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Failure in the Pursuit of Perfection

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 | 10 comments

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.


News: Tonebenders Podcast: Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 | 1 comment

Ethan (L) and Erik (R) on the mix stage. Photo by Greg P Russell.

On the most recent episode of the Tonebenders Podcast, the guys talk to experienced sound designers Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl about their long and varied careers, working philosophies, and recent films. Some of the recent films Van der Ryn and Aadahl have worked on are Transformers: Age of ExtinctionGodzilla (2014)World War Z, and Argo, among others. Head over to the Tonebenders site to check it out, or listen on the go on iTunes or Stitcher.

Music of Sound: Okarito Kiwi aka Rowi

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 | 0 comments

In a recent entry on his blog, Tim Prebble discussed his experiences in trying to record the Okarito kiwi, or Rowi. The kiwi, which is the national bird of New Zealand, is nocturnal, and rarely seen or heard by anyone, even New Zealand natives. Tim digs into his fascinating adventures in trying to find and record this elusive creature here. Be sure to check out the recordings at the end, but be prepared for some startling sounds!

Sweet Justice: Sweetman’s Sweet Spot

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 | 1 comment

In the most recent blog post over at Sweet Justice, sound designer Chris Sweetman shares some of his decades of experience, and discusses the importance of experimentation and the use of organic sounds in modern sound design. He also discusses some of his experiences on major films, as well as his approach to tools like Izotope Iris. Head over to their blog to check it out now!

Pure Data Destruction

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 | 4 comments

Internals of Pd Destruction Patch

The “guts” of the Pd Destruction Patch

Guest Post by Leonard J. Paul


To fit in with May’s theme of “destruction” at, I wanted to create a patch that demonstrated how Pd (Pure Data) could be used to create interesting sounds of “digital destruction” with a fairly minimal amount of implementation. Hopefully this patch will be helpful for those wanting to learn a bit about Pd.

Just to dive into things, I made a few illustrative recordings of me playing around with the patch to try to get some entertaining samples:

I found that using Pd patches worked pretty well for the index file and that switching index files while the patch was running helped to keep things interesting. The recordings are unprocessed to give a good idea of what the patch is capable of. With a bit of mastering and effects they could be used for building blocks for different types of sound design and music as well.


Sulpha: The New PS4 Mastering Suite

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 | 3 comments

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. (more…)


Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 | 2 comments

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!

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

Posted by on May 29, 2015 | 1 comment

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… (more…)