Sound Design Scrapbook #15

SOUND DESIGN

https://www.asoundeffect.com/randy-thom-screenwriting-for-sound/

I really enjoyed this article from Randy Thom about the use of Sound as a Storytelling tool, especially his thoughts on early collaboration and inspiration for Sound or Visuals coming from one or the other. In Theatre the time scale of creating a show and it’s Sound Design is quite different to film, but we also occasionally come across the same points he raises here, scripts that define sounds very specifically can sometimes be less ‘Sound friendly’ than initially thought. The more evocative stage directions, and especially those that suggest we need to relate the emotion of a certain character to the audience, often prove to be more inspiring.

It brings up a couple of thoughts around devised work and working in rehearsals. I’ve done a lot of designing in rehearsal rooms as I love get inspired in there and throw ideas in. Devising lends itself to that style of process, there are opportunities to experiment and explore ideas with an essence of freedom, we’re creating a piece together from the story level up and from a Sound perspective, we are relatively quick at changing content and trying ideas on the spot, in comparison to say trying to immediately change part of the Set Design. In any process it depends on how a Director would like to use Sound in their rehearsal, but I do think that scripted work can still have this level of exploration, even without specifically scripted sound ideas.

In terms of pre-production phases in Theatre I think it’s perhaps in short workshops where we get the opportunity to offer what Sound Design can be used for to a Writer and Director, sometimes just through conversations, but to be able to try an idea on the fly in front of them, can effect what comes out of the writing too. One example I think of is a show called The White Bike Written by Tamara Von Werthern, Directed by Lily McLeish. I absolutely loved the script before we had begun and Sound would be needed throughout, but after a week long workshop Tamara took the script away and began using sound as an inspiration of what she could allow an audience to feel through the main character, so we came back to it much more on the same page as one another, more descriptive thoughts about how a sound might be affecting the character from her perspective.


BBC PROMS: THE SOUND OF SPACE

BBC Proms are always inspiring but this in particular was awesome to get to hear. I couldn’t get to the live performance, but this is still up for 10 days so wrap your ears around this:

BBC Proms, 2019: The Sound of Space: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007f52 via @bbciplayer 


MUSIC | AVA - WAVES

I had the pleasure to briefly meet Aisling Brouwer and Anna Phoebe of AVA at the latest Spitfire Audio event recently which led me to their beautiful album Waves. An incredibly powerful mix of Piano, Violin, Percussion, Electronic elements and Soundscapes making such a rich instrumental world in each track.


MUSIC | BON IVER - i,i

The latest in Bon Iver was out this month and it’s been on repeat for a little while now…

Sound Design Scrapbook #14

BIOLOGY

I came across this diagram on Twitter a few days ago and I’m getting a little obsessed with where the sound of my voice is coming from, try it out yourself…

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TUTORTIAL

I’ve been starting to catch up on Rick Beato’s Youtube channel recently and came across this gem. I have no real desire to create a songwriter demo, but there is so much useful info ripe to pick from this video, just like all his other videos


RADIO

A friend recently put me on to BBC sounds late junction from BBC Radio 3, which is absolutely bursting with interesting music from far and wide. I’m finding it’s expanding my listening into completely different places. I’ll be honest, theres the occasional stinker I can’t stand, but even then, hearing the music of so many cultures and artists is always interesting.


BLOG

I’ve been a Randy Thom fan for a while now and he’s started to blog about his thoughts on ‘Ways to Give Sound a Chance’ which he is able to explain in such a seemingly simple and precise way, that also seem to give me inspiration for the theatre too, taking the idea of a close up and concentrating focus on one particular part of the stage, whilst sound can lead the story of what is outside of that focus point for example. Check it out here…

https://randythomblog.wordpress.com/


Pianobook - Kristiansand Concert Steinway

For those who may not know about Pianobook, here’s a copy of the ‘about’ page from the website

‘Curated by one of the founders of SPITFIRE AUDIO [Christian Henson] pianobook is a collective sample project that aims to bring together a community of likeminded music makers to talk about their stories through the pianos they use, admire and are inspired by.’

Last month I was in Norway and had Saturday off and took the opportunity to record the theatre’s Steinway. After rolling it out of the cupboard it lives in, I realised the concert hall was empty, so I made a sharp turn right and rolled it onto the stage and quickly set my laptop and mics up downstage centre.

