Tag Archives: mixing

Pacific Rim: Uprising‘s big sound

By Jennifer Walden

Universal Pictures’ Pacific Rim: Uprising is a big action film, with monsters and mechs that are bigger than skyscrapers. When dealing with subject matter on this grand of a scale, there’s no better way to experience it than on a 50-foot screen with a seat-shaking sound system. If you missed it in theaters, you can rent it via movie streaming services like Vudu on June 5th.

Pacific Rim: Uprising, directed by Steven DeKnight, is the follow-up to Pacific Rim (2013). In the first film, the planet and humanity were saved by a team of Jaeger (mech suit) pilots who battled the Kaiju (huge monsters) and closed the Breach — an interdimensional portal located under the Pacific Ocean that allowed the Kaiju to travel from their home planet to Earth. They did so by exploding a Jaeger on the Kaiju-side of the opening. Pacific Rim: Uprising is set 10 years after the Battle of the Breach and follows a new generation of Jaeger pilots that must confront the Kaiju.

Pacific Rim: Uprising’s audio post crew.

In terms of technological advancements, five years is a long time between films. It gave sound designers Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl of E² Sound the opportunity to explore technology sounds for Pacific Rim: Uprising without being shackled to sounds that were created for the first film. “The nature of this film allowed us to just really go for it and get wild and abstract. We felt like we could go in our own direction and take things to another place,” says Aadahl, who quickly points out two exceptions.

First, they kept the sound of the Drift — the process in which two pilots become mentally connected with each other, as well as with the Jaeger. This was an important concept that was established in the first film.

The second sound the E² team kept was the computer A.I. voice of a Jaeger called Gipsy Avenger. Aadahl notes that in the original film, director Guillermo Del Toro (a fan of the Portal game series) had actress Ellen McLain as the voice of Gipsy Avenger since she did the GLaDOS computer voice from the Portal video games. “We wanted to give another tip of the hat to the Pacific Rim fans by continuing that Easter egg,” says Aadahl.

Van der Ryn and Aadahl began exploring Jaeger technology sounds while working with previs art. Before the final script was even complete, they were coming up with concepts of how Gipsy Avenger’s Gravity Sling might sound, or what Guardian Bravo’s Elec-16 Arc Whip might sound like. “That early chance to work with Steven [DeKnight] really set up our collaboration for the rest of the film,” says Van der Ryn. “It was a good introduction to how the film could work creatively and how the relationship could work creatively.”

They had over a year to develop their early ideas into the film’s final sounds. “We weren’t just attaching sound at the very end of the process, which is all too common. This was something where sound could evolve with the film,” says Aadahl.

Sling Sounds
Gipsy Avenger’s Gravity Sling (an electromagnetic sling that allows anything metallic to be picked up and used as a blunt force weapon) needed to sound like a massive, powerful source of energy.

Van der Ryn and Aadahl’s design is a purely synthetic sound that features theater rattling low-end. Van der Ryn notes that sound started with an old Ensoniq KT-76 piano that he performed into Avid Pro Tools and then enhanced with a sub-harmonic synthesis plug-in called Waves MaxxBass, to get a deep, fat sound. “For a sound like that to read clearly, we almost have to take every other sound out just so that it’s the one sound that fills the entire theater. For this movie, that’s a technique that we tried to do as much as possible. We were very selective about what sounds we played when. We wanted it to be really singular and not feel like a muddy mess of many different ideas. We wanted to really tell the story moment by moment and beat by beat with these different signature sounds.”

That was an important technique to employ because when you have two Jaegers battling it out, and each one is the size of a skyscraper, the sound could get really muddy really fast. Creating signature differences between the Jaegers and keeping to the concept of “less is more” allowed Aadahl and Van der Ryn to choreograph a Jaeger battle that sounds distinct and dynamic.

“A fight is almost like a dance. You want to have contrast and dynamics between your frequencies, to have space between the hits and the rhythms that you’re creating,” says Van der Ryn. “The lack of sound in places — like before a big fist punch — is just as important as the fist punch itself. You need a valley to appreciate the peak, so to speak.”

Sounds of Jaeger
Designing Jaeger sounds that captured the unique characteristics of each one was the other key to making the massive battles sound distinct. In Pacific Rim: Uprising, a rogue Jaeger named Obsidian Fury fights Gipsy Avenger, an official PPDC (Pan-Pacific Defense Corps) Jaeger. Gipsy Avenger is based on existing human-created tech while Obsidian Fury is more sci-fi. “Steven DeKnight was often asking for us to ‘sci-fi this up a little more’ to contrast the rogue Jaeger and the human tech, even up through the final mix. He wanted to have a clear difference, sonically, between the two,” explains Van der Ryn.

For example, Obsidian Fury wields a plasma sword, which is more technologically advanced than Gipsy Avenger’s chain sword. Also, there’s a difference in mechanics. Gipsy Avenger has standard servos and motors, but Obsidian Fury doesn’t. “It’s a mystery who is piloting Obsidian Fury and so we wanted to plant some of that mystery in its sound,” says Aadahl.

Instead of using real-life mechanical motors and servos for Obsidian Fury, they used vocal sounds that they processed using Soundtoys’ PhaseMistress plug-in.

“Running the vocals through certain processing chains in PhaseMistress gave us a sound that was synthetic and sounded like a giant servo but still had the personality of the vocal performance,” Aadahl says.

One way the film helps to communicate the scale of the combatants is by cutting from shots outside the Jaegers to shots of the pilots inside the Jaegers. The sound team was able to contrast the big metallic impacts and large-scale destruction with smaller, human sounds.

“These gigantic battles between the Jaegers and the Kaiju are rooted in the human pilots of the Jaegers. I love that juxtaposition of the ludicrousness of the pilots flipping around in space and then being able to see that manifest in these giant robot suits as they’re battling the Kaiju,” explains Van der Ryn.

Dialogue/ADR lead David Bach was an integral part of building the Jaeger pilots’ dialogue. “He wrangled all the last-minute Jaeger pilot radio communications and late flying ADR coming into the track. He was, for the most part, a one-man team who just blew it out of the water,” says Aadahl.

