Monday, December 21, 2009

3 x 5 Interview with Richie Nieto

In Fives:

What are five timbres/sounds/instruments of which you cannot get enough?

Waves crashing on a beach, a tongue drum, distant highway traffic, Andy Summers’ guitar tone on “Omegaman”, and my dachshund’s footsteps and collar jangle.

Name five resources (equipment, people, etc.) without which you could not live (figuratively speaking, of course).

In no particular order, my Mac computer, the internet, my lovely wife, caffeine and Soundminer.

If you could speak with your five-year-old self, what would be one thing about your work now that would impress him/her/you? What is something you would find very interesting he/she/you wouldn’t?

My five-year old self would be in awe of all the sounds and music coming from my computer, and that I work on video games. He wouldn’t be so impressed about the tech stuff like database apps, file formats and sample rates.

In Fours:

When beginning a new project, what would you work to complete within four hours time?

Organizing all the information regarding the project and the clients, outlining all the schedules for the following few weeks, and gathering sources of reference and inspiration.

If you could categorize your work into four food groups, what would they be and why?

Practical assets (music bridges, percussion stingers, foley, the stuff that has a more mundane function in a project), emotional assets (mostly when I pull out the symphonic samples library or design more subtle sounds and ambiences to set a mood), driving assets (I bring out the loud drums and heavy guitars, or design weapon and battle sounds to get the blood pumping) and fun & quirky assets (anything goes, really, just creating funny sounds and tunes).

What are four parameters of writing/working (e.g. timbre, rhythm, form, etc.) of which you are consistently conscious? Please explain.

Style (will the music or sound effect match the overall vision of the project), mood (will it convey the right emotion for the level or scene), sound (is it sonically up to my standards) and technical requirements (does it comply with all the tech specs from the client).

In Threes:

What are three things that consistently surprise you in working with music/audio?

The unpredictability of clients’ tastes, the unpredictability of my own ideas, and how everything seems to work out in the end.

If you had to choose between the following three free items, what would you chose and why?

A new instrument (if so, what), A 3-day recording session at the studio of your choice (if so, which studio), A performance of one of your works by a major ensemble (which work and which ensemble)

I’d choose a new instrument – namely, a fully-loaded Warr guitar, just because I have always wanted one. Besides, I already have a studio at home that I like, and a major ensemble performing my work would be nice but too fleeting. And they would probably snicker while rehearsing my stuff.

If you had a third arm to work, what would you use it to do?

Probably facepalm while I’m on the phone taking notes about music changes.

In Twos:

Finish this rhyme with a phrase that describes you: two, four, six, eight…

Sometimes I may be wrong but I’m never late.

Is it form over function or function over form? Briefly explain.

It depends on whether the goal is aesthetics or practicality. I think there is room for all kinds of creative output. Every idea has a useful byproduct, intended or not.

Who would you prefer as your No. 2 and why? Robin (of Batman), Rocky the Squirrel, Ethel Mertz, Ed McMahon, Scottie Pippen or No. 2 (from Austin Powers)?

Isn’t Bullwinkle Rocky’s sidekick? Anyway, I would prefer Number 2 from Austin Powers. He was the only smart guy in the movie – he pointed out that ONE MILLION DOLLARS was really not a lot of blackmail money to ask to not blow up the world. He could help me with bidding for projects.

In Ones:

Please describe a project on which you have always wanted to work.

I’d love to work on a great shooter, along the lines of a Gears of War, a Modern Warfare 2 or a Left 4 Dead. I’m pretty sure it will happen sooner or later. Not to be arrogant, it’s just that I’m extremely stubborn when I set my sights on something.

Please describe a project that served as a pivotal change in the development of your skill set.

Probably the straight-to-DVD film “Shallow Ground” in 2004. It had a tiny $72,000 budget but they managed to shoot it on film. I was the whole sound post department for it: dialogue editor, ADR engineer and editor, Foley performer and engineer, sound designer, and re-recording mixer. I mixed it in 5.1 surround at a Dolby–approved facility over a weekend. It was a bit overwhelming at the time, but it prepared me to be able to tackle almost anything.

If there were to be one thing in music/audio that you wish more people would try, what would that be?

Send all your clients my way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ok, Let's Go With It!

With the semester over and a few small projects winding down, I wanted to give a sneak preview of some of the audio that's been taking time away from other leisurely activities (my hardcore hiphop album, for instance).

(photo by Patti Sullivan-Howd)

In the Audio File of the A/V media box, you'll find two new additions:

1) Ok, Let's Go With It and
2) My SFX Demo

The SFX Demo reel is a collection of the sounds I've created for use in the upcoming small game projects with Team Komano. Some are library sounds since I'm not yet committed to breaking things in my apartment - something or another in the lease frowns upon glass being caught in the shag of the carpet. However, the majority are original and created using traditional sound design techniques - a combination of using the EMU PK-6 and library sounds with lots of editing (pitch shifts, EQ, layering, reverb, etc.).

