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CAS Nominations Announced!

Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 | 2 comments

The Cinema Audio Society announced nominees for their 48th annual awards show celebrating outstanding achievements in Film and TV mixing. In addition, every year the CAS presents a “Career Achievement Award” to a deserving mixer, bestowing Re-recording mixer Scott Milan with the honor in 2012. Milan is currently finaling “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, which will be the first film mixed at Technicolor’s new Paramount on-lot facility.

That said, the big news for this year’s CAS awards is that scoring mixers are to be nominated along with their fellow production and re-recording mixers. Below are the CAS nominees for sound mixing, motion picture. Head over to the CAS website for the rest of the nods.

  • HANNA – Roland Winke, Christopher Scarabosio, Craig Berkey, CAS, and Andrew Dudman.
  • HUGO – John Midgley, Tom Fleischman, CAS, and Simon Rhodes.
  • MONEYBALL – Ed Novick, Deb Adair, CAS Ron Bochar, CAS, David Giammarco, and Brad Haenel.
  • PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES – Lee Orloff, CAS Paul Massey, CAS Chris Boyes, and Alan Meyerson.
  • SUPER 8 – Mark Ulano, CAS, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, and Dan Wallin.

Procedural Audio: Interview with Andy Farnell

Posted by on Jan 18, 2012 | 9 comments

[Continuing with the procedural audio series…]

Andy Farnell – a familiar name in computer audio – is a computer scientist, sound designer, author and a pioneer in the field of procedural audio. He is a visiting professor at several European Universities and a consultant to game and audio technology companies. His book, Designing Sound‘, is a bible for procedural sound and should be on your bookshelf, if it isn’t already!

He was very kind to find time in his busy schedule when I visited London, and we talked about what procedural audio is, where it stands now and what it can be in the future. This article is a transcription of our conversation, which he was again very kind to edit along with me. It was no easy task because there was so much good content!

Thank you Andy!

DS: Where does Procedural Audio stand now? Would you say it is comparable to where CGI was in the 70s/80s, when computers weren’t powerful enough?

Andy: That is a central mythology – that the computers aren’t powerful enough to do it. This is often brought out as a straw man argument against Procedural Audio by skeptics. One of the things I did with my 2005 demo was to make all of the sounds (they weren’t very high in quality) that you would need for a first person shooter game – fire, water, wind, rain, some animals, some footsteps, some guns, some vehicles. This was 2005 and I had them all running on a 533 MHz processor generating a realistic-ish sort of soundscape to prove that if you had 1GHz processor and if you used half of it for the graphics then it would be quite possible to synthesise all the sounds using the remainder. Six years after doing that people would still come to me with this straw man argument, they would say, “You know Andy, we love this Procedural Audio stuff but there’s just not enough CPU available”. But we now have two to the five times more CPU than when I did my 2005 proof-of-concept demo. So, what’s behind that? Why are they saying that? It’s not true. What happens is the internal politics of resources. The requirements always expand to fit the resources available. The game worlds get bigger and bigger and the graphics get more and more demanding. The audio team will always have the least amount of CPU allocated to them as an afterthought, because in the current structural model of production sound is “post production”, and no body wants to commit to giving audio that much CPU bandwidth. I feel that is the real reason behind the argument. You often get these straw man arguments that enter in to a culture and just get recycled. People know that there is an argument and it comes to their tongue very quickly and they say “Yes we could do it but there is not enough CPU”. With the left over CPU on a modern games console I could provide you great procedural sound.  On an eight core architecture, we would need one or two CPU cores to give procedural sound. Even more interestingly is what happens when we run models in GPU, and many Procedural Audio models are inherently parallelisable. So, yes, Procedural Audio is somewhere in that era before the Tron movie, or before the Pixar CGI revolution, its possible, but not yet seen as viable, perhaps the shift is too painful for big companies to make.


The Recordist Releases Ultimate Rockslide 2 HD Pro

Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 | 2 comments

The Recordist has released Ultimate Rockslide 2 HD Pro sound library, containing 750 24bit 96kHz rock and dirt sound effects on 115 Broadcast WAV files with detailed Metadata embedded.

This sequel to Ultimate Rockslide contains brand new rock based sound effects and multi-microphone files with tons of dirt and sand debris sounds recorded close up and distant to give the sound designer ample options. The multi-perspective files are also time aligned and grouped for easy access and auditioning. Most tracks contain many variations and performances for sound design flexibility.

Included in this collection are:
Large, medium and small rocks with tons of dirt debris – Gritty rocks off a cliff – Moist and dry dirt falling – Sand based debris sprays – Gravel dumped on wood boxes and platforms – Extended foley actions such as scraping, dropping, hitting, movement and much more.

