A Call for Help Gathering Elements

Image by Brian Smithson, used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.
Image by Brian Smithson, used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

Whoa! Has it really been OVER A YEAR since I posted something here?! That’s ridiculous! DesigningSound.org might be eating up too much of my spare time. ;)

So, here’s what’s up. I’m currently working as the sound designer and supervising editor on an indie feature. I need to gather some vocal elements for certain pieces of sound design, and our budget is limited enough that loop group is probably going to be out of the question. I’m hoping that my many friends in the sound design community around the world will be willing to help me out on this. For the main sound design piece, we (the director and I) are looking to build something to portray two ideas: a character’s self doubt and insecurities, and that same character’s confidence and goal of self-fulfillment.

Continue reading

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Posted in Experiments, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stage 1: Preamp Circuit Test


In my last post, I talked about a schematic that I cobbled together to build a contact mic preamplifier and impedance buffer. The point being to let me use cheap, home-made contact microphones (high impedance devices) with a professional mic level input (lower impedance device). Well, I finally got around to starting the prototype circuit on my breadboard. You can see what I’ve done so far in the image above.

I mentioned previously that the transistor specified in the orginal schematic, an MPF102, isn’t that easy to get a hold of…unless you want to order directly from Taiwan. I wasn’t really interested in waiting the amount of time it would take to ship from overseas (even though it took me a few weeks to actually start building the circuit), so I did some research that led me to think the NTE451 might be a reasonable subsitute. Continue reading

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High Impedance Preamp Project

schematic on a piece of scrap paper...click for larger version
schematic on a piece of scrap paper…click for larger version

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to build my own contact mic preamp and impedance buffer. The problem has been that I’m still basically an electronics neophyte. I’ve got a reasonable understanding of many of the underlying concepts…I’m not going to get completely lost if someone starts talking about “imaginary numbers” and phase interactions. I get all of that on a conceptual level, but when it comes to understanding how circuits are actually designed…? Forget it. There are some things that are finally starting to click into place, but I’m still way out of my element. Continue reading

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Work With an Editor Who Uses Final Cut 7…?

If so, then I’ve got a little tidbit that you may want to keep locked away somewhere easily accessible in your mind…particularly if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this statement, “The audio file(s) you sent me doesn’t sync up to the picture.”

This conversation usually starts with a passive aggressive attempt to blame me for the issue. While that’s certainly a possibility, I’ve found that, more often than not, it’s an issue with Final Cut. Obviously, due dilligence requires that we apply “Occam’s Razor.” From the editor’s perspective, the simplest answer is that I am at fault. Here are the conditions you have to clear before you blame it on Final Cut…and, ultimately, the editor: Continue reading

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Posted in Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Round of Thanks to Start Off 2013

2012 was a pretty good year for me, and I’m looking forward to what 2013 brings. I got pretty busy between work and taking on a more active role over at Designing Sound, and that left little time for me to do anything here. I plan to correct that issue to the best of my ability, but I thought I’d start off by thanking some of the people who made 2012 a blast.

The first person I have to thank is Christen Bach, for pulling me onto his project, “The Animation Tag Attack.” It was a crazy and fun challenge, and it’s won a slew of awards so far (one of them for sound design thank you very much)!

Damian Kastbauer continues to give me far more credit than I deserve. He’s the one who connected me with Game Developer Magazine…you know, the people who published my crazy ramblings about approaches for the use of loudness metering in video games. That and he’s always fun guy to wax conversational with.

AES was a blast, as always, but I need to thank my fellow panelists for making sure I didn’t look and sound like an idiot up in front of a hundred or so people. Kyrsten Mate, Elise Baldwin and Nathan Moody were great to hang out with and made that presentation far more successful than I could have on my own. Thanks to all of you. [Did I mention that Nathan also designed that kick-ass logo at the top of the page?]

The last round of big thanks goes to the other guys over at Designing Sound. Jack, Varun, Mike, Jake, Peter and Colin…it’s awesome working with you guys, and I can’t wait until I actually get to meet some of you in person for a change! …well, I’ve already met Colin at least. [You can find information on how to follow those gents over at DesigningSound.org]

Of course, this community we’re a part of is amazing beyond compare. It’s a beast that consumes everything in it’s path…just ask all the people who showed up to the AES drink up back in October…and the other (very sizable) group that couldn’t find us in the bar! [I still don't know how they missed us...lol] I keep meeting new and awesome people literally every week. That, probably more than anything, makes me excited for this year.

Now to get some edifying content on this site again… ;)

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Posted in Thoughts | Tagged | 1 Comment

Ideas in Sound Design: Semiotics and Language – Part 2

Cross-posting both here and on DesigningSound.org

In my last article, I talked about Semiotics and encouraged sound designers and editors to think of sound for picture as a language; or, at least, as a component of the language used by any given film. I’d rather not rehash the specific elements of Semiotics that were discussed. There are several ideas that I’m going to assume you’ve read and are familiar with as I proceed through this article. If you haven’t read that original article, I suggest you go do so now. The examples I’m about to discuss will have more meaning for you if you do.

I mentioned two possible approaches to applying signification in the development of a “sound language” for a project. The first is to work with existing signification, and the second is to develop your own; however, these do not have to be mutually exclusive. Both can contribute to your particular piece’s dialect. Remember that I am describing language as merely a “code” to convey meaning. So, meaning needs not be limited to ideas or thoughts. As such, let’s take a look at three examples of sonic code work, language, as used in moving picture. Continue reading

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Ideas in Sound Design: Semiotics and Language – Part 1

Cross-posting both here and on DesigningSound.org

Let’s start off with a disclaimer.

I am no expert in linguistics and semantics, nor would I consider myself truly conversant in the many critical models employed in film theory/criticism. Semiotics was something waved in front of my eyes a couple of times during undergrad (where I did not studio audio or film, by the way), then explored in much greater depth during a course in my graduate program. For this article, I’ll be falling back to some of the general concepts of Semiotics. They are the points that have truly stuck with me over the years, and they easily apply to many facets of media. They can help explain the significance of events in a narrative, the choice of words in dialog, or the functions of shot composition and sound design.

So, what the heck is Semiotics? To be honest, it’s a lot of thingsContinue reading

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Posted in Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

There Are Days I Love My Job…

CRT computer monitor…post sledgehammer

…and days I REALLY love my job!

Honestly, there are few other professions where you might as well be encouraged to mangle and destroy. For that matter, if you have something you’re going to throw out anyways, why discard it in one piece.

Someone left this perfectly good (though admittedly non-functioning) computer monitor out on the curb  for trash collection a while back. [It was also intact, but I'm sure you assumed that already.] Mine! Continue reading

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