Ok, Let's Go With It is, in part, my project from class. I say in apart because the total project will be six minutes while what you hear concludes just after four. We'll be editing the track next semester. Ok, caveat aside, here's the deal.

All timbres you hear were created with a Kurzweil K2000 using Unisyn, a middleware software program that bypasses hard programming on the synth. In short, it's easier than using the buttons on the hardware. A MIDI mock up was created in PTLE 7.4 and transported into Digital Performer. The majority of editing was completed in this program.

The title comes from the challenge set forth by Scott Wyatt, the director the EMS here at UIUC. Instead of dropping the class with what I felt was an overwhelming amount of work at the time, he charged me to work quickly in both decision making and execution. This was his attempt to get me to think more intuitively and relieve my concern will an emphasis on formal planning. An experiment well-received. Here is a brief outline of what to expect:

Section A 0:00 – 1:30

Single-pitch repetition is used to make salient other musical features: persistent tempo shifts, pitch bend, percussive attacks via velocity contouring; an overall sense of expansion/contraction is to be developed here and used throughout the work.

Section B1 1:30 – 2:20

Retention of pitch repetition and pitch bend but accompanied by consistent tempo, introduction of new pitch material and a “passing off” of material to other voices. More subtle velocity contouring for emphasis on pitch deviance and a greater focus on orchestration of single lines. B1 ends with sustained pitch growing out from pitch descent.

Section B2 2:20 – 3:20

Material from previous section develops through layers and expansion of the pitch space. Final gesture in B1 is a model for growth of timbrally-layered gestures. Reintroduction of tempo fluctuation will aid in focusing on ebb and flow of gestures into section C

Section C 3:20 – 4:05

Texture thins out to make way for an introductory section focused almost entirely on pitch bend with reincorporation of pitch repetition. Leads into section similar to A with more emphasis on softer attacks and subtle pitch bend.

Comments are always welcome and I'd love to know what you think. Thanks for listening!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It Are Go Good with Pizza

Planning, learning, composing, ear training, singing, listening, learning, reading, papering, penciling, orchestrating, sound designing, learning, writing, recording, editing, dubbing, editing, editing, editing, bouncing, converting, burning, sending, learning, meeting, greeting, interviewing, asking, learning, applying, denying, failing, STOP! And round it goes again…

Don’t forget; wifing, familying, friending, eating, sleeping, bathing and maybe (just maybe) time for hobbying

It’s enough to make your brain do this.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

3 x 5 Interview with Henrik Nåmark

"Things are made slowly and in pain."
/ Hugh MacLeod (gapingvoid)

In Fives:

1) In exactly five sentences, give us what you feel is important biographical information about your musical/sonic background.

My mother's been singing and playing the guitar all my life. I guess that's why I feel so comfortable when I sing and play myself. For some reason I've been selected to do the sound design in every project that needed audio. I've done voiceovers for short films and trailers and sound design for games and student movies. Like many others I started with music a long time ago but understood that since I'm not an orchestral composer I might as well do sound design too.

2) Please state, in exactly five words, your interest in music/sound.

It speaks to the heart.

3) Now please state, in exactly five syllables, how you might describe your process of work.

Slowly and in pain.

In Fours:

1) Using the rhythm of the famous four-note opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (i.e. short, short, short, looong), please tell us a fact about you that we may not know.

I climb indoooooors.

2) Who are four people that have influenced your musical tastes?

André 3000, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, Al Jarreau and Bobby Brown.

3) Name your preference: The Fab Four, The Four Tops or just good ol' Four-on-the-floor music?

The Four Tops.

In Threes:

1) Name three artists (composers, popular music, etc.) that make you feel all warm and squishy inside.

Al Jarreau, Richard Bona and Michael Jackson.

2) Name three artists that make you want to wretch.

Los Del Rio (Macarena), Dr. Bombay and Aqua.

3) Address either three of your listed artists (in either category) with one question each or three questions to one artist.

Dear Mr Jarreau, are you really that great to women or is it just a jargon?

Hey mr Bona, would you kindly tell me what the beautiful song "Eyala" is about?

Michael, did you really molest those children?

In Twos:

1) List and describe two projects on which you're currently working.

I'm currently writing my thesis about sound design. As it looks we're going to evaluate a few middleware tools from a software perspective. Unfortunately I don't have a music or sound design project at the moment so feel free to contact me :)

2) And how are they both going?

The thesis is coming along slowly but surely. The other non-existant project is what it is ;)

3) How do you feel they are challenging your current skill set?

I'm learning a lot about middleware which is improving my understanding about the tools.

In Ones:

1) Name one environmental element of the creative process that you find essential.

Other creative people.

2) What is one area in which you hope to improve your work?

Sound design.

3) What is one thing you would like people to know when listening to your work?

Don't take life too serious, it's a video game anyway :)