I tried a couple of stereo sets of mics and ended up with 2x AKG C414 mics,. After a little experimenting, I moved them a little further back than may be a usual close recording setup, to get a little more of the room sound, else what’s the point in taking over the whole concert hall!!

I used Christian’s logic template [which can be found here with an explanation on how it’s setup] and started recording, knowing that the battery on my laptop was limited. Luckily after only a few interruptions from visitors checking out the hall, I got a few takes and packed up ready to edit.

At that point I didn’t have a lot of time so only made an EXS24 version which Christian featured in a recent vlog, you can hear it at the very start and around 2 minutes in….

So It made sense to convert it to a Kontakt version to give non Logic users a chance to play with it too and for me to learn a little about how that conversion might work….

Which is when I encountered some frustrating Kontaktness! Its default reaction to release triggers is not as a piano should react. [A release trigger being a piece of audio played upon releasing the key.'] For some reason the release triggers work as they should without the sustain pedal down, fine thats good, but when you hold the pedal and hit a note, the release trigger audio doesn’t play until you release the pedal, and when you do release the pedal, it plays back all the release triggers for all the keys you pressed whilst the pedal was down, so you get a big splurge… not good!

I came across another piano that did manage to make this work correctly called the Spring piano recorded by Christian himself and converted to Kontakt by Fredrik Fernbrant, I had a look through the script Freddie made and reverse engineered it to a point of understanding enough to make a version for the Kristiansand instrument. It was a good way of learning a little more Kontakt scripting, but I still feel a little out of my depth with it so will continue to learn more as i make new instruments.

If anyone does know how to do get in there and fix this, then that would be amazing, but there’s a button to turn the dry signal on/off in the gui, this is simply because I’m unsure how to get rid of that and have the dry signal permanantly ‘on’ whilst still making Kontakt react to the release triggers correctly at the same time.

Either way, long story short, here is the link to the Kontakt version! Enjoy!

https://bit.ly/2W9iTpj

Sound Design Scrapbook #13

PODCAST

Here’s a podcast with Steven Price, Oscar winning Composer talking a about his work on the Our Planet series of films, a little on Gravity and working with Edgar Wright.


SOUND EFFECTS

Some interesting new sounds from Hiss and Roar, continuing to bring new sounds to the table in imaginative ways!


INTERVIEW

Came across this insightful article from the Wall Street Journal, an interview with Qianbaihui Yang, a Sound Editor at Skywalker Sound. Interesting to hear about her journey through the different roles of Film Sound and the exciting world of recordings, creating and editing Sound for film. Check it out here

Photo: Cayce Clifford for The Wall Street Journal

Photo: Cayce Clifford for The Wall Street Journal

Sound Design Scrapbook #12

SOUND DESIGN

I came back across this super informative interview with Olivier Award winner Gareth Owen the other day talking through some of the basic principles behind Sound Design for Musicals. Congratulations go to Gareth again this year winning the Olivier Award for ‘Come From Away’ - Full Article here: https://variety.com/2019/legit/podcasts/broadway-sound-design-gareth-owen-1203160482/


TONBENDERS / SOUNDGIRLS

Soundgirls.org support women across the sound industry from Theatre Sound to Film post Production and beyond. In this Tonebenders podcast talks more about that and how they are making that support available. Followed by a panel discussion moderated by Anne-Marie Slack, and on the panel is Karol Urban, Kate Finan, Onnalee Blank and April Tucker. Talking about how they began in Sound, share stories and advice.


SOUND DESIGN

Ben Burtt talks through some of the famous sound effects from Star Wars in lots of detail…


SOUND EFFECTS

Hiss and Roar have put together this amazing sounding library of Thunder Sheets. Check it out here.

Sound Design Scrapbook #11

COMPOSER

Sherri Chung is a Composer based in LA, Soundiron have done a pretty in depth interview with her about the process she goes through on a project and her career trajectory to date.


SOUND DESIGN

The School of Sound is an annual, multi day event with lots of industry leading speakers in the world of Sound Design and Music. Generally focused on Film and TV. They’ve started uploading talks by speakers from the last 11 years worth of events and this is the first 9 speakers. Just starting to listen through them and it’s an incredible resource!

http://www.schoolofsound.co.uk/sos/audio-and-video-archives/


VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS

I’ve tried to steer clear of buying new samples recently and try and use what I have. I went through a stage of purchasing, but not listening properly to what I’d bought. Having said that this new piano from Native Instruments based around Nils Frahm’s sound, does sound lovely and certainly looks well sampled!


