Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays!

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Hello there skywalkers. Again, I apologize for the long absence of new posts, more on that in a bit.

My last post was a very well received tour of Skywalker Ranch. Recently, professional photographer and filmmaker Philip Bloom did an awesome video of the ranch. It’s not much of a tour as it is more of a beautiful display of breathtaking imagery in superb quality.

You can read all about it’s making and Philip’s visit to the ranch over here.


And as a sounding present for our readership I bring you “Alma”, an excellent animated short by Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas.
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Sound services provided by Skywalker Sound. With sound design by Tom Myers (my personal favorite) and David Hughes.

By the way, “alma” is not only the girl’s name but also a spanish word that means “soul”.

Finally, I wanted to talk a bit about the blog. Since I’m clearly not getting any extra spare time, I would like to see if any of our readers would like to jump in and help me keep this blog updated. You wouldn’t have to search for information or material, as for the most part I have accumulated information for a year worth of blogging. As for news, they also come my way. So, basically I would need someone who would like to write and put a blog post together. The only requirements would be an interest in Skywalker Sound affairs and a minimum knowledge of professional audio, since some blog posts might require a little bit of tech-talk. For anyone interested, be so kind to contact me.

Oh, I almost forgot. Be sure to check out James Cameron’s Avatar (as if you needed to be told), which also features Skywalker Sound’ services and Chris Boyes sound design.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Skywalker Ranch Tour (#1)

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Hello there. So, yesterday I was watching Fanboys (which was mixed at Skywalker Sound. Sound design by David Acord and Matthew Wood as supervising sound editor. Very neat movie indeed.) and I thought I should really blog about Skywalker Ranch.

Skywalker Ranch is the filmmaking paradise created by George Lucas. Contrary to popular belief Mr.Lucas doesn’t live in the Ranch (altough he probably stays there on occasion, he owns it after all). It is located in Marin County, near Nicassio, California.

View Larger Map
Naturally, the ranch is not open to the public and there are no paid tours or things like that.
Here is what it looks like to enter the ranch at night. The video is from the Haxan Films crew (creators of Blair Witch Project) who went to mix their latest film Seventh Moon. This actually looks a bit scary and BlairWitchProject-esque:


And now some pictures! The entrance to the ranch:
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A map of the whole ranch:ranchmap
The view from the Main House:180642004_ea750267ba_b
Skywalker Ranch’s own fire truck:182978417_c3798dc32e_b
The Main House in the distance:20026
The Main House:20038
Ewok Lake:
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Somewhere in the ranch:20092
The Technical Building, house of Skywalker Sound:2298821428_ecd515cb6a
The Produce:2422635286_11c9e093e7_b
Skywalker animals:257908149_764a71b732_b
A panoramic view of the Ewok Lake and it’s surroundings:

And that’s all for today I’m afraid. I have tons of more pictures that I’m going to be sharing in the coming weeks.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Indy is Back!

Since there isn’t many news lately (and I was getting bored of only posting news anyway) I decided to take a look at some previous films.
Today it is Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, the latest installment on the Indy series.

Ben Burtt, who did sound design for all the previous movies, tells about the process he followed to revisit that world of Indiana Jones once again.

Enjoy it!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Randy Thom’s Latest Adventures

Hello there. Again, sorry for the lack of updates. Let’s jump right into it.

Here is the featurette on Randy Thom’s sound design work for Ice Age 3:


Also, earlier this August, Randy was a keynote speaker at this year’s SIGGRAPH.
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His speech entitled “Designing a Movie for Sound” dealed mostly about taking into account sound as part of a production of a film and not only as part of the postproduction. You can read more about it here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sound That Takes You UP

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Hi there!
If you love Skywalker Sound then you possibly also love Pixar, or if you love Pixar then you should know that they are smart people sound-wise.
Today is the opening day for UP, Pixar’s tenth movie. I certainly and absolutely love Pixar and most of their movies, the last two (Ratatouille and Wall-E) had set the bar really high (in terms of making a blast at the box office and having an incredibly wide acceptance among critics) and UP seems to be no exception to that line of awesomeness.

The first thing of the day is the UP soundtrack, which was composed by the great Michael Giacchino.
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The music wasn’t recorded at Skywalker Sound, but the curious thing is that this (digital only) album comes with three tracks of nothing but sound design (no music and no voices), which is a great opportunity to take close listen to some of the wonders Skywalker guys did. The downside to it is that you can’t buy these tracks separately, you have to buy the whole album to get them.

