032 – Multimic with one mic – Implosions – Soundsnap giveaway

In ep 32 we breakdown a method for executing a multimic record session with just one mic, we do a postmortem on the recording of the implosion of a Xerox building, and we do another great giveaway, this time in collaboration with soundsnap.com

Here’s the gear used for the implosion recording:

Plus the venerable Line Audio CM3s


Tonebenders on DesigningSound.org

If you are not familiar with www.designingsound.org make sure you head there ASAP and read everything they have.  Each month the site picks a theme and ask the audio community to contribute articles, ideas and experiments that fit the theme.  In the past our podcast has regularly timed episodes to match up with the DS themes.  For January 2015 the theme was “Education”, specifically in relation to professional audio.  Our most recent episode, #31, was part of this theme as we interviewed Brenda Jaskulske from the University of North Texas.

Additionally both of the hosts on Tonebenders wrote articles that are featured on the site as well.  René wrote about different types of learning, and Timothy shared some thoughts on the future of Internships in Audio Post.

Please head over to DesigningSound.org to check them out.

Read René’s article here: http://designingsound.org/2015/01/deep-or-shallow/

and Timothy’s here: http://designingsound.org/2015/02/a-new-approach-to-internships/

Let us know what you think.

031 – Education with Brenda Jaskulske from the University of North Texas

In ep 31 we talk with Brenda Jaskulske from the University of North Texas.  We had a great time and covered all things, education, learning and teaching in the field of audio.

Brenda is the audio coordinator and senior lecturer in the department of media arts  at the University of North Texas.

Starting as an on-air personality at age 16, Brenda became Program Director and Operations manager of a top rated radio station by age 22. After graduating with a degree in Mass Communications from Midwestern State University, she worked as a television producer, videographer, and editor.

Brenda can be contacted at Brenda.Jaskulske@unt.edu

free holiday sfx roundup

So it seems that a December tradition has emerged where the various sfx libraries give stuff away for free!

so here’s what I’ve seen so far.  Feel free to add to this in the comments.

Asoundeffect.com SFX sampler – a pretty big collection of donated sounds from the various indie labels there.  it includes sounds from

  • airborne sound
  • detunized
  • mattia cellotto
  • resonance sound
  • shaping waves
  • skewsound
  • sound ex machina
  • soundbits
  • soundopolis
  • the soundcatcher
  • tovusound
  • uso
  • and whatisvalis

Hiss and a Roar has a xmas bundle (and contest) out there.

Chuck Russom released a Glock 18mm handgun

Boom library does the advent calendar where they sometimes give sounds away, and often discount libraries.

Rabbit Ears audio and The Recordist both sent emails to past users with a gift.  check your inbox if you’re purchased from either of them.

Big Wheels Sound Design‘s Red Libraries Series has a freebie collection of French Shop Ambiences

Just Added:

Glitch Machines has a cool impact effects Free Library called SEISM  (H/T to Dave DeLizza)

Twisted Tools has a drum pack too. (H/T to Dave DeLizza)

The Sound Catcher also has a SFX collection currently available at no cost.  It is a kind of greatest hits from the libraries they sell.

If I’ve missed any put them in the comments below!

030 Tonebenders – Contests, Contact Mics & Captain America

michal 1czb
Michal Fojcik, one of Poland’s top Sound Designers spoke with Timothy about his experiments with different contact mics.

In this eps Timothy announces our biggest contest yet – win a Hybrid SFX Library from ProSoundEffects. Plus we hear from the Sound Designer of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and experiment with the sounds of different contact mics and adhesives with Michał Fojcik.


Our SoundCloud where you can enter to win the Hybrid Library Contest

ProSound Effects Home  Page

Hybrid Library Info

Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer

Shannon Mills IMDB page

Michał Fojcik’s blog post with his Contact Mic experiments 

029 Tonebenders – Daniel Pellerin & Steve Munro

Daniel Screenshot

Daniel Pellerin and Steve Munro have been working together as re-recording engineer and sound designer for nearly 30 years. Together they have worked on indie films, oscar nominees and vehicles for A-list actors – all outside the traditional Hollywood system. In this episode they talk about their careers and work on two recent Adam Egoyan directed films.


