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Interview with Hrishikesh Dani

Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 | 1 comment

Since Designing Sound is now the home of the Sound Design Challenge, I thought it only appropriate that the winner’s interviews be posted here as well. Here’s the interview with Hrishikesh Dani, winner of April’s challenge – SDC009: The Game Audio Challenge…

Designing Sound: So, why don’t you give us a little description of who you are, what you do and how you got into sound work.

Hrishikesh Dani: In the late 90s, the arrival of an acoustic guitar at home opened my ears for music. After having developed a taste for wide range of music genres, I started digging more on the engineering and technological aspects of music production. While pursuing a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering at the University of Mumbai, I focused on topics such as DSP and Electronic Circuit Design. This provided me an opportunity to do some circuit bending and building analogue processors for my electric guitar as my final year projects.

After graduation in 2007, I started working as an Assistant Sound Engineer at a post-production studio called Bandwagon Studios in Mumbai. Even though it was exhausting, I was lucky to assist two studio rooms at the same time as I got to learn Pro Tools on Mac and Nuendo on Windows. Later on, I worked as a Studio Audio Engineer for Globe Recording Studio, where I got an opportunity to supervise the studio construction and record/edit localization IVRs. After a few months, I got a splendid opportunity to work as a Sound Designer in the promo department at UTV Television Networks, Mumbai. I got good experience working in a steep deadlines environment as I was designing sound for five UTV television channels. (more…)

Tim Nielsen Special: MS Recording

Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 | 72 comments

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

I’ve been recording with MS since I started in this industry, about 12 years ago now. There are of course many other recording techniques available, and I own microphones suited to most of them. I tried to elaborate a tiny bit on some of the other stereo techniques in my previous article, and that’s when I realized that MS really needed it’s own article.

Of all the stereo formats I record in, MS is my favorite. I find it to be the most compact, and by far the most versatile, of all the stereo recording techniques I know. It’s also a bit tricky to wrap your head around the first time you try to understand it. I remember at USC the day I asked Tom Holman, creator of THX, to explain something about MS that had been puzzling me (probably the entire idea behind it and how it worked at all). For the next hour or so, he proceeded to draw math equations on the dry-erase board. I sat, staring and dazed, occasionally nodding to feign understanding. The fact is, MS is a strange recording method.

I’ve had quite a few people, even ones I work with, tell me they don’t like MS, but many times it seems to me that they can’t tell me why. Maybe it’s simply that it’s a bit too much like voodoo. But properly done, MS recording is basically another form of XY recording. David Farmer and I, while both in New Zealand, did some tests between his Schoeps XY microphone, and my MS rig. Neither of us could hear much difference, and my memory is that both of us slightly preferred the MS rig when we felt we could hear any differences. There is really nothing to be afraid of with MS.

For those who don’t know, an MS rig consists of two microphones (or more, as there is a Schoeps Double-MS setup and I’ve personally set up and tried a Triple-MS rig of my own Frankensteinian devising). In the stereo version, there is a Mid microphone, and a Side microphone, hence the name MS Recording, or Mid-Side Recording. The mid microphone faces forward, and can be of any pickup pattern, although almost always a cardiod or hyper-cardiod microphone is used. The side mic is always a Figure-8, or bi-directional microphone, whose polar pattern is perpendicular to the front facing microphone. The two microphones are ideally very well matched, and most of us use mid microphones that have in their family a Figure-8 version as well, for instance the Schoeps MK series of capsules, the Sennheiser MKH series, or the Neumann KM100 series with AK capsules. All of these have cardiod, hyper-cardiod and Figure-8 mics available and are ideal to use in an MS setup. There are also self contained MS microphones, made by companies like Pearl and Sanken, or the Neumann RSM-191, which I know several people here use. The only reason I tend not to like microphones like the RSM-191 is that they use external powering and matrixing boxes, which I find cumbersome. But the RSM-191, the Sanken CMS-7 are very nice sounding MS microphones as well.


