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Creating Film Sound: An Interview with Richard Beggs

Posted by on Feb 25, 2011 | 0 comments

Matteo Milani of U.S.O Project has published the first part of a fantastic interview with sound designer Richard Beggs. They talk about several things, including previous projects, specific sounds/scenes, and also technical/philosophical stuff.

Richard Beggs, sound designer and re-recording mixer, has worked in his career with directors like Francis Coppola, Ivan Reitman, Mel Brooks, Barry Levinson, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola (including her latest “Somewhere” – Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice Film Festival 2010), and Alfonso Cuarón, among others.

He won an Academy Award for Best Sound for Apocalypse Now (1979) and has received many Golden Reel Award nominations as sound designer and mixer for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Children of Men (2006).

Beggs teaches film sound at the California College of the Arts, he is an associate fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University, and sits on the board of directors of the San Francisco Arts Education Project.

Trained as a painter, Beggs received a B.F.A from the San Francisco Art Institute and an M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts. He exhibited at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and at Oakland Museum of California. A native San Franciscan (1942), Beggs has his sound studio at the San Francisco Film Centre in the Presidio of San Francisco.

Continue reading…

The second part hasn’t been published yet, but the first one is long and very interesting. Totally recommended.

Inside the Waves Sound Design Suite [Pt 5] – GTR, A Powerful Sound Design Tool

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 | 1 comment

Fifth article in the series dedicated to explore all the tools included in the Sound Design Suite of Waves. (Remember that you still have enough time to design some great sounds and participate in the competition.)

Today I’m going to talk about a very special suite of tools; a little box of toys included in the suite called GTR. It was originally created for guitar/bass processing, since it has several emulations of amplifiers, cabinets, pedal effects, etc. If you have a guitar, you’ll love to use this tool to get some great sounds, crazy noises and different tones.

But wait! GTR is also an incredible tool for processing sound effects and creating new sounds. Let’s talk about it:

What you get in GTR is a total of 26 different stomp boxes covering all kind of effects (delays, reverbs, flanger, chorus, distortion, pitcher, EQ, compressor and more), and also 32 amplifiers and 29 cabinets, which are really cool for adding character and changing the color of your sound effects, dialogue, vocalizations, and all kind of musical elements as well. Those amps can be also used for creating a wide variety of noises, tones and signals that could be used as sources for making or reinforcing other sounds/sequences.

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Waves Interview with Ben Minto

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 | 0 comments

Waves Audio has published a very cool interview with sound designer Ben Minto. Let’s read:

Ben Minto is an Audio Director/Sound Designer working out of EA DICE’s Stockholm studio. Over his 12 years working in the games audio industry, he has accumulated vast insight and knowledge into all aspects of field recording, sound design, and production. Ben’s credits include audio direction and sound design for video games such as BLACK, Burnout (1,2,3 and Revenge), Battlefield (1943, Heroes, Bad Company), Mirror’s Edge and Medal of Honor. With his commitment to quality audio design which pushes the boundaries of sound, it is no wonder that Waves processors are the “backbone of his rig.” In this interview In this interview, Ben gives us an in-depth look at the world of sound for games.

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Inside the Waves Sound Design Suite [Pt 4] – Transformation Tools

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 | 4 comments

Fourth article in this series dedicated to explore the plugins included in the Waves Sound Design Suite. Today’s topic is transformation, featuring five effects:

  • Doubler
  • Doppler
  • Morphoder
  • SoundShifter
  • UltraPitch

Doubler, Morphoder and ShoundShifter are included in the Waves Transform bundle, so reading its description could give you a basic overview of the kind of plugins we’re dealing with in this section:

[...]You want to take creative control and twist your sound inside out like never before. You need Transform, five state-of-the-art processors that let you stretch and manipulate time, pitch, dimension, and punch. Get ready for sonic metamorphosis, get ready for Transform.

Doubler

I’m going to start with a very special plugin called Doubler, a tool created to generate new voices from a signal inserted to it. Doubler can make up to four voices (plus the direct signal), each with dedicated controls for gain, pan, delay, feedback, tune, and more. It also features a really nice modulation system and several graphics for controlling EQ, panning, etc.

