Week 10 - Picked up Reaper, new Fmod+Unreal demo in the works

As I prepare to one day leave Pro Tools behind because I will never pay its subscription, I've been on a crazy Reaper learning binge. I was scared to jump in but man, I love this piece of software. I'm having fun at this point. A few gripes about it but so far things that just blow my mind how good they are:

-Opens LIGHTNING QUICK. No more cooking dinner waiting for Pro tools to fire up, regardless of how fast my computer is.
-There are no track types! A track is a track and ANYTHING can go in it. Not only that, your regions can be different formats and sample rates, on the same track, no problem. So good.
-Cheapest price ever.
-Multiple projects in tabs, like an internet browser. SO useful for juggling assets and layers.
-Near unlimited amount of plugins per track, I think? Definitely more than 30.
-Unlimited customization. I've created some weird custom actions that would never be remotely possible in Pro Tools.
-Automation is just beautiful. No more hand choosing which parameters to automate, you just flip knobs and they assign themselves on the fly. Adding curves to envelopes is quick, moving clusters around feels natural. And on and on. Makes protools feel outdated.
-Media explorer is great. Makes the protools workspace look bad. You can audition what a sound would sound like through ANY of your current tracks, plugins and all. Pitch knob, can drag a selection directly, etc.
-Option to save your session and tie it to your render, in case you ever want to come back to what a specific render looks like.

Gripes about it so far:

-No Audiosuite. My biggest one. I'm super destructive, gonna miss having it.
-Not enough info columns for files in the media explorer. I want to know the sample rate, channel count, etc of my file on the fly.

So far that's it for gripes, which isn't too bad! Still messing with it but man I wish I had switched earlier. What a cool piece of software. Highly recommend it. If you're coming from Pro Tools let me know and I'll send you my actions list which with the help of a friend, approximates Pro Tools basic hotkeys as much as possible.

On the implementation front, I've been learning FMOD from scratch with the help of Sally Kellaway's tutorials on Youtube. Hooked it up to Unreal, been implementing a bunch of sounds, and now all I have left is to design a bunch of assets and finish implementing them so I can have it see the light of day. I might focus on cooking up a sizzle reel before I finish doing that though.

Keeping super busy!



Week 9 - Busy start of the year, good things happening

This first month of 2017 suddenly decided to start throwing me all the things I've been pursuing for the last year and a half since I moved to Seattle. One moment I was stressing out that I wasn't hearing back from any of the applications I was putting out there, the next I suddenly had 5 separate opportunities present themselves in the span of a couple of weeks. A part time offer from a big company, a full time possibility with the same company for which I'm at the sound test stage of right now, a possibility for working in a cool indie studio a couple of months from now, and 2 other "pokes" I got from some contacts/friends for which the timing simply wouldn't work to even try pursuing (but still very encouraging to hear from them).

I'm also getting married on February 8th in Colombia with the woman of my dreams, so there's that too!


It's been a busy month prepping for all that and juggling the opportunities while trying to decide what's best for me. A good problem to have, for sure. I have to say, 4 out of 5 of those opportunities are directly related to networking. Or as I like to call it - making friends. It really is one of the most important aspects of trying to land a job in this industry, especially when trying to break in from the bottom. Make friends (don't be a jerk), do good work, keep your demo reel updated and make it reflect the best of your abilities, study up on your tools, and keep pushing and pushing. Things will eventually start to show themselves.

Hopefully I can grab some cool sounds from Colombia so my next blog can be less boring than this one! Until then, this is all I got! It's been a crazy busy month!


- Juan

Week 8 - Road trip to Joshua tree, first legitimate use of my field recording gear

Jane, Jasper, and I went on a road trip all the way down to Joshua Tree in Southern California. It's the first time I've gotten to really put my new Kata backpack with all the gear to the test. It worked really well!
 The backpack was able to comfortably fit my entire blimp, 8060 shotgun, Mixpre-D, Sony M10, cables, batteries, the deadcat and my ath m50 headphones. As well as my Manfrotto mic stand clipped on the side. Easy to carry and well protected.

When we got to the cabin I was sick and we had a busy day, so I only had once chance to go out at night, sick, and record anything I could bump into. Really happy with the clarity and crispiness of some of these recordings:

Some water coming down the runoff

Scraping my foot on a metal trapdoor

Scraping my foot on a big piece of wood

Scraping some tiles I found in the backyard against each other

Sliding door and matching sliding screendoor

A handful of many siberian husky, Covey, vocalizations

Dry, crunchy sticks found around the desert floor

My very own jacket's zipper!

