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Posted by on Dec 6, 2012 | 5 comments

Creative Uses of Reverb

Guest Contribution by Ian Palmer

There are a lot of technical articles on Designing Sound so I thought I’d try to balance that with this month’s theme of Reverb. We all know that reverb is used to create realism. Adding the correct or appropriate reverb to ADR will instantly make the dialogue fit better into a scene and remove the artifice of the replacement. However, we can use reverb in a creative way and in a wide variety of techniques. We must remember that what we do with sound always serves the narrative. Here is a small collection of examples in no particular order.

Emotional Effects

I’ll begin with a well known example from Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (1993). After an argument over a building’s foundations, the camp commander Goeth orders the execution of a Jewish engineer. A guard pulls out his pistol and shoots the woman in the head, instantly killing her. We hear the initial bang of the gunshot very clearly, we are also fairly close to the incident. Immediately after, we hear the gunshot bounce around the hills that surround the camp. Obviously, guns are loud but would a small pistol really create so much echo? I would argue that the echo is at least enhanced and deliberately exaggerated. The reason is that this is a very shocking and emotional moment and the echo exaggerates the shock that the audience will feel. This is a heightened reality where we are focused on a single element of that event through the sound. This link will play a clip of that scene, skip to 2:50 for the execution.

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Posted by on Apr 18, 2011 | 0 comments

Alan Howarth Interview on Horror, Hip Hop, and the Sonics of Fear

Great interview at Thirteen with Alan Howarth, talking about scoring and creating sound for horror films, his early influences and experiments, anecdotes from works with Hip-Hop artists, and more.

RC: What’s the craziest contraption you’ve used to capture a wild effect?

AH: When I was developing sound effects for The Hunt For Red October I wanted to record underwater sounds, I rented a hydrophones for the take, but it sounded too tinny for my needs. So I wound up using expensive studio mikes with condoms stretched over them to make them waterproof. It worked great. I went recording in swimming pools and off Long Beach [California]. I got some great tanker ship propeller effects from an underwater perspective that got used for the submarine propeller cavitations effects.

The craziest place? Recording effects for Star Trek, I was recording sounds for starships and shuttles at the Skunkworks for Lockheed. I was in top-secret facilities recording hypersonic wind tunnels and advanced aero devices. A few times they would allow me to be in the hallway, but not in the room were the sound was being made. I would hand them a mike on a long cable and one of the Skunkworks guys actually went into the area.

Thanks to Matteo for the link!

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Posted by on Jan 6, 2011 | 14 comments

Tim Walston Special: Exclusive Interview

Let’s get started with Tim Walston’s special month. Here is an interview I had with him, talking about general aspects of his career, his favorite tools, techniques, creativity methods, and more. Hoep you enjoy it!

Designing Sound: How did you get started? How has been the evolution of your career until today?

Tim Walston: **SNOOZEFEST ALERT!!**  The last thing I wanted to do was start this month off with a big long article, but in the off-chance any of you are interested, I’ve accidentally done that.  Still reading?  OK here we go…

I love movies.  Since I was a young kid, my earliest passions were movies and music.  When other kids played with toy boats, I had a plastic shark, an unfortunate scuba diver, and a small film canister filled with red food coloring!  I’ve always been especially interested in special effects:  model spaceships, visual effects, prosthetic makeup, and animatronic creatures.  Remember, these were the days before CGI.  To this day, I prefer practical special

effects to CG, because I think you can always tell when something is a REAL thing.   I mention all this because I think my appreciation for realistic things applies to my sound work.  The value I place on handmade things and the merits of hard work permeate my approach and work ethic.

So I grew up making models and 8mm stop motion movies, and special effects experiments… and also playing music.

I built a small MIDI studio at my house during high school, writing and recording songs and musical ideas.  I realized I had a technical interest when I found myself spending as much time programming a drum machine to sound real, as I did writing lyrics.  I was spending creative energy on the sounds and production values as I wrote.  This crystallized my desire to study recording engineering and maybe get into the music business.

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 | 0 comments

Sound Design and Horror Film Workshop with Alan Howarth at Unsound Festival 2010

Alan Howarth will be giving a free Workshop on Sound Design for Horror Films on October 22 at Unsound Festival 2010. The place is TBA and the tickets are free.

A horror sound design workshop with one of the masters in the field, Alan Howarth, who has worked on countless movies including the “Star Trek” series, “Poltergeist”, “The Thing”, “Raiders of The Lost Arc”, “Exterminator 2”, “Robocop 2”, and many more.

Also, he will be hosting a Q&A Session on October 24 at Krakow Music Academy Concert Hall.

UK horror soundtrack expert Joel Martin speaks with Alan Howarth about working with John Carpenter on seminal horror soundtracks for films such as “Escape From New York”, “Halloween” 2,3,4,5,6, “They Live!” and “Prince of Darkness”. Also discusses his role as sound designer for the “Star Trek” movies, “The Thing”, “Poltergeist”, “Raiders of The Lost Arc” and many more.

More info at Unsound

Via @usoproject

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 | 0 comments

Thoughts of the Oscars Sound Nominees

Academy_AwardI’ve found two interesting articles with thoughts and general info from the sound nominees to the Oscars, talking about his respetive works on films such as “Avatar”, “The Hurt Locker”, “Star Trek”, “Up” and “Inglourious Basterds”.

The first one is from MPEG, with comments of some of the sound editors with best sound nomination:

Though the movies they worked on were all unconventional, the 2009 Academy Award nominees for Best Sound Editing are all veteran names with long lists of impressive credits. Only two––Star Trek’s Alan Rankin, MPSE and Avatar’s Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, MPSE––are first-time nominees. However, in a far more unique situation, a pair of Guild members are up for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing Oscars—Paul J. Ottosson, MPSE, for The Hurt Locker, and Christopher Boyes for Avatar—two films at opposite ends of the budget spectrum. We talked to a group of nominees to get their takes on what made their projects special, how their teams worked and, well, how it feels to be invited to the party.

Read it on MPEG Site

The second one is a nice article at The New York Times:

“The Hurt Locker” is a bomb movie that mutes its booms. It derives suspense by withholding the expected “boomala, boomala,” as an Iraqi kid puts it in the film while taunting an American bomb-squad soldier about the “cool” soundtrack of Hollywood war

“The Hurt Locker” is not cool. It’s hot and dry, a heaving desert parable with a mounting sandstorm howl at the center. The internal explosions matter more than the fireworks. Explaining the dynamics of roadside bombs in Iraq, Paul N. J. Ottosson, the film’s supervising sound editor, told Variety, “You die not from shrapnel but the expanding air that blows up your lungs.” The top notes in the soundtrack are arid metallic clicks, snips, squeaks and creaks, the chatter of wrenches and wire clippers, as bombs are defused in air so parched as to seem combustible itself. Men can hardly summon the spit or breath to speak. Much of the dialogue — which was almost all recorded on location in Jordan (and not looped in a studio) — is delivered in headsets, as soldiers hiss into one another’s helmets across desert expanses. To listen is to enter machinery, rib cages, ear canals and troubled lungs.

Continue reading…

Via: lydrummet | Yahoo Sound Design Group

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