This plugin can be used for a lot of things, since it’s very flexible and offers total control of each voice, modulation route, etc. Similar to hardware harmonizer units, Doubler can be used for making some cool pitch shiftings in multiple tonalities and delays. It can also be used to just give some presence to a sound, by adding additional voices and close mixes. Another cool use is for processing vocal recordings, where Doubler offers a lot of possibilities, for example if you take a recording of a female voice and add a new voice with aletered pitch, you’ll actually hear two voices in different tonalities, resulting somwhat more mysterious or even frightening.

It’s all about control/flexibility and remembering that you can do whatever you want for each voice independently. You have a processor that let you generate multiple voices from any sound, and control the placement of them in the stereo field, their presence, delay times, etc.  That’s the fun part of this great effect.

“Great for widening and thickening sounds. Think of it as four pitch-shifters, with separate pan delay, and modulation plus EQ. Great chorusing sounds too.” - Charles Deenen

“Back in October I was outside puttering around, and I heard a helicopter approaching in the distance. I can hear these flying machines approach from quite a distance because it’s so quiet here. I sprinted back to the house to get my PCM-D1 and started recording out in my yard. Right after the helicopter flew over I heard another sound coming from the up the street.  A road grader was coming down the road at a fairly good speed. It had its blade up and was probably heading back to the County garage. The operator seemed to be in a hurry. These graders make a great sound when traveling faster than their normal blade down speed. I morphed this into a Sci-Fi Transport using Waves Doubler, H-Comp, RenBass, and L2.” – Frank Bry

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Ren Klyce Talks “The Social Network” Mix

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 | 1 comment

The New York Times has published an article featuring Ren Klyce, who shares how was his approach on mixing an  important scene of “The Social Network”.

As part of our continuing quest to help you win your Oscar pool – and again, not at all as part of an end-of-season notebook dump – the Bagger returns to the hard-to-predict sound design category.

When we spoke with Ren Klyce, an Oscar-nominated sound guy behind “The Social Network” we asked about a scene that has been drawing an unusual amount of attention for its mix; even The New Yorker commented on it.

The scene is a pivotal moment in which Justin Timberlake, as Sean Parker, and Jesse Eisenberg, as Mark Zuckerberg, are talking in a loud club, and – in perhaps the movie’s gravest departure from reality – you can nonetheless hear everything they’re saying.

“That was a very difficult scene for us to mix and create,” Mr. Klyce told us.

(Warning: audio nerding ahead.)

Do tell!

“When we mix films, we know as part of our job, that we have to make sure that no matter what happens, that we have to have the audience hear everything that’ s being said,” he explained. “There’s nothing worse than missing a word in a film and being frustrated by that, particularly if it’s very important to the plot or what’s happening in the scene. So when we first mixed the scene, we did what one would expect. We had the music very loud at the beginning before people spoke, and as the camera cranes across the room, we pulled the music down to hear the dialogue. We had the music playing very low under the dialogue and it worked and it was fine.”

Mr. Klyce and his colleagues – David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten – invited the movie’s director, David Fincher, in to see their work.

“We called him in and he was very unhappy with the scene,” Mr. Klyce said. “He said it doesn’t feel realistic to me, it doesn’t feel like I’m in a club; I just feel like I’m watching a movie.”

This meant: back to the drawing board.

Continue reading…

Via @soundesignblog

“Secrets for Great Film Sound” Webinar Report #5 – Sound Effects Recording, SFX Libraries, Foley, Plug-Ins

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 | 0 comments

[During this month, I'll be doing weekly reports about “Secrets for Great Film Sound“, a new webinar series hosted by David Sonnenschein and Ric Viers.]

Last week’s webinar was fantastic. Lots of theory and techniques from Ric Viers about the roles in post-production audio and also talked a lot about foley, including history, tips and techniques. Then he shared a lot of stuff about sound effects recording and design, including several tips and ideas for conceptualizing sound effects and designing a wholes soundscape for a project.