Really wish I would've had more time to record more, while not sick, but I take what I can get!



Week 7 - Unreal Engine 4 Demo Completed!

This is the first small step out of many steps I plan to take to showcase my knowledge of game engines and middleware. I've been planning to do something like this for a while but other priorities always got in the way. After seeing a job posting at Undead Labs which required knowledge of Unreal 4, I kicked myself into overdrive and rushed to put this little piece together so I could use it in my application with them. 

It's a little rough around the edges, mostly because of the tight "deadline", but I definitely plan to clean it up a bit. It's also not the most complex of showcases, but I will start building on complexity with other demos as time moves forward. At the very least, I think, it shows a basic knowledge of utilizing UE4; on importing, managing, and implementing audio assets and using sound cues, basic use of the blueprint system, and tagging sounds to animations in matinee.

It's not meant to impress anyone with any implementation tricks, but I'm happy that at least now I have something to show, instead of nothing to show, implementation wise. My next goal would be to show my knowledge of Wwise, maybe integrating it with a game engine. One step at a time!


- Juan

Week 6 - Starcraft Sound Replacement Complete! A glimpse into the process

Finally finished this sound replacement I've been working on!

It took me a while, but I finally managed to finish this Sci-fi piece. Something to show to potential clients or employers who might be interested in seeing some Sci-fi sound design. One of my main goals with the piece was to make it really unique, by using mostly my own original recordings and synthesis, with only some supplementary library sounds.

One of my biggest timesinks was creating all of the future robot sounds from scratch. I used several separate methods for creating a huge pool of source that I could draw from. Here's a few of those methods:

  • Recordings done with my Sony M10 and my new Sennheiser 8060: A lot of the recordings I did were pretty literal, like using my mouth to create air hissing and compressed air sounds, recording my shower's suction cups for one of the robot arms peeling off from the mech, recording my door's lock mechanism, or my apartment's trash chute. But a lot of other recordings were way more abstract, that after processing sounded nothing like the originals. Examples of these were a recording of my AC's hum/vent, which I processed heavily to create some whirring and robot arm layers, my buzz magnets, which I processed heavily to turn into synthetic sound sparks peppered all throughout the piece as well as some layers for robots arms moving, or a rubber band impacting on ribbed plastic, which after processing I turned into super synthetic robot impacts.
  • Recordings done with electromagnetic induction mics: These were used to create some of the UI sounds on the monitor, and for a few layers of the rising pitched engine thrust at the end of the piece.
  • Image Line's Harmor: I processed a ton of my recordings using this guy, which has some amazing tools to create robot sounds with its resynthesis module. One of my favorite sci-fi sound design tools for sure!
  • S-layer: As a big fan of being able to import my own samples, this guy is also one of my all time favorite sci-fi sound design tools. Just importing a bunch of samples, setting up some preferred parameters and letting it cook up sounds in random mode can yield a lot of happy accidents, great for grabbing some unique layers and textures.
  • Whoosh: Similar to S-layer in that I would import some sounds, turn off the doppler tools, and mess around with the knobs to create some fresh content. Especially using the LFO and delays for that sci-fi feel.
  • WaveWarper: Not as heavily used as the others, I gave it a shot because, well, I own it and haven't ever put it to the test. Turned off the doppler parts of it, imported some samples and performed some stuff that I was able to use for layers and textures.
  • Galactic Assistant: Only used this guy once, for some basic UI scrolling sounds on the monitor at the beginning.
  • Iris: I still own the original Iris even though the hyperlink goes to Iris 2, but it's still a pretty cool tool I use every so often. Lot of samples of toy windups and ratchets were manipulated with Iris, the biggest part being at 1:05 when the spine plates fold down from top to bottom.
  • Crystallizer: Another one for the happy accidents/experimentation column. I ran a lot of my already processed layers through different crystallizer presets until I heard something kind of promising, then proceeded to automate sweeps of its knobs to create crazy sounding textures which I then cut up and peppered as sweeteners throughout the whole piece.
  • Uhbik Bundle: This whole bundle is precious for what I did in this demo. The beauty of the whole bundle is that each tool does something you already know (phasing, flanging, granular pitching) but in a completely unique way with lots of different flavor. They're super creative tools that put out different, unexpected results.

And on top of all of those tools, I used pretty much every basic trick on any sound designer's belt, such as reversing, time stretching (with every possible algorithm in Pro Tools), vari-speeding, pitching, flanging, phasing, granulating, reverb, and so on and so forth.

Put it all together with a lot of meticulous editing, putting it in the space, and careful mixing, and you get the final product!