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Michael Semanick Presentation at Ex’pression College

Posted by on Jul 4, 2011 | 0 comments

Michael Semanick is a two-time Academy Award winner and has been nominated six other times for Achievement in Sound Mixing. He was nominated for all three Lord of The Rings films and won for Return of the King in 2004. He received his second Academy Award for Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Semanick has been nominated twice for his work with Pixar on Ratatouille and Wall-E, and for his efforts on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008. His nominations for both Wall-E and Benjamin Button were given in the same year. Semanick was recently nominated this year for his work on The Social Network. Michael is excited to be joining our Ex’pression family to speak with the students, faculty, and staff upon the completion of Cars 2 for Pixar.

Ex’pert Series with Michael Semanick hosted at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, CA on June 23, 2011.

SoundWorks Collection

Joseph Fraioli on the Sound Design of Google Chrome Speed Tests

Posted by on Jul 1, 2011 | 0 comments

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Peter Kirn has published an interview with Joseph Fraioli, talking about his work for the awesome Google Chrome speed tests campaign.

What does speed sound like? Sound designer and electronic musician Joseph Fraioli, aka jafbox, was charged with giving a campaign just that feeling. The spot, directed by Aaron Duffy and promoting Google’s Chrome with some clever tricks and photography, has been a huge award winner in sound design because of just how masterfully he pulled off the job.

Read the interview at CDM.

Coll Anderson Special: Documentary Sound

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 | 0 comments

It’s still June and the gifted Coll Anderson is still the sound designer of the month here at Designing Sound. Among many other things, Coll has done a long list of impressive documentaries and doing an interview focused on this part of his work was an obvious choice.

Among many award winning documentaries, Coll has worked on Restrepo (2010), Catfish (2010) and the Academy Award winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003). For this interview, he shares some thoughts on all these films and about the general collaboration with documentary filmmakers.

Designing Sound: In the interview earlier this month, you mentioned how you really love documentary filmmaking. Could you elaborate on that?

Coll Anderson: I became interested in making films through the School of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard (I knew a girl who went there, go figure…). VES has really strong roots in documentary film making and through the people who I met there I fell in love with these films that studied life, real life… Sure we can all understand that having a film crew around affects the life of any subject and thus “document” is a bit of a misnomer, but the work of people like Dick Rogers, Robb Moss, Ross McElwee, not to mention the filmmakers of that community, naturally has an affect on you, and regardless of its ultimate truth, I started to love creating that seamless believability of documentary film in its most Wisemanesque form.

DS: It seems like there’s generally way more focus on documentaries now than, say, 15 years ago. Do you feel the focus on documentary sound has changed during that period, as well?

CA: Sure, ever have to deliver a fully filled M&E for a doc…?  Viewers become more sophisticated, more aware, every year.  That just naturally feeds into the stories documentaries tell. It becomes so important to keep the interaction between viewer and film on a subconscious level and sound is to me the plane where that connection happens.


New SFX Libraries: Toys, Trains, Water, Springs, Mangled Metal, Holograms

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 | 0 comments

New libraries have been released.

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Daniel Gooding launches Affordable Audio 4 Everyone, with the introduction of The Magic ToyBox, a SFX library released as “pay as you can” model. Any purchase over $5 will go to charity.

From the great depths of the basement, came forth the sounds of toys, and games of old. Over 320 recordings of 22 different wonderful sounding toys, and games plus a few extras found in the toybox. Over 80 designed sounds to add to the mix, and show many of the possibilities. Each File is recorded in 24-bit 96kHz. All sounds were recorded with a Rode NTK Condenser mic, with an Apogee One Pre-amp.

More info at Daniel Gooding’s site.

Martin Pinsonnault, supervising sound editor and sound designer based on Canada has released Water and Trains SFX Collections.


  • different watercourses:  ditch, brook, stream, lake, river, cavern, sea
  • sounds of water in home interior:  basement, shower, pipe, drip, sink, drain
  • Long ambiences
  • Particular sounds and acoustics


  • An American steam train with many manoeuvres and a good driver!
  • A 24-hours Electrical train ride, in Eastern Europe that I did in 1996. Train movements, pass-by’s, Squeaks, Dopplers, creaks, clatters, rattles and other are numerous, long takes!
  • Sounds in rail yards with locomotives, rail clatters, screeches, with roaring diesel engines and good train cars coupling
  • Many Train passing at different speeds and distance:  Diesel, TGV and Electric Trains with horns, bells, squeals and whistles!
  • Train Station engines and motors, different perspectives

Both are available at Martin’s site. Price: $50 each.

Jon Tidey of Audio Geek Zine has released Springs, his first sfx collection, aimed to musicians and sound designers.

HD Quality Spring hits, scrapes, squeals, drones and rattles from two unique spring sources. The first is an old rusty spring of unknown origin with a very dark tone that squeals when you rub it wrong. The other is a vintage Accutronics Spring Reverb tank with a much looser spring and very bright tone. The reverb tank was recorded separately in both mono and stereo. Slow them down, add a touch of reverb and delay, and you’ve got instant horror suspense. The samples in this pack were recorded at 24 bit, 96kHz with plenty of headroom and are edited but otherwise unprocessed.