Advantages of Nuendo for Sound Post-Production

Posted by on Aug 11, 2011 | 1 comment

Mix Online has published an article with sound editor Kelly Pieklo, who shares his thoughts about using Nuendo as his main workstation for sound post-production:

Minneapolis-based post-production company Splice Here® ( and Sound Editor Kelly Pieklo are enjoying some recent successes, thanks in large part to Steinberg’s Nuendo platform. Director Eric Howell’s “Ana’s Playground,” on which Pieklo filled Sound Editor and Sound Designer roles, recently made the Academy’s Short List for the 2011 Live-Action Short Film Oscar. Additionally, Director Brady Kiernan brought his feature, “Stuck Between Stations,” to Splice and Pieklo for all sound post-production services. The film premiered with four sold-out screenings at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in April 2011.

“Both of these projects were an absolute joy to be a part of, and each brought different creative sound editing challenges to the table,” says Pieklo. “The choice to work in Nuendo gave me the ability to speed up my editing and clean-up process, which in turn allowed me to spend more time creating and fine-tuning the soundtrack per the directors’ requests.”

Continue reading…

Frank Bry on Rain Recording, North Country Rain HD Library Available

Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 | 1 comment

The Recordist has released North Country Rain HD, a new sfx library loaded with rain sounds recorded by Frank Bry over the last 5 years.

This new collection contains 38 24-bit/96khz incredible rain sound effects from North Idaho. Recorded on the ranch and other locations including farms, forests, concrete floors, pavement, fields of green and patios. Heavy, soft, blustery and sometimes icy, the rain selections included were meticulously edited and chosen from over 20 hours of raw material.

I’ve spent the last 5 years recording the nourishing rain from the lush and beautiful panhandle of Idaho which gets plenty of rainfall during the spring and fall seasons. Unpredictable and often fierce, the weather patterns here produce some of the most incredible rain storms I have ever experienced. From intense downpours to gentle showers on trees, this collection of rain goodness is sure to inspire.

North Country Rain HD is available at $45. Includes 38 WAV files at 96kHz/24-Bit into a 2.1GB package. Below is a Q&A with Frank, talking about this new release:

DS: What were your main concerns regarding rain recording? Do you have any tips for recording these type of sounds?

Frank: Not getting the microphones soaking wet was my main concern. There is also the issue of the rain hitting the Windjammers. I experimented with many different ways of recording in the rain. Of course, they best way to not get rain on the microphones is placing them under something like a roof eave or placing them in a window or doorway.

Wind was also a big issue. Many of the storms that roll in here in North Idaho have very strong wind. Some of the best rain comes after the wind has died down, but recording rain when it is very windy can be tricky. The rain and wind combination can sound like white noise sometimes. I tried different EQ settings every now and then to fix it, but most of the time it was unusable.

My other concern was other noises—animals, cars, trains, boats, you name it. Even though it is very quiet here most of the time there can be background noise. Even though I enjoy my sleep, I did get up in the middle of the night and record. It’s a fantastic time to record. Dead quiet and the animals also asleep (with the exception of the time a skunk was wide awake and lurking around). I do believe skunks are nocturnal animals.

One tip: be patient. I had to learn that one with rain. Sometimes you get good recordings and sometimes you don’t. That’s life.


Tim Nielsen Special: On Microphone Addiction

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 | 42 comments

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

My name is Tim Nielsen, and I’m a micaholic. It has been four months since my last microphone purchase, an adorable little Neumann XY set in a Mono Rycote. I bought them from a friend, because when I saw them I just had to have them. Trust me. They’re really cute. You’d want them too.

I probably won’t be writing a lot of technical articles here on Designing Sound. There seem to be plenty of those already. I don’t have much interest in sharing endless plugin settings, or even mastering chains. I don’t much care about fade file type preferences, or your scheme for color coding tracks. I have those too, but explaining mine in depth won’t really do you much good.