Kaiju Sounds
There are three main Kaiju introduced in Pacific Rim: Uprising — Raijin, Hakuja, and Shrikethorn. Each one has a unique voice reflective of its personality. Raijin, the alpha, is distinguished by a roar. Hakuja is a scaly, burrowing-type creature whose vocals have a tremolo quality. Shrikethorn, which can launch its spikes, has a screechy sound.

Aadahl notes that finding each Kaiju’s voice required independent exploration and then collaboration. “We actually had a ‘bake-off’ between our sound effects editors and sound designers. Our key guys were Brandon Jones, Tim Walston, Jason Jennings and Justin Davey. Everyone started coming up with different vocals and Ethan [Van der Ryn] and I would come in and revise them. It started to become clear what palette of sounds were working for each of the different Kaiju.”

The three Kaiju come together to form Mega-Kaiju. This happens via the Rippers, which are organic machine hybrids that fuse the bodies of Raijin, Hakuja and Shriekthorn together. The Rippers’ sounds were made from primate screams and macaw bird shrieks. And the voice of Mega-Kaiju is a combination of the three Kaiju roars.

VFX and The Mix
Bringing all these sounds together in the mix was a bit of a challenge because of the continuously evolving VFX. Even as re-recording mixers Frank A. Montaño and Jon Taylor were finalizing the mix in the Hitchcock Theater at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, the VFX updates were rolling in. “There were several hundred VFX shots for which we didn’t see the final image until the movie was released. We were working with temporary VFX on the final dub,” says Taylor.

“Our moniker on this film was given to us by picture editorial, and it normally started with, ‘Imagine if you will,’” jokes Montaño. Fortunately though, the VFX updates weren’t extreme. “The VFX were about 90% complete. We’re used to this happening on large-scale films. It’s kind of par for the course. We know it’s going to be an 11th-hour turnover visually and sonically. We get 90% done and then we have that last 10% to push through before we run out of time.”

During the mix, they called on the E² Sound team for last-second designs to cover the crystallizing VFX. For example, the hologram sequences required additional sounds. Montaño says, “There’s a lot of hologram material in this film because the Jaeger pilots are dealing with a virtual space. Those holograms would have more detail that we’d need to cover with sound if the visuals were very specific.”

 

Aadahl says the updates were relatively easy to do because they have remote access to all of their effects via the Soundminer Server. While on the dub stage, they can log into their libraries over the high-speed network and pop a new sound into the mixers’ Pro Tools session. Within Soundminer they build a library for every project, so they aren’t searching through their whole library when looking for Pacific Rim: Uprising sounds. It has its own library of specially designed, signature sounds that are all tagged with metadata and carefully organized. If a sequence required more complex design work, they could edit the sequence back at their studio and then share that with the dub stage.

“I want to give props to our lead sound designers Brandon Jones and Tim Walston, who really did a lot of the heavy lifting, especially near the end when all of the VFX were flooding in very late. There was a lot of late-breaking work to deal with,” says Aadahl.

For Montaño and Taylor, the most challenging section of the film to mix was reel six, when all three Kaiju and the Jaegers are battling in downtown Tokyo. Massive footsteps and fight impacts, roaring and destruction are all layered on top of electronic-fused orchestral music. “It’s pretty much non-stop full dynamic range, level and frequency-wise,” says Montaño. It’s a 20-minute sequence that could have easily become a thick wall of indistinct sound, but thanks to the skillful guidance of Montaño and Taylor that was not the case. Montaño, who handled the effects, says “E² did a great job of getting delineation on the creature voices and getting the nuances of each Jaeger to come across sound-wise.”

Another thing that helped was being able to use the Dolby Atmos surround field to separate the sounds. Taylor says the key to big action films is to not make them so loud that the audience wants to leave. If you can give the sounds their own space, then they don’t need to compete level-wise. For example, putting the Jaeger’s A.I. voice into the overheads kept it out of the way of the pilots’ dialogue in the center channel. “You hear it nice and clear and it doesn’t have to be loud. It’s just a perfect placement. Using the Atmos speaker arrays is brilliant. It just makes everything sound so much better and open,” Taylor says.

He handled the music and dialogue in the mix. During the reel-six battle, Taylor’s goal with music was to duck and dive it around the effects using the Atmos field. “I could use the back part of the room for music and stay out of the front so that the effects could have that space.”

When it came to placing specific sounds in the Atmos surround field, Montaño says they didn’t want to overuse the effect “so that when it did happen, it really meant something.”

He notes that there were several scenes where the Atmos setup was very effective. For instance, as the Kaiju come together to form the Mega-Kaiju. “As the action escalates, it goes off-camera, it was more of a shadow and we swung the sound into the overheads, which makes it feel really big and high-up. The sound was singular, a multiple-sound piece that we were able to showcase in the overheads. We could make it feel bigger than everything else both sonically and spatially.”

Another effective Atmos moment was during the autopsy of the rogue Jaeger. Montaño placed water drips and gooey sounds in the overhead speakers. “We were really able to encapsulate the audience as the actors were crawling through the inner workings of this big, beast-machine Jaeger,” he says. “Hearing the overheads is a lot of fun when it’s called for so we had a very specific and very clean idea of what we were doing immersively.”

Montaño and Taylor use a hybrid console design that combines a Harrison MPC with two 32-channel Avid S6 consoles. The advantage of this hybrid design is that the mixers can use both plug-in processing such as FabFilter’s tools for EQ and reverbs via the S6 and Pro Tools, as well as the Harrison’s built-in dynamics processing. Another advantage is that they’re able to carry all the automation from the first temp dub through to the final mix. “We never go backwards, and that is the goal. That’s one advantage to working in the box — you can keep everything from the very beginning. We find it very useful,” says Taylor.

Montaño adds that all the audio goes through the Harrison console before it gets to the recorder. “We find the Harrison has a warmer, more delicate sound, especially in the dynamic areas of the film. It just has a rounder, calmer sound to it.”

Montaño and Taylor feel their stage at Universal Studios is second-to-none but the people there are even better than that. “We have been very fortunate to work with great people, from Steven DeKnight our director to Dylan Highsmith our picture editor to Mary Parent, our executive producer. They are really supportive and enthusiastic. It’s all about the people and we have been really fortunate to work with some great people,” concludes Montaño.


Jennifer Walden is a New Jersey-based audio engineer and writer. 