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Inside the Waves Sound Design Suite [Pt 3] – Modulation Effects

Posted by on Feb 21, 2011 | 0 comments

Welcome to the third part of this series of articles dedicated to explore the sound design suite of Waves. Today the turn is for five powerful modulation-featured plugins included in the bundle:

  • Enigma
  • H-Delay
  • MetaFlanger
  • MondoMod
  • SuperTap

“These plug-ins make up what I like to call my “Audio Mangler Gang of Toys.” I use all of them because of their ability to modulate an element or sound. For me, they really are the heart of any Sound Design.” – Scott Martin Gershin

Enigma

This plugin really lives up to his name, an “enigmatic” processor loaded with lots of cool features for creating all kind of unique effects.Enigma was created as a special and complex processor. I can’t specify what kind of effects you can get from this big guy, since it combines different types of audio effects such as filters, reverb, flanger/ phaser, plus modulation thru a LFO.

Enigma’s signal flow structure is internally complex but the plugin is not very complicated to use. However it has some delicate parameters to care about. There’s a section for controlling the filters and notches (the heart of Enigma) along with a really nice graphical representation of the process, which also offers control features. There’s also a section with reverb controls, but approached in a very unique way allowing it to making echos and all kind of crazy effects. Don’t think about a reverberation effect. Think about a reverb algorithm used for creating modulated echoes and crazy reflections, not smooth and real spaces.

I personally love Enigma for a lot of taks, specially experimentation. For me there’s always a surprise and magical factor obtained with it. It offers several parameters that you can twist easily and get subtle changes, as well as some crazy controls such as Depth or Decay Time, that can make drastic changes by just changing the value a little. It can be useful for creating crazy sounds but it can also be useful to modulate and mix just a bit inside the audio content, adding a very special flavor to it.

H-Delay

As the same as H-Comp, H-Delay was developed as an hybrid processor featuring several vintage modeled units, but this time several types of delay and time modulation effects. This plugin can do a lot of echo tricks, including some classic effects with an old school feeling on it. Its modulation and filter parameters allow you to do a lot of things more, and it can even reduce the sample rate of the resulting sound, by turning on the LoFi function included.

Apart of being a very solid delay unit, I think its modulation/filtering capabilities are my favorite features. This machine can be used as a conventional/classic delay, but also as a very special signal generator toy for creating some cool tones, sweeps, beeps, and even some cool old school sci-fi sounds. I remember me playing this to simulate those classic theremin modulations. That”s pretty fun to do. Here is the trick for getting cool signals to work with:

  1. Loop a sound and record the looping in real time in your audio application
  2. Add H-Delay and go to Load – Full Reset
  3. Turn off the filters. You shouldn’t hear anything (since all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz are cut), but ñeep looping
  4. Then set the Feedback to extreme parameters. Above 130 or so should be fine but I like to go to the extreme when making this kind of material.
  5. Now is just about playing with the filters. For example, if you want to create some high sweeps, you could start activating and tweaking the high pass filter. Also then you could modulate the signal for adding some movement, etc. If you want  to obtain some sub-harmonic and low end signals, then is just to start from step 4 and then move the low pass filter and the letting the feedback evolves. Then is up to you.

“My favorite use of H-Delay is to generate sub-harmonics. I use it inline with LoAir to create mega “sustained” sub bass.” - Charles Deenen

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Wildcats – Tigers & Lions, New SFX Collection of BOOM Library

Posted by on Feb 21, 2011 | 1 comment

BOOM Library has announced the release of Wildcats – Tigers & Lions, a new sound effects library packed with 3.4GB of great source sounds from lions and tigers.

Get one of the most extensive collections of big wildcat recordings. This library ships on 1 DVD with a full 3.4 GB set of great source sounds. All of the recordings on this disc were recorded in 192 kHz, 24-bit. The collection also contains a 48 kHz, 24-bit version for your convenience. To provide you with the fastest and easiest workflow possible all files contain extensive metadata. You can use this library as a fully grown animal library for all sounds related to big wildcats or as a source for designing incredible creature sounds. The high audio quality provided gives you all possibilities to pitch, fx process and edit the sounds while keeping the a top notch level of clarity and precision. Make your mixing room shake with these huge sounds!

Wildcats – Tigers & Lions – €149 | 192kHz/24-Bit | 3,4GB | Well-grounded Soundminer Metadata

The video does not contain the sound quality of the library.

Peter Albrechtsen Special: The Sound of Music [Part 2]

Posted by on Feb 18, 2011 | 1 comment

Music is sound and sound is music.

