Audio Media International 2017 Interview

Adam Savage. Editor of Audio Media International Magazine wrote to ask a few questions on my work on The Encounter with Gareth Fry, as well as about the challenges we faced on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and asked me to talk a little about the industry as a whole. I felt privileged to be included in the May/June 2017 edition of Audio Media International. Thanks to Adam for getting in touch!

Here's the link to the online version of the interview:

http://www.audiomediainternational.com/interview/interview-pete-malkin/06534

Beware of Pity and The Kid Stays in the Picture

This week I've been working on two Complicité pieces. One is 'Beware of Pity' at the Barbican Theatre, we made the show over a year ago in Berlin at the Schaubühne Theatre with 7 of their ensemble of actors and it's in London this week.

Its been a very swift couple of days to get that up and running whilst rehearsing the next Complicité show, which will open in a few weeks at The Royal Court called 'The Kid Stays in the Picture.'

Beware of Pity will be live streamed on YouTube this Sunday and it'll be available to watch for following two weeks all at the following link:

http://www.complicite.org/live-stream.php

Check it out if you can, it's been a pleasure working with the amazingly talented Schaubühne actors who really are what make the show.

Enjoy!

Beware of Pity

Beware of Pity

The Kid Stays in the Picture

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Final Week for The Encounter on Broadway

This week we're going into the final week of performances of The Encounter on Broadway! It's been almost 16 weeks of shows and I've been in New York operating with the team for almost 6 of those weeks. The Audience have been widley varied and it's amazing to know that the show has reached a much wider audience than it has anywhere else, hopefully opening their imagination in a different way.

It's a pleasure to be part of the broadway experience and have my first experience of the US, I've met some lovely people over here so far and next week I move onto St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn for The Donmar's The Tempest which we recently opened in the UK as part of The Donmar's Shakespeare Trilogy.

The show will preview from the 13th January with opening night on Wednesday 18th Jan, running until the 19th Feb.

http://stannswarehouse.org/show/the-tempest/

Oh, and Happy New Year all round!

Evening Standard Award - Best Design - The Encounter

A few weeks ago Gareth Fry and I were awarded the Best Design award in the Evening Standard awards for our work on Complicité’s The Encounter. Conceived, Directed and Performed by Simon McBurney, the piece allowed us so much freedom to experiment and give an audience auditory cues to key into their imagination, it was a real pleasure to put together with such an wonderful team of collaborators. 

Gareth does an amazing job of listing those we wanted to thank and so linking to that would be easier than trying to do so again:

http://www.garethfry.co.uk/new-blog-avenue/2016/11/14/best-design-award-for-the-encounter

The team of Sound Engineers/Designers/Operators we’ve worked with are second to none. The show is always alive and changing all the time, they keep the world of The Encounter afloat and work like musicians with Simon to react to these new ideas and changes. We’re very lucky to have them! 

It’s also key to mention the gratitude we have for being awarded the Best Design award and how, Sound Design has been recognised and considered for a design award not only that, but amongst other design disciplines too. I only hope that it can help spread this school of thought elsewhere.

All dressed up at ES awards

London Marathon 2016 Recording

Last weekend was the London Marathon 2016. My girlfriend's brother ran and managed a time of 3:25:13. Awesome achievement. 

In the moments when we weren't wandering around London trying to catch him, I managed to get a few short recordings.

I took the oppurtunity to take out my little portable stealth kit to see how well it performed. It consists of a Sound Devices 702 in a camera bag with two DPA4061's with mini rycote windshields strapped to either side of the bag. 

Drums fuel of the atmosphere around Canary Wharf, I spent some time underneath a bridge where 2 taiko players were living.

After clambering up a railing I got a recording from slightly above the action, people with plastic hand clappers,  horns in the distance, and the ever present drummers.

I think the setup performerd pretty well all told, there are some big pros and cons of it for sure.

Pro: It doesn't attract attention. Which leads to a more natural performance and causes less interruptions from interested passers by. 

Con: positioning, It's difficult to be consistent with the mic positions, as there is a bag in the 30cm gap between the two mics, it's also not very natural sounding stereo image. 

Next time around I might test out a different method of strapping the mics to the bag with a bit more precision and maybe some sort of stereo spacing bar involved in the bag to help.

 

 

Portable Recording Setup

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in Lausanne for part of Complicité's 'The Encounter' tour. I took the opportunity to test out my portable recording rig thats slowly been pieced together the past few months.

Lausanne 2015
Lausanne 2015

Earlier in the year I went on tour to Asia and took my Rycote Blimp and found so many places where it was just unrealistic to whip it out and start recording, the inevitable "whats that" would be all over the recordings. So in comes the portable solution, I have a bunch of portable all-in-one recorders which are much less attention grabbing. But having put money into a Sound Devices recorder I bought a set of DPA 4061's to try out with it. I've had some reasonable success with sticking these things in my ears to get binaural recordings, but wanted to mount them onto a bag that also contains the 702 so it was super inconspisuous and can just sit there when I want to put it down. A camera bag seemed like the most logical solution, there may be better ways, but I went and bought a messenger bag from a nearby camera shop.

Photo 03-09-2015 10 36 53
Photo 03-09-2015 10 36 53

A customisable camera bag with multiple sized velcro panels was able to fit everything and any excess cable to sit below the 702, plus having a weird sized battery is was also fine! Heres a short recording of Lake Geneva, I stood maybe a 1.5 metres away from the shoreline and let the bag dangle in front of me...


I'm looking at other solutions to how I can attach the mics to the bag to allow for less movement noise and perhaps better stereo imaging, there seems to be a little dead spot in the centre on some recordings... Either way, the fact that no one asked "what is that" made it all worth it!!

Free Ghanaian Gyil Kontakt instrument - PMvst001

Since the last post about recording Stephen Hiscock's Gyil (Yes I was spelling it incorrectly! O dear) I took some time to edit and put the resulting hits into Kontakt. Here is a link to the Current Ghanaian Gyil V1.0,

Free Ghanaian Gyil download
Free Ghanaian Gyil download

---   ---   ---

Specifications:
309 samples
5/6 velocity layers for each note
2x Round Robin for each note
3x patches
            - Original pitch                   
            - Tuned scale (CDFGBb)       
            - Chromatic scale pitched  

2x Beater options- Rubber (Rubber malletts made from Tires)
                                               - Sticks    (The wooden side of the malletts)

Requirements:
210MB Hard Drive space
Full version of Native instruments Kontakt 5

---   ---   ---

Feel free to download and play with it if you're looking for something authenically african and I'd love to hear any feedback.

I don't want to dive too deep into a 'How to create a velocity sensitive instrument in Kontakt' post, but there's few thoughts from the process I thought it'd be interesting to note.

My main DAW's are Ableton Live and Logic, but I decided to try using Ableton for this process. The first step was to record the Gyil into Ableton through my SD 702 and soundcard. I only had two Preamps available at the time, so used an XY setup about a metre away from the top of the Gyil. The first note, having a few different mic positions would probably help with integrating the sound of the Gyil with other libraries, but starting with a fairly dry, close recording is great starting point.

The Gyil has 14 notes and I wanted to try 2 round robins of each and have 5/6 velocity layers for each note played with both ends of the beaters. So that's 336 individual samples to edit.

Manually this takes a while and is fairly tedious. Both Logic and Ableton have a feature which slices a piece of audio from its transient markers and creates a new MIDI instrument. However, neither of these cut the audio up usefully for Kontakt. Logic does have a 'Split Silence' feature that does a better job at slicing the regions, with a bit of tweaking, by transient. Either way there is an amount of time spent finessing this, as the hits need to be very closely trimmed to the start of the transient.

Logic Strip silence
Logic Strip silence

Once each hit was edited and ready to slot into Kontakt, I set up a new instrument and using the mapping editor placed the 6 velocity layers  for the first note on it. Spreading them across the 127 potential velocities.

Again this could take a while, but you can quite easily copy and paste one set of 6 velocity samples onto another key on the mapping editor, then re-locate each of the copied samples to the next note in the sequence to save time (I didn't find this out until I'd spent a good few hours on a fairly bumpy flight trying to be precise with my trackpad... Bad idea!)