Coco’s sound story — music, guitars and bones

By Jennifer Walden

Pixar’s animated Coco is a celebration of music, family and death. In the film, a young Mexican boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of being a musician just like his great-grandfather, even though his family is dead-set against it. On the evening of Día de los Muertos (the Mexican holiday called Day of the Dead), Miguel breaks into the tomb of legendary musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) and tries to steal his guitar. The attempted theft transforms Miguel into a spirit, and as he flees the tomb he meets his deceased ancestors in the cemetery.

Together they travel to the Land of the Dead where Miguel discovers that in order to return to life he must have the blessing of his family. The matriarch, great-grandmother Mamá Imelda (Alanna Ubach) gives her blessing with one stipulation, that Miguel can never be a musician. Feeling as though he cannot live without music, Miguel decides to seek out the blessing of his musician great-grandfather.

Music is intrinsically tied to the film’s story, and therefore to the film’s soundtrack. Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar is like another character in the film. The Skywalker Sound team handled all the physical guitar effects, from subtle to destructive. Although they didn’t handle any of the music, they covered everything from fret handling and body thumps to string breaks and smashing sounds. “There was a lot of interaction between music and effects, and a fine balance between them, given that the guitar played two roles,” says supervising sound editor/sound designer/re-recording mixer Christopher Boyes, who was just nominated for a CAS award for his mixing work on Coco. His Skywalker team on the film included co-supervising sound editor J.R. Grubbs, sound effects editors Justin Doyle and Jack Whittaker, and sound design assistant Lucas Miller.

Boyes bought a beautiful guitar from a pawn shop in Petaluma near their Northern California location, and he and his assistant Miller spent a day recording string sounds and handling sounds. “Lucas said that one of the editors wanted us to cut the guitar strings,” says Boyes. “I was reluctant to cut the strings on this beautiful guitar, but we finally decided to do it to get the twang sound effects. Then Lucas said that we needed to go outside and smash the guitar. This was not an inexpensive guitar. I told him there was no way we were going to smash this guitar, and we didn’t! That was not a sound we were going to create by smashing the actual guitar! But we did give it a couple of solid hits just to get a nice rhythmic sound.”

To capture the true essence of Día de los Muertos in Mexico, Boyes and Grubbs sent effects recordists Daniel Boyes, Scott Guitteau, and John Fasal to Oaxaca to get field recordings of the real 2016 Día de los Muertos celebrations. “These recordings were essential to us and director Lee Unkrich, as well as to Pixar, for documenting and honoring the holiday. As such, the recordings formed the backbone of the ambience depicted in the track. I think this was a crucial element of our journey,” says Boyes.

Just as the celebration sound of Día de los Muertos was important, so too was the sound of Miguel’s town. The team needed to provide a realistic sense of a small Mexican town to contrast with the phantasmagorical Land of the Dead, and the recordings that were captured in Mexico were a key building block for that environment. Co-supervising sound editor Grubbs says, “Those recordings were invaluable when we began to lay the background tracks for locations like the plaza, the family compound, the workshop, and the cemetery. They allowed us to create a truly rich and authentic ambiance for Miguel’s home town.”

Bone Collecting
Another prominent set of sounds in Coco are the bones. Boyes notes that director Unkrich had specific guidelines for how the bones should sound. Characters like Héctor (Gael García Bernal), who are stuck in the Land of the Dead and are being forgotten by those still alive, needed to have more rattle-y sounding bones, as if the skeleton could come apart easily. “Héctor’s life is about to dissipate away, just as we saw with his friend Chicharrón [Edward James Olmos] on the docks, so their skeletal structure is looser. Héctor’s bones demonstrated that right from the get-go,” he explains.

In contrast, if someone is well remembered, such as de la Cruz, then the skeletal structure should sound tight. “In Miguel’s family, Papá Julio [Alfonso Arau] comically bursts apart many times, but he goes back together as a pretty solid structure,” explains Boyes. “Lee [Unkrich] wanted to dig into that dynamic first of all, to have that be part of the fabric that tells the story. Certain characters are going to be loose because nobody remembers them and they’re being forgotten.”

Creating the bone sounds was the biggest challenge for Boyes as a sound designer. Unkrich wanted to hear the complexity of the bones, from the clatter and movement down to the detail of cartilage. “I was really nervous about the bones challenge because it’s a sound that’s not easily embedded into a track without calling attention to itself, especially if it’s not done well,” admits Boyes.

Boyes started his bone sound collection by recording a mobile he built using different elements, like real bones, wooden dowels, little stone chips and other things that would clatter and rattle. Then one day Boyes stumbled onto an interesting bone sound while making a coconut smoothie. “I cracked an egg into the smoothie and threw the eggshell into the empty coconut hull and it made a cool sound. So I played with that. Then I was hitting the coconut on concrete, and from all of those sources I created a library of bone sounds.” Foley also contributed to the bone sounds, particularly for the literal, physical movements, like walking.

According to Grubbs, the bone sounds were designed and edited by the Skywalker team and then presented to the directors over several playbacks. The final sound of the skeletons is a product of many design passes, which were carefully edited in conjunction with the Foley bone recordings and sometimes used in combination with the Foley.

L-R: J.R. Grubbs and Chris Boyes

Because the film is so musical, the bone tracks needed to have a sense of rhythm and timing. To hit moments in a musical way, Boyes loaded bone sounds and other elements into Native Instruments’ Kontakt and played them via a MIDI keyboard. “One place for the bones that was really fun was when Héctor went into the security office at the train station,” says Boyes.

Héctor comes apart and his fingers do a little tap dance. That kind of stuff really lent to the playfulness of his character and it demonstrated the looseness of his skeletal structure.”

From a sound perspective, Boyes feels that Coco is a great example of how movies should be made. During editorial, he and Grubbs took numerous trips to Pixar to sit down with the directors and the picture department. For several months before the final mix, they played sequences for Unkrich that they wanted to get direction on. “We would play long sections of just sound effects, and Lee — being such a student of filmmaking and being an animator — is quite comfortable with diving down into the nitty-gritty of just simple elements. It was really a collaborative and healthy experience. We wanted to create the track that Lee wanted and wanted to make sure that he knew what we were up to. He was giving us direction the whole way.”

