Blog

Category
  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday September 24 2014

    My unexpected good news this week: I've had my first guest post published (partly thanks to this great article about how to write the perfect pitch email.)

    I've always been some kind of a writer. I studied it at university, I have a couple of vaguely fleshed-out novels and equally vaguely fleshed-out hopes of being a published novelist one day, and I've been blogging since 2010-ish. I write my own website copy, I write and adapt commercial, narrative and character scripts for my voice reel clients to use and I write a personal journal. But until quite recently, the idea of marketing this skill and pitching an idea for an article to someone was something I just rejected.

    Guest posting is for "real" writers, right? And I'm just...someone who uses writing skills every day as a core part of her business, someone who enjoys writing creatively for pleasure, someone who has studied writing at an academic level, someone who has an established blog...wait, I'm starting to get the picture...

    My lightbulb moment arrived a few weeks ago and the idea for the perfect post to pitch (and who to pitch it to) arrived soon after that. I think that part of the reason that I overlooked this perfectly marketable skill, aside from confidence, is that I've been concentrating on improving my main skills in sound and voice. 

    So my question for you today is: what hidden skill do you have that's just waiting for you to shake out the creases and release? Sift the answer through your brain as you mainline this week's creative business goodness.

     

    Be practical

    Read this first (it's fun and bang on): 10 essential tips for the self employed

    25 incredibly useful websites you should bookmark (coz you're a kickass entreprenuery type)

    For quick inspiration: 15 career tips from smart woman

     

    Be productive

    How to become a morning person (it's an infographic, so it's even formatted for an early morning read by a non-morning person)

    I cannot resist a good productivity hack, and here are 15 of them!

    The real reason you're procrastinating

     

    Be passionately creative

    Are your creative batteries sputtering? Check out these 5 alternative brainstorming techniques to rev you up again

    The catching criminals approach is pretty out there: 6 unusual ways to use Pinterest

    Ray Bradbury on writing and the core of creativity

     

     Catch you next time, creative kids!

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday September 21 2014



    What's been happening with you this week? A bit of this, a bit of that, a mixed bag of pretty good and pretty meh? Yeah, me too. Don't worry, I won't make this week's Sunday Sound too taxing. Cuddle up with a hot chocolate (it's got cold again in London town) and get a load of this weeks fun stuff.

      

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    Check out the Paquette Museum's collection of vintage mics

    A glimpse into the crashing, echoey, affected post-punk world of producer Martin Hannett (Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays)

    This is a great article for anyone who works in or is interested in sound: 5 tips for learning to listen

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    The Women's Audio Mission are raising funds to get to the 137th AES Convention, the biggest gathering of audio professionals in the world. Support their cause of getting more women involved in the audio industry by donating to their campaign

    Mileece is a sonic artist who's developed the technology to make music with plants

    Great interview with Miami-based producer and engineer Marcella Araica (Pink, Madonna, Timberland) about her career progression and approach to work

      

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Do you hate Twitter? Nick Cave will join you in your hatred.

    The greatest electronic albums of the 1950s and 1960s

    Prince's recording complex is pretty much as amazing/batshit crazy/purple as you might expect 

      

     

      

    VOICE OVER

    Fans of radio drama, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett get excited! A radio play of Good Omens is in production!

    Voice acting and the myth of rejection

    Possibly controversial, definitely awesome: Dangermouse remake will recast some male characters as female

    Two common misconceptions about the voice over industry

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    Magician Penn Jillette tells us who made him the man he is today

    Billy Crystal and Jimmy Fallon trade stories about Robin Williams

    There was a guy in my class whose parents were like, really rich, and he had a Nintendo ES and he was like, the coolest guy ever

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound very soon...

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday September 10 2014

    Hello there, have you had a good week so far? Apparently it's "hump day", a phrase that always seems a bit rubbish to me, seeing as it traditionally serves as a reminder that you've made it through 2 days of struggle (your job) and only have two days of struggle (your job) to go before the joy of the weekend (no job).

