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sound design

I worked on this a couple of months ago – I am a bit behind on keeping things up to date due to various significant personal things going on (getting married being one of them woop woop!) so just putting it up:

Derek Best of Nickelodeon fame asked me to produce a bit of music and sound design for a Nick Toons advert – we tried a couple of different options but the vibes of my dubstep versions were a bit too heavy so Derek found this lovely bit of Ballet by Delibes (Coppelia) and instructed me to mash it up a bit.

I started by chopping up the track into individual notes in my sampler, then constrained it to tempo, chopped it up more, programmed a load of drums, did a tempo ramp for the finale, added more drums, and boom: classical music for the kids with a bunch of childishly wonderful farts, burps, zaps and swooshes added for good measure.  Enjoy!

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I have just got a couple of new mics, a pair of hydrophones so I can do some underwater tests I have planned, and a really cool induction coil pickup – it basically amplifies electromagnetic activity, really simple and sounds awesome, if you like that kinda thing.  Anyway here’s a quick vid off my phone of my first test running the little feller over the rack in the studio I was working in today – the constant interference is my Tascam dr40 chirping away, I reckon if I use a better adaptor and a decent preamp I can cut that stuff out… anyway in this context it sounds kinda nice:

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Earlier in the week I was doing a test for something and was using the incredible Neumann KU-100 binaural head… bit of a pain to wield the thing around and so I made these, the most stylish specs you ever darn seen eh… it’s a pair of DPA 4060s stuck with Rycote Undercovers – missing the ear canal aspect but gives a really nice 3D depth to the recording – demos to come at some point when I get time to do something interesting with them:

binaural specs

‘Evolution on the Outside, Revolution on the Inside’

Well I am sure that is the case… anyway I was asked by BBH / Rogue Films to record this car, going at 205mph on a rolling road somewhere near Manchester in a freezing garage.  I went on to mix the multitrack iso recordings and add some sound design and this is the finished result:

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I recorded the car with 6 different mics to capture different flavours of the engine: a dpa 4061 close to each exhaust on the chassis, a contact mic on the gearbox, an EV re20 under the floor (good for bass), and a mid-side pair of schoeps about 2/3 metres back from the car (far enough to avoid the heat) on a mic stand.  Everything had a -20db attenuator inline between the mic and the Sound Devices recorder.

Here’s Minnie my dog checking the kit list the day before:

minnieThanks to Minnie the shoot was a success other than cutting my hand on the chassis and one of my mics getting frazzled.

I worked on the sound design from my studio in Tooting, adding some details and using various plugins including Aphex Aural Exciter and Sountoys Decapitator to give the engine as much punch as possible.  I went to finish the online and tv mixes at the lovely Pure Soho and took stems to James Saunders at Jungle for the cinema mix, he’s got one of the nicest rooms in town and one of the best pairs of ears too, have a look at them here:

saundersMuch appreciation to producer Richard Adkins, creatives Olly Courtney & Tom Evans at BBH for getting me involved.  The film was directed by Mark Jenkinson from Rogue Films – look out for the tv cut and the cinema versions coming to a screen near you soon…

My talented friend Adam Jeffcoat (of Studio NX) is involved in an exciting project, a fully animated comic book for ios and android tablets.  It’s a smart idea, and what they have created already is pretty awesome.

I did some sound design for the trailer, creating some demon wind, beast noises, power sword blasts, etc etc, and it’s got the booming tones of Lewis McLeod on it to boot, recorded in the boiling heat of my old studio in Marylebone last summer.

Check it out and see if you can pledge any hard cash to help them finish the project, I reckon they are going to make something pretty special:

niko_sword

I wrote some music and did the sound design and mix for a couple of films for Nick Junior recently, and having just filled up a skiff with modular synth stuff I tried to jam as much analogue synth noise into the music as possible.  Here’s my synth setup for any geeks who care:

modularAnyone who knows me personally knows I have a bit of a synth addiction… some like their cars, well… synths are much better and they don’t depreciate.

I should cut to the chase, this film is written and directed by the most awesome Kim Majkut and Akin Akinsiku at Nickelodeon UK, and the lovely animation is by Pierre+Bertrand from Not To Scale.  It’s a beauty so have a look:

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I have just finished up some trailers for this new BBC wildlife series coming out in January, I can’t lie it was f’ing good fun working on them.

They were directed by Claire Norowzian from Red Bee, and edited by Thomas Ioannou.

I always think of the BBC wildlife series as having really great sound design, hyper real stuff as if the sound recordist has a mic right in the subjects’ faces… in these trailers there was quite a bit of work left to do, so I picked through shot by shot and added details where I thought it would help that sort of macro look on things.  I spent a fair bit of time pitching elements of the sound to the track to try and stick it all together… you probably wouldn’t notice most of it but stuff like the pitched cicadas on the flower timelapse and the whale pitched up to match the vocal in the track as we go from the sea to the waterfalls kind of help stick it all together.

I also did a bit of filtering/effecting of the track to make it fit into the scenes – for instance filtered under the water, then a bit of uplifting washy stuff as we come out and over the waterfall.  Btw the track is ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ by Roberta Flack… it’s a beauty.  Have a look at the teaser here and look out for the other trailers on the telly innit:

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I spent some time this summer working on a film for Brother Printers with Chris Cairns, Neil Mendoza, Marek Bereza to name a few, and at last it is out!

Firstly, all the sound in the film is real, nothing is faked, re-pitched or re-timed in post production.  Ok there are a couple of fake bits, one being the deep pulsing hum at the very beginning, and the other being the paper feeding up in the breakdown shot.  It’s not the usual focused, foleyed and tweaked sound that I get involved in, in fact it’s completely the opposite to my normal processes – everything was captured at source and only re-balanced in the final mix.  The point of the film was to make a big clanging whirring mess to juxtapose the lovely Brother feller on the end – that’s what I’m saying anyway…

A quick blurb:

Neil, Marek and their soldering army took apart various machines and hooked up whatever motors and mechanisms they could to some custom circuit boards (based on arduinos).  The boards were set to receive midi (control data) which I was outputting from my laptop using Logic Pro.  I composed / arranged a version of Bob Dylan’s classic tune ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ by mapping out the various machines as an orchestra of sorts.  In the early stages of production I used the first test machines that were wired up to approximate what the final arrangement would sound like.  As I wrote the arrangement, I recorded the machines in separate passes, one by one, so that I could balance them against each other more musically.

The only day of the schedule I couldn’t work on due to other commitments, was the shoot day.  I left the set at 3 in the morning the day of the shoot, drove Chris, Marek and Neil to the local Holiday Inn near the set and waved goodbye hoping that on the day all would come good.  I was gutted not to have been able to be there on the shoot day but I had my good friend Tom Belton on hand to cover me – he is a Logic ninja so I knew it was all in safe hands.  On set my laptop was sequencing all the machines live from Logic Pro, the midi split out to each group from a Motu Midi Express 128.  Have a look at the midi sequence here:

So after the edit, I re-compiled all the recordings I had made pre-shoot in testing and from the shoot day, and did a final mix in Pro Tools at Factory Studios.  A lot of lessons learned, some late nights and some headaches but it was well worth it – thanks so much to Chris and co. for getting me involved, have a look at the final film: