I’m not talking about ambiguity. When the viewer or listener comes to your work, it’s OK to be ambiguous. The best art and design only goes halfway: The viewers themselves must ideally step up to the work and actively engage with it (or be engaged by it) in order to leave a significant emotional impact.
This is where a lot of abstract art fails. Too much mystery with too little to draw emotional interest can render the piece inaccessible even to willing viewers, a reaction that many have to the works of Rothko and Pollack, and even the much-maligned Wolff Olins Olympic logo design. Music can do this, too, when compositions are too abstract and even alienating, whether it’s some of the later works of Autechre or the atonal and complex works of Ligeti. But by leaving a few things tantalizingly uncommunicated, the audience can really engage their senses and curiosity to create a lasting impression which they, themselves, have helped create.
Ambivalence doesn’t lie in the work, or in the audience…it comes from the maker of the work. Ambivalence can be the result of making arbitrary decisions for the sake “done.” It can also come from facing an issue with the work and ignoring it or punting on it for later, and never circling back around to it.
I admire Frank Bry a lot, not only for his great design work and philosophy, but also for the incredible job he does at The Recordist, one of the leading companies in this era of sound effects independence. Today I’ll talk about two of his recent libraries: Ultimate Mud and Ultimate Splash.
Apart of the great sounds included in Frank’s libraries, there’s a lot of “hidden” lessons inside. With that I mean that you can learn a lot from just listening those recordings and checking its beautiful metadata. For example, I never thought about the incredible amount of things you can record from Snow, until I worked with “Ultimate Snow”. Also, Frank’s metadata process has influenced me a lot. I simply love his great organization and fantastic taggin approach.
Welcome to the first installment in a series of articles featuring our amazing guest Peter Albrechtsen. This one is an interview I had with him, where we talked about several things, including the evolution of his career, influences, creative methods, techniques, and more. Hope you enjoy it.
Designing Sound: How did you get started in sound design? How has the evolution of your career been?
Peter Albrechtsen: As a kid, I loved two things: movies and music. My dad had an enormous collection of classical music and I was trained in classical piano for ten years – without ever becoming a virtuoso in any way. But it meant that music was all around, and when I got into movies – I was a big, big fan of Hitchcock – I also listened to soundtracks. It wasn’t until I attended the European Film College in 1995/96 that I had this epiphany that sound for film was the way to go, the way to blend music and movies. It felt like entering a new world that I wanted to explore infinitely.
I got into The Danish Film School in 1997. I was still very much a youngster, but during those four years I learned a lot of technical skills and met a lot of inspiring people. My graduation movie had a pretty crazy soundtrack – it was my attempt at saluting Rumble Fish, one of my all time-favorite sound design movies. One of many wild ideas was to put some of the dialogue on vinyl and get a dj to scratch the lines into the film. Some people thought we went much too far, but a lot of people loved it as well and it meant that I got this reputation of being ’the crazy sound guy’. And it got me working with a lot of people who really wanted to explore what sound design could do.
I’ve been working as a professional sound designer and re-recording mixer for 10 years now and I’ve had the good fortune of working with a lot of wonderful directors and being part of a young generation of skilled sound designers – and at the same time learning a lot of tricks from local veterans of the game. Here’s some shout-outs to Kristian Eidnes Andersen, Peter Schultz, Nino Jacobsen and especially Kasper Val, who’s one of Denmark’s most experienced mixers, lately he did The Killer Inside Me – I’ve worked with him on 10 feature films. Thanks!
I simply feel very privileged to be able to do this for a living. It’s very rare that people’s greatest passion is also their work. It’s amazing.
January’s issue of AudioMedia magazine is available for download now and includes a fantastic article by John Broomhall, who talks with Composer and Music Director Russell Shaw, Audio Director Kristofor Mellroth, Dialogue Director Kate Saxon and Audio Associate Producer Georg Backer.
The result of the vote for the ‘Night and Day’ theme was a three way tie, so I’ve decided to give all three contributors the chance to choose a theme over the coming months.