    If you dislike your job so much that you need a mid-week treat/social media sympathy pat to get through a whole week, every week, maybe you should consider looking for a job where work is less of a chore and more of a combination of stuff you enjoy doing and stuff you need to do that might be slightly less enjoyable but necessary to achieve your end goals. You know, a job that could be productive, challenging and even a little...fun?

    One to think over, perhaps while you read this week's stimulating reading and viewing material.

     

    Be practical

    The expert guide to working from home

    Here are my 5 quick ways to get you going in the morning

    6 things that change when you become an entrepreneur

     

    Be productive

    Do it now, figure it out later: an open letter to all creatives

    Passive income FTW: how to sell your own products on your website

    The non-visual designer person's dream: a complete guide to creating awesome visual content

     

    Be passionately creative

    The wrong way to respond to a review (warning: the comments on the review are amazing and a total timesuck)

    For some productive downtime: 50 essays guaranteed to make you a better person

      

    Have a happy and productive week 'till next we meet!

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday September 7 2014


    Hey all! This is one of those weeks where I've had back-to-back voice reel and voice demo sessions, and I've kinda used up all my vaguely amusing nonsense for this week on my clients. It's a finite resource, who knew? (It's also 1am when I'm writing this and I'm really tired. These things may be related to the first statement). 

    So we're going to go straight to the stuff that really makes you stop by. Thanks for visiting, enjoy and please, come again.

      

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    How to record an album without artificial reverb

    Hey home studio owners, this is a good basic primer for building a soundproof wall

    I wrote about what a theatrical sound designer actually does

    The music editor for The Simpsons has written a blog about the job of a music editor and his experience working on the show. It's pretty much a must-read for anyone interested in working in audio post production.

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    I went to the final show of this year's Reverb festival curated by Imogen Heap and while there were tech issues, it was an interesting showcase for her her Mi.mu gloves and their potential to change music technology and performance. If you're not familiar with the gloves and their development, start here: How wearable tech could change performance 

    Meet "reggae's answer to Queen Latifah": 

      

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    In the "Things You Never Knew You Possibly Wanted" camp this week: the lyrical themes of Morrissey in poster form

    Here's an interesting interview with Hans Zimmer and how he approaches composition

    30 years of music industry change in 30 seconds

      

    VOICE OVER

    Revisiting the original recording of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood

    How to fix plosives in your voice over recording before (and after) they happen

     

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    Fancy your own indoor thunderstorm? (of course you do!)

    How did a book about a horse in World War One become an award winning play with puppets?: How we made War Horse

    Joan Rivers in her own words

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound very soon...

  • Sound Notes September 3 2014: What does a sound designer do, exactly?

    What does a sound designer do, exactly? (and why you should care)

    It's the question I'm asked the most, after I've told someone what I do. People often have a vague idea of what a sound engineer does ("that's like music recording or stuff for bands, right?") but having sound designer as a job description almost always has people looking at me blankly.

    Put simply, a sound designer is responsible for everything you hear when you experience a theatrical production, live show, film, TV show or game. In the world of theatre and live shows, which is where I mainly work as a sound designer, this covers everything from the mics used on singers and musicians to sound effects, to the music, to the sound system of the space itself. As for why you should care, we'll get to that in a bit. 

    The Association of Sound Designers has a great definition of the role of a sound designer:

    Essentially, the theatre sound designer is responsible for everything the audience hears.  Exactly what that entails can vary considerably, depending on the type of show, the performers in the show and the performance venue. In practice there is no single job description that encompasses everything that the sound designer does, as they will adapt what they do to the demands of a specific production. The Sound Designer has to be a master of many different disciplines and technologies, and to have exceptional teamwork and people skills.  

    So how is this different from a sound engineer, who is also responsible for sound elements of a show? There's definitely some overlap between the jobs, and sound designers have to have sound engineering skills in order to do their jobs. The key is in the words "designer" and "engineer".


