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Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 | 1 comment

The Sound and Music of “Cars 2″

The busiest man in Hollywood (North), John Lasseter returns to the Directors chair in Cars 2 as Lighting McQueen and tow truck Mater head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix.

Helping to bring to life the sound and music of this international espionage adventure include Composer Michael Giacchino, Re-recording Mixer and Sound Designer Tom Myers, and Sound Effects Editor Al Nelson. Git-R-Done!

SoundWorks Collection

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Posted by on May 3, 2011 | 1 comment

The Sound of “The Lost Thing”

SoundWorks Collection has published a fantastic profile on the sound of “The Lost Thing”,  featuring sound designer John Kassab, who we recently interviewed.

The story of “The Lost Thing” is about a boy who discovers a bizarre looking creature while out collecting bottle tops at the beach. Having guessed it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but is met with mute indifference from everyone else, who barely notice its presence, each unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to their day to day lives. For reasons he does not explain, the boy empathises with the creature, and sets out to find a ‘place’ for it.

Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer John Kassab discusses his extensive work on this animated masterpiece bringing to life the world of the Lost Thing.

Directors Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann were also winners for Best Animated Short Film for “The Lost Thing” at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011.

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Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 | 4 comments

Exclusive Interview with Peter Miller, Sound Designer on “Rango”

“Rango” is ILM’s first animated feature. I was blown away by the level of detail in both the look and the sound design. Sound designer Peter Miller was kind enough to share his film making experiences with me.

Designing Sound: So how did you become involved in the project?

Peter Miller: I worked with Gore (Verbinski) on The Ring and we’ve wanted to work together since. I think he knew this film was right up my alley – he pitched it to me as Sergio Leone meets Hayao Miyazaki meets Carlos Castaneda. How could I refuse!? My good friend Craig Wood edits for Gore and the three of us have a great rapport in sound language. Both Gore and Craig are very sound-aware, and really great collaborators.

DS: How was it different working with the director on this film compared to the last?

PM: I think we kind of slotted quickly back into the way we worked on The Ring. We followed a similar process, even though Rango was a lot longer in creation. Gore is very much what I would call a ‘contributive’ director. He likes to be involved in as much of the process as he has time for. Typically, that means we start working very early on in the production time-line and discover our ideas together. It’s not a situation where he just gives a brief and then turns up for the final mix. Even though Rango is a comedy, I found the emotional requirements for the construction of The Ring and Rango oddly similar. In the same way as setting things up to scare an audience becomes a very subjective and intellectual exercise in a horror film, so does making people laugh in a comedy. After you’ve heard the jokes a few dozen times the initial funniness has worn off, so finding the humor takes a fairly cerebral approach. Which is not to say that we didn’t laugh a lot when we were making Rango – we just hoped the audiences would laugh at the same things.

DS: When did you start sound designing the film?

PM: I started on Rango in 2008, when the storyboard edit was almost complete. There had been some sound work already as the ideas came together, but Gore felt it was important to get me on-board as soon as he was able. I did some work on the ‘Metaphor’ sequence, where Rango is thrown between the cars on the highway, and the ‘Ritual’ where the townsfolk do their odd dance. Over the next months I also built a large library of atmospherics and fx and then went to Los Angeles later in the year when Craig came on. Craig mostly cuts with 5.0sound when he works, and we’ve found it a great way to start forming the shape of the final soundtrack. It is very unusual for sound people to be pulled into a project this early, and it is a measure of Gore’s great skill and commitment to sound that he insists on this happening.

During 2009, as the digital animation phase commenced, I worked from my studio in Australia providing sound effects and sequences as they were needed. In July 2010 I traveled back to the US for the next 7 months to complete the sound. At this time the full sound crew came on-board and I was very fortunate to have as my co-Supervising Sound Editor an old friend, Addison Teague, who I had worked with previously on ‘The Ring’. Addison headed a very talented sound crew from Skywalker Sound, and together we set about realizing Gore’s vision for Rango.

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 | 2 comments

Tim Walston Special: Let’s JET: Sound Design for “Stealth” (2005) and “Astro Boy” (2009)

[Written by Tim Walston for Designing Sound]

Disclaimer: I am writing these articles as an independent sound designer. Any views or opinions expressed here are simply my own, and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any company, corporate entity or anyone else. Any images or sounds presented are subject to copyright by their respective owners, and are presented for educational purposes only. Any information given is correct to the best of my knowledge. No artificial color added. Refrigerate after opening.

I love the sound of jets. They are one of the few things that sound as great in real life as they do in films! (Good ol’ single engine prop planes are also a favorite of mine). Real vehicles at high speed create fantastic air distortion sounds that can’t be beat.

“Stealth” was directed by Rob Cohen. My main challenge was the signature sound of the near-future technology of the three superjets’ propulsion systems. In the film, they were powered by “pulse detonation engines”. The UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) was even more advanced, with “twin hybrid scramjet turbos”, and artificial intelligence and computational sounds.

Some internet searches on pulse jets showed me that the technology is real, though used more often in rocket type applications like the V-1 buzz bomb in WWII. I even found video of a guy in New Zealand who had built small ones in his garage for a go-cart. (That was 2004, I just checked online today and there are a lot more amateur pulse jet videos now!)

The real things are powerful and loud, but they oscillate so rapidly that they buzz like a huge “pfffffbltt”. I first tried the literal approach, condensing large machine gun and minigun sounds to approach the right speed. The results were too even sounding and lifeless. Real things are more complex and variable. I eventually created several usable combinations featuring a few layered pitches of an overdriven feedback sound I had made years before. Some very light flanging added even more movement. Once I had my “steadies”, I used doppler plug-ins to create maneuvers and pass bys.

These sounds established the unique signature sound of the aircraft, but they weren’t enough on their own. I processed nearly every jet recording I had access to with a combination of eq and modulation to artificially add the “pulse” sensation to real jet sounds. I used Waves Mondo Mod and/or the GRM Doppler plug-in to create the pulsing effect. Carefully shaped automation of both the speed and depth of the pulses kept it from sounding too static. The results worked well, and I applied the same techniques to explosion and thunder sweeteners as well.

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