Guten Tag, VR!

A room full of people earing headphones listening to a binaural demo

These was a lot of headphone wearing this convention!

I’m in Berlin again for the first time in 8 years which means two things:

  1. They let me out of Galaxy Studios for a bit
  2. It’s AES time!!!

This week was the 142nd AES Convention in Berlin. I was really excited to go to an AES convention for the second time and also to see some of my friends from Norway again that came down for the convention.

This convention is much smaller than the one I went to in New York City a few years ago, but there’s no shortage of talks; particularly, about ambisonics, binarual audio, multichannel audio and object based audio. Avid is showing off their new native Atmos mixing for Protools HD, which includes a heap of features and, I have to say, looks much more streamlined than the Auro 3D plugins I’ve been using back at Galaxy. I still find Atmos limiting, particularly for music and soundscapes, because it is restricted to 48kHz and is not able to have channel based audio in the top channels; however it definitely has a lot of good applications particularly for broadcast and customization. It would be great to properly work with it someday!

Sennheiser also had a lot of talks promoting their new AMBEO line, which includes an ambisonics microphone and the KU 100 binaural microphone/dummy head. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser himself delivered the Heyser lecture, which outlined the journal of audio from mono applications to the modern day.

In fact, the whole event felt very future leaning, with many talks looking at the trials and tribulations of working with audio for VR, 360 video, and new approaches and applications for binaural recording including broadcast (BBC and Radio France in particular are looking at this), enhancing descriptive video services, and improving monitoring systems for conductors. It’s started to get me thinking a lot more about when I’m done at Galaxy– I really love working with immersive audio, but the practicality is that it has to work on headphones; there aren’t many people that are able to set up a 9.1 studio in their home. I definitely can’t afford one, so if I want to listen to any of my 9.1 mixes again, I’ll need to render it on headphones!

This has all gotten me thinking a lot more about working with 360 video and VR as well. I think it’s time I dig into my computer science background and pull out those coding skills 😉

Cheers,

S.

The Belgian Detour

Scoring session for Madurodam theme park!

Scoring session for Madurodam theme park. Recording in 9.1

Sometimes, it’s tremendously funny to look back and see where we’ve ended up.

Back in October 2015, I walked into the 139th AES Convention in New York City and heard the term “immersive audio” for the first time. Now, a year and a half later, I found myself  interning at one of the beating hearts of the term: Galaxy Studios.

I’ve never been in a studio like this in my life. All the control rooms are suspended on springs, and there is 9cm thick glass in the main hall so everything is totally soundproof between the rooms. The hall itself is also near silent and has a very nice sound that can be modified with curtains. The Steinway piano it houses is one of the most beautiful sounding pianos I’ve ever heard, too. I try playing it, but I don’t think I’m doing it justice.

There are two main control rooms. The digital room, used for most of the recordings in the hall, hosts a Neve 88D. It’s definitely easy to see why a digital console is so convenient for these large scoring projects– you can store and recall all your settings easily! The analog room contains an API Vision console, which I’m already in love with. It has a great sound and despite the convenience of the digital board, I’m a sucker for patch bays and knobs. This board in particular was a prototype and apparently one of the first boards capable of mixing in 5.1! I’ve been using it to remix some of my 9.1 recordings from Norway earlier this year. There is also a really beautiful mastering room where Darcy Proper used to work, but I’m told it’s seldom used anymore which is really a pity. There’s a lot of money sitting in that room for no one to be using it!

Outside the music department is one more really amazing room– the “Aurotorium“. This room is a full sized dubbing stage equipt with the ability to playback up to 22.1! The first time I heard the Auro demo in this room I was blown away! It’s a rare thing to be able to hear content played back this way!

So far things have started out a bit slow here, but it’s still great to be in this facility for the next 3 months.

-S.

A Semester in Norway

It’s been 5 months since I posted that I was moving half-way across the world to Stavanger, Norway, to do an audio post-bacc at the University of Stavanger, so I felt that I should give a little update.

The city of Stavanger reminds me a lot of home. Like Victoria, it is a coastal city known for it’s old streets and wet weather. Sometimes, when I’m out for a jog, I forgot entirely that I’m not in British Columbia… and then my ears turn to the different sounds– the language, the soundscape– and I am reminded that that’s not the case.

Stavanger is a known for its street art with the NuArt festival taking place each fall. Wandering through the city there are playful and challenging images everywhere– and in all  sizes, from the size of your thumb to the entire side of a a building. Mixed with the traditional white wooden Norwegian houses, it creates a city vibe that doesn’t take itself too seriously– which has mostly been my impression of Norwegians in general. Nothing is so serious. Just enjoy.