INTERVIEW

I’ve not seen the film yet, but here is a very in depth interview with the sound team behind Alita: Battle Angel.

https://bit.ly/2CJYk8a

Sound Design Scrapbook #10

PODCAST

This is from a while back. Soundworks at it again with an insightful and inspiring podcast with Composer Ludwig Göransson and supervising sound editor Steve Boeddeker talking about their collaboration of score and sound design on Black Panther. The mix of traditional African rhythms and instrumentation, alongside the futuristic wakanda tech.


RADIO / VIDEO GAMES

I randomly tuned into BBC radio 6 on Sunday, having not listened in months, to come across ‘A history of video game music episode 2’. It’s super interesting and explains a whole bunch about developing new sounds based on the games emotional storyline and taking inspiration from the visuals of a game too. Some top composers offering some insight into the process.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002y9q 


TV SOUND DESIGN

I’ve been watching ‘The Good Place’ recently and am officially in awe of D'Arcy Carden and Janet. Particularly the ‘Jane(s)’ episode where she plays all the other main characters, as Janet, as well as a good place and neutral Janet … which is a ridiuclous feat. Thought I’d share a small piece of Sound Design which took me by suprise!


The Unreturning Trailer

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of combining two styles work - Theatre and Trailers - and worked on a short score and Sound Design for Frantic Assembly’s The Unreturning trailer.

The show is Directed by Neil Bettles, Designed by Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Designed by Zoe Spurr and Costume Designed by Lily Arnold, an awesome team! I Sound Designed the show and it’s now on a UK tour having just finished at it’s third venue the Liverpool Everyman picking up some great responses. Next up is the Traverse in Edinburgh. It arrives in London in January as part of the second half of the tour, so catch it there if you can. The show is ace and I can’t recommend it enough!

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Here’s the trailer made by Tea Films and a version of the audio seperatly for anyone interested. I used Spitfire Audio’s Chamber Strings, a bit of Omnisphere for the simple synths and percussion and Cinesample’s Tina Guo Acoustic Cello, one of the most playable VST’s I’ve tried!


Sound Design Scrapbook #9

SOUND DESIGN / MUSIC

If you don’t follow the work of Diego Stocco already, check out this video he’s put together showing off the new instruments he’s built. He tends to pull sounds out of all sorts of found, built and natural objects and record them in experimental ways too. There are also some beautiful photographs to go with it…

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THEATRE GEAR

Yamaha announced an update to the Rivage PM Digital Mixing system last week, adding ‘Theatre mode’ - check out the full announcement here

“The Theatre Mode facilitates scene and costume changes with four banks that can be used to store different EQ and dynamics settings for individual performers. In Theatre Mode, rather than storing EQ and dynamics settings in the console’s “scenes,” only the bank number is stored so that any adjustments made will apply to all scenes that use the same bank.“

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MUSIC

I don’t know how I’ve missed these for so long, but thankfully found the NPR Tiny desk series of concerts recently and they are awesome… https://www.npr.org/series/tiny-desk-concerts/?t=1539811025167

Sound Design Scrapbook #8

PODCAST

Another Twenty Thousound Hertz Podcast, this time it’s a peak into the world of writing, recording, designing and producing their podcast. Being an audio based podcast, they go the extra mile to make it as slick as possible!


MIXING MASTERCLASS

If you’re interested in Mixing Orchestral music, the marvelous Jake Jackson is here on stage at the 4th Annual Mixcon event in New York. I’ve seen Jake do a number of these run downs on his mix process for Orchestral work, and they’re always super useful and insightful. Excited to continue learning about it as I spend some concentrated time mixing a bunch of my own tracks over the next couple months.


