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Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 | 2 comments

I Love Plug-ins!

Guest Contribution by Tom Todia

I love Plug-Ins!  There, I feel much better now. Since January is the month of the plug-in here at Designing Sound, I thought this was a great opportunity to share one of my new favorites with you.

This plug-in does exactly what its name states but it has a twist that I absolutely love. If you have not yet used it then allow me to introduce you to the “Frequency Shifter”. You will find this little gem as part of the AIR bundle standard with Pro Tools 8 and higher.


I swim in the dark and mysterious water that is game audio. This means that when I produce a sound effect I am often tasked with creating at least half a dozen variations of it. Why isn’t one sound variation enough you ask? Well if you have ever played a Sci-Fi style video game, then you know how often you are likely to hear the same laser gun being fired. Audible repetition is something we try our best to avoid, lest the illusion of the game world be broken. So in that design spirit, let me show you how easily you can create multiple variations of a laser gun with this plug-in without automating a single parameter.

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2010 | 9 comments

Charles Maynes Special: Gun Recording Thoughts for 2010

I hope you folks found some of my experiences entertaining, and more so helpful in your problem solving, so in the spirit of such fellowship I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences in my recording weapons and explosions for Films and Games.

Chuck Russom, whom I consider a great sound designer, already spent some time discussing many of the logistical and creative issues that go into a successful recording session, so I will attempt to not travel ground which he has already richly discussed. I am going to try to cover ground somewhere between his article here in Designing Sound, and in the article I did for Gamasutra. Though I will likely meander (as I tend to do sometimes) I do reserve the discretion to revisit some of the different parts of the process in order to bring understanding to the endeavor.

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 | 8 comments

Chuck Russom Special: Gun Sound Design


I work on a lot of games that are filled with guns. Over the years, through experimentation, screwing up, listening to movies/games with great guns sounds, and tips from other sounds designers, I’ve been able to create a process that works well for me. The biggest influence on my gun sound design has not come in the studio, but on the gun range. I’ve shot a lot of guns. I’ve also been around a lot of guns while they were being fired. Hands-on education is really the best way to learn something. So, if you really want to improve your gun sound design, find a way to get out on a range where you can fire some guns off. The feel of a gun’s shockwave through your body as you fire it, the sore shoulder you have the day after shooting, the payoff of destroying a watermelon with a blast from a shotgun, these are some of the lasting lessons that you will learn.

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Posted by on Sep 28, 2007 | 0 comments

Exclusive Interview with Gregory King, Supervising Sound Editor on “The Kingdom”

“The Kingdom” explodes into theaters September 28th. Sound supervisors Gregory and Darren King rallied their troops including sound designer Yann Delpuech, for an all-out editorial assault. A part of “Sounddogs,” they have currently been working on the next season of “Friday Night Lights” after tackling sound for the feature film that goes by the same name. Mixing for “The Kingdom” took place at Sony’s Burt Landcaster Theater. Re-recording mixer Rick Kline mowed down the dialog and music while Greg King hurled himself from sound editorial into the effects mixing chair. Kline, an established sound mixer, finished this summer’s “Hairspray” earlier in the year. Willie D. Burton handled production sound for the film. A busy sound mixer in his own right, Burton wrapped on Denzel Washington’s next directorial effort, “The Great Debater’s” earlier in the summer. Danny Elfman composed for the film, tracking the score at Warner Bros. Eastwood scoring stage. There is a great little photo essay on the sessions HERE. Elfman will lend his talents to next year’s “Hell Boy 2: The Golden Army”.

I found the opening title sequence for “The Kingdom” HERE today. I don’t think I have ever seen a production tease it’s release with a credit sequence but, I was very intrigued with what I saw. Either way, if the reviews contain valid descriptions of what the third act has in store for audiences this weekend, there must have been a big bucket of earplugs on the final stage. Thanks to sound supervisor and re-recording mixer Gregory King for taking time out to do this Q and A!

DS: How important was realism to director Peter Berg (or yourselves) in terms of the weapon effects?

GK: For myself, sounding real and using the real sounds are two different things. I like things to sound real in the context of what I’m seeing on screen. I work from an emotional perspective, not from an authentic one. It’s my job to add to the director’s story telling, and unless the director is making a documentary, I will use the sounds that best convey what is happening on-screen. For “The Kingdom,” the weapons at the climax of the film had to be intense and claustrophobic. I made my sound and mix choices based on those emotions; whether or not we used an AK-47 sound for an AK-47 on-screen was of secondary importance.

FSD: Assuming you guys had some field session time during post, what were some of your favorite recordings for the film?

GK: Yann Delpuech who has been designing effects with me forever, flew to the Middle East to record Arabic crowds, voices and calls to prayer. The tracks he recorded are beautiful. The characters in the film find themselves in a strange and foreign land, so it was very important to convey that uneasiness through sound. Darren King did a great job of getting an awesome sounding Arabic loop group, but the more environmental and gritty voices that you hear are from Yann’s recordings. This is an example where “authentic” really works well. The sounds of the Arabic voices and environments are so foreign to us as Westerners that they hit that “uneasy” emotional chord really well. We couldn’t have created anything better than the real thing.

FSD: With the tag line “trust no one”, were there opportunities to convey, even subconsciously, a lack of integrity among the characters?

GK: In this film, the lack of trust is more between two cultures than it is between characters. So it kind of hearkens back to the last question a bit. And that is in creating a foreign and uneasy environment. It also has to do with how the dialogue and music are mixed. My mixing partner Rick Kline has a fantastic sense on how to play dialogue and music within a scene; he understands how to draw an audience in, when to distract them and how to keep them off balance. And keeping an audience off balance is one of the techniques you use to help keep the anxiety level up a bit, which is what this film is about.

FSD: Michael Mann produced the film; did he have input on the sound? What has he been like to work with in the past?

GK: Michael did have input on the sound. He came to playbacks for the temp dubs, and we played back the final mix for him. I love Michael’s sound notes – he really understands and respects what sound can bring to a movie, and he knows how to use it to its full advantage as a filmmaker. I did “The Insider” and “Ali” for him. Working for Michael Mann is very intense; his demands and expectations are very high. My experience working so closely with Michael on “The Insider” made me at least twice the sound designer and re-recording mixer that I was before. I learned a lot from him. “The Insider” did not have a single gunshot, explosion or spaceship and it still received an Oscar nomination for best sound. The credit for that goes to Michael and his willingness to try things with sound that other filmmakers might shy away from.

FSD: A recent review described the action set pieces in the film as “a loud and violent catharsis!'” What makes the “loud parts” in action films satisfying and entertaining on an aural level without overwhelming and/or confusing the audience?

GK: Hopefully, in the same way a single punch between the eyes would have. In and out quick, shockingly sudden, and don’t dwell on it. From a technical point of view “The Kingdom” is not mixed loud; Rick and I are very conscious of that. It is however, mixed very dynamically, which gives the impression of being loud where you want it to be without it being loud in pure volume. I try to dish out intensity, or anxiety, or chaos. I try to do this with dynamics, rhythms and frequencies. But I never want an audience to wince or be uncomfortable by sound levels.

DS: What was your first gig like?

GK: Great. It was in Toronto in 1985 and I was hired by Alban Streeter and Nolan Roberts, two Brits who had immigrated to Canada several years earlier. They had worked on films by such directors as Polanski and Kubrick while in England. They worked on mag (film with sprockets for you young ones), but I was into samplers and sequencers. I brought them into the digital age while they taught me film editing.

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