Daniel Pellerin IMDB

Steve Munro IMDB

Film Steve recorded Stadium Crowd SFX for – Turk182!

Trailer for The Sweet Hereafter

Trailer for The Captive

Trailer for The Devil’s Knot


A short film that I worked on back in 2012 has finally finished its festival tour and been released to the masses on youtube.  Its some of my favorite work, and I’m proud to show it off here.

The film is called Crescendo – and it has won 11 international film festival honors including best short film.


Here’s a little backstory on the film:

The film was written and directed by my good friend Alonzo Alvarez Barreda.

Alonzo and I have never met in person, but we’ve had many great phone and email conversations.

The first film I worked on with him was a pro-bono project I did as a favor for my good friend Julio César Cedillo.  One day he asked me to help his buddy out with a film called El Descubrimiento (The Finding) that Alonzo had directed and that he had starred in.  I loved the film and agreed to help them both out.  From that project a relationship between Alonzo and myself was born, and Crescendo was the second project we worked on together.

This short film had a budget.

Alonzo has a unique ability to get projects funded and since this one had a specific religious message he secured a legit budget.  This film was shot on a hollywood backlot with a proper cast and crew, and had a proper post budget as well.  Its a rare situation for a short film to be properly funded, but that (along with telling amazing stories) is one of Alonzo’s unique gifts.

The collaboration of cultures and languages was big.

This film was written and directed by a Mexican-born Spanish speaking author, scored by different Mexican born Spanish speaker, was acted and performed in German in LA, was subtitled in English, and had audio post done in Dallas by me.

This was largely a one-man audio post project.

I did the dialogue edit and mix from the fantastic location audio.  I did the bgfx edit and mix.  I performed the foley (which was recorded by my coworker Brad Dale) I did all of the trippy sound design, and I did the final mix.

A few notes here :

1) The dialogue mix was a joy to work on.  I spent very little time fixing problems and lots of time just balancing and levelling things out from the fantastic source audio.  I know this film was shot on a hollywood backlot, but holy cow that crew reached a super high level of work at the source, and that really shows through in the final product.  I used very little in the way of verbs on the DX mix, as I was running the boom mic on almost everything and had lots of proper perspective already baked into the sound.

2) The BGFX was a big challenge in this mix.  I used a few base layers and then really went nuts with the mono one-off sweeteners that were layered and sprinkled around.  This is especially true in the market and witches hut scenes, where I was keeping those environments really alive and setting a very specific tone.  Also, period pieces are generally more challenging with regards to BGFX because you can’t hear traffic anywhere.  I relied heavily on wind to set different locations apart.

3) The big piano scene relied heavily on Tim Prebble’s tortured piano library.  Couldn’t have done it without that.

4) The two places where Alonzo and I had the most back and forth on were the moments just before the piano crash.  I didn’t want to hear the movers through the window, but he insisted that we should because we can see them.  We also spent a few iterations getting the buildup and release to that over the tea scene just right.

5) The final mix revealed a lot of weaknesses that I didn’t realize I had.  I ended up taking a lot more time figuring out panning and verbs and general balances than I though I would.  In the end I feel like we got it right, but with such a close relationship to all of the sounds I ended up having to really struggle through not getting lost in the forest for the trees at times.  A couple of times I brought in another trusted ear to keep me honest.


So that’s the project.  I’m super happy with it, and very proud to show it off to my peers in a forum like this.  Enjoy!


Film Sound Today (Circa 1984)

Machine Room 2
Machine Room for Stage A at Warner Hollywood, housing 24 – 35mm playback dubbers.

Recently a colleague showed me an old publication he found while reorganizing his office.  It was a book, not much more then a magazine really, called Film Sound Today, written by Larry Blake in 1984.  It’s a collection of articles he had written for various publications about the sound processes behind the biggest Hollywood films of the time.  Some of the films covered in depth are Return of the Jedi, Disney’s Fantasia re-release and Francis Ford Coppola’s One For The Heart.  There is also an amazing article that covers the entire history of stereo film sound, from the first patents and blackboard concepts in the 1920s, up to what was taking the industry by storm in the last quarter of the century  – Dolby Stereo.