The audio engineering program itself has not been entirely what I’ve expected– there is a lack of structure to the program in general. In some ways, this is creatively liberating. In others, it’s uninspiring. No one is telling you what to explore; but, no one is guiding you to be better. Because of this, it’s been difficult to fully engage with the research I’ve wanted to do and I haven’t felt as challenged as I’d like. Despite being a university program, it is almost completely devoid of the academic; however, that’s not to say I haven’t found some great opportunities while I have been here. I have worked with some extremely talented student musicians, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra (including sitting in on their CD recording session with Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwartz), and visiting performing artist Julis Smack. In addition, I have been working along with Sonovo Mastering in experimenting with 9.1 recording (I’ve linked my project report here), and also getting an insiders view of the world of mastering audio. In December, I started working with the Norsk Lydinstitutt (Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound) in digitizing some of their massive collection of audio, which is one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe.

I’ve also had the privilege of being exposed to a global group of engineers and producers– my class itself is made up of people from Iran, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, United States, Norway, Colombia, Serbia, and Mexico. Anything I’ve learned here so far has been from my classmates– whether about audio or about life– and it’s been great to collaborate with a diverse group of people. It’s also been great to get back into working with music.

We’ll have to see what 2017 has in store… but hopefully this is all leading somewhere.

S.

Stavanger Symphony Orchestra — CD Sessions

CD recording with the SSO

I’ve had a really amazing opportunity this past week to sit in with tonmeister Ulrike Schwartz and professor/engineer Jim Anderson while they record the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra’s next CD release. Being around engineers with so much experience is really amazing, plus the symphony and hall are world class. It’s a real treat.

I’ve also had the opportunity to listen the last album they recorded with the SSO in 5.1 of Brahms Symphony No 2. The surround channels really add a lot to the overall sound, especially considering how great the hall is. They did record it (and are recording this time as well) in 9.1, but a 9.1 version has yet to be released. The setup for the 9.1 is different from what I’ve seen before. We are using a traditional decca tree with surround mics, but we are only recording the height channels for the front here, and even those are not directly above the LCR. The rear channels are being recorded at the 3rd row of the symphony, above the room microphones. We only have a 5.1 playback in the control room, but I’m really curious to see how this sounds with the microphones so spread out. I suspect it will create a natural rear reverb. It would be interesting to try this and compare it with using an AB cube, such like 2L is using.

I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about the music they are recording as the CD won’t be out for a while, but it is a symphony by a Norwegian composer and much more modern than Brahms! We are using over 40 microphones in total with some very nice ones including TLM50s on the decca. Most of the spots are KM 140s and 84s which I found surprising because I expected more diversity between the choices for winds and brass, etc; however, it did make our lives much easier when we had to strike everything in the middle of the week and then reset it the next day because of another event in the hall. Also, the gear was rented and brought in, so this makes sense.

I can’t wait to hear the finished result. I’m just helping out with setup and running around as needed, but watching the interplay between the composer, engineer, tonmeister, and Pyramix operator is really interesting. Also, there are lots of gummy bears, which if you ask me, are super important for any audio work ;).

Cheers,

S.

That’s A Wrap!

Happy to say I’ve just finished up working on cutting the dialogue for Canada’s first ever season of The Bachelorette (all the way from Norway)! Produced by Good Human Productions, meet Jasmine on her quest for love and self-growth.

If you haven’t tuned in already, catch it on W Network!

S.

SoundGirls: Sound System Optimization Training

I feel like I just got to Norway, but I couldn’t pass up a opportunity to meet some fellow sound ladies an hour and twenty minute plane ride away. Women from Denmark, Norway, the UK, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and me, the stray from Canada, met up at Amager Bio in Copenhagen for two fun and informative days of Sound System Optimization Training hosted by SoundGirls.org. While most of the attendees were predominantly live sound technicians, I still found a lot of the information useful and applicable to recording work. Particularly, I wanted to learn more about Smaart and brush up on my digital signal processing skills.

Over two days, our amazing instructors Theis Romme and Rasmus Rosenberg walked us through using Smaart and the technical considerations of sound system optimization. We had lots of time to listen and get our hands dirty moving the measurement microphones around the room, adjusting the speakers, changing the EQ and SPL of the system, and seeing how our adjustments affected how we heard music tracks of different styles in different parts of the room. Ultimately, everything was (as it always is) a compromise. There is a never a perfect solution for everything, but you can get pretty close.

