Destination Unknown

Not that you could tell by the frequency of my blog posts, but a lot has been going on. For one, I've moved out of my house so I can sell it. That means no mix theater, no home studio, no reference audio system for a while. I miss it.

I hope to be back up and running in a new house within a few weeks. I don't know yet where I'll be buying because I don't know yet how much money I'll have. Fun times.

But I do have my basic audio editing system up and running here at Temporary HQ in Oakland, and have been involved in a couple of very interesting sound design projects. Unfortunately they're both secret, so I can't tell you about them — yet.

But I can tell you about a fun project I just (finally) finished, namely the edit and mix of the latest Earbud Theater episode, On The Line from Writer/Director/Actor Jared Rivet:

Something has gone rotten with Dawn and Rachel’s friendship.  Sure people change and everyone has secrets – but this time it’s different. On this particular night Dawn seeks Rachel’s company to finally have it out when a seemingly innocent mistake hurtles the two down a highway of terror.  From the demented mind of Jared Rivet, On The Line is a tale that is at once insidious and a high-octane thrill ride.

Turn down the lights, crank up the volume, and enjoy.

Outstanding in my Field

Or, out standing in yours.

I remember when the classic Nagra represented the pinnacle of portable field audio recording. It harkens back to Apocalypse Now, when Mark Berger ducked out of the way of a rocket but kept the mic held high, yielding that sound effect that makes you jump after drifting peacefully down the river for a while. It's Ben Burtt out there recording effects for Star Wars. And it's Randy Thom trying to trip me up in the old Sprocket Systems lobby by having me read a newspaper into his Nagra while monitoring the play head in the headphones. Most people are befuddled by hearing their own voice about a quarter second late, but I was a lonely kid who taught himself how to speak in a normal tone of voice even when wearing cans.

But I digress.

The Nagra, and Ben pounding on guy wires.

The Nagra, and Ben pounding on guy wires.


I now have field recording capability thanks to a new Zoom H6. No, it doesn't make me Ben Burtt, but I can record up to 6 channels at once onto a much smaller device – one that comes with its own stereo microphones. And I can do it to high bitrate, high resolution WAV files.

This promotional video from Zoom gives a pretty good idea what it can do.

Now when I help you tell your story, I can make it much easier for your story to be heard, no matter in whose field you stand while telling it.

In the Mix

Today I finished the project of making my facility reconfigurable from recording/editing to mixing/mastering. This is sort of the Millenium Falcon of mix studios: It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts.

When it's time to get serious about the sound, hand it over to the Sashas.

When it's time to get serious about the sound, hand it over to the Sashas.

My studio monitors and headphones are adequate for many tasks, even finishing up an audiobook. But when mixing and mastering music, movie soundtracks,  or a radio drama it helps to have the right speakers. The Wilson Audio Sashas (mine are Series 1 – you can read about the new Series 2 here) are musical, revealing, and analytical. While they're good for just kicking back and listening (or rocking a movie) critical listening is what they were designed for.

Granted, it doesn't look remotely like Skywalker Sound. But with my "MacGyver" setup I can reconfigure from production to mixing in about 20 minutes, and it was way cheaper than getting a second Mac Pro. Fortunately the Mac Pro is quiet enough to be right in the room, so I didn't have to get fancy with the cabling.

Now I don't have to jog down the hall to listen to the mix and take notes. Creative decisions on level, placement, EQ, reverb – everything – can be made right here.