But maybe with regards to recording sound effects, I might have some advice that some might find useful. So today I want to write about microphones.

I bought my first microphones from one of my professors while still at USC film school. It was a Schoeps MS Rig, two CMC4 T-Powered bodies, with an MK41 mid capsule, and an MK6 side capsule. By the time I bought them, they were already 15 years old or more. Over the years I swapped out the T-Powered bodies for phantom powered ones. About three months ago I finally parted with them, selling them to a friend at Skywalker for her first rig. That’s the first thing about recording equipment, and in particular microphones. Buy good ones, as they will last you a long time. Plugins, software, computers, will all become obsolete very fast. But a good recording rig should last you a long time. I have no doubt those Schoeps mics have another 20 years in them.

So this in article, I thought I would give a run-down of the mics in my personal arsenal. It’s a bit of a running joke around the ranch, my mic collection. I’m sure Charles Maynes has beat by a long shot! :) But the truth is, every one of these mics has a purpose, even if they’re not used all that much. So here it is, a list of the mics that are currently in my possession:

  • Schoeps MS Rig: CMC6XT Bodies with MK41 Mid and MK8 Side
  • Sennheiser MS Rig: MKH50 Mid with MKH30 Side.
  • Sennheiser MKH416 Shotgun
  • Schoeps CMIT-5U Shotgun
  • Sennheiser MKH816 Super-Shotgun (x2)
  • Neuman XY Rig: KM00 Bodies with AK40 Capsules
  • Schoeps CMC6XT with MK2 Omni (x2)
  • Sennheiser MKH8020 Omni (x2)
  • Telinga Stereo DAT Parabolic
  • DPA 8011 Hydrophone
  • Sennheiser MKH800
  • Rode NT1A (x2)
  • C-Ducer Ribbon Contact Mic (x2)
  • AKG C411pp Contact Mic (x2)
  • Sennheiser MK421 Mark II (x2)
  • Countryman E3 Lavalier (x2)
  • Crown SASS Mk. II


The Sound of “Need for Speed: The Run”

Posted by on Aug 8, 2011 | 7 comments

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Electronic Arts has started a 4-part series dedicated to explore the sound of “Need for Speed: The Run”. The first episode features product manager Jeff Sharma and audio directors Charles Deenen and Rich Adrian.

HP and Need For Speed present a 4-part series covering all aspects of sound in the latest entry into the Need For Speed franchise: Need For Speed The Run. We will take a behind-the-scenes look at how the team captures everything from a super car engine to the sound effects of a tense action sequence to create one of the most well-respected soundscapes in gaming.

Reminder: 5 Days Left in SDC011

Posted by on Aug 6, 2011 | 0 comments

Just a short reminder, that the 11th Sound Design Challenge closes in 5 days (5PM on August 11th, U.S. Eastern Standard). This is your chance to win a free copy of McDSP’s Futzbox plug-in. All five sounds in the Scavenging challenge have been revealed, and here they are again for your convenience:

  1. A “dry” toilet flush (meaning little to no reverberation). The challenge with this one is how reverberant the rooms they’re in usually are. ;) Good luck.
  2. A babbling brook. If you don’t know what that means, just have a look at this video.
  3. A galloping horse. Try not to get trampled.
  4. A bullet ricochet. Don’t put your eye out!
  5. A LARGE rocket launch. We’re talking ICBM, Apollo 111, NASA shuttle…

We could still use one more judge. So if you’re interested, please leave a comment below.

Remember to get your entries uploaded (as one continuous file) to the SoundCloud group before the competition closes on Thursday.

If you’re late to the party and need more info on the contest, head here.

Good luck!

Tim Nielsen Special: Exclusive Interview

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 | 9 comments

We’re starting off this month’s special with an exclusive interview with our guest Tim Nielsen, discussing influences, creative methods, techniques, and much more. Hope you enjoy it.

Designing Sound: How did you get started in sound design? What’s been the evolution of your career?