Last but not least, I bring you this terrific sound featurette on UP, in which you get to see Michael Semanick and Tom Myers (Tom is one of my favorite sound designers) among others…

So what are you waiting for? go see UP!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Star Wars: Soundboards

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Hello there audiophiles!
I’m so sorry that I left this blog somewhat abandoned, life always manages to get in the way. But I decided to administer all the info and news in order to have more posts and less waiting time.

So let’s see, a few days ago the official Star Wars website released a very very interesting sound related feature.
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The Star Wars Soundboards. It’s an interactive interface in which you are provided with a lot of individual original sounds (without background music or ambience!) from the trilogy, to mix them as you want in a two channels mixer. In fact, I don’t really understand what’s the fun of doing that, because there is no music or other elements to play with. You have lots of voice snippets from all the main good characters (Luke, Han, Leia), R2-D2, Chewbacca, even the Tie Fighters and X-Wings, which is all awesome. But I don’t get what fun you can get playing with those sounds with the tools they provide you with. But I guess I don’t have to tell how much more fun you can have if you download/record those individual sounds into your personal library. I’m sure they are not in HD quality, but they sound pretty good anyway, and I bet most of the sounds (the voices mainly) haven’t been available before.

If you do anything interesting with them, let me know, so I can post it here. May the sound be with you!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

News and Updates

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Hello there! It would seem that Skywalker Sound wasn’t lucky on this years Oscars, but that doesn’t mean their work was anything other than awesome.

Let’s bright up things with some news.
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Today it was announced that Randy Thom will be doing a keynote speech on this year’s SIGGRAPH.
SIGGRAPH is known as one of the most important events in which advances in computer graphics technology are showcased. This year however they decided to take on a much broader direction and include sound in the picture as well.
Here is a video of what to expect for the 2009 event:


The conference will occur 3-7 August and the exhibition from 4-6.
We will post the exact date and time of Randy’s keynote address as soon as we know.

Read the press release.
Learn more about SIGGRAPH.

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A new album recorded at the wonderful Scoring Stage was relesed on January 27. Zuill BaileyRussian Masterpieces for Cello and Orchestra. With compositions by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. It really sounds quite intimate and close. It was engineered, edited, produced and mastered by Adam Abeshouse.
Here is a sample of the album:


And Zuill Bailey talking about it:

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Another album relesed around the same time, and also recorded at Skywalker Sound is Tim Gorman’s Cowboy. Do I need to tell you it sounds very nice? No, I don’t. Listen for yourself:

And while we are at it, here is some songwriting advice from Tim himself:

And that’s all for today. See you soon with more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sound Oscar Nominations

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Today the 81st Academy Awards (Oscars) nominations were announced.
The sound categories are as follow:

Achievement in sound editing
  • The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
  • Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
  • Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
  • WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
  • Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman
Achievement in sound mixing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
  • The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
  • WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
  • Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. MontaƱo and Petr Forejt

The nominated films which had it’s sound post production services provided by Skywalker Sound are:

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Which means big congratulations are in order for Frank Eulner (Supervising sound editor on Iron Man), Christopher Boyes (Sound designer on Iron Man), Ben Burtt (Sound designer, re-recording mixer and supervising sound editor on Wall-E), Matthew Wood (Supervising sound editor on Wall-E), David Parker (Re-recording mixer on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Michael Semanick (Re-recording mixer on both Wall-E and Benjamin Button), Ren Klyce (Re-recording mixer and supervising sound editor on Benjamin Button), Mark Weingarten (Sound mixer on Benjamin Button) and Tom Myers (Re-recording mixer on Wall-E).

Also, while the film itself wasn’t post-produced at Skywalker Sound, The Dark Knight does have great mixing by two usual suspects from the Technical Building. So, congratulations as well to Lora Hirschberg (Re-recording mixer on The Dark Knight) and Gary Rizzo (Re-recording mixer on The Dark Knight).

I personally love this about the Oscars, that this sound awards are part of the main show. And if you are sound film lover as me, you get to see your sound heroes live and kicking (if they win, that is).
Let’s cross our fingers for the talented folks of (and from) Skywalker Sound which always manage to deliver great work on their films.

The Oscars will be on this February 22nd.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Randy Thom on “Sound Design”

Randy Thom is the Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound (a position that was previously held by Gary Rydstrom under the title, Director of Creative Operations). He is most famous for having won 2 Oscars and doing sound design and mixing for such films as Ratatouille, Contact, Forrest Gump, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. This year will have his sound design work on the upcoming Coraline.

He is also very eloquent when it comes to talking about his craft, which makes it always a delight to read his words.

Following is an e-mail Randy recently sent to his colleagues, which I think is very interesting.

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An Argument For Reinventing The Term "Sound Design"