First up is Dan Gallard of Sonik Boom Sound in Australia who has chosen ‘Wind’ to be February’s theme:
“My theme would be wind through different items be it trees, windows, doors etc. There have been a few times recently when I wish I had more wind to choose from.”
I don’t want to take over Dan’s idea (and feel free to comment to the contrary if this isn’t your wish, Dan) but one thing that I think would be good to try and focus on for this theme is capturing ‘atmospheric’ wind tracks (interior or exterior) and maybe trying to avoid anything that’s too similar to white noise. Obviously wind can convey all kinds of moods and emotions – everything from eerie whistles to relaxing breezes – and tracks like these can be priceless when it comes to needing to create interesting ambiances for films. Clearly, this is a tricky one as we will be at the mercy of Mother Nature but let’s see what we can all get together over the next few weeks.
Just a couple of ‘updates’ to mention regarding the club this month:
1. This month, I was going to completely close the door on any entries which don’t have a vocal ident but, considering the difficulty of the theme, I will be a little bit flexible for one more month. However, vocal idents are still preferred if possible. Otherwise, as usual, your recordings must contain some form of imperfection (mic bumps, shash, etc.) to prove that they are not taken from some FX library CD. Once again, please don’t take offence if your perfectly manicured contribution is not accepted; I’m just trying to cover my arse.
2. Lastly, due to a very low vote this past month, I think I’m going to put less emphasis on voting and winners. Essentially, I don’t think all that stuff really matters – I presume everyone’s main interest is simply the collecting. Therefore, once the ‘Night and Day’ winners have chosen their themes, I’ll just choose themes myself unless there happens to be a strong vote one month for some reason or if a theme gets a lot of requests in the poll widget in the sidebar of the club homepage.
More information at The Sound Collectors Club
More cool tips on working with audio development for the iPhone, this time from Nathan Madsen at iDevGames.
Because creating audio content specially for the iPhone isn’t too drastically different than creating audio for any other game, this article is a relatively brief collection of tips about how to best adjust audio for the iPhone.
Where’s the bass?!
The iPhone has one external speaker at the bottom end of the device, and a headphone jack at the top left location. The speaker is very small but has decent quality, however you will get very little low end bass from the speaker. The headphones will give you a much better stereo mix. As long as you are aware that your audio can be heard in either of these ways, and plan for it, you can create audio that sounds appropriate and solid in both situations.
File size and type
File types are important on the iPhone, especially MP3s. The iPhone cannot stream multiple MP3 files at once. The most common way to approach the sounds in a game is to have music be a streaming MP3 file (at stereo 128k if the file size is small enough, mono if it needs to be smaller) and use WAV or CAF for the one hit SFX (Sound Effects). SFX are usually down sampled to 22k but that can depend on the game’s graphics and other processing needs. The more simple the game, the more CPU power you have to work with audio and vice versa. When contracting out for a game, always ask the client what the maximum file size is for the streaming music. One of my clients required about 1.5 MB which is equivalent to about a minute and a half or so of music. Another client wanted two and a half minutes of streaming music, so it can vary from project to project.
If possible, attempt to make alternative versions of the same song, and give them to the client. It can be as simple as muting several of the tracks, changing the instrumentation, or performing a different solo. For a client that is open to a larger audio footprint this can really help keep the music within a certain size (per each individual file) but give more variety and make the music less repetitive.
Via The Sonic Spread
Soundminer HD is now available on the Soundminer Store at $199 (Windows or Mac). There’s also an “Universal HD” versión ($299) that allows you to run your license in both operating systems. You can also buy the HD version and update to the Universal HD version for $100 whenever you want.
- Includes our advanced super fast robust V4 Search engine with support for boolean operators as well as alternative search options.
- Imports and reads – V4 metadata, id3 metadata, V3 metadata and Broadcast Wave BEXT data.
- Large multi-channel waveform overview with ability to resize.
- New LaunchPad™ – 3D graphical search interface. Another Soundminer first!
- Mark files as you audition and return them with one key!