The Mix
Boyes mixed alongside re-recording mixer Michael Semanick (music/dialogue) on Skywalker’s Kurosawa Stage. They mixed in native Dolby Atmos on a DFC console. While Boyes mixed, effects editor Doyle handled last-minute sound effects needs on the stage, and Grubbs ran the logistics of the show. Grubbs notes that although he and Boyes have worked together for a long time this was the first time they’ve shared a supervising credit.

“J.R. [Grubbs] and I have been working together for probably 30 years now.” Says Boyes. “He always helped to run the show in a very supervisory way, so I just felt it was time he started getting credit for that. He’s really kept us on track, and I’m super grateful to him.”

One helpful audio tool for Boyes during the mix was the Valhalla Room reverb, which he used on Miguel’s footsteps inside de la Cruz’s tomb. “Normally, I don’t use plug-ins at all when I’m mixing. I’m a traditional mixer who likes to use a console and TC Electronic’s TC 6000 and the Leixcon 480 reverb as outboard gear. But in this one case, the Valhalla Room plug-in had a preset that really gave me a feeling of the stone tomb.”

Unkrich allowed Semanick and Boyes to have a first pass at the soundtrack to get it to a place they felt was playable, and then he took part in the final mix process with them. “I just love Lee’s respect for us; he gives us time to get the soundtrack into shape. Then, he sat there with us for 9 to 10 hours a day, going back and forth, frame by frame at times and section by section. Lee could hear everything, and he was able to give us definitive direction throughout. The mix was achieved by and directed by Lee, every frame. I love that collaboration because we’re here to bring his vision and Pixar’s vision to the screen. And the best way to do that is to do it in the collaborative way that we did,” concludes Boyes.


Jennifer Walden is a New Jersey-based audio engineer and writer.

Sound Lounge offers remote audio post between NYC, Boston

New York City-based Sound Lounge is now providing remote audio post and sound mixing services for clients based in Boston. Sound Lounge Everywhere was established to provide clients with the comforts of a mixing studio and seamless remote connection to Sound Lounge artists — along with video and audio for realtime sessions, all using premiere technology.

In creating this service, Sound Lounge partnered with Boston-based creative editorial company Editbar, who will manage the Sound Lounge Everywhere technology. Custom hardware allows Sound Lounge to stream high-quality audio and video from New York to Boston with virtually zero latency, meaning that clients can view their spots live while their talent records in the New York office. The technology also allows clients to speak face-to-face with their sound mixers to ensure their sessions are both efficient and effective.

“We believe that geography is now an opportunity rather than a boundary, and we’re excited to work with new brands and agencies in this unique fashion,” says Sound Lounge partner, COO and sound designer Marshall Grupp.

Sound Lounge and Editbar (pictured above) are also joining forces with creative studio Nice Shoes, who are in the same space as Sound Lounge, to offer sound, color and creative editorial all underneath one roof.

While Sound Lounge Everywhere is currently only being offered between New York and Boston, the studio expects to offer these services in other cities in the near future.

Behind the Title: Stir Post Audio sound designer/mixer Nick Bozzone

NAME: Nick Bozzone

COMPANY: Chicago’s Stir Post Audio (@STIRpost)

DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY:
Stir Post Audio is comprised of engineers, mixers, sound designers and producers, who transform audio mixes into what we call “sonic power shots.”

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Sound Designer/Mixer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As a post sound professional, there are many different disciplines of audio that I use on a day-to-day basis — voiceover recording/mic techniques (ADR included), creative sound designing, voiceover and music editing, 5.1 and stereo broadcast (LKFS) mixing, as well as providing a positive (and fun) voice in the room.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The term sound designer envelops more than simply spotting stock sound effects to picture, it’s an opportunity to be as creative as my mind allows. It’s a chance at making a sonic signature —a signature that, most of the time, is associated with the product itself. I have been very fortunate through my career so far to have worked on these types of commercial campaigns and short films… projects that have allowed me to stretch my sonic imagination.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite part of the job is when its time to mix. Mixing can be just as creative, if not more so, as sound design. There are a lot of technical aspects to mixing heavy-hitting commercials. Most of the time there are a bunch of very dynamic elements going on at the same time. The finesse of a great mix is the ability to take all of these things, bring them all together and have them all sitting in their own spot.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
It may be my least favorite part, but it’s a necessary evil… archiving!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
During work, it’s when the whole room gives my mix a thumbs up. During the weekend, it’s definitely around sunset. For whatever reason, no matter how tired I am, around sunset is when my body kicks into its second wind and I become a night owl (or at least I used to be one before my daughter was born five months ago).

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That was told to me when I entered college, and I took that quote to heart. Originally, I thought that I wanted to be a creative writer and then I had an interest in being a hypnotherapist. Both were interesting to me, but neither one was holding my interest for very long. Thankfully, I took an introductory class in Pro Tools. That one class showed me that there could be a future in sound. You never know where you’ll get your inspiration.

Nick creating sounds for Mist Twst.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Many projects that come through our doors require quite a bit of strategy with regard to the intention or emotion of the project. I worked on the re-branding campaign for Pepsi’s Sierra Mist, which changed its name to Mist Twst.

There were a lot of very specific sound design elements I created in that session. The intention was to not just make an everyday run-of-the-mill soda commercial; we wanted it to feel crisp, clean and natural like the drink. So, we went to the store and bought a bunch of different fruits and vegetables, and recorded ourselves cutting, squeezing, and dropping them into a fizzy glass of Mist Twst. We even recorded ourselves opening soda cans at different speeds and pouring soda into glasses with and without ice.

I also worked on a really fun 5 Gum radio campaign that won a Radio Mercury Award. The concept was a “truth or dare” commercial geared toward people streaming music with headphones on. It allows the listener to choose whether to play along with listening to the left headphone for a truth, or the right headphone to do a dare.

We did campaign for Aleve with beautiful film showing a grandfather on an outing with his granddaughter at an amusement park and suddenly he throws his back out. The entire park grinds to a halt as a result — visually and audio-wise. There was a lot of sound design involved in this process, and was a very fun and creative experience.

