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.

LINKS

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.

Links:

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

Crescendo

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!

-René

Mixing Desk

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”

026 – A Bunch Of Cool Stuff

In this episode we talk about changes going on with the podcast & we interview Karen Collins on her Kickstarter for a Doc on Game Audio history. Then we test various mic techniques for recording car bys & Rene puts Melted Sounds’ Whoosh thru its paces.

Links

Our New Website

Tonebenders Soundcloud Page

Tonebenders on Stitcher

Kickstarter for Karen Collins’ Doc on Game Audio

Karen’s Website Gamessound.com

Karen’s Book

Original Episode on Vehicle Recording that sparked car pass tests

Melted Sounds’ Whoosh

WaveWarper from SoundMorph

Tonebenders Changes

Hello, welcome to the new Tonebenders website.

Embers record

We have been working away to make a bunch of improvements to the way the podcast gets to you. The two main changes are our new web address (formerly www.tonebenders.net, now here at www.tonebenderspodcast.com), and a new RSS feed.

Our new feed has many positives but the one down side is that if you are getting the podcast already through iTunes, or any other podcatcher, you will have to re-subscribe to our new feed. Currently there are two Tonebenders feeds available through the iTunes podcast directory. One is named “Tonebenders Podcast”, which is our new feed and the one you should be subscribed to going forward. It will be updated immediately when new shows arrive and has our entire back catalog available for download, from episode 001 up to our newest content. Our old feed in the podcast directory, simply called “Tonebenders”, is also still active for now. You will find that new episodes will appear more slowly on this feed, and it also only has the 10 most recent episodes available. Eventually this feed will stop being updated, so please switch over to the new feed ASAP so you never miss an episode. We are sorry we have to ask you to do this but we think the improvements will be worth the effort.

If you do not use iTunes to get podcasts, we have a few new options for you as well. All episodes are up on our Soundcloud page for both streaming and downloads. If you have the Stitcher Radio App, on your phone or in your car, we are now on that network too. If you use any other podcatcher you can find our new feed’s address by clicking here, or on the RSS icon in the left column.

The other big change is our new website, which has some cool new features. You can now search for podcast episodes by category. So if you want to hear all our foley related episodes, or ones where we talk about field recording, you can find them all grouped together easily. Also the site features Soundcloud embeds for each episode. This lets listeners comment or ask questions right on the time line of each show. When something peaks your interest or sparks a question, or we got something dead wrong – you can leave us a message right in that spot.

We also have a new “Support the podcast” page where you can leave a buck or two in our tip jar (via paypal). An even better way way to help is to use our affiliate link when you shop at amazon or B&H. Doing this costs you absolutely nothing, we simply get a small percentage of your purchase for sending you to them. This kind of support covers costs of things like server fees, Soundcloud pro accounts and long distance calls. We want to keep this podcast ad free, and we are hoping with a little help from the community we can.

So the deal is this – we promise to keep making Tonebenders episodes and working hard to make it the best podcast on Sound Design out there. In return we just ask that you update your RSS feed to “Tonebenders Podcast” through iTunes and pop our new web address in your favourites. If you really want to be helpful replace your Amazon and B&H bookmarks with our links so you can also help us out if you are already shopping there.

Finally we want to thank everyone who listens to the podcast, without you giving us feedback, ideas and encouragement I am not sure we would have made it this far. So keep up with the likes on Facebook, the retweets on Twitter, reviews on iTunes/Stitcher and blog posts that mention us. We appreciate all the support. The pro audio community is one of the best out there, we are all lucky to be a part of it.

025 – Vehicle Recording Roundtable

In ep 25 we talked with Rob Nokes, Watson Wu, and Max Lachmann about all things vehicle recording.  It was a heck of a conversation with some real heavyweights of the industry.

 

 

show links:

Rob Nokes robnokes.com — @robnokes on twitter
Watson Wu WatsonWu.com — @watsonwu on twitter
Max Lachmann pole.se —

Designing Sound Rob Nokes Vehicle recording feature
Watson Jaguar film for Rode microphones

Mics mentioned:

 

Rob’s Kit

onboard
Sennheiser E835
Yamaha subkick

exhaust
Neumann U89
Neumann U87
AKG C4000B
Sure KSM44

engine
Sanken Cub01

other stuff
fire blanket
bungee cables
zip ties
neoprene

Watson’s Kit

passbys
Sennheiser 418s
Neumann RSM 191
Neumann 82i
Rode NTG8

onboards
DPA 4061 lav
Rode Lav
Countryman B3 lav

exhaust
Sennheiser 421
Rode dynamic mics
Sure dynamic mics

interior
Rode pinmic lav
DPA 4061 lav

Max’s kit

exhaust
Electro Voice RE50
DPA 4062 lav

engine
DPA4061 lav
Crown PZM 30D

onboard
Neumann RSM 191
DPA 4061 lav x 2

passbys
Holophone
Sanken CSS5
Sennheiser MKH8060
Schoeps CMC6 in ORTF

 

deep sound design