Monday, January 30, 2012

Time to Think Outside the Box

If anyone can do it, so can you! At least that's what my grandpappy told me, and I take it as sage advice, all is possible. A lot of elements go into a successful Kickstarter campaign. Spanish Prisoners combine a unique request, funding the purchase of a low-budget tour van, with unique offerings, songs recorded in the van along with other goodies from their upcoming trip to SXSW. Original article in full.

Music Industry Internship!

In the industry of music, whether we are talking: record labels, studios, publishers, licensing houses, etc, you need to pay your dues the old fashion way, work! When I say work, I mean getting dirty with it by running errands without complaint, helping around the office diligently, able to be seen and not heard yet helpful, among other things that are hard to swallow. I did 2 internships while finishing my degree at Bloomfield College, one at a production studio and another with a post-production house in mid-town(5 days a week). I did these while going to school with a minimum of 4 classes and a part-time job and I was already in my 30s, which is a disadvantage all by itself. Despite all of this I was humble, attentive, and always carried enthusiasm with me which help pay off in the end. The music industry is very small and there is always a strong possibility that you will run into someone you've worked with previously at some point in time.
With all that said I suggest you go after all internship possibilities with the same zeal you would a paying job. Conduct yourself in a way that is appropriate, helpful and humble to say the least, and take this opportunity to network at your internship in a way that won't damage you relationship with the business or the staff.
There is an opening with a record label in New York City for a music intern, click here to find out more. As with jobs I would apply promptly, since there are thousands of other students with the same goal in mind.
good luck

Job Posting: Asst Mastering Engineer

Its rare for us, as audio professionals, to find a decent position opening up in our field. Usually these positions are held for years until someone passes or moves on and then it's usually about who you know. This position is with which is located in downtown Newark and an affiliate. For all the seniors in the program and juniors as well, I suggest you apply for this position with graduation right around the corner. To apply click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"WAR HORSE" Sound Design Article in NY Times

I Found this story on the sound design of "War Horse" to be particularly interesting

JANUARY 3, 2012, 2:05 PM

‘War Horse’ Sound Tricks: Otters Stand in for Horses and Other Trade Secrets

Box office-wise, the surprise winner of the holiday season was “War Horse,” Steven Spielberg’s military epic. With an absence of recognizable stars -– save perhaps, for the horse -– the film’s appeal is in the very filmmaking:Mr. Spielberg’s own style, of course, and that of frequent collaborators like the Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and the sound designer Gary Rydstrom, who has won Oscars for “Saving Private Ryan,” “Titanic,” “Jurassic Park” and more.

In his long career Mr. Rydstrom has worked on “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Terminator 2” and “Spaceballs.” But he had never done a World War I movie, and, sonically, the prospect excited him.

“World War I has a specific sound to it,” he said. “I thought the tanks and the guns should sound more primitive, unrefined. In World War II, the guns weren’t as clattery, the artillery didn’t make as much of a whistle when they came in, the tanks probably had more oil in them. The movie is about the historical clash when the old ways of war met the new ways -– cavalry vs. machine guns.”

Skywalker SoundThe sound crew actually plowed land (Skywalker Ranch, in this case) for the farming scenes in “War Horse.”

He did research but, he said, “there aren’t too many people around who remember what World War I sounded like.” For Mr. Rydstrom this proved extra-delectable because he got to make it up. “You are always going to hear a lot more than you’re going to see if you’re in the middle of the battle, and when I talk to people who have been in the middle of battle, a lot of their memories were about the sounds of war,” he told the Bagger in a recent phone interview from his office at Skywalker Studios in California. “For this movie, I tried to imagine what the iconic sounds of war would be, from the horse’s point of view or soldier’s point of view.”

Among the instruments he used to recreate these sounds: swarms of bees, ice skates, copper bowls, gallon water bottles and a vacuum cleaner.

“What I usually do, out of laziness, is I do a lot of my recording around my house,” he said. “The golden rule of sound design is, it doesn’t matter what a sound really it is, it matters how it works in the movie, how it makes you feel. It doesn’t matter that it’s a vacuum cleaner.”