Kerrygold

For a recent package of TV spots for Kerrygold, the Irish dairy group, created by Energy BBDO. my main goal for “Made for this Moment” was to let the gentile music track and great lyrics have center stage and breathe, as if they were their own character in the story. My approach to the sound design was to fill out each scene with subtle sound design elements that are almost felt and not heard… nothing poking through further than anything else, and nothing competing with the music, only enhancing the overall mood.”

SuperExploder’s Jody Nazzaro creates sounds of love for Popeyes, Comedy Central

Sound designer/mixer Jody Nazzaro from New York audio house SuperExploder teamed up with Comedy Central to help tell the story of a boy who needs to be more “Southern Fair” if he wants to land the girl of his dreams in a new :60 parody movie trailer Southern Crossed Lovers for Popeyes.

Poor Chester!

In the faux trailer, a young couple meets and falls in love at a country fair, but the girl’s parents disapprove, saying he’s “not Fair enough” for her. They are pushing her toward Chester, the red suspenders-wearing corn dog dipper. In the end, our love-struck hero shows up in a traditional southern suit holding a box of Popeyes Southern Fair tenders and Cajun fries, quickly winning the heart of the girl’s father.

The direction that Nazzaro got from the client was what every artist wants to hear: ”We trust your instincts, go for it. Make it feel like a trailer.”

According to Nazarro, “This project aligned with essentially the new standard of sound design and mixing for broadcast networks. The money isn’t there for ISDNs and phone patches anymore, and most talent records at home with the producer on the phone and sends the VO files via file sharing.”

He received the picture reference as a 1920×180 ProRes QuickTime and an AAF from Adobe Premiere. “Clean production dialogue was sent that I conformed as they cut with the camera mix. Once I prepped the session in Pro Tools, I began to clean up the dialog in Izotope RX5 Advanced and build the ambience tracks,” he explains. “I added some Foley, edited the music and enhanced the dramatic music swell a bit with Omnisphere.”

He mixed the spot in stereo and 5.1, in case they needed it for cinema release — which he says is standard workflow for him now — and sent it off for approval. It was approved on his first mix pass.

“It was a lot of fun working on a non-standard project with a twist — making it feel like a real trailer,” says Nazzaro. “With the audio, I felt like less was more. I wanted to let the voiceover and the dialogue carry it into a comedic misdirection.”

London’s Halo adds dubbing suite

Last month, London’s Halo launched a dubbing suite, Studio 5, at its Noel Street facility. The studio is suited for TV mix work across all genres, as well as for DCP 5.1 and 7.1 theatrical projects, or as a pre-mix room for Halo’s Dolby Features licensed Studios 1 and 3. The new room is also pre-wired for Dolby Atmos.

The new studio features an HDX2 Pro Tools 12|HD system, a 24-fader Avid S6 M40 and a custom Dynaudio 7.1 speaker system. This is all routed via a Colin Broad TMC-1-Penta controlled DADAX32 digital audio matrix for maximum versatility and future scalability. Picture playback from Pro Tools is provided by an AJA Kona LHi card via a Barco 2K digital projector.

In addition, Halo has built a dedicated 5.1 audio editing room for their recently arrived head of sound editorial, Jay Price, to work from. Situated directly adjacent to the new studio, the room features Pro Tools 12|HD Native system and 5.1 Dynaudio Air 6 speakers.

Jigsaw24 and CB Electronics supplied the hardware and the installation know-how. Level Acoustic designed, and Munro Acoustics provided a custom speaker system.

Behind the Title: Slick Sounds’ David Van Slyke

NAME: David F. Van Slyke

COMPANY: Slick Sounds Media Partners

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Slick Sounds is a boutique sound design company that handles audio post — from dailies to the delivery of the DCP (Digital Cinema Package). We creatively apply the craft, especially the art of telling stories with sound. We partner with directors, picture editors, color timers, composers and mix stages.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Lead Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
That I am also sales manager and CTO. I also attend conferences and regularly go to talks about how to get a jump on the new workflows. I’m constantly letting vendors know they can collaborate with us to create a cost-competitive product with professional standards that will pass a third-party QC.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Each project requires a unique sonic approach that I enjoy figuring out. The story speaks to me, and I interpret which aspect of creative sound is needed. I also do a lot of field recording. I love finding new source sounds.

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FOR SOUND DESIGNING?
It’s like a chef who is trying to come up with a new signature dish. You open a lot of items, chop things up, add some secret sauce, make a mess, and then you see what has the best flavors — and you trash the stuff that doesn’t taste good.

It has to be right. To me, and my clients, “right” is the feeling you get when you watch the final mix of a section or the whole piece. It creates the proper response in the viewer.

HOW DO YOU BEGIN?
I always start by getting in the zone. My room is dark and the dual 23-inch monitors are right in front of me; I lose myself in the fact that while I may not know exactly what to do at the start,  I am confident that I will figure it out. It’s fun to play in the unknown. I tap into creativity and come up with things that I later ask myself, “Where did that come from?”

CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH YOUR WORKFLOW?
I watch the picture several times and try to really get into the filmmaker’s head. Sometimes that means looking at it frame by frame. I can figure out what sounds I create quickly and what story points I need to obsess about. The sound design must always sell what the picture is telling us. I obsess about big sound moments because they need to make a big impact on the viewer.

DOES YOUR PROCESS CHANGE DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF PROJECT?
Yes to a degree. This is where good training in the craft of sound work comes in. There are nuts and bolts things that just have to be banged out, and then there are signature sounds that take the most creative energy. I often do the creative part first knowing the basic stuff will happen quickly.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
“I’d open a haberdashery” — that’s my favorite line from Spinal Tap.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
It took a little while since I enjoyed being a professional musician for a couple of years. I realized as a junior at Berklee College of Music that I needed a career that had more steady income than playing gigs or recording bands. My love of recording led me to sound design and into the digital revolution that has changed the record and the post industry.

    Çƒ˙Immortality Parts I and IIǃ˘

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I just finished mixing a feature documentary called Chris Brown — This is Me; the CSI series finale, which was a two-hour television movie called “Immortality” (pictured above); the pilot for Lucifer, a new Jerry Bruckheimer series coming out soon; and I am mixing 20-minute mini-docs for League of Legends.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
All of them… well, most of them. We give the same creative intensity to all our projects. It’s not done until it’s right! Some recent projects though are Dragon Nest: Warrior’s Dawn for Universal; Tyrus, which won the audience award at the San Diego Asian Film Festival; and Home — a Bruckheimer pilot that I’m currently sound designing and co-supervising — which will hopefully get picked up for next year.