Recorded with a set of extended frequency response microphones, the heavy weight and the subtle details of the rocks stand up to heavy layering and pitch manipulation This is the next generation of rockslides.

Available at $75.00 (1.20GB of sound).

The Sound of ‘Pugs Luv Beats’

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 | 0 comments

[This is a first of a series of interviews/articles on procedural/generative sound]

Pugs Luv Beats is a hilarious music composition game for iOS devices developed by Edinburgh based studio Lucky Frame. It’s about guiding pugs (in costumes) around a galaxy of worlds, whilst creating an endless variety of music. It sounds fantastic and runs on a generative sound/music engine developed in Pure Data.

Lucky Frame is Yann Seznec (artist, musician and sound designer), Jonathan Brodsky (artist, designer, musician, coder) and Sean McIlroy (illustrator and print maker). Jon and Yann were kind enough to make some time right after the release of the game to talk about the sounds and technology behind Pugs Luv Beats.

DS: How did Pugs Luv Beats come together?

Yann: Jon and I made an app called Mujik a couple of years ago. A lot of people downloaded it and there were a lot of good reviews. It was basically a different approach to music on a mobile interface. After playing around with that for a while we started thinking about how much further we could take the idea and Jon started getting into the idea of making games. So, we started thinking about how we could really bridge that gap between music and games. What if you could use a game interface to create music rather than to play music that is already there? That was the starting point. Jon made a demo which we dubbed ‘Space Hero’. The idea was that you were controlling a little ship that was shooting enemies. As the enemies came on screen they made a sound and as you destroyed them they made a sound, with the twist being you could edit how the enemies came after you so it was like a piano roll hybrid drum sequencer. It was more of a proof-of-concept than anything else. We took that to Channel 4 and to make a very long story short they ended up eventually telling us that they liked the idea and that they wanted to invest in it. Interestingly they told us, ‘We want to invest in the concept but don’t make that game’ [laughs]. So we started making various different prototypes for what became Pugs Luv Beats.


Year end Sonic-mash: the soundscape!

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 | 9 comments

First: a BIG thank you to all the contributors, this wouldn’t have been possible without the sounds!

How did this work?

The Max/MSP patch works by playing random files in a random sequence and from random points within the files. If left by itself it can play these files back in this random order to create a never-ending soundscape. Although, there are a few controls to help design the way it sounds:

  • Play length of each file (Eg.: If it’s set at 4000ms, it would play back a sound for 4000ms and then crossfade into the next sound)
  • Fade length – crossfade length (from 0ms to 1ms less than the play length)
  • Speed/pitch: Vari-speed playback control
  • Reverse
  • Random type: Urn (random without repeats), Drunk (Randomised but ‘drunken’), Random (random with unpredictable repeats), Counter (sequential playback)

The outputs were connected to a channel strip type interface, from which the signal was sent (parallel) to a reverb and delay plugin.

What you hear below are sounds that were contributed (thank you again!) and then generated and ‘performed’ using the above mentioned controls with a MIDI controller. I recorded a few takes and this was the one I preferred the most. I’ve also included a screengrab of the patch at work, for the curious.

Have a great sounding year ahead!

Thanks to:
Eckhard Kuchenbecker
Echo Collective
Hrishikesh Dani
Chris Nealy
Angel Perez Grandi
Jaydea Lopez
Ana Roman
Péter Terner
Anna Papaioannou

Year End Sonic-Mash on Soundcloud

Year End Sonic-Mash on Vimeo

SFX News: Ultimate Snow 2, Black Powder, Heavy Armored Factory, Rivers

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 | 0 comments

The Recordist releases Ultimate Snow 2 HD

Ultimate Snow 2 is a reissue of Snowfall HD and Snowballs HD Ultra together in one collection with a few new sounds included. Recorded over the 2010-2011 winter season here in beautiful North Idaho, this 24-bit 96kHz collection contains 94 multi-take Broadcast WAV files totaling 425 individual snow sounds.

Boom Library releases Micro-BOOM – Black Powder

BLACK POWDER makes the walls shake! Massive cannon shots, ancient hand mortars and large saluting guns let you revive the old days of gun battles. You’re looking for a huge cannon shot to end a sea fight? That big explosion at the end of the movie is missing that one amazing crispy impact sound? Use BLACK POWDER and your search is over!

Affordable Audio 4 Everyone releases Heavy Armored Factory

The heavy Armored Factory features sounds you would expect to hear from a massive mecha or walker styled Machine. The library was built around Metal, Tools, and heavy processing. Perfect for building your mech sfx needs, or adding to various types of games built around a futuristic setting.