Kontakt 5 Mapping editor
Kontakt 5 Mapping editor

A similar process applies to the second takes (Round Robin takes) this was fairly simple. The mapping editor works in groups, for each round robin you create a new group and set that group to be a certain either the first or second set of round robins. Again copying the already mapped first takes and pasting that into a new group meant I could re-locate the samples within this second group with the second takes.

I did the same thing with the hard wooden end of the beaters and placed those into two new groups. Had a play with photoshop and added the Attack and Release knobs through looking into the inner workings of other Kontakt instruments scripts.

A little messing with key switches and it was prett much there.

So please do have a play with the Gyil and enjoy

African Gil - Recording session

For the past couple of months I've been working on a show called Lionboy with Complicité and we're coming to the end of our run at the Tricycle Theatre. The show had a live percussionist on stage, so this week I've decided to record Steve's (our percussionists) Gil.

The Gil is an African 'tuned' percussion instrument that steve plays in the show for a few of our 'African' scenes. It's not the most common instrument I've ever come across!

The notes are pentatonic and so, as Steve usually suggests, you can play almost any notes and they will likely fit together! Steves instrument was made by his teacher in Africa and has gaudes underneath that amplify the sound. It has a bit of a weird unique buzzing sound on some of the notes and watching people play them on YouTube it's really meant to be part of the overall sound of the Gil. To create the buzzing sound there is a spider egg membrane covering holes in the gaudes which vibrate, strange but true!

So having decided to record the Gil properly Ive also thought it would be interesting to learn how to make a kontakt instrument using those recordings, so have taken a bunch of different takes at differing dynamics and will have a go soon. I managed to find a few hours without anyone else in the theatre and got recording. Wanted to get some use out of my sound devices 702 and a pretty neat pair of DPA 4011's which we use in the show.

Here's a dry clip of me messing around on the Gil, i'm no percusionist so forgive me!


Now on to editing the single hits and trying to make a virtual instrument from it!

Music world of October

Each month I setup a new playlist on spotify full of bits of music I've never listened to before, I thought i'd share a few that stood out over the month and some more recent finds. I'm really interested in some of the Orchestral/Electronica crossovers going on and becoming more aware of it, so these are aimed in that direction.

Koan Sound & Asa - Mix of Small orchestral arrangments with electronic beat taking focus.

 

Phoria - Chilled out acoustic version of this track - original version here

 

New album from A Winged Victory for the Sullen

 

Clint mansell came to The Barbican earlier this month and I'd never heard this before and loved it


Enjoy!

15781_720405961363045_2789815729140584164_n
15781_720405961363045_2789815729140584164_n

War Correspondents 2014

During April of this year, I worked with Helen Chadwick and Steven Hoggett on a project Helen has composed called 'War Correspondents'. A sung theatre piece about the lives and experiences of War Correspondents over recent years. The lyrics of the sung music were taken from interviews with War Correspondents talking about situations of conflict they had covered and their thoughts on 'War Journalism'. From a sound perspective there is a lot of interesting material to play with from the original interviews as well as finding the best way to integrate the voices of the interviews into the music and between songs. We also worked with Sound effects with specific pitches hidden as an extra layer so the singers could catch a pitch to work with for the next song they are heading into.

Movement is such a big part of the show alongside the music that I decided to bring a Leap Motion device into rehearsals to play with. Using the LEAP with a piece of software called GECO, it allows the user to manipulate effects and trigger cues using the movement of your hands, In our case pushing downwards towards the device triggers a filter effect which is dialed up and down depending on the height of the singers hand, when it is lower it allows a recorded musical Drone through, but when its higher we hear a helicopter and no drone, the singer has direct control over this mix during the scene and uses it as an instrument to accompany his song.

Leap Motion/GECO GUI

The show initially toured around the UK in spring this year, but will also now be playing in London in October with a few dates around the UK after that.

War Correspondents @ Birmingham Rep 2014

2014 Jan - July

So I realised its already July and most of the year has gone by without any updates here. So will be posting a bit more frequently now. To start off just a quick backlog of the year so far, starting in January! I began by Shadowing the lovely Carolyn Downing during a few of her tech processes, which was a great insight into her working process and general views on Sound Design, a lot to learn from an intelligent designer doing some very interesting Sound work.