NAME SOME TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Avid Pro Tools|HD, Serato Pitch ‘n’ Time Pro, iZotope RX5, Soundtoys and SoundMiner.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m not so good at social media. This is a referral business and very few movies are sound designed because of a social media presence. Perhaps the micro budgets get their sound designer from social media, however, if they have any budget at all they want known talent on their project at a known professional facility with amenities.

So, I do old-fashioned social media — I go to lunch with clients I like to work with.

THIS IS AN INDUSTRY WITH TIGHT DEADLINES. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
First, I say, “That’s an impossible deadline, how can the timeframe keep getting smaller and smaller?” Then I figure out how to do it. Which means sometimes having to say no to jobs because they don’t give me enough time to do it “right.”

I live and breath this gig, although it doesn’t always feel like work — it’s just fun!

Checking in with Tattersall Sound & Picture’s Jane Tattersall

By Randi Altman

Toronto-based audio post house Tattersall Sound & Picture has been a fixture in audio post production since 2003, even though the origins of the studio go back further than that. Tattersall Sound & Picture’s work spans films, documentaries, television series, spots, games and more.

Now part of the SIM Group of companies, the studio is run by president/supervising sound editor Jane Tattersall and her partners Lou Solakofski, Peter Gibson and David McCallum. Tattersall is an industry veteran who found her way to audio post in a very interesting way. Let’s find out more…

(back row, L-R) David McCallum, Rob Sim, and Peter Gibson (front row) Jane Tattersall and Lou Solakofski.

How did you get your start in this business?
My start was an accident, but serendipitous. I had just graduated from university with a degree in philosophy and had begun to think of what options I might have — law and journalism were the only fields that came to mind, but then I got a call from my boyfriend’s sister who was an art director. She had just met a producer at a party who was looking for a philosopher to do research on a documentary series. I got the job, did all the research and ended up working with the picture editor. I found his work using sound brought the scenes to life, so decided I would try to learn that job. After that I apprenticed with an editor and learned on the job. I’m still learning!

When did you open Tattersall Sound & Picture?
I started the original Tattersall Sound, which was just sound editing in 1992 but sold it in 1999 to run a larger full post facility. I opened Tattersall Sound & Picture in 2003, along with my partners.

Why did you open it?
After three years running a big post facility I missed the close involvement with projects that comes with being an editor. I was ready for a change and keen to be more hands on.

How has it evolved over the years?
When we started the company it was just sound editing. The first year we shared warehouse space with a framing factory. We had a big open workplace and we all worked with headphones. After a year we moved to where we are today. We had space for picture editing suites as well as sound editing. Over time we expanded our services and facilities. Now we have five mix stages including a Dolby Atmos stage, ADR, as well as offline and sound editorial.

How have you continued to be successful in what can be a tough business?
We focus simultaneously on good creative work and ensuring we have enough resources to continue to operate. Without good and detailed and good work we would lose our clients, but without earning enough money we couldn’t pay people properly, pay the rent and upgrade the stages and edit rooms. I like to think we attract good talent and workers because we care about doing great work, and the great work keeps the clients coming to us.

Does working on diverse types of projects play a role in that success?
Yes, that’s true as well. We have a diversity of projects — TV series, documentaries, independent feature films, some animation and some children’s TV series. Some years ago we were doing mostly indie features and a small amount of television, but our clients moved into television and brought us along with them. Now we are doing some wonderful higher-end series like Vikings, Penny Dreadful and Fargo (pictured below). We continue to do features and love doing them, but it is a smaller part of the business.

FARGO_207_0510_CL_d_hires1 FARGO_209_0108_CL_d_hires1

If you had one tip about keeping staff happy and having them stay for the long-term, what would it be?
Listen to them, and keep them involved and make them feel like an appreciated part of the business.

What is the biggest change in audio post that you’ve seen since your time in the business?
The biggest change would be the change in technology — from Moviolas to Pro Tools and all the digital plug-ins that have become the regular way of editing and mixing. Related to that would be the time allotted to post sound. Our schedules are shorter because we can and do work faster.

The other change is that we work in smaller teams or even alone. This means fewer opportunities for more junior people and assistants to learn by doing their job in the same room. This applies to picture editing as well, of course.

There is no denying that our industry is filled with more males than females, and having one own an audio post house like yours is rare. Can you talk about that?
I certainly didn’t set out to own or run anything! Just to work on interesting projects for directors and producers who wanted to work with me. The company you see today has grown organically. I attracted like minded co-workers and complementary team members and went after films and directors that I wanted to work with.

We would never have built any mix stages if we didn’t have re-recording mixer Lou Solakofski on board as partner. And he in turn would never have got involved if he didn’t trust us to keep the values of good work and respectful working environment that were essential to him. We all trusted one another to retain and respect our shared values.

It has not always been easy though! There were many projects that I just couldn’t get, which was immensely frustrating. Some of these projects were of the action/violent style. Possibly the producers thought a man might be able to provide the right sounds rather than a woman. No one ever said that, so there may have been other reasons.

However, not getting certain shows served to make me more determined to do great work for those producers and directors who did want me/us. So it seems that having customers with the same values is crucial. If there weren’t enough clients who wanted our quality and detail we wouldn’t have got to where we are today.

What type of gear do you have installed? How often to do you update the tech?
Our facility is all Avid and Pro Tools, including the mix stages. We have chosen an all-Pro Tools workflow because we feel it provides the most flexibility in terms of work flow and the easiest way to stay current with new service options. Staying current can be costly but being up to date with equipment is advantageous for both our clients and creative team.

Hyena Road had a Dolby Atmos mix

Hyena Road had a Dolby Atmos mix

We update frequently usually, driven by the requirements of a specific project. For example, in July 2015 we were scheduled to mix the Canadian war film Hyena Road and the producer, distributor and director all wanted to work in Dolby Atmos. So our head tech engineer Ed Segeren and Lou investigated to see how feasible it would be to upgrade one of the stages to accommodate the Dolby requirements. It took some careful research and some time but that stage was updated to facilitate that film.