Tim Nielsen: I have to blame my dear friend and brilliant sound person Addison Teague. At USC in the graduate program, you have to crew on a student film in one of a handful of positions: director, producer, editor, cinematographer, or sound. Addison came to me one day, said “I’m thinking about crewing up in sound, but need a partner, are you interested?” To be honest until that point I hadn’t given sound a lot of thought. I entered USC sure I wanted to be a cinematographer, but quickly realized that I hated being on set, hated the energy and the insanity of it. So I thought, sure, I’ll give it a shot.

About a year later, while still at USC, I did an internship at Skywalker Sound with Gary Rydstrom. That was I believe in 1996, and actually I think I might have been the first summer intern Skywalker ever took. When I graduated a couple of years later, I was hired by a supervising sound editor at Skywalker named Tim Holland. His first assistant was going off to explore work in the picture department if I remember correctly, and he needed a new first assistant. I came up to the ranch in April of 1999 to work on Liberty Heights, a Barry Levinson film.

Tim Holland was about the best person in the world to work for, in the sense that even on that first show, when I asked Tim if I could cut something, he was totally open to it, and so I cut a reel. On my second film, Galaxy Quest, I cut more, and Tim being the incredibly great person that he is, went to bat for me and got me my first Effects Editors credit, on only my second film.

From there it’s been a combination of hard work, lots of luck, and having the honor of working with some really wonderful people who have and continue to give me incredible opportunities, even leading up to the project I’m involved with at the moment. I’ve certainly worked hard, and have a pretty good ear for this line of work, but I would be really foolish not to acknowledge the lucky breaks that I’ve gotten that plenty of others haven’t. USC led to an internship which led to my career. That needed have been the case, I had to do my part too, but I’ve been very lucky.

DS: Has working at Skywalker Ranch changed the way you think about sound and film industry in general?

TN: Since my first job ever in the professional world was at Skywalker, I’m not sure how it changed my way of thinking and working, as much as it forged it. I’ve been lucky to have some great opportunities outside of the ranch as well, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Journey 3D, and Prince of Persia were all projects done outside of Skywalker. But certainly my way of working was forged at Skywalker, and I’ve always carried that forward.

Certainly working at Skywalker, where the bar is set so high for all of us, continually reminds me what good film sound can do for a film.


SFX News: Windhowler, Sonic Beatbox, SFX Bible Kit, Tortured Piano Remix

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 | 0 comments

– TONSTURM has released his fourth sound effects pack, called The Windhowler:

This Soundpack is based on the recordings of the very rare Mole-Richardson Windhowler Moleeffect Type 2281. During extensive recording sessions we captured every aspect of this inimitable sound effect instrument. All sounds are recorded, edited and mastered in HD Audio @ 24 Bit, 96 KHz. With TONSTURM 04 I The Windhowler you get 44 haunting wind sound effects. Split into 24 original and 20 carefully designed sound effects created by using the source recordings only. 4.21 GB (@96 kHz).

More details about the machine and the pack here. Available at 49 €.

– Daniel Gooding has released The Sonic Beatbox. As with the first release some of the money will go to charity.

Almost 300 recordings of different vocally produced sounds. Great for working with abstract sound design, or layering with other sounds for a human element. Over 100 designed sounds, produced entirely from the vocal recordings, and show many of the possibilities. For musicians, there are over 50 individual samples, of vocally produced drum sounds, just put them in your favorite sampler, and start playing instantly. Also included are some simple beatbox loops, that you can throw right into a mix, if you want a quick beatbox sound in your track. Each File is recorded in 24-bit 96kHz.

– The Sound Effects Bible Starter Kit is available during August at $699

This Starter Kit includes an autographed copy of the Sound Effects Bible, a Rode Blimp (the best blimps in the business) and the Sound Effects Bible Hard Drive with 5,000 sound effects!

– The deadline for HISSandaROAR Tortured Piano Remix Competition is approaching (Monday, August 8). More details here.