Film Sound Today's Cover
Film Sound Today’s Cover

I was familiar with Larry Blake because I had been reading his columns for years.  When I was breaking into the the audio post industry in the ’90s my main source for shop talk in the the mass media was Mix Magazine.  Although the magazine (then as now) covered music recording and live sound, it also had a regular column on film sound by Larry Blake. That column was the first thing I read when the magazine got delivered every month. I had no idea he had been writing about film sound for so long though.

Reading through Film Sound Today I am having blast exploring this cool archive of audio knowledge.  Some of the concepts and equipment discussed seem so antiquated compared to what we have access to now.  One passage discusses how Lucas Film is contemplating a new cutting-edge technology:

“The recently introduced Compact Disc is being considered to store Lucas Film’s extensive sound effects library. Instead of reels of 1/4 inch tape occupying a whole wall, the library could fit on one shelf crammed with about 100 compact discs. Thus sound editors at the facility will have the entire sound library at their finger tips.”

Another passage discusses how for Return of the Jedi they would be using a digital system called ASP (Audio Signal Processor) which was in the prototype stage. It is described as a “large special purpose computing device for digitized audio.”  The hard drives for the ASP are 300 megabytes each and “the same size as a 24-track recorder.”  Yikes!

An early prototype of the A.S.P. digital audio computer
Andy Moorer with an early prototype of the A.S.P. digital audio computer

Although some of the described equipment is distinctly from another time, many of the people interviewed are still vital to the industry to this day. There is a long section with Ben Burtt, discussing his process for creating all the different alien languages found in Return of the Jedi. He was in charge of dreaming up dialects for Jabba the Hut, the Ewoks and some of the six million other languages C3PO interprets fluently.  Burtt’s basic premise was that the design of the fictional language had to be found in the source material, not in the processing and mixing stage.

“The general process is one of a very few number of tracks, with maximum effort in selecting the individual sounds and recording them in the first place.  It is not a difficult mixing process, it is a difficult editing process.”

Ben Burtt at the console while working on Return of the Jedi
Ben Burtt behind the console at Sprocket Systems Dubbing Stage while working on Return of the Jedi

Other still-current industry heavyweights pop up as well. Randy Thom and Gary Summers were the re-recording mixers on Jedi, while the author of the important book Sound for Film and Television, Tom Holman, was the Lucas Film chief engineer.  Walter Murch, Dale Strumpell and the late Alan Splet are also mentioned.  The author himself went on to a storied film career as well; Blake was the re-recording mixer and supervising sound editor on almost twenty of Steven Soderbergh’s films, as well as many other movies.

Return of the Jedi Flow Chart

On multiple occasions Blake refers to other impressive film sound tracks from the era, including the first two Star Wars films, The Black Stallion and Apocalypse Now.  These are all considered classic films and important cinema sound touchstones to this day.  One thing that surprised me is that the soundtrack to the film DragonSlayer is continually mentioned as being on par with these other classics.  To be honest, I am completely in the dark about this film, and I don’t think I’m alone. This movie seems to have disappeared from our lexicon of noteworthy film sound achievements.  Certainly the trailer makes it look like a somewhat forgettable film.  I am going to try to track it down to hear for myself if its soundtrack still holds up against the iconic films it was once ranked alongside.

Larry Blake has always been a captivating writer. In Film Sound Today his writing style is less personal and opinionated than his later columns, but this book is still an interesting read. I would love to have him as a guest on the podcast one day.  If anyone reading this has a way of contacting him please let us know.

I like to imagine someone stumbling onto the Tonebenders’ Dave Whitehead episode thirty years from now. I wonder how strange his words would seem to listeners that far in the future. Hopefully the state of the art will be so far advanced that they would be chuckling about the way we all do things now, and perhaps be inspired to uncover some brilliant soundtracks from the good old days.

Machine Room 1
The Machine Room at Zoetrope housing 7 dubbers, two 6 track recorders and two 24 track recorders.
Early D.A.W.
One of the first DAWs (as we now call them) was at Neiman-Tillar in Los Angeles. It was called ACCESS, an acronym for Automated Computer Controlled Editing Sound System.
Mixing Desk
Zeotrope Studios re-recording stage built for the mix of “Apocalypse Now”

deep sound design