Of course, there are moments of realism. The sound for a pivotal early scene in the movie involved actually plowing Skywalker Ranch (it sits on 5,000 acres in Marin County), using a borrowed old-fashioned plow and two plowhorses. “The moment of success, the plow dipping on the dirt, there’s now this smooth yet heavy and extremely satisfying sound, that was a wonderful day that we spent recording plowing on every possibly angle,” Mr. Rydstrom said. But they also needed the sound of a plow stalling. So they pulled it themselves.

“I just want to point out how dedicated the sound crew was,” Mr. Rydstrom said.

Here, a glossary of other effects in the distinctive soundscape in “War Horse.”

Bullet whizzing by: The “bullet-by” is what sound guys call it, Mr. Rydstrom said, and for that effect he went Winter Olympics: “If you do quick turns in ice skating or skiing, you get that ripping sound,” he said. “We extract those and maybe do a little Doppler effect on them.”

Bullet-by of artillery missiles: “We used a string bow across a copper bowl to make these weird metallic sounds,” Mr. Rydstrom said. “I was in a weird artillery missile frame of mind. There is a classic artillery whistle that we did put in, but Spielberg is such a connoisseur of classic movie sound, there’s a classic artillery whistle that he remembered from ‘Paths of Glory’ that we had to emulate.”

Horse stampede in a cavalry scene: “There’s such a rumble on a mass of cavalry, it’s hard to record literally that. The first thing you do is record things like horses on racetracks. We’d put recorders on jockeys – there’s a local racetrack here in the East Bay that’s sort of horses with carts. You could go in the pace car or something, you could get a real straight-on recording of a group of horses galloping. We also recorded cattle being moved. For the really low end, we can use deep, almost rumbly explosive stuff – I’ve had a sound for years of glaciers breaking apart. It was useful as horses galloping and as a distant artillery sound.”

Incoming shell: “That’s one of the scariest sounds in war to me, knowing that a shell is coming in to explode near you. I recorded my vacuum cleaner. I was vacuuming my stairs and if you vacuum in the crack of the stairs in the carpet, it makes this crazy whoosh. This happens to sound people all time, you’re doing something mundane one day and you hear this great sound. My wife has long thought I’m crazy; she probably had to be quiet for a few hours while I recorded a vacuum cleaner. The cracks of my stairs are so clean now.”

The star horses, Joey and Topthorn: “Our first instinct as a sound man is, if I just take a walrus and an otter, and speed them up, it’ll make a great Joey vocal! Spielberg tried to warn against that. He wanted the horses to sound like horses. We recorded many, many horses to find the voice for Joey. My favorite was miniature horses. They sound different, they have a different emotional range – they’re a little closer to dogs. We have to make a library of different horse vocals and start categorizing them into different emotions. We had to record horses in veterinary hospitals that were sick or coming out of anesthesia. My wife has a horse, her horse makes this weird teeth grind, we used it all through the movie. I use it as a tender friendly sound between Joey and Albert,” the boy played by Jeremy Irvine.

The sound editor Teresa Eckton specializes in creature vocals, Mr. Rydstrom continued. “She cut Chewbacca. She and I would look at a scene and we would talk about it as if working with an actor or working with an animator. So we would talk about what was going on in the horse’s mind. It’s like ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’ – what is the horse’s goal? You need action verbs to describe what the horse is going through. It was good to decide separately Joey and Topthorn, where their minds were at. We started to build piece by piece, breath by breath, to make a horse vocal come alive. It was the most intricate and difficult thing to do, to make the horses believable and have character.”

Tanks: “I have the old-fashioned push mower with no engine. I’m mowing the lawn and I hear this clattery thing – you slow that down and record it really close, it’s perfect for a tank.”

Trenches: “Trenches for World War I are key. I tried to find the claustrophobic sound of being in a trench. If you take one of those big water bottles and you blow over the top of it, and you loop it and you slow it down, it makes this steady howl. So we used that. Again, the sounds of your household can be immensely satisfying.”

For those wondering how Mr. Rydstrom got his start, he said he went to film school: “The fundamental irony of my career is that I got interested in film because I loved silent film.”