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Making The Best Out Of Something Broken

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 | 2 comments

It is fitting that with our theme of “Broken” this month I would accidentally wash my Zoom H1 Handy Recorder in the washing machine. I had taken the H1 with me to GDC just in case any cool sounds popped up for me to record (they didn’t). So when I got home and tossed the backpack in the wash to get the San Francisco grime off of it I completely forgot the very light H1 was inside! Fast forward to me opening up the washing machine and finding the H1′s body sans-capsules and the capsules and their housings in various places in the machine.

photo 1

The H1 Aftermath


MASTER CLASS: Skip Lievsay, Academy Award-Winner for Best Sound Mixing on GRAVITY

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 2 comments


Bit short notice but if you’re in NYC on April 19 there is a pretty cool master class happening:


“On Saturday, April 19th, come join us at the Media Center to watch the Academy Award winning film GRAVITY with master sound designer, Skip Lievsay.  We’ll have lunch together and Skip will walk you through his experience working on GRAVITY.  Skip Lievsay has an outstanding history of collaborating with major American filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, and John Sayles. “

You can check out the details and register here.

“Skip Lievsay has an outstanding history of collaborating with major American filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, and John Sayles.  He served as sound editor for the Coen brothers on Blood Simple(1984) and was their sound editor supervisor on Raising Arizona (1987), Miller’s Crossing (1990), and Barton Fink (1991).  The frequent Coen brothers’ collaborator received two Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing for his work on NoCountry For Old Men (2007) and was nominated in the same categories for True Grit (2011).  For Spike Lee, he provided sound design for Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), and Jungle Fever (1991). Lievsay began an extensive collaboration with Martin Scorsese on After Hours (1985), continuing through The Age of Innocence (1993). For John Sayles, he worked on Matewan (1987) and City of Hope (1991).”


Sonic Movement

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 | 3 comments

An interesting investigation into how cars ‘should’ sound.

While our cities are in continuous visual and tactile evolution, our sonic landscape is primitive and disordered. With the dawn of silent electric vehicles comes a need for pedestrian warning sounds. This represents an opportunity to reflect upon the noise of our streets today and fantasize on what the future of our cities could sound like.

Semcon, in a unique collaboration between its Design and Acoustics divisions, with pioneering music/art duo Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst, invite you to experience the project initially premiered as an installation during Frankfurt Motorshow 2013.

The result of this innovative fusion, SONIC MOVEMENT imagines a new paradigm in the audible character of the city.

The Most Powerful Tool in Your Toolbox

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 | 4 comments

Image by Alisha Vargas. Used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Image by Alisha Vargas. Used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Guest Contribution by Richard Gould

…and a hold-over from last month’s “Voice” theme

I didn’t realise it until recently, but I’ve been a sound designer for most of my life. I may have only discovered the term “Sound Design” a few years ago, and I may have just graduated from studying the craft of sound design itself, but like most of us, I’ve been designing sounds since I was a kid, I just didn’t know it. True, I wasn’t sitting behind a console discussing aesthetics with directors, nor was I packing up my gear for a field recording session, but just as I might find myself today making sounds for non-existent worlds, beings and spacecrafts, I was doing the same thing when I was six years old.

I would run through the woodland up in the valley near my house, only it wasn’t a woodland, it was an alien landscape on a distant planet, or a medieval forest where a beastly dragon placed me in mortal danger. I could see these creatures, I could hear them (and I wasn’t afraid to let others hear them either). I was using the two most powerful tools in my sound design toolbox to realize the sonic sources of these worlds; my imagination and my voice. As I grew older however, I had less and less time to go up to the woodland, less time to visit these other worlds, and as a result, my first career as a sound designer came to an abrupt end around the age of eleven.


“How to Record Waves” on Quiet Planet

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Gordon Hempton has a new article up on his Quiet Planet website talking about recording waves.

Find a beach exposed to the open ocean (high-energy) with a large tidal change (higher latitudes) at least several miles from the nearest frequently used road (wilderness) that slopes sharply, so at low tide you encounter diverse substrates (sand, gravel, cobblestones).

Head here to read the full article.

In Conversation – Interview with Coll Anderson

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 | 0 comments

Andy Wooding has a new interview with one of our former Featured Sound Designers, Coll Anderson, up over on

I don’t know if there’s a difference. They both involve a certain level of verisimilitude and so you can’t really say there’s a difference. People will say ‘documentaries are real and fictitious films are about telling stories’ but documentaries are really about telling stories and fictional films often want to feel super real. So there’s a huge cross over between them. When you insert a camera into a situation, that situation is no longer real. It changes. It changes the dynamic. There’s a square box capturing it. We go to great lengths to show ‘oh the truth of the square box’ but it’s not true.

Head here to read the full interview.


Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 | 1 comment

Photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer, used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source on Flickr.

Photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer, used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source on Flickr.

Now that yesterday’s global silliness is behind us, it’s time to announce April’s theme: “broken”.

What can I say?! We like the open ended topics that provide ample opportunity for interpretation. As sound designers, we rely on manipulation…pushing materials beyond their limits to see what interesting sounds they create under stress, or at that threshold where they go beyond stressed into broken. We twist processors and software tools outside of their intended range or purpose for the same reason. Of course, there’s also the flip side that we sometimes have to deal with. We have software bugs, things like broken video engines [cou-Pro Tool 11-gh...cough, hack...excuse me], files that go corrupt, and all manner of other technical issues outside of our control that we have to wade through sometimes.

So, word associations for “broken”…GO!

A gentle reminder that we are always open to and encourage guest contributions here on Designing Sound. We also like to tell you the next month’s topic here, “Surround”, maybe so you can plan ahead. ;) If you’re interested in contributing something towards this month’s theme, or next month’s, please give us a shout. Interesting “off-topic” posts are welcomed as well. The themes are just to give ourselves a framework to come up with something interesting to talk about. Use our contact form or reach out to shaun{at} designingsound [dot] org to propose a contribution.

Mixing for Factual Formats – Interview with Bob Bronow

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 | 0 comments

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to put together a compelling soundtrack for factual television, Bob Bronow’s interview over at A Sound Effect makes worthy reading. The Emmy Award winning sound designer and re-recording mixer reflects on his workflow creating the sound for reality series The Deadliest Catch, and discusses the particular challenges of working within the factual genre.

Check out Bob’s interview here.

Game Developer’s Conference 2014 Recap

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 | 2 comments


I intended to have this up last week but recovering from GDC was a fulltime job and the proverbial dog ate my homework when Google Docs made the rough draft of this article disappear. However at the time of writing the GDC Vault has not updated with audio/video of the event so hopefully this post will have a more timely release around the same time as GDC Vault. All of the photos were taken on my phone (apologies!) except the above header which is courtesy of the GDC website.

Lets get to the talks!

The first day of GDC had the Audio Bootcamp hosted by good friends of Designing Sound: Garry Taylor and Damian Kastbauer. It was super super informative but the talks were super short and not the easiest to take notes during! So instead I live tweeted as much as I could so please check out my Twitter feed from around that time and more importantly check it out on the GDC Vault. (more…)

SFX Round Up – April 2014

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 | 0 comments

It’s April, and you’d be a fool if you didn’t check out this past month’s freshly released sound libraries. From quiet forests, ocean sounds, and country ambience, to war-torn future soundscapes and the introduction of a new company to the sound design community, plus a BIG contest announcement, Designing Sound’s monthly round up has you covered.