Last but not least, take a look at these two libraries coming:

A preview of the mangled metal library that will be released soon at The Recordist.

and Hologram Room vol 1, the first sfx library of U.S.O Project.

The Sound of “Super 8″

Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 | 1 comment

New article at M.P.E.G featuring the sound crew of “Super 8″, including sound designer/co-supervising sound editor Ben Burtt, co-supervising sound editor Matthew Wood and Re-recording Mixers Anna Behlmer and Andy Nelson.

For the pivotal train crash during Reel 2, Burtt faced a major challenge – how to sustain the tension without overwhelming the soundtrack. “My thought process was: How do you build to a climax when the first sound in the sequence is justifiably equally as loud as the last?” he offers. “I wanted to leave spaces in the sound effects so that the audience could appreciate discrete events without it becoming too muddy [as sounds build on one another]. I had a range of metal crashes and explosions that I time-stretched, pitch-shifted and processed to create choreographed sequences that continually build [as the full extent of the crash is appreciated]. My final decision was that there should be no overlapping sounds; each element would have a specific start and finish.”

The Sound of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011 | 1 comment

Director Michael Bay and Producer Steven Speilberg return this summer for the third film in the Transformers franchise, Tranformers: Dark of the Moon. The amazing visual effects in this film are complimented by the talented efforts of the sound team including Re-recording Mixers Greg Russell and Jeff Haboush, and Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designers Ethan Van der Ryn, and Erik Aadahl.

This is the first 3D film of the series and will also be presented in regular 2D, Real D 3D and IMAX, featuring Dolby Surround 7.1 sound.

SoundWorks Collection

Coll Anderson Special: Film Sound Discussion of “Catfish”

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 | 2 comments

The recording for the discussion with Coll about Catfish is now available. I just want to give you a heads up that we had some technical issues. There were a few functionality ideas that, while they worked in our initial tests, didn’t pan out for the discussion. We stumble our way through, and get things kind of sorted out about 6-7 minutes in.

When you load in to the recording, look for a button labelled “Restore.” This will pop the text chat window back up, so you can follow the flow of the discussion. Enjoy.

Access the recording here.

Final Cut Pro X for Audio Roundup

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 | 0 comments

Apple’s new version of its dominating middle-end picture editorial system was released on the 21st of this month, and professonal reaction has been negative, even withering, due to a lack of seemingly obvious features and a new workflow and timeline semantic that strikes pros as very different and new, or decidedly iMovie-ish.

Final Cut Pro finds a lot of use in features and television.  It’s the favored system of David Fincher, the Coen brothers and many independent filmmakers who prefer it over Avid; all of the larger features I’ve worked on will post on Avid, but all of the independent films and shorts I’ve worked on, and anything that was shot on a digital camera, have been exclusively Final Cut.

So, for context, read David Pogue at the NYT his review, where he mentions the feature that had people at NAB crying with joy:

First — and this is huge — there’s no more waiting to “render.” You no longer sit there, dead in the water, while the software computes the changes, locking up the program in the meantime, every time you add an effect or insert a piece of video that’s in a different format. Final Cut X renders in the background, so you can keep right on editing.

However the new features came with a horrible dark side, and his readers dumped so many emails and comments on him that he felt he had to do a second review, which has the best and most thorough list of complaints I can find, along with many Apple responses and remedies.  Here are some that impact audio folks:

  • “Can’t export AAF or OMF files.”  This is true — the new FCP does not export OMFs.  There is a new version of Automatic Duck that exports OMFs from Final Cut Pro X, but this is an add-on.  Apple also has not yet released documentation on FCP X’s XML format, so it’s not clear how quickly we’ll see more add-on software, particularly for things like EDLs which FCP X also doesn’t export, and which we still use due to Avid and Final Cut’s profoundly lossy way of handling multichannel production audio.
  • “You can’t assign audio tracks.” (What he means is audio on the timeline is freeform, and can’t be set to be on a track designated “A1″ or “A2″.)  The new Automatic Duck can output these tracks in a particular order, I am informed, but it’s not clear exactly how the editor controls this.
  • “Can’t import old FCP files.”  The new FCP X can’t read FCP 7 project files, and probably never will.

Steve Martin (not that Steve Martin) has done a good overview of the new features in FCP X.  Some features are compelling, like surround panning, and some require a closer look, like automatic-on-import ground loop filtering and a new denoising process.

[EDIT: Added a few more links and an aside on EDLs.]

The Sound of “Green Lantern”

Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 | 1 comment

New article on Post Magazine featuring supervising sound editors Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers talking about the sound of “Green Lantern”.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ summer action adventure Green Lantern brings the popular comic book hero to the big screen for the first time. Directed by Martin Campbell and starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard and Mark Strong, the film serves up the tale of a cocky test pilot who comes into possession of a ring that gives him super powers and sweeps him into an intergalactic conflict threatening the Earth.

For the sound team at Soundelux (, Green Lantern posed a number of significant challenges. Academy Award-winning supervising sound editors Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers led the team and were challenged with augmenting the film’s many spectacular visual effects sequences, including several titanic battles between the film’s lead, who has the ability to create anything he sees in his mind, his nemesis, Hector Hammond, and a mysterious, malevolent force known as Parallax.