sulpha: The New PS4 Mastering Suite

Sony for a very long time has spearheaded the effort to standardise loudness in games. The recent PS4 SDK update (2.500) includes a mastering suite — Sulpha analysis tools — to help developers master their titles for a variety of playback systems, from full range surround sound systems to TVs, to mobile devices.

It features a 4-band equaliser, a 3-band dynamics processor, gain and limiter controls and loudness management and analysis tools. The interesting thing about the toolset is that it utilises resources from the operating system and is therefore compatible with game audio middleware, third party engines and all PS4 titles.

I briefly interviewed Garry Taylor, Audio Director at Creative Services Group, Sony Worldwide Studios and Marina Villanueva-Barreiro who is a senior engineer at SCEE Research and Development. I found it interesting that about 50% of users listen to PlayStation titles through their TV speakers. I was expecting the percentage to be much higher.


DS: Sony in many ways has been spearheading the loudness standard for games. Did the development of these tools seem like a natural progression from the development of the standard?

Garry: Very much so.  Having a loudness standard is all well and good, but we needed to make it as easy as possible for developers to hit the PS4 loudness target without having to spend big money on new equipment.  Loudness metering has been part of the PS4 operating system for a couple of revisions now, and this is the next logical step, allowing developers to manipulate overall EQ , dynamic range and loudness easily and quickly.  Smaller teams working on PlayStation titles may not have the resources or technical knowledge required to conform to a standard, so having one easy-to-use audio mastering tool that works on every single title made a lot of sense.

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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 Apr 30, 2015 | 0 comments

The Sound of the Rapture – Interview with Audio Designer Adam Hay

Following on from last month’s interview with The Chinese Room‘s Director and Composer Jessica Curry I was lucky enough to grab some time to chat with the studio’s Audio Designer Adam Hay.

Designing Sound: Thanks for taking the time to speak to me Adam. So, looking back through your credit list the first games you worked on were at Traveller’s Tales?

Adam Hay: That’s correct, yeah. I started doing music technology at University and when I finished my degree I knew I wanted to get into games. I’ve been a lifelong game enthusiast. The first game that had a big impact on me was Monkey Island 2. I saw that first when I must have been 7 or 8 and I was totally enraptured by the sound and music of that game. I’ve been a bit of an adventure game addict since then. I got into early things like Click and Play and Games Factory so after University it seemed like a natural extension of my two passions, music & sound and games, to try and get into the industry. So I sent my post-University CV of to every games company in the UK and as luck would have it TT were looking for a junior sound designer at the time and I was lucky enough to get in there.

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Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Broken Age – An Interview with Camden Stoddard and the audio team at Double Fine

Broken Age launched Act I in January 2014. Funded through Kickstarter with it’s development the subject of an epic (and ongoing) documentary courtesy of 2 Player Productions, the game was noteworthy for a number of reasons. I personally really enjoyed the games sound and music so in August 2014 I caught up with Camden Stoddard, the lead sound designer on the game for a chat. I was lucky enough to catch up with him again in March 2015 and also meet the other members of the audio team, Ashley Coull and Paul O’Rourke, as they closed in on the end of Act II

Designing Sound: Hi Camden. Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. How are things going?

Camden Stoddard: Well, we’re in a weird place right now. I’m in Broken Age Act II land now. There’s a lot of layouts being done and there’s a whole bunch of work coming my way and I can’t really touch it until it’s locked. So now I’m kinda sketching and guessing what they’re going to do. So right now, I’m actually helping out on a couple of other projects, working on Costume Quest 2 and Massive Chalice.

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Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 | 0 comments

“His screaming as a woman with a high pitched voice really helped that scene.” An interview with Mike Wilhoit

Mike Wilhoit

Mike Wilhoit is currently a Supervising Sound Editor for Technicolor and has perviously worked for Soundelux, Universal and Goldwyn Studios. Designing Sound spoke to him about his career with a focus on his work in comedic feature films.

Designing Sound: How did you find your way into sound for film and television?

Mike Wilhoit: I started at Goldwyn Studios in 1974. I started as an apprentice and worked my way up; Assistant Sound Editor, Foley Artist, Sound Editor, Sound Supervisor. My father Ken Wilhoit was a music editor for Quinn Martin Productions. He called me at work (I was also attending California State University, Northridge) and said “Son you have a union job as an apprentice, you start tomorrow”. I quit my job and studies, and started the next day.

DS: You have fellow family members who also work in the film and television business. Do you all enjoy talking about each other’s work, is it nice that they all have an appreciation for what you do?

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