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Arrowhead Audio releases Rivers

A pack containing 11 recordings of different sections of the River Aled in North Wales and features Gurgles, Pools, White Water, Trickles and more. AAS-005 offers subtle but noticeable variations over each file to allow the sounds to be blended and evolved using the different sections of the river.

Elliott Koretz Special: Exclusive Interview

Posted by on Jan 11, 2012 | 3 comments

Here is the first interview with this month’s special guest Elliot Koretz, talking about general aspects of his career.

How did you get started in sound design?

My first industry job was as an apprentice editor in the shipping room at Disney Studios. I was exposed to all types of editing (picture, music, and sound) but I was attracted to sound for not only what I saw as the ability to be very creative but for the autonomy of working independently of the director and producers who seemed to be always in the picture editors room. At Disney I met a sound editor who was also moonlighting at Neiman-Tillar, a leading independent sound house back in the day. He saw my interest in wanting to advance to editor a little quicker than what was the norm at Disney and offered to put in a good word for me there. I was offered assistant editors position and took it. While there I was first introduced to electronic editing. This was approximately 1980 and they had, as far as I know, the first system that was used for this, ACCESS. That’s really pretty amazing for so long ago. I think the first show I ever cut on electronically was a tv show, “Aloha Paradise” It was a kind of “Love Boat” on land and the sound needed was pretty straight forward fx. But I do remember one particular episode where the story line had a man who was interested in a divorced woman with a young child. The kid was opposed to this relationship and at one point bites the guy on the leg in kind of a comical manner. This lead to what I believe may have been the first “design” moment of my career. I layered a celery snap with some sort of other big crunch and………I was off and running as a designer.

After that I moved around landing at a number of post facilities for a while. I was an editor at Stephen Cannell, which turned out to be a great place to learn to cut action sequences. On shows like “The A-Team” you had a week to cut an entire reel (approx 12 min) of Dia, FX, BG’s and Foley. And inevitably you had a scene like this: Our heroes were in some sort of large vehicle, traveling pretty fast on a rough surface, being chased by a helicopter that was shooting at them. They meanwhile had constructed some sort of rapid firing gun that was shooting nails or some other projectiles……..and little to none of this could be created just straight out of the sound library.

These kinds of sequences needed multi-layered design and remember this was on film. Many units and also much of the final result of my work couldn’t be heard played together until the dub stage. On an old fashion film sync block you could only hear three or four “channels” at once. Anything wider than that and you had only your experience and imagination to visualize the combined sound.

I think doing this kind of design work way back then really helped me understand how to efficiently combine elements to get the sound I wanted.

I spent some time at Soundelux when the company was still pretty young and while there moved into cutting sound on features. (Still editing on film). I did return to tv editing and ended up working first as an editor then as supervisor on the show, “MacGyver”. It was another busy design show with the lead character always inventing something to beat the bad guys that required creative design work. After a successful first season the producers wanted to change to an all-electronic post. Soundelux at that time was not prepared for the huge investment in equipment and ultimately the show was moved to a newly created facility, Modern Sound. Over that summer they built a new mix stage, foley stage, and editing rooms using both Synclavier and 24 track editing systems. I was offered to continue as the supervisor of the show and accepted. After a very brief training period at the offices of New England Digital (the creators of the Synclavier) I jumped into the world of electronic post again.

The problems we faced were immense. This was 1986 and the technology was still in it’s infancy. There were not yet sound libraries that were “digital” and the decision was made to purchase a copy of the library of a leading sound supervisor at the time, Fred Brown. Then the issue was storage. The best we could do at the time was to digitize onto floppy discs. They could only hold a few seconds of sound each so you can imagine the challenges that caused. This was truly the bleeding edge of technology.

It was at times very exhilarating but often very frustrating to be at the forefront of this transition. There were times we struggled to achieve what was extremely easy to accomplish on film and other times we saw how cool it was to work in a non destructive environment with new tools to manipulate the sound.

After that season I moved around again to a couple of different facilities but then found what turned out to be a long-term home at Weddington Productions. The three owners at that time (Steve Flick, Richard Anderson, and Mark Mangini) were doing some of the most creative sound design anywhere. There is no question that was the turning point in my becoming a much more accomplished designer. Working with the talented people at Weddington constantly challenged me to step up my game and really think hard about what I could do to impact the movie sonically in every detail.

While there I made the full time transition to ProTools and it’s world of opportunities that cutting digitally has brought to all of us.

All these pieces of the puzzle have helped form what I do today. At Universal where myself and my crew have 5.1 editing suites and all sorts of plug in devices I reference all that experience from both the film and digital worlds when conceptualizing the design work I do.