Another example is when we began the Vikings series and knew the composer was going to deliver very wide — all separate stems as 5.0 — so we needed a dedicated music Pro Tools. This meant we had to expand the console.

As a rule when we update one mix stage, but we know we will soon update the others in order to be able to move sessions between rooms transparently. This is an expense, but it also provides us flexibility — essential in post production as project schedules inevitably shift from their original bookings.

David McCallum, fellow sound supervisor and partner, has a special interest in acoustic listening spaces and providing editors with the best environment to make good decisions. His focus on editorial upgrades help to ensure we can send good tracks to the stage.

Our head tech engineer Ed Segeren attends NAB and AES every year to see new developments, and the staff is very interested in learning about what’s out there and how we might apply new technology. We try to be smart about our upgrades, and it’s always about improving workflow and work quality.

What are some recent projects completed at Tattersall?
We recently completed the series Fargo (mixing), and the feature films Beeba Boys (directed by Deepa Mehta) and Hyena Road (directed by Paul Gross), and we are in the midst of the TV series Sensitive Skin for HBO Canada. We are also doing Saving Hope, Vikings (pictured below) Season 4 and will start Season 3 of Penny Dreadful in early 2016.

v3_09_9262014_bw__13709 v3_10_10132014_bw_14071

Are you still directing?
I’m surprised you even know about that! I’m trying to! Last spring I directed a very short film, a three-minute thriller called Wildlife. This month I am co-directing a short film about a young women indirectly involved in a police shooting and her investigation into what really happened. I have an advantage, which is that I know when a story point can be made using sound rather than needing a shot to convey something, and I have a good idea of how ADR can be employed so no need to worry about the production recording.

The wonderful thing about these non-work film projects is that I learn a huge amount every time, including just how hard producers must work to get something made, and just how vulnerable a director is when putting something of themselves out there for anyone to watch.

‘Jurassic World’: Dinos find their inner animal via Skywalker Sound

By Jennifer Walden

So the makers of Jurassic World are, quite obviously, asking you to suspend your disbelief. This disbelief might just focus on the fact they are asking you to accept that a group of super-positive thinking people (or maybe super-stupid) thought that opening up a theme park where dinosaurs once again roam the earth was a good idea. Especially since it has gone so spectacularly bad at parks featured in earlier movies.

Yes, the idea of re-opening the same park again and again and expecting that people won’t get eaten again and again is a bit crazy, right? Well, the only thing insane about Jurassic World is that it is insanely awesome! Yeah, ok, people get eaten, but that’s part of the fun, no?

Also part of the fun is the new bad-ass, ‘roided-out dino, Indominus Rex. What does he sound like? Well, it’s a mix of whale, wild pig, tiger, monkey, fox and dolphin. The fun doesn’t stop there – all the sounds you love from the Jurassic Park franchise — Gary Rydstrom’s boss T-rex and those iconic raptors — have been brought back and are updated for Jurassic World. Think raptor 4.0!

Al Nelson

Al Nelson

Supervising sound editor/sound designer Al Nelson from Skywalker Sound says, “One of the things that we were very intent on was honoring the original sounds and being consistent with the story. We’ve gone back to the same island so in theory, many of the creatures there have been carried on.”

What’s Old Is New Again
In 1993, Skywalker sound designer Gary Rydstrom first introduced audiences to what a raptor sounds like in Jurassic Park, and it’s been consistent ever since. In Jurassic World, the main raptor screams, screeches and growls are the original sounds Rydstrom created for Jurassic Park, using African geese hisses, dolphins and the now-famous “tortoises having sex” sound.

“We just augmented their vocal library,” explains Nelson. “The raptors in Jurassic World are more interactive and have individual personalities. We wanted additional vocals that were positive, communicative and that would evoke a different side of their personality. We took those actual mastered sounds that Gary [Rydstrom] had on the first films and diversified from there.”

Armed with a Schoeps M/S rig with cardioid mics and a Sound Devices 744T portable digital recorder, Nelson set out to get new sounds from the animals originally used for Rydstrom’s raptors. But, he soon discovered that each animal is different. “These particular geese I recorded gave me great recordings but they were just too bird-like. They weren’t fitting in with the sounds that Gary had initially designed. I expected to be able to redo what Gary had done, but that raptor sound is really a credit to Gary, who generated something that was so unique.”

With some guidance from Rydstrom, Nelson researched new animals that might fit in with the original raptors. “We wanted to honor the tradition of the first Jurassic Park, where Gary and his assistant at the time Chris Boyes — now a re-recording mixer on Jurassic World — went out and recorded lots of new, original sounds from animals,” says Nelson, who read books on how and why animals communicate, in order to make his time spent recording in the field as productive as possible.

“Many times when you go to a zoo you stand in front of an animal and it stares back at you. It’s not going to communicate unless it has a reason,” explains Nelson. Based on his research, Nelson contacted animal sanctuaries, zoos and animal specialists to find out if their animals can roar on cue or react to particular people or vocalize in certain situations like feeding time or vet visits.

Film Title: Jurassic World“Situations where the animals are compelled to vocalize are what you’re looking for,” says Nelson. “Animals in interesting situations will make interesting sounds.” The new raptor communication sounds use leopard and kinkajou hisses, dolphins, geese, Asian otters and baby baboons. “For the more sympathetic sounds, we went back to birds, namely a toucan and a penguin. The Gentoo penguin in particular had this guttural, chittery sound that worked well with the raptors’ communications.”

The New Guys
Jurassic World features a giant, carnivorous marine reptile called the Mosasaur, and a genetically engineered hybrid dino dubbed the Indominus Rex — two very large and very toothy creatures. Helping to build the Mosasaur was sound designer Pete Horner, who is also the re-recording mixer on the dialogue and music in Jurassic World. The Mosasaur is composed of several water-based animals, like walruses, whales and dolphins.

Says Nelson, “The walrus is a great source for animal design since it’s one of the biggest sounding animals. The walrus sound has a lot of body, but it also has tonal aspects to it. It’s got a great guttural, water-animal quality. Pete also used beluga and pilot whales and some dolphins to give it a tonal throaty sound. That huge snapping chomp was also a big part of the Mosasaur — when it rears up out of the water and takes a big bite out of a great white shark.”