- Simple to use new GUI and Toolbar with everything only one touch away.
- Detail Info pane with Live Link Searching and Artwork support.
- Direct live search in Metadata pane
- 2 x Database that can be optimized for Music and Sound Effects.
- Import v4 databases
- Import iTunes library and playlists.
- Live Filter Searching – instantly refine your results without entering a single keyword!
- Play History – Keeps track of everything you audition.
- Includes the V4 BACK and LOCK features.
- New Intelligent Lyric Search feature.
- Support for different Sound Output Devices
- ‘Library’ weighting. Your favourites come up first!
- Intelligent Drag and drop a file from the interface to any application that supports it – ie. Pro Tools, Nuendo, Final Cut, Reaper, Digital Performer, Sony Vegas, Sound Forge, Abelton Live, etc.
- High Quality conversion engine for single transfers. Transfer directory can be specified, with conversions in both 16 bit or 24 bit up to 48khz included.
Welcome to the first of a series of posts dedicated to explore the whole Sound Design Suite of Waves. Apart of my own review, I’ll also include anecdotes, opinions, tips and tricks from professional sound designers that use these plugins everyday.
Today I’m going to talk about several tools designed for dynamics and frequency control, including the following:
- L1, L2, L3 and L3-LL
- Linear Phase Multiband and Linear Phase EQ
I know there are other special tools included in the suite that also work with dynamics and frequency processing, such as the Renaissance plugins, V-Series, and tools like Trans-X and DeEsser. Those will be discussed in future articles.
Presenting the Ultimate Wood Sound Effects Library. This massive collection of 500 wood based sound effects recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz includes: gigantic trees falling, tree bark cracks, sheets of plywood ripped apart, heavy beams dropped, logs rolling down hills, wood panel cracks and tiny branch snaps just to name a few.
This library was started in the summer of 2007 and involved recording all kinds of wood. The sessions were many and exhausting. I ventured out into the forest and recorded all sorts of wood stumps, trees, branches and twigs. Wood was rolled, cracked, snapped, dropped, thrown, dragged and hit for a wide selection of natural forest sound elements.
Other sounds include: the walls of a house being ripped apart and hit with a crowbar, A cargo box moved and shaken and a bookcase stressed and warped.
I also recorded all kinds of lumber and large cut logs in my backyard foley pit. Multiple microphones were used on many occasions to capture the dynamic quality of the wood source and they are included as separate stereo files. Mix and process these wood sounds to your hearts content. Never before has a collection of wood sound effects been available like this. Enjoy! -Frank
Ultimate Wood SFX Library – $50 | 920.5MB | 500 files | 24-Bit 96kHz | Metadata ready
This year is going fast, huh? After the great visit of Tim Walston, let’s go with another film sound special! It’s a pleasure for me to announce the visit of Peter Albrechtsen for the month of February. Peter is a true master of sound, with an incredible vision and talent. This is going to be fantastic.
Peter Albrechtsen has been a professional sound designer, sound re-recording mixer and an all around sound effects nerd for 10 years now.
If you’ve seen The Kingdom by Lars von Trier, that was actually the hospital where Peter was born 34 years ago – no wonder he later got a taste for horror films. The first love, though, was music: Coming from a home filled to the brim with records and tape recordings, it was very natural for Peter to play music and he’s been trained in classical piano and also played in several bands both as a drummer, bass player and vocalist. When one of his bands recorded an album in the early 1990’s Peter got an instant fascination for the tricks of the sound studio and when attending the European Film College in 1995/96 he started doing sound for movies, which was one of the other major interests of his youth.
Peter attended The Danish Film School from 1997 to 2001 and has since then worked on about 70 productions in both Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the US. He has worked as both production sound mixer, sound effects editor, supervising sound editor, sound designer, sound re-recording mixer and music supervisor (ooh, all these titles) and his cv includes both feature films, documentaries, short films and a couple of tv shows. Last year Peter became part of a new studio facility, tonemasters.dk, together with five colleagues but he still works freelance on different projects both back home in Copenhagen and around the world.