I learned a lot in terms of thinking and listening, in particular to phase and how it effects the spread in the room; but, the best part was spending two days with other female engineers. I have never been around so many other women that love audio in one place. We did a lot of talking shop, but also about our unique experiences in the industry. I’ve made several friends for life.

Can’t wait to do it again sometime!

S.

UPDATE: Check out the Soundgirls.org blog post here! http://www.soundgirls.org/soundgirls-sound-system-optimization-workshop-denmark/

Some exciting news!

I’m aware I’ve been a little AWOL lately, but it’s because I’ve be up to generally no goodery! thor

Firstly, I can now say I’ve been 100% off antidepressants for a month! Which is a pretty great and wonderful feeling in and of itself.

Secondly…

I’m moving to Norway in August!

I’ve been accepted into the Music Production and Recording post-bacc at the University of Stavanger! I’m so incredibly excited for this opportunity and to FINALLY get back into working with musicians and recording music after 2 years of some serious healing. I can’t wait!

More on that later. Dance time now!

S.

FSM Premieres at Whistler Film Festival!

wff2015FSMposterThe very first sound job I received when I moved to Vancouver was working on an independent film called FSM, or Female Seeking Male. The film was written and directed by Melanie Jones for the Indiecan10K Challenge, which challenges film makers to create there vision with a meager $10,000 budget.

In the continued spirit of helping artists realize their potential, the post production studio I was hanging around last December threw this film at me to see what I could do. It opened the door for me into working as a dialogue editor and working with Women in Film and Television in Vancouver. I’m very grateful to have had a hand in this project, and am very excited to announce it’s upcoming world premier at the Whistler Film Festival on December 3rd.

The film stars Vanessa Crouch as Sam, a Vancouver-based DJ who is looking for love in the age of social media. It is full of great imagery of East Vancouver and Kitsalano, and features music from ten Vancouver based indie bands and musicians. I had a lot of fun working on it, and this film will hold a special place in my heart as my first “real world” audio job. I won’t be able to make it up to Whistler to see the premier, but I’m hoping it will be playing at part of the International Women in Film Festival in March 2016.

Check out the FSM trailer here!

Ta for now,

S.

Hello New York!

For those of your that don’t know me, these last few years haven’t been easy.

I finished my degree the Summer of 2014 with good grades and great references; however, I was also dealing with the aftermaths of a severe trauma. One day I’ll write a post about those things, and that particular journey, but right now all you need to know, is that in September of last year, I left my home town and moved to Vancouver, BC. I had no job, I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I needed to heal.

I’m extremely fortunate to have found the resources I have in Vancouver. For the first time in my life, I have an amazing family doctor that I trust, have met various support and therapy groups, and have enjoyed exploring a city mostly unknown to me before. There is something incredibly comforting about being in a city where you have so much to experience for the first time. In many ways, Vancouver has brought me back to life, and to that city, I’m grateful.

Over the past year, I’ve tried to keep up my audio skills as much as possible– when I was finishing my degree, I was madly in love with acoustics, recording, DSP, and was starting to get into film sound. I knocked on a lot of doors, drank a lot of coffees, and was lucky to get some freelance dialogue editing work at The Mix Room. In addition, I’ve kept up with the local AES chapter, gone to Vancouver Post Alliance Events, and been active in Women and Film and Television Vancouver. I’ve tried to find ways to keep my skills sharp; however, it’s not enough. I want to be submerged in audio. I want to live it and breath it and learn new things every day. I want it to be my day job.

I wish I didn’t have to explain to people that my portfolio the last year has been minimal because of mental health issues. But this is my biggest hurdle. I know deep down that when something big happens, something that makes me feel like I really am part of this industry, then nothing else can ever tear me down.

Some days I feel like I’ve forgotten everything I know; but I know it’s in there. It’s like speaking a foreign language– when you submerge yourself in it, it comes back to you. Those circuits turn back on and you think differently. You start to look at things in a new light again.

So what’s a girl to do?

Last August I decided to take a leap. I found all the money I could and bought a ticket to New York City to attend the 139th Audio Engineering Society Convention. And today I arrived in New York.

It feels like it was forever in the future for so long, but now I’m here. I can see the Manhattan skyline out the hostel room I’m writing this in. And I’m brimming with new found excitement and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see first hand what’s going on in the industry as a whole, to shake the hands of professionals, and to be surrounded by a mass of people that love the things I love. I can’t wait to discover new avenues for audio, new techniques, and maybe make some important connections.

I don’t know what this week will bring, but I know I’m open minded. Who knows what can happen in the Big Apple.

S.