SILENCE / EXHIBITION

Last year I stepped in for 59 productions to record 2 minutes of silence in a primary school assembly, this amongst a whole array of different recordings has culminated in this beautiful exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Sound Designed by Gareth Fry.

http://59productions.co.uk/project/moments-of-silence/

 https://www.instagram.com/p/BocAMPcFsfx/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=u62jsdh1aa06

‘Moments of Silencee’, IWM London. Created by 59 Productions © Photo: Will Weisner

‘Moments of Silencee’, IWM London. Created by 59 Productions © Photo: Will Weisner

 

Scrapbook #7

YOUTUBE

Paul Thomson of Spitfire Audio has started his own Youtube Channel with an offering of some super detailed videos already! Here’s a intricate look at Reverbs…


MUSIC

Olafur Arnalds released his latest album re:member last month and it’s went stright onto my monthly playlist. It’s another beauitful album. He’s also been working with a generative mechanism where his piano plays itself based on the notes he plays initially, looks like it’s triggered from some Ableton fun, you can here it in action on the album and see it in the video below too. Excited to see him and his team live later this year again!


PODCAST

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Tonebenderspodcast.com did a brilliant interview with the award winning sound team behind Arrival, one of my favourite cinematic experiences last year. Check out how Sylvain Bellemare & Bernard Gariépy Strobl work…

The Unreturning - UK Tour Sound Design - Frantic Assembly

The last few months I’ve been fairly flat out concentrating on Sound Designing  Frantic Assembly’s The Unreturning with Director Neil Bettles Directing a completely awesome company in one of the most collaborative processes I’ve been involved in for some time, it was such a delight to be part of and I felt very lucky to be involved.

This was a bit of a dream working process for me, being in the rehearsal room from day one (for 3 out of 4 weeks of rehearsals) and being part of the creation process even before that with Neil, Andrzej Goulding (Set and Video Designer), Zoe Spurr (Lighting Designer) and Lily Arnold (Costume Designer) and the rest of the team, it’s exactly how I love to work.

The show opened in Plymouth on Monday 24th September and will be on tour around the UK, you can find the dates on Frantic’s website here, and info on the whole team there too.

Bit of rehearsal action in London

Bit of rehearsal action in London

I’m half way through writing up a bit of a series about the equipment and processes I use for workshops, rehearsals and how I use Ableton and QLAB in those situations. I used a similar set up in rehearsals for The Unreturning and eventually programmed everything into QLAB, but will wait to go into detail about that until I’ve finished.

There was a lot of content to create for the show, we recorded the excellent actors for some part of the Sound Design too, and worked with a bunch of different music tracks. It was an extremely good example of how to integrate Spotify into the process, as I suggested in a previous post, it can be such a useful way of collaborating and evolving a musical palette. Our playlist started with Anna Jordan (Writer), who added some tracks as she wrote the piece, which allowed us into her world and how she was feeling about the piece. Then Neil added as he read the and I joined, threw in my own thoughts and we all continued to add to the playlist even up to the final days of previews, it was part of my job to then expand on this and integrate some of the musical palette into the show.

I like to be part of the rehearsal process early on as I enjoy working with everyone in the rehearsal room and allowing the whole team to influence parts of my Sound Design process, and I hope the Sound Design can influence decisions in other departments too, its fair to say it’s not always possible to be around full time, but it’s always super interesting to see what inspiring ideas come out of that collaboration.

Scrapbook #6

INTERVIEW

Mary Anne Hobbs interviewed Ryuichi Sakamoto on BBC Radio 6. Talking about how he began his life in Music and his process. "Spontinety is my faith"...


APPLE

Apple have released an updated Macbook Pro which is able to house 32gb RAM and up to 4tb SSD drive... it comes at a steep price though!

The more samples I've been using recently, the more RAM I've been needing. I'm hoping that one day it will be the portable version of a nMac Pro I've been waiting for, but for now its a movement in the right direction

https://www.macrumors.com/2018/07/12/apple-launches-2018-macbook-pro-lineup/


SOUND DESIGN

One of the shows I Sound Designed which transfered over the NY to St Ann's Warehouse is now available to watch online as part of Donmar Warehouse's initiative to get these shows out to a wider audience. This was the third piece in a Trilogy of Shakespeare plays led by an all female cast of women around the concept of a female prison. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0696f99/the-tempest


INTERVIEW

Jason Graves, the award-winning composer of the Dead Space soundtracks showing his studio and some interesting instruments he's used to create the unique sound of Dead Space...