    The sound designer is a big-picture person. They have to make all the individual parts of the sound picture of a production - performers, sound effects, background atmospheres, music - work together and work with the direction, lighting and design of the production. This can include designing or redesigning the sound system for a venue (which speakers go where), selecting the mics and radio mics to be used (and plotting RF frequencies to make sure there's no interference) and programming sounds into a playout system like QLab or SCS, as well as creating new sound effects, recording voice overs, selecting and editing music. 

    Sound designers work with their sound team, the director, musical director and the other designers from very early on in the production creation process and they bow out once every part of the sound - from mics to individual sound files programmed in QLab - is in place and working exactly as it should. Often a sound designer will work with a show until press night or soon after, and will then leave it to the sound operators to do their jobs, responding to any emergencies as required.

    The Association of Sound Designers has a longer explanation of the role of a sound designer which is worth reading if you want to understand more about our role. This one line sums it up for me:

    ...perhaps most importantly, Sound Designers understand the tremendous power of sound to aid the storytelling process. to transport an audience directly into the vortex of the performance and to make that performance a truly unforgettable experience

    The sound engineers - or sound operators, in theatreland - are responsible for making sure every sound design element - mics, sound effects, music, off-stage sound effects - happens at the right time in the right place, at the right volume. They are the hands-on people who are all about the tech. There every performance from tech rehearsals through to the final show, they troubleshoot, fix problems and operate the show, push Go buttons, adjust faders, fit radio mics, replace cables and do a whole host of other overlooked jobs. 

    In a very broad sense, the role of a sound designer is more of a creative role and the role of a sound operator is more of a technical role. Emphasis here on "very broad" - I've definitely had to do some very creative thinking as a sound operator and I've had sound design jobs which have relied on my technical know-how more than anything else. In our current cash-strapped climate, many shows can't afford to hire large crews, and fringe shows in particular often have the same person as sound designer and sound operators.

    A show doesn't have to be any particular size to need a sound designer. From solo cabaret shows to full-scale West End musicals, any show where the sound is an integral part of the show needs someone who understands how to make all that sound part of the story telling. 

    This is where we get to why you should care. If you're a theatre maker or a performance artist, at some point you will need sound to tell your story.

    Depending on the size and scale or your production and your own expertise, you might decide to hand the responsibility to someone else, or you might want to create your own sound design, and in this Sound Notes series I'm going to look at both. 

    Knowing more about what a sound designer does can help you think about theatre in a new way - what could sound design bring to your production? It will also allow you to better plan budgets, pre-production schedules and rehearsal, when you know you need to factor in time to source and test mics, create sound effects and get everything at just the right volume (to name just a few tasks).

    Nobody who works on a production works in isolation, even on solo shows. I'm a firm believer that the more you know and appreciate what your team does, the more cohesive and creative your production will be. I've talked about my reasons for highlighting the role of sound design in this post, and I hope that this series encourage you to find out more.

    Sound Notes is a continuing series about sound design. All pictures Copyright Kirsty Gillmore/Sounds Wilde unless I've specifically noted otherwise! 

  • Working for Me: 5 quick ways to get you going in the morning

    I'm not really a morning person. I would like to be and I tell myself that getting up early and being in front of my computer by 8am is because I function best at that hour, but really, I know I'd much rather be in bed.

    Because of this, I'm pretty resistant to starting work in the morning. I faff around on social media. I stare at my inbox and think "I'll just make coffee first". I find a really interesting article and give myself permission to read it "just while I'm eating breakfast". Soon it's 11am, I haven't made a dent in my to-do list and I am well on my way to feeling bad about not doing enough.

    This year I've been learning about how to nip this early unproductive streak in the bud by getting started as soon as possible every morning. Here are 5 of my favourite quick ways to kickstart your work in the morning, or anytime you're feeling sluggish:

     

    1. Do the toughest task first

    Also known as "eating the frog". There's more tips on productivity and how to quit procrastinating in Brian Tracey's book (that's a link to the whole book online)

     

    2. Do the easiest task first.

    Sometimes it's good to start with a few super-quick wins to get you into working mode, especially if you're feeling under the weather physically or mentally or didn't sleep well. Send out an invoice. Say thanks to the last person who retweeted you. Schedule a few social media posts for the week. 