I then went on to design a, slightly alternative, theatre piece located inside St Leonards Church in Shoreditch called SUN produced by National Art Service, It was a really friendly company to be part of. Talking technically one of the most enjoyable experiences was being able to locate sounds around this huge expanse of space whilst also (if needed) dislocating the sounds from specific places and abstracting the sounds of the exterior central London evening. Shoreditch is a very active part of the City and it doesn't let up for anything, Its not something I'll go into lightly again but it opened up a different world of using the spacial relationship with an audience.

SUN 2014

Then worked as Associate on the Almeida verison of 1984 for the very talented Mr Tom Gibbons after having worked with him on Lionboy last year. This then went onto transfer into the Playhouse in London.

 

Following this designed and operated a double bill of new work funded by Aldeburgh Music, Royal Opera House and Opera North called The Commision/Café Kafka, through which I worked with Elspeth Brooks to integrate an element of Sound Design and live sound into her composition.

 

The Commission 2014

Then went on to Sound Design a project called War Correspondents Directed by Helen Chadwick and Stephen Hoggett which then went on to tour the UK. It will be back for some London dates in October followed by some more touring and I'll talk more about in a separate post.

Brothers Stag doo...

Brothers Wedding!

I then worked with Mr Gareth Fry once more on a design for 59 Production's projection map of the Sydney Opera House.

For June I've been in Aix en Provence with The Magic Flute once again as Gareth Fry's Associate, helping to fit the design into their fairly unique venue and transferring all the changes we had made back into a German version of the show after re-making it in English at the Colloseum for the ENO last year.

The Magic Flute Aix en Provence 2014

July so far, I've been in Salzburg (Hallein to be exact) Sound Engineering and Operating a new production for the Salzburg Festival. A Katie Mitchell/ Leo Warner piece Sound designed by Gareth Fry and Melanie Wilson called The Forbidden Zone.

 

 

The Noise - Digital Playscript Phase 1

The Noise (Unlimited Theatre), a show I co-sound designed last year has been turned into a digital playscript. We took a few days to go through the Sound Design for the show and added cues into the text - which hopefully represent what would have been heard in the theatre to a certain degree - alongside a whole array of awesome features that make the script a much better representation of the show than a paper version. Making a more engaging and easy to follow script to take away from the show! Pop some headphones in and check it out here! http://uneditions.com/

The Noise Digital Playscript

SFX Amsterdam - Santa's Boats!

Having recently took the exciting plunge into some new mics to start building my SFX Library with, I decided I'd start going through some randomly gathered un-edited Zoom content and edit them up to share! Been as its almost Christmas, as a starting point a quick recording from last year In Amsterdam, as Santa Claus arrived... 'Sinterklaas Arrives The Dutch version of Santa Claus (or St Nicholas) makes his annual arrival in Amsterdam on Sunday 18th November. His boat will sail along the Amstel river before arriving at the Maritime museum at midday. He then jumps on his white horse surrounded by his helpers the Zwarte Pieten ("Black Petes") and heads to Dam Square and Leidseplein.'

This annual occasion, brings out the masses into the streets of Amsterdam to witness the parades coursing through the the City.

This mass of boats came past the window of my apartment, so took the chance to grab some quick Zoom H4 recordings of the general happenings below and luckily picked up some big foghorn sounds. Some pretty high pitched harsh horns to start with and some deeper breathy horns after.

More coming soon!

IMG_3392
IMG_3392

Autumn/Winter 2013

Since the last post about the Magic Flute in London, it has opened and closed its doors to the public. It seems about time for an Autumn/Winter update having neglected blogging for a while. First was a brief trip back to Newcastle and the Theatre Royal for a re-mount of the RSC's, David Farr, version of Hamlet, Working with the amazing Claire and Jon from Stratford. Moving the sound for the show from a Thrust design to an end on design was a good challenge, but great to have a good set of proscenium speaker positions to replicate some of the design and luckily the majority of onstage speakers were able to stay in similar positions, so we could still bring sounds down to be part of the onstage action, but bring some of the music to the front to push some energy into the audience.