 

 

Scrapbook #4

MUSIC

Jon Hopkins singularity album out last month has some awesome work on it, check it out on here.

https://open.spotify.com/album/1nvzBC1M3dlCMIxfUCBhlO?si=ZT6mAIsYSdO_TxWrAXlD5Q

THEATRE SOUND

The NY times interviewed the Sound Designers nominated for the newly re-instated Sound Design Tony Award, they all provided some excellent SFX and montages of their shows. I worked as Associate on both Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with Gareth Fry and 1984 with Tom Gibbons, Both are incredibly deserving of the nomination.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/theater/tony-awards-sound-design-plays-nominees.html

VST

Spitfire audio have had a change in their Labs Scheme recently. The most recent update sees the beautiful Soft Piano and newly recorded 'Strings' patches with a newly designed user interface. As it's for free, download them here...

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

Scrapbook 3

PODCAST

Twenty Thousand Hertz released a super interesting podcast a couple of weeks ago featuring the Data Driven DJ. They talk to Brant Guichard, a man who has heard "The Music" during his seizures since he was a young boy. Taking his EEG readings during a seizure and splicing up a mixture of Imogen Heap'sHide and Seek’, philharmonic samples and experimental percussion. The Data Driven DJ (Brian Foo) created this beautiful piece by using the readings representing the seizure to control the dynamics and intensity (That's a huge over simplification) of the layers...


INTERVIEW

Native instruments posted an interview with Ben Frost talking about the methods he used for this new album The Centre Cannot Hold.
 


NOISE

After living in NY for the last two months, I returned home to a strong awakening of how loud it was there. Not just the hustle and bustle of people, but vehicles, sirens, advertising... it reminded me of this article which describes the high dB levels we encounter on the London Underground system... In essence, get yourself noise cancelling headphones or ear protection for the commute!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-42791299


Frogman April 2018

Last week I was at Shoreditch Town Hall with ‘Frogman’ a play I first worked on with Curious Directive last year which took me to Australia for 3 weeks of on site recording for a 360 film that becomes part of a live theatre show. It’s been an incredible learning curve for me to work with VR content, not only that but being able to support 50 audience members having an individual auditory experience whilst also collectively allowing them the experience the live theatre piece.

There are huge hurdles to overcome and still some more to work on as the show progresses, but as an experiment within multi disciplinary theatre its been a super interesting challenge and well worth a watch/listen, especially if you’re interested in VR.

The show just finished a 2 week run at Shoreditch Town Hall and will play at Arts Depot in Finchley for another week. Check it out here:

https://www.artsdepot.co.uk/theatre/curious-directive-frogman

I’ll be posting a little more about the process soon, a few photos and trailer below!

 

 

Scrapbook 2

SOUND DESIGN

I still haven't managed to see it yet, but came across a cool breakdown of the multiple layers of audio in a scene from Bladerunner 2049


FREE SOFTWARE INSTRUMENT

Strezov Sampling have been giving away this beautiful Duduk vst, I've been trying out in a track or two and it's very easily playable and has slotted in around the rest of my template pretty quickly.

Free Duduk VST


MUSIC

As I put Yo-Yo ma into my 1st scrapbook, I carried on listening to his works and to "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" album and found some awesome live studio performance videos.


FREE APP

I came across this Mini spotify player that sits in your notification centre, pretty neat and just stays open, links to the album art of Spotify and will open spotify when you hit play if it's not already there!

 

Sonic Arcade Exhibition NYC Museum of Art and Design

I recently visited the 'Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound' exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York and it was pretty ear opening. As the name suggests, there was a real focus on the spaces in which the instillations took place and how the audience and exhibits interacted with one another physically.

Naama Tsabar's Propagation (Opus 3), is a guitar like structure on the wall of one room, the wall has a cavity behind it, the guitar strings are amplified through speakers focused into the wall cavity essentially making the room the resonant chamber for the instrument.

Julianne Swartz created blown glass sculptures and found their resonant frequencies using small speakers tucked away inside each piece, they were spread around the room and seemingly randomly resonated. The effect was a beautiful set of sculptures with a physically engaging quality.

In one room you're invited to put on headphones and play on 4 different synthesizers, This part of the exhibition called 'Subject to Gesture' and was curated by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. The Museum website has an interesting interview with him talking about his take on sound 'For Lowe, voltage is an unpredictable, malleable and living material whose manipulation is capable of carving the air with sound.'