Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 | 1 comment

“Cabbit”, Exclusive Interview with John Kassab

“Cabbit” is a short animation film by the artist, Soogie. It has been in production for over 3 years and is now being co-produced and sound designed by John Kassab (Kickstarter campaign). We spoke to John about his sound design work on ‘Cabbit’ and why he decided to sit in the producer’s chair.

What attracted you to Cabbit?

I am a huge fan of visual art and animation so, predictably i watch a lot of animation on Vimeo and often go to art galleries. Unfortunately, this sort of saturation had began to create a numbness in the way i looked at art. When i saw a trailer for ‘Cabbit’ on Vimeo, it made me completely still and my throat dried at just how beautiful it was. Its just so honest. Everything down to the clunky editing and animation flicker. Its just so raw – which is quite punk with all this clean cold dehumanised refinement thats going on in animation at the moment. i loved the handmade-ness of Soogie’s work. Its simplicity is brutal and the complexity of the cross hatching is mesmerising. I was instantly inspired.

I understand this is your first experience as a producer. Is this something you want to do instead of sound?

No, not at all – first and foremost i am a sound designer. However when i was starting to get to know Soogie early in our collaboration, I learned that he had not really considered a festival plan and was struggling to make ends meet working on a mini-mac from his home in montana. Furthermore, he is largely housebound due to illness and did not have a network or means with which to complete his film properly or get it out there. As I work with producers everyday, i see how they go about things and i have always been interested in how they operate. Similarly, so much of what i do as a sound supervisor involves this kind of organisational tasks and dealings with other businesses and facilities. So i have become well versed in this kind of stuff anyway. Plus i have dear friends in virtually every department of filmmaking which makes it easier when seeking guidance and favours.

On a more personal note, I took on this role because i felt so strongly that Soogie had created a true thing of beauty that i really wanted to be apart of. So i decided to offer all of my efforts to give this film the exposure i feel it deserves.

What is your brief for the sound and how have you undertaken the sound design?

‘Cabbit’ has a very nostalgic feel to it. Not only in the way that it looks but also in the way it recounts its story. it plays like memories and so we wanted it to sound like memories too.

Seeing that the film was going to be grounded in wall-to-wall music, i felt the sound should be impressionistic and minimal – as in, i wanted to hint at the sound things made without being overly detailed and clear about it. I felt that reverbs could be used effectively to creating this effect.

So I decided to bus the tracks into three separate AVID TL Space reverbs that were tuned differently:

1. Recent Memory – this is a light reverb i added to foley which i wanted to feel most present.

2. Fading Memory – this was a heavier/wetter reverb with a longer tail. This was used for the fore-and middle ground sounds such as vehicles, war and industry. I started to think of these as “impression sounds” or “sounds the future would rather forget”.

3. Distant Memory – this is the wettest and longest reverb used. This one was used on the back ground sounds and as reinforcement to the fading memory cues if i felt a sound was somewhere between fading and distant, if you know what i mean.

Read More

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More