     

    3. The 13-min life changer

    This one comes from Nicole Antionette at A life Less Bullshit. Set a timer for 13mins. Choose one task to work on, close all other distractions and work solidly on that task for 13 mins. 

     

    4. Do an hour of 10 minute task-switching

    Like gym circuits for productivity! I do this when I have a lot of small to medium tasks that I'm procrastinating over, either because they're a bit daunting, they don't have a fixed deadline or they're things I really want to do (e.g. training & industry articles/videos/podcasts) for which don't feel I can sacrifice "work time".  

    I'll spend 10 mins on a daunting task, then after 10mins I'll switch to a different, more fun task. I'll do that for 10 mins, then go back to the first task, if I haven't finished on it, or go onto something else, and so on. After an hour I find my brain is humming along, I've broken the back of a task I was dreading and I'm mentally prepared to get stuck into a task for a longer duration. And if not, I do the same again for another hour. 

    What really works for me is if each task is in a completely different medium: so if my first task is writing a blog post, my second might be listening to a podcast or watching a video. 

     

    5. Get moving

    A productive day for me is one when I've exercised. Exercise gets the blood moving, it increases your energy and once it's over, it makes you feel like you've accomplished something, which in turn makes you feel you can accomplish the next task. Win!

    Whatever your exercise of choice - yoga, running, pilates, weight training, walking, cycling, HIIT circuits - it's the best way to get yourself going and get you away from your computer. Sometimes just getting away from screen glare for a bit is enough to ease the pressure of your to do list and put seemingly impossible tasks into perspective, and you might as well move your body while you're at it.

     

    So those are my top 5 productivity quick wins! Did I miss your favourite? Let me know.

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday August 27 2014

    Hello! It's been a while since I did one of these, I know. Call it an unexpected summer break, with the eventual autumn return.

    A bit like when your best friend at school whom you see every day goes away with their family all summer: at the start of the autumn term, you're not sure if you're still best friends as it's been a really long time since you saw them, but you're willing to give it a go.

    Read on buddy, and I promise I'll be around more from now on.

     

    Be practical

    Believing in yourself is a scientific path to success

    6 things I wish someone had told me when I started my small business

    Great tips for effectively working from home

    I loved Bombchelle's article about how she replaced her day job income in 90 days (no get rich quick schemes here, just a lot of truth & practical advice)

     

    Be productive

    This makes a lot of sense: How to work 4 hour days

    I wrote about hating the culture of working hours one-upmanship and how you really need to take a break

    I know author Rosie Garland through the cabaret scene and her journey to becoming a celebrated author has been inspirational. It's a fantastic reminder to keep going, no matter what.

    I'm on the fence about writing morning pages, I've always given up after a few months as I don't experience any benefits. Perhaps I should give them another go. If you do them, do they work for you?

     

    Be passionately creative

    This has been doing the rounds on various freelancey and creative blogs. It's worth reading if you haven't already, even if it's only to remind yourself you do not have to work for free: Showtime asked graphic designer Dan Cassaro to have some of his work for free: he told them exactly what he thought of that 

    Post-it note monster art that is like...woah

    Remembering Robin Williams...in this improvised moment from TED 2008 and in his Reddit AMA from 2013

      

    Have a happy and productive week 'till next we meet!

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday August 10 2014


    Hi peeps, how's your August been? It's been a nice hot summer here in the UK, with the occasional interesting thunder storm to liven things up (and make you realise how you really need to beef up the soundproofing in your voice booth, in my case).

    It's the first year in a while that I have no plans to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August which feels a bit odd. Fortunately, the universe has handed me a good lot of work this summer (no complaints here, universe) and I've even had time to start a new blog feature on sound design - expect another installment soon.

    Whatever you've been up to this August, I hope it's been bangin'. That's in the musical sense, not the...well, it's just not that type of blog.

    Anyway. The stuff you actually came here for is just below. Read on...

      

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    Sound geek that I am, I love reading about the plugins that top producers rely on. Here's LA producer Ian Vargo's top 10.

