NAME: Amber Tisue
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Stir Post Audio, based in Chicago, is a new joint studio venture involving the partners of APG Audio and Sonixphere Music. We work in every aspect of audio post production for TV, radio, interactive and film.
WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Sound Designer and Mixer
WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
It entails everything having to do with creating sound for picture. Basically, I’ll get a video completely stripped of all sound and then create the soundscape to either sound very realistic, abstract or a blend of the two, depending on creative direction.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think most people, at least those outside of the industry, don’t really understand what I do. It’s funny because every time my dad sees a commercial I’ve done, he’ll call me up and ask: “You did the music on that commercial? That was great!” I then have to explain, “Dad, I make everything you hear in the commercial except the music.”
Also, I feel that many people underestimate the power of a soundscape. Sound is truly half of picture, but is thought of last. Imagine a film like Jurassic Park without the T.rex footsteps or the roars or the jungle ambience. The impact would be stripped from it without sound.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite part of what I do is the fact that I get to be creative and make people feel emotion through sound. I approach each project as a work of art, and I get to paint each canvas through sound.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My least favorite part is that it is all so subjective. Everyone has his or her own idea of what something should sound like, and it’s neither right nor wrong. Finding that balance between what I want as an expert in my field versus what a client wants is the hardest part of what I do.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Hmm… Well I’m most definitely not a morning person. I think my favorite time of day is at dusk, where I can be outside catching a sunset, meeting up with friends, grabbing a happy hour drink on a patio, and just being.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Well my dream is to be able to work on my music full-time and to be able to focus on perfecting that craft. If I had ultimate freedom from monetary pressures, I would be traveling the world with the one I love and helping animals in some capacity.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I really feel that this profession chose me. I knew early on that I wanted to be able to record my own music, and subsequently earned a degree in audio engineering from San Francisco State. I interned in the Bay Area’s top music recording studios but couldn’t make ends meet financially. I heard about an opening for an audio engineer at the ad agency Goodby Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco and landed the job… with zero real-world post production experience. So in that way, I really did fall into being a sound designer.
I’ve always had a profound interest in how sounds are made, how sound in film is created to be so impactful, to evoke emotion and to glue the viewer to the screen. I learned that it was so involved, intricate and technical — you don’t just plug a microphone in and what you record is what ends up on screen. There is an entire world of processing to enhance the sound before it makes it on screen.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I recently finished a huge 5 Gum re-branding campaign (below). I designed the mnemonic and the soundscape for the campaign, which was a lot of fun.
I also recently won a Bronze Addy for my sound design on a Re/Max spot called Dreams, where I created a dream-like, whimsical world with overstated sound effects and crazy reverberant spaces.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
My favorite project was one of the earliest spots that I worked on. It was for Adobe Photoshop and it was completely abstract. I had to create a sound for something that had no sound, that didn’t make a sound and didn’t exist in life. A creature born from a petri dish, evolving through time from a guppy-like thing, into a metallic vegetable, into a conglomerate of bird-reptilian species that escapes the petri dish and flies off into space.
I often speak about the idea of the “anti-sound,” or sound that exists in silence, if that makes sense. For example, what it sounds like in your head after a close-range bomb detonates — you lose your hearing, but there is still sound there to be heard.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I am enamored by the simple things in life, so technology to me is more of an asset to life than a necessity. I do enjoy having an iPhone and I use the map application most. I like knowing how to get from place to place, even if it’s in another country.
My other favorites are headphones — having high-quality headphones allows me to work from anywhere at any time — and lastly Pro Tools, which is the industry standard, and I wouldn’t have this career without it.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I used to be an avid Facebook user, but found myself getting lost in the Internet vortex. I’ll post occasionally and message friends, but I focus my time on other things these days. Twitter eludes me, but Instagram is probably my favorite form of social media because it allows me to post a picture and get back to my life.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I love being outdoors, being in nature, connecting with something bigger than myself. Being in or near water is the most calming to my soul; being with loved ones and family fulfills me most. And vacations, I am always planning a vacation.