Film Title: Jurassic World

The Indominus Rex is genetically engineered to scare the pants of park visitors. Its genes may include material from the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but Nelson points out that it’s a vastly different creature: “The Tyrannosaurus is a pure bred, the real deal, but the Indominus Rex is kind of a mutant. The overall character of it needed to be big but it also needed to sound broken, nasty and gnarly.”

Director Colin Trevorrow compared it to a toddler that is having a tantrum, where the sound starts low and then builds to a wail. “It doesn’t know what it is, or where it is. It just knows that it hates everything and it wants to eat everything. It’s a cranky, pissy creature,” says Nelson.

Working in Avid Pro Tools 11, in combination with Native Instruments Kontakt, Nelson created an Indominus Rex sound that is irritating, squeal-y and angry. It’s a big creature, so Nelson chose whale sounds, pitched down tiger chuffs and the sounds of huge pigs that were fighting with each other. “They didn’t sound like what you would expect a pig to sound like… with a squeal. They were doing these crazy growls that had this big, guttural, deep sound.”

For the howl-y and scream-y layers of the Indominus Rex, Nelson recorded a little fennec fox. “It was just irate and scared, and it was bellowing and screaming,” describes Nelson. His online search for animals that scream and screech resulted in stories of people who live in parts of the Midwest and the Northeast, all being woken up in the middle of the night to a blood-curdling sound.

“It’s these cute little foxes that come out of the woods and just do these blood-curdling squeals. I pitched them down a little bit, but in the end some of the sounds weren’t manipulated nearly as much as I expected they would be.”

He also recorded wild pigs, spider monkeys, macaques and a howler monkey that would go bananas for his animal handler’s singing. “This young animal caretaker introduced us to the howler monkey and shyly said he’ll vocalize when she sings to him. So I eventually convinced her to sing and the howler monkey started hooting and hollering with this deep raspy growly sound. It was very scary and very out of control in a lot of ways.”

Film Title: Jurassic WorldThe Others
While the Indominus Rex commanded much of Nelson’s creative attention, he had a lot of fun creating the dinosaur sounds for the raptor named Blue. “Colin [Trevorrow] was very supportive in pushing the boundaries and going too far for the tweaky personality things I got to do for Blue,” explains Nelson, who also enjoyed the emotional scenes, like when the Apatosauruses were dying. “That was a special scene and a big focus; it was all eyes on this event. Colin, from the beginning, said he wanted people to be crying after that scene.”

Nelson feels the success of Jurassic World’s sound is a direct result of a Skywalker Sound team effort. “It was great to have Pete Horner help me out on the Mosasaur. All the vehicles, the crowds and the personality of the park itself were a lot of work as well. Scott Guitteau was great on sound effects. There was Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, who wrangled all this dialogue with Stuart McCowan, and Ben Burtt who wrangled the Foley with Nia Hansen.

“There are a lot of people in there who I was constantly bouncing ideas off of. At the end of each day Gary [Rydstrom] would come in and comment on sounds. When you’re in the trenches, you want to be with your friends. You want to be with people who you respect and are invested in the sound in the same way that you are. That’s the great thing about working here at Skywalker, we are all together.”

Jennifer Walden is a New Jersey-based audio engineer and writer.

 

Behind the Title: SuperExploder’s Jody Nazzaro

NAME: Jody Nazzaro

COMPANY: SuperExploder (@SuperExploder)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We’re a boutique audio house specializing in mixing, sound design and music composition for every screen and genre. Music supervision and licensing, as well as voice casting, round out our capabilities.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Sound Designer/Mixer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
The sound designer/mixer, and to some extent composer, responsibilities have become blurred and intertwined for some time now. I predominantly sound design and mix commercials and promos for cinema, TV and IP delivery. When it comes to network promos, I often record voiceover, sound design and mix multiple spot lengths with many versions within a four-hour booking.

At the agency level, heavier sound design and original music jobs still occupy their own arena. I may sound design a spot, but not mix it, and I often mix spots another sound designer has crafted. It’s wonderful to collaborate with my colleagues, and it’s the mastering of the different disciplines that makes what I do exciting and challenging.

In Studio R

In Studio R

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
In addition to the above, I sometimes act as producer, voice coach, writer, Foley artist, voiceover talent, therapist, sommelier, concierge and quality control technician.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
I use Avid Pro Tools and it’s available arsenal of plug-ins and synthesizers to translate what I’m hearing in my head to what I want the world to hear. My trusty Dolby Cat 430 and iZotope RX 4 allow me to fix problematic audio, and I love my RTW TouchMonitor for metering.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Usually in post, the final sound mix is one of the last steps of the project. I enjoy it when clients come to my studio for the mix after what is sometimes a month-long process of pre-production, shoot, edit, VFX, etc. By the time they show up to the studio, they’re pretty burnt out. It’s my task to inject some fresh life and vibrancy into their spot, and at the end of the session, have them feel happy about shipping a final product they’re proud of.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Sometimes clients get rough-cut love and it’s hard to get them to budge on what is a better mix decision for telling the story. That, and when no one pays attention while we’re recording voiceover.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Early morning, before everyone arrives. I get to sit in a beautiful quiet studio and focus on the task at hand. No music, no phones, no email. It’s sort of a calm-before-the storm pre-session meditation.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Flying bush planes and making wine in the Northwest.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I had a “communication arts” class in 8th grade and wanted to be a film editor. Then after college, at the company I was working for, an audio assistant position opened up. It paid more so I took it and that’s when I fell in love with the power of sound.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I just worked with Showtime/HBO to sound design and mix the open for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. I mixed a really nice spot with The Vault for Eastbay.com, and some funny work for ESPN and Amazon. I also just wrapped the sound design package for Spike TV’s rebrand.

From HBO’s open for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I put equal effort into every job all the time. Regardless of budget or profile. I think that’s what my clients have come to expect and it’s what they appreciate.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I can name three I’d like to un-invent! Smart phones, email and MP3 encoding!

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Yes. Whatever is in the spot I’m mixing… over and over and over and over again!

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
We go down the shore whenever we can, and I chase my 19-month-old son around. The sound of his giggle makes it all go away.