    A broadcast-quality lavalier mic for for smartphones? Apparently so! 

    Have a look inside the Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs at Skywalker Sound

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    From architecture student in Australia to in-demand engineer and producer in London: the curious career path of Catherine Marks (P.S. Subscribe for free to Tape Op if you haven't already, it's worth it)

    Amanda Palmer: If you're asking "What's in it for me?" then you're in the wrong business

     

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    "Weird Al" is just like the rest of us: balancing doing what he loves with trying to make the best living he possibly can. He just understands how to play the media better than most of us.  Very interesting read on Weird Al Yankovic

    Sad and understandable (the move, not the rent hike): Ben Folds is moving out of Nashville's historic RCA Studio A

    Woah: "Happy Birthday" is not in copyright and Warner owes the world millions

      

    VOICE OVER

    How to become a video game voice actor

    Loving this great voice over resource: IDEA: the International Dialects of English Archive

    Celebrities are silencing pro voice actors in animation voice over work. What do you think?

      

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    12 rituals of very successful humans 

    And finally....can't beat a bit of Bowie on a Sunday

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on August 24

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday July 27 2014



    Hey folks, oodles of sound/music/voice goodness today! Good advice, lots of terrible covers to disparage, fun soundy tests to take and videos of studio cats. Really, what more could you want for a Sunday?* Enjoy!

    *Perhaps for it to be a little less hot in London, my transistors are melting**

    **I am fully aware I will probably be complaining about the rain by September. I'm British, weather is our national hobby. 

      

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    How golden are your ears? Develop your listening skills with the programme designed to train Phillips audio engineers.

    A must-read primer for every live sound engineer: how to avoid feedback

      

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Technology is a hairy thing. It’s either on or off; it works or it doesn’t. Composer, 5 time Grammy nominee & electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani on loving her Buchla and her transitions from classical to electronic and back

    Women and machines: the pioneers and the cutting edge creators in electronic music

    Awesome UK organisation Sound Women recently hosted an event targeted at those who really want to get into music radio. Here's a review with some great quotes

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    27 classic songs you didn't know were covers

    The Pet Shop Boys have premiered their opera about Alan Turing: computer pioneer, Enigma codebreaker and open homesexual in a time when it was illegal

    The 20 worst classical covers ever. Shudder.

      

    VOICE OVER

    Veteran director Khris Brown on the secrets of great voice acting in games

    Are these the most endangered accents of English?

    It's an interesting time for classic UK cartoons/animation at the moment. Ben Whishaw has been confirmed as the new voice of Paddington Bear (I approve) as the US voice of Thomas the Tank Engine quits after 5 years due to a breakdown in contract negotations. Thoughts?

      

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    Meet a tri-tongued orator:

      

    This is what it's like to watch Harry Potter for the first time

    Think you're a real fan? You've got nothing on this lot.

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on August 10

  • Sound Notes July 22 2014: In the beginning there was sound

    Like a night spent at a Punchdrunk production, this post is long, full of emotion and has the potential to reveal hidden aspects of theatre making.

    A few weeks ago something happened in the theatre industry that made me, a sound designer mainly working in theatre, quite angry:

    Tony Awards committee decide to drop sound design awards

    For non-theatre types, the Tonys are kind of like the Oscars for theatre shows. They're American, they're glitzy and glam, they're the most prestigious theatre awards show of the year worldwide and although you can be a non-American production or be working on a non-American production to win, the production has to have been on Broadway in the past year. They're also (I think, almost certainly) the only theatre award of which a non-theatre person might be aware.

    Sound design is a late-comer to the Tony awards, awards for Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical being first awarded in 2008. To put this into perspective, there's been a Best Lighting Design award since 1970. So we're still pretty new to the party, and now we're being kicked out. Way to make an key element of theatre production feel wanted, Tonys!

    Understandably, there's been a bit of an outcry about this, both from the extended Broadway & US theatre community under #TonyCanYouHearMe and from us sound designers on the UK side of the pond, some of whom are Tony winners and all of whom are wondering what the knock-on effect may be to the UK equivalent of the Tonys, the Olivier awards.

