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!


2 thoughts on “Crescendo”

  1. Finally got a chance to listen, then watch and listen again to the film. Great job. I’m still catching up on the backlog of podcasts but I’ve listened enough to appreciate the effort I expect Rene put into this. There were a number of really nice moments. Of course it’s hard not to call out the piano crash. The buildup and release was really nice. I loved the spatial changes. Had to replay that a few times. The market scene was nice too. I was trying to imagine if you performed the foley with the little girl turning the bell wheel. Thanks for sharing the work and your notes on the creative process!

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