Image by The Presler Project, used under a Creative Commons license. CLick image to view source.
Guest Contribution by April Tucker
Last year, I got one of the weirdest compliments I’ve ever heard: “You’re a real unicorn!” I was working with a mixer who I had recently met (but was an established mixer), and he looked at me in amazement as I asked questions about his workflow. “I’ve heard of Lora Hirschberg and Anna Behlmer, but I’ve never met a female mixer. I’m sorry I’m so taken aback, but I really didn’t think someone like you existed,” he said.
When I heard that the Designing Sound guys were stepping aside this month for women contributors, I thought it was a great chance to say, “Hey look! There’s actually a lot of real unicorns!” Except… it’s been pretty silent. I asked a few women who I thought might be interested, and one woman (who I highly respect) said, “I would rather not address our industry when my invitation is based on my gender. I look forward to writing based on the knowledge and expertise that I can offer as an equal member of the industry.”
Guest Contribution by Scott Kramer
With Haunting Melissa, we sought to bring feature film quality sound to an iOS app. It was an incredible experience, so when Neal Edelstein asked me to join the Hooked Digital Media team for Haunting Melissa: Dark Hearts, I jumped at the chance. Like many of us, my “day job” is designing sound for feature films and television. Hooked is breaking new ground by delivering filmed content via an app, and we thought the sound should be high-quality but also pioneering.
With that in mind, I entered an R&D phase to develop new standards and technologies for this medium. I’m a firm believer in mixing a project in the format and monitoring environment where it will most commonly be heard. We decided to mix these stories on headphones in the hopes that the audience would prefer that experience over the apple device’s built-in speaker, and we’ve found that they often do. Next, I began to research ways to deliver a truly immersive experience using an ordinary pair of headphones.
Maybe a little less time preparing this… [Photo by flickr user chichacha. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.]
Guest Contribution by Timothy Muirhead
Although we all like to talk about sound work as a very creative discipline it is also a technical one. Universities and other post secondary institutions really have their hands full trying to teach both sides of the craft – the hows and the whys. Most come up short on one side or the other and that is why the industry has come to rely so heavily on the concept of the internship to complete the educations of those just entering the work force. I know the work placement I did at the conclusion of my time in film school taught me more in 4 months then I was able to absorb in the previous three and a half years I spent in classrooms. The schools narrow it down to the individuals who are dedicated, and give them time to focus on the craft and decide if it is indeed right for them. It teaches perseverance – but the internship is where you really learn the trade.
Normally we wouldn’t make any fuss about a particular film’s release, but this is one’s a little special for our community. Gary Rydstrom has had several opportunities to sit down in the director’s chair for short films in the past, but this film, Strange Magic, is his first feature. We often talk about promoting the importance of sound as a story-telling tool, but here we have one of the most vocal and respected proponents of that idea with his hands on the reins. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see the film, I encourage you to show support and check it out. It opens in the U.S. next Friday, the 23rd.
Designing Sound: Would you mind giving our readers a little bit about your background and how long you’ve been working in audio post?
James LeBrecht: I’m the owner of Berkeley Sound Artists, and we’re located in the Saul Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley. We’re kind of a small company. I think the term “boutique shop” would sound little bit pretentious, but we’re kind of the right size to feel personally involved in projects. We primarily focus in sound design and mixing, and our prime emphasis is in documentaries. I started the company in 1996, thinking that maybe we’d be doing a lot of multimedia work, CD-ROMS, etc.…and we did do some of that. We did some work for a now defunct educational software company called Theatrix. But very early on Patti Tauscher, who worked with me for many years, she came to me and said, “I met this guy. He’s got a documentary, and I think we should do the sound on it.” So we wound up doing this film for Steven Olsen, and it immediately became apparent to me that…here’s a niche that people weren’t really focusing on. A lot of houses do documentary work as “fill-in” work. Some people are really kind of dedicated to it, but that’s our prime focus. Plus, being in what is known as the Fantasy building…