    Reading the articles about the decision, the main thrust is that Tony voters don't really understand sound design and think it's more of a technical field than a creative one (quote is from the same article as the previous link):

    "the decision was driven largely by three factors: Many Tony voters do not know what sound design is or how to assess it; a large number of Tony voters choose not to cast ballots in sound design categories because of this lack of expertise; and some administration committee members believe that sound design is more of a technical craft, rather than a theatrical art form that the Tonys are intended to honor."

    Amidst the excellent rebuttals of this, including Benjamin Furiga's comment from the same article that To argue that sound design is a solely technical pursuit would be akin to arguing that the musicians playing synthesizers in the orchestra pit are simply technicians,” I do admit that it's hard to assess an artform you don't really understand.

    Sound design isn't tangible or visual: unlike costumes, set and lighting, all of which have been honoured at the Tonys for decades, you can't touch it and you can't see it. It can be dramatic and impressive but it is at its best, as Brian Ronan puts it, "when the audience is unaware of our presence, when the sound complements and moves the audience without drawing attention to itself. "

     

    Here's the difficulty then:

    1) Sound designers absolutely deserve to be recognised at the Tonys and all other theatre awards as propagators of an integral theatrical art that works closely with and alongside lighting designers, directors, musical directors and all other aspects of theatrical productions to create moods, establish context, add clarity to the voices and sound of musicians, singers, actors and performers and bring a stage show to life. 

    2) Many theatre practitioners, including directors, producers, lighting designers, actors, musical directors, stage managers, designers and pretty much every other theatre job you can think of, don't really get what sound designers do.

    I've had to explain to directors that a sound designer isn't just a fancy name for a sound tech and if you want me to plan and source the vocal and orchestral mics and foldback and create all the sound effects, you're going to have to pay me more. I've had to point out that the work I do to create multi-layered soundscapes, choose and often compose music, record and edit voice overs and adjust volume levels of individual sounds in the theatre space does require a fair bit of skill, experience and a lot of studio time. And I've had to fight for pay parity with lighting designers on almost every job I do.

    I'm not at the level of the Oliviers and Tonys, and if theatre makers at my level aren't getting it, it's sad but not surprising that those at the committee level aren't either. Losing the Tonys is a major blow to an already unrecognised art. As David Grindle puts it: "To now scrap that category devalues sound design as an art and our industry as a whole. If the top awards in American theater aren't willing to recognize that sound designers are artists as well as technicians, it tells people their work doesn't matter."

    My work, and the work of my colleagues, does matter, and we have to make a noise about it. Sound Notes will be a regular feature of my blog, a chance for me to highlight exactly what a sound designer does. I'll be writing about productions I've worked on, showcasing the work of sound designers I admire and reviewing shows through a sound design lens (or should that be cone?) It will be my small contribution to telling theatre makers, appreciators and trainees that sound design is important and to hopefully bringing the Tony committee back on (sound)track soon.

    You can sign the petition to reinstate the Tony awards for sound design here

    More opinions on the decision:

    Why silence the Tony award for sound design?

    "An award can serve a good purpose. It can help us hold ourselves to high standards. It can help us aspire to do great work. It can help us show love to people who have given us something special. But it's hard for an award to do those things if it loses respect, or legitimacy. I humbly offer that if not reversed, the decision to ignore an entire artistic field will send the Tony in that unfortunate direction." - Chris Ashworth, one of the creators of QLab, the program that runs the sound & media playout for most Broadway and West End shows and probably most theatrical shows around the world

    Official press release from the UK's Association of Sound Designers

    "...twenty years ago I composed scores for plays and even back then theatre was thinking about these things through practice. Sonic experiment even then, occupied an increasingly prominent place within the collaborative rehearsal process. It was this that led to the rise of the sound designer. There is rarely a play produced in London without one credited these days. If, as has been suggested, the Tony committee doesn’t understand the term, the one wonders how much time its members have spent around the creative processes of theatre in the past couple of decades."Ross BrownProfessor of Sound, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

    Finally, in the words of Randy Thom, legendary film sound designer: "This is a sad piece of news for all of us in sound.  It’s yet another slap in the face for an important art form that struggles for recognition...How sad, how dumb"

    P.S. The Tony committee have magnaminously agreed that a "special award" could be awarded for sound design" when there was an extraordinary achievement". As they've agreed that they don't know enough about sound design to award an award each year for the best of the "ordinary", I'm wondering how they'll be able to spot when the sound design is "extraordinary"?