That’s how it is for me. I’m a big fan of all kinds of music and music really influences all aspects of my work. I wanted to share with you some different songs and talk about how they’ve inspired my work. It’s by no means a list with all the artists I love – there’s no Kraftwerk, no Fela Kuti, no Miles Davis, no Slayer, no Philip Glass, no Nina Simone, no Boards of Canada, and, shame on me, no Radiohead. But nevertheless, here are 10 tracks (well, the last five) that have meant a lot for my work with sound:

Underworld: Skym

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I love manipulating with the human voice. It’s such an awesome instrument in itself and you can make the most amazing textures with it without losing emotional impact. I’ve been listening to a lot of the early voice experiments by Steve Reich and Alvin Lucier and I’m also a big fan of the unique way the voice is used and manipulated by very different artists like Juana Molina, Mike Patton, Burial, The Knife and even Michael Jackson, who was a true master of advanced vocal arrangements.

This track has a special place in my heart. Underworld has worked on several soundtracks and for good reason – there’s something very cinematic about their atmospheric soundscapes, even when the duo is riding high on a beat. This track, “Skym”, is very low key, though, with no drums at all. Instead it’s based on a few tones and, first and foremost, the way singer Karl Hyde’s vocals is manipulated and echoed. Often the reverb comes in before the actual voice and at times just one word is cut out of a sentence he’s singing and repeated in extremely musical ways.

I was listening a lot to this track when I worked on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. There’s a very intense POV scene towards the end where the main character is drugged and he wakes up while the murderer is speaking to him. For this scene, all the sound elements you hear on the soundtrack were created from the villain’s voice using a lot of weird processing, reverb and reverse effects. It was my salute to Underworld.

The Books: The Story of Hip-Hop

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Old sounds become new sounds in the hands of The Books. This New York-duo has a truly unique vision: Their songs usually consists of folky, acoustic instrumentation – guitar, cello, banjo and more – combined with a diverse range of found sounds and samples obtained from cassettes and other recordings found in thrift stores. If that description sounds a tad boring, it’s very misleading, ‘cause The Books’ collage songs are usually wonderfully playful, humorous and groovy in a charming, laidback way.

All of The Books’ albums are great but I picked this song because it just cracks me up each time I hear it. Besides that, it’s also just a brilliant example of The Books’ sound and how elegantly they weave different sound bites in and out of their tasteful instrumentation. The way they work with textures, sounds and weird voices is really something to behold. The Books’ sound has segued quite a bit into the way I deal with flashbacks and other sequences where time dissolves. I love it.

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Vanity Fair: Mark Stoeckinger Talks Unstoppable’s Sound Editing

Posted by on Feb 18, 2011 | 0 comments

Vanity Fair has published an article featuring Mark Stoeckinger, who gives an overview of the sound editing process, step-by-step, by showcasing several clips (Full mix, dialogue only, and sfx only).

If you’ve ever lost money in an Oscar pool, at some point you’ve had to ask, “What exactly is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing?” Although that probably means you’re not winning the pool, a film’s sound design is just as crucial as good lighting or smart editing in creating the movie magic that your recreational Flipcam videos lack. Ever in the service of making you a better Oscar gambler, Little Gold Men asked Unstoppable’s supervising sound editor, Mark Stoeckinger—nominated this year for an Oscar—to break down editing for us. “The sound editor is like the art director, and the sound mixer is like the cinematographer: the art director comes up with everything that’s filmed, and the cinematographer decides how to photograph it,” Stoeckinger says. Specifically, a sound editor assembles all the sound you hear in the final picture, which is gathered from both production sound captured the day of shooting (usually, though not exclusively, dialogue) and Foley/effects captured later (usually including dialogue recorded later to match the picture). A sound editor then selects the right pieces of sound to accompany the picture and manipulates them as needed, a process Stoeckinger compares to sculpting clay: “You start off with one thing, but you can always mold it to something else. You listen to a lion growl and think, If I slow it down, add a lot of reverb and reverse, I can make it this alien thing.” In fact, as sound tools have become more sophisticated, the the desire to enrich a film through its sound has grown exponentially; these days, even a typical romantic comedy has more sound work than an action movie from 30 years ago did.

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Via @soundesignblog