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Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 | 2 comments

Real Spaces

Image by Stewart Butterfield. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click picture to view source.

Image by Stewart Butterfield, used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

When we say “space”, people generally think of two things: outer space, or a bounded area that something fits into. It’s a safe bet that most people in the sound community immediately think of the latter. So often we focus on the characteristics of a space…how far a sound carries, reflections and reverberation time, etc. Certainly that helps us define a space, but…for the most part…only on a technical level. What really defines a space, is what occupies it. There’s no denying that production designers and location scouts in film, or level designers and artists in games, have a strong role in creating a space, but we in the sonic branch of our respective mediums have the unique ability to refine…or even redefine…those spaces they create. Sometimes, we’re even given the opportunity to create spaces where they cannot. What I want us to consider in light of that, is how we approach the creation of that space.

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Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Immersive Sound: From Production to Playback

RandyThomMix Magazine, The MPSE and CAS have collaborated to put together a one day conference (September 6th, 2014) at Sony Studios in Culver City (Los Angeles, CA) exploring the Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D formats. Mix has been advertising this event for a while now, but details were fairly sparse. Things appear to have been locked down, and the schedule is now up on the event’s website. Take a look at the agenda to see who will speaking, or look at the schedule to see what will be available when. There’s a wealth of talent that will be talking about their experiences with the formats, including a keynote will presented by friend of the site Randy Thom.

If you were on the fence about the event, the new information will probably make the decision for you. The event is $79, though I know that MPSE members can register for free (you should have received an e-mail, I did). I believe the same holds true for CAS members. Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there!

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 | 0 comments

Listen Up, Tony (Awards)!: Petitioning for Reinstatement

First, some confessions: I am a sound designer, I have never worked on a Broadway production, and therefore, never expected to win a Tony Award (let alone be a part of a discussion of this nature).

I may not be an “insider” of the theatre world, but the decision earlier this month to stop presenting Tony Awards for sound design (of a play and also of a musical) deems a reaction from the entire sound design community. With that in mind, please support this petition initiated by John Gromada.

Link to sign the petition: Reinstate the Tony Award Categories for Sound Design Now!.

Actress Jill Winternitz showing her support on twitter.

Actress Jill Winternitz showing her support on twitter.

The first time I heard of the decision by the Tony Administration Committee was from Randy Thom’s post in Designing Sound on the 13th (two days after the announcement). The news initially confused me; it seemed like a huge “slap in the face” (as Randy Thom wrote) with very little that could possibly be gained by this action. Sure, sound design is not as glamorous as some categories, but there must be more to this decision.

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Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 | 3 comments

On the Tony Awards

Guest Contribution from Randy Thom

It was announced that the people who run the Tony Awards have decided to cut two of their awards categories….the two sound design categories.

This is a sad piece of news for all of us in sound.  It’s yet another slap in the face for an important art form that struggles for recognition.  The people who run awards shows feel constant pressure to populate those shows with pretty people, famous people, and people who are highly entertaining when a camera and microphone are pointed at them.  Advertisers pound their fists on tables in anger when their ad follows an unglamorous and unknown statuette recipient’s earnest “thank you.”  One year when I attended the Oscar telecast, and left the building at the end of the show in my tux, a guy ran up to me in the middle of the street with a pen and paper in his hands screaming to me “Are You Anybody?  Are You Anybody?”  I said “Sure!” and he smiled big as I handed him my illegible signature.  Though the Tony Awards have promised that they may, in the future, occasionally give an award to an especially noteworthy job of sound design, the message we should get loud and clear from their announcement today is that as far as they are concerned we, sound designers, are not ‘anybody.’  How sad, how dumb.

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Posted by on Apr 25, 2014 | 10 comments

The Details That Matter

Forest Scene by Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, photo by flickr user Cliff. Used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Forest Scene by Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, photo by flickr user Cliff. Click image to view source.

Guest Contribution by Randy Thom

When someone tells me that they admire the sound design work my team has done on a project they often go on to say that what they like most is the little sonic details we’ve covered in a given scene, like the sound of an object being picked up by a character in the background of a shot. I thank them for the compliment, but I’m usually left with an awkward feeling, because “details” are actually low on my list of priorities. I think sound design is an art form. I aspire to be a good artist, and I think sound work is similar to painting and other art forms in lots of ways. Great paintings are praised for the feelings they evoke. It’s pretty rare that the work of a master painter is praised for its “details.” In fact, the most intricately detailed paintings, the ones that depict a scene absolutely realistically in a straight forward “photographic” way are almost never considered great works of art. Great craft maybe, but not great art.

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