    All photos taken by me. 

  • Working For Me: On taking a break

    I don't understand one-upmanship when it comes to working hours.

    Recently I arrived at an event I was sound engineering looking and feeling pretty run-down after weeks of constant work with no breaks. The stage manager grabbed me to take me through the most recent changes to the show and commented that I looked like I'd had a hard day. I said no, just tired, I've worked several weeks without a break. To which they replied "oh me too, it's been months for me, just you know, shows back to back, so much travel and I've been ill and I've had family obligations, and I've still had to keep on top of all my work during the day, it's so hard!"

    My immediate reaction: Hang on, it's not a competition. 

    Why is it so important that we sound like we're just about to drop from exhaustion because we're so terribly busy all the time? I have definitely been guilty of working hours one-upmanship in my time and it's bollocks. As I was talking to the stage manager I realised I didn't want to play this game anymore. I wasn't boasting about being tired, I was stating the fact that I was working too much, and I was actually aware of not having enough energy to do my job effectively.

    Being overworked means I skip meals, exercise and sleep, which makes me cranky, stressed, tired and exacerbates both my anxiety and my depression. Working long hours with little breaks makes me less effective, which certainly isn't something to boast about.

    As freelancers, solopreneurs or small business owners, we often live in fear of the dry spells, and we combat this by taking all the work, all the time, even when we're working 14 hour days already, because we might need that extra £50 next month. I'm now starting to live in fear of the day where I am so tired, so wrung out by constant work, that I make a big mistake that will cost me more than saying no to a one-off £50 job.

    At the present time, I am the core of my business, and until I get to the point where my business can run without me, I need to invest the same time and care into myself as I do with my work so I can be productive, and not busy. I am saying no to work when I know it'll mean sacrificing my own downtime, not to mention non-negotiables like food, sleep and exercise. I am actively working towards working less. I am leaving the cult of busyness.

    The next time someone comments on being tired and working to much, I'm going to say "You should take more time off. I do, and it's worth it."

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday July 13



    Short & snappy intro today...if I say lots of good stuff, go read, would that be shirking my bloggerly duties? I really haven't done much aside from work this week, I'm sure you'll all forgive me for not being as pithy as usual.

    So...good stuff, go read and if you're in the UK, enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Go use it as an excuse to record real life sound effects to expland your library. You can always top up that studio tan come autumn (on schedule for August as usual).

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    New toys for sound designers: The REV reverse sound library from Output may be the next must-have

    Soundcraft have published an awesome video series guide to mixing

    Can a programme replace a mastering engineer? Meet MixGenius

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

     

     Shirley Collins: the English folk legend you've never heard of

    The life of a tour manager & sound engineer: on the road with Phantogram's FOH & tour manager Alicia Blake

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Were you one of the lucky few who caught Jack White's secret London performance with the Puncdhrunk crew? Sounds like it was pretty awesome

    Want to get your music placed in video games? Read this

    RIP Tommy Ramone, last of The Ramones.

      

    VOICE OVER

    10 celeb video game performances that will make you feel better about your own abilities

    3 ways to make audition material your own

    If you follow any voice over social media groups/forums/pages you'll probably seen posts about the next FaffCamp conference for VO pros. So what is it?

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    10 trademark tricks of famous movie directors

    22 things you don't want to hear about working in the arts

    Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla! Why not celebrate by building your own Tesla coil?

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on July 27

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday June 29 2014



    Did you miss me last week? I've hit one of those unexpectedly busy (batshit crazy is closer) times of the year with voice reels, voice overs, back-to-back plays to sound design and a bit of mixing squeezed in. During these times, something's gotta give. Last week (and the week before) it was the blog. So if you were jonesing for a Sunday Sound fix and were left bereft, sorry 'bout that.