IMG_4024

This was followed by The Magic Flute at the ENO which was great to bring a show back with a totally different crew and venue to last year and also interesting to see what a UK audience made of it. The space was quite different, but one of the more successful features of the design ended up being the blending of the re-enforced dialogue with the acoustic sung pieces.

IMG_4045

The Noise also returned for a brief visit to Leeds' West Yorkshire playhouse and to the Warwick Arts Centre. Had a great in house rig in Warwick's studio space and a much better position for a set of Vocal Speakers, used (as the name suggests) for radio mics on the cast, brilliant to hear the show in a more intimate space and layout, it really helped us to mix the sound/music content with the dialogue.

(Yes I'm now addicted to Panoramic iPhone shots, even in the studios!)

Noise Warwick arts

Foley booth - ENO Magic Flute

The Magic Flute is now rehearsing ready for the autumn showing at the English National Opera's Colliseum in London. This (Mcburney's) version of the opera first played in Amsterdam last year and is currently transferring to the uk whilst also being translated into English.

This time around we have a slightly smaller foley booth with the extremely talented Ruth Sullivan as our lead Foley Artist, who is also stepping into her acting shoes too. 

This is our new foley booth (below) which is still being finnesed, eventually to be equipped with 4 shelves, a small table and various hooks for all sorts of foley items, along with its own light. A mic for the table and a second for footsteps. It's exciting to hear the foley begining to be put into place again, and it will be great to get into the collesium and get the sound design sitting inside the piece.

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The Noise @ Northern Stage

noise_blockThis week I've been teching Unlimited Theatre's The Noise in Newcastle's Northern Stage (Stage 2). The story is a "sci-conspiracy thriller", and on the island of Whitley the most notable feature is the constant 'Noise' being emitted by the island. Working as Co-Sound Designer with Gareth Fry, we've been playing with different types of Noise and how much of it we can push the scenes by using different styles of 'Noise'. There is real anger in the characters of Whitley caused by these relentless and ever changing  sounds they can't get away from and it's been really interesting in finding how to achieve this whilst still allowing the clarity of the story to come from the actors. There is also composition by David Edwards (AKA Minotaur Shock) which has been a pleasure to work into the show and if you get a chance check him out! IMG_3942

The Noise opened here in Newcastle on Friday 4th Oct and runs until 12th October. It then tours to Warwick Arts Centre and West Yorkshire Playhouse in November.

I thought I'd share a few interesting bits of research I came across, whilst looking into science related sound inventions, firstly the ishin-den-shin  http://www.ivanpoupyrev.com/projects/ishindenshin.php

Secondly the Hypersonic sound speaker invented by Woody Norris . hard to show the workings of online,  but pretty cool nonetheless! http://www.ted.com/talks/woody_norris_invents_amazing_things.html

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF9G9M0cR0E&w=560&h=315]

Farragut North

This week Farragut North at the Southwark Playhouse starts it's 3 week run. I've been working alongside a very talented Composer, JudeObermuller and we've been putting his score into the Southwark's, new, Large Space. Although in a fairly difficult 'thrust' setup we had some fun playing with layers of his music and locating it in different spots around the room, hoping to add another dimension to it.

Farragut North: Southwark Playhouse
Farragut North: Southwark Playhouse

Farragut North will be playing at the Southwark Playhouse's Large Space until 5th October


Space Junk: Lyric Young Company

This week I've been at the Lyric hammersmith, working with the young company to devise a new play entitled Space Junk. Reading A book by Andrew Smith Called Moondust and getting into the stories of the moonlanders and astronauts that were involved in the Apollo missions. The book takes the viewpoint of the author/journalist meeting the remaining men that traveled with the Apollo missions. It's pretty remarkable some of the stories that these men can tell, their intellect and technical knowledge mixed in with there lives after the landings is extraordinary.

The devising process has been a really well structured and creative one, working within key rules and focusing on certain influences. It's been a really open and exciting room to be in!

Space Junk will be playing from Thursday 29th - sat 31st in the Lyric Hammersmith Studio

SpaceJunkweb