    The good news: I have a whole heap of stuff saved up for the blog! So if you too have had an unexpectedly frog leapingly crazy week, why not take some time to yourself and have a read. There's fun stuff, educational stuff and some quite lovely music. Enjoy. 

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    NS-10s: love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny their ubiquity in studios from Christchurch to California. Here's an interesting look at how they got there

    As studios across the world close their doors, here are some lovely pics of some of the studios in the UK still fightin' the good fight

    Hedwig and the story of Tony-nominated sound design for Broadway

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    I'm very excited about the release of a new, innovative-as-ever Imogen Heap album

    On the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain, Prince's recording engineer Susan Rodgers shares a few (awesome) studio stories

    If you're in the UK and into electronic music, there's a great festival happening in Cambridge in August. Space/Time: The Future will be a "vibrant mix of art and music performances from experimental artists and bands fronted by women". One to check out.

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    The making of OK Go's "The Writing's on the Wall" video (watch it first if you haven't already seen it)

    This is pretty crazy...

    and this is sublime:

      

    VOICE OVER

    Unlocking the hidden secrets of your voice

      

    Derek Jacobi reflects on his role in recent BBC Radio Drama The Martian Chronicles (the cast includes my friend, fellow VO and founder of The VoiceOver Network, Rachael Naylor)

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    Bill Drummond's (him of KLF fame) 10 commandments of art

    For those experiencing withdrawal symptoms:

     PS: For the interested, here's the links to the two plays I've sound designed this month. Support UK fringe theatre & go check them out:

    Marriage - a quirky Russian farce at the Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley, London

    An Ideal Husband - Oscar Wilde's classic drama gets a modern update at the Tabard Theatre, Chiswick, London

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on July 13

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday June 11 2014

    Moved on, moved in! I survived the move of both home and studio and the settling-in regime is well underway. I'm already enjoying my much shortened commute and the novelty of working in a space that's lighter, quieter and more convenient.

    There's some adjusting to do: I miss the buzz of Shoreditch, I've replaced my commuting time with more work, which isn't healthy and I really need to work out a new fitness regime.

    Most importantly, I need to feel that I can work in my new workspace. After two years working in a space where I never felt quite completely comfortable, it's very important to me that my studio feels less comfortable than my home, but comfortable enough to want to spend several hours there every day.

    Somehow around all the work that accumulated over the move, I'm going to carve out time to make my studio great for me. Excuse me, I've got some pictures to hang...

    Be practical

    How to spot burnout (and recover)

    Write emails that people want to read with these 7 great guidelines

    Pimp your sales pages with this copywriter's bible of words that sell

     

    Be productive

    Want a free copy of productivity bible Eat that Frog?

    Considering working from home? Read this first. 

    9 tips to increase your focus and get things done!

     

    Be passionately creative

    The inventor of Comic Sans on the world's most hated font

    If strangers talked to everyone like they talk to writers...

    You don't really expect this from large corporate entities: Microsoft made a secret book for Nokia employers before its takeover

    RIP Rik Mayall. Gone too soon, the bastard. 

     

    Have a happy and productive week 'till next we meet!

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday June 8 2014


     

    Studio move achieved. Everything's connected, most of the acoustic treatment is up, the vocal booth has been treated and cabled and it's starting to feel like my studio. 

    There'll be some tweaking to do over the next few weeks as I get used to the sound of the new space, of course, in general I'm pretty happy with how it's looking. It's nice to feel at home in a new workspace, and I am really enjoying my new commute (a couple of minutes).

    I've already had my first client in the studio (Miss Tempest Rose from House of Burlesque, working on soundtracks for their new show at London Wonderground) and I've recorded a Spotify commercial in the new booth literally minutes after I finished cabling it up - kinda nerve-wracking but also it didn't give me any time to worry about the new setup, I just had to get on with it. 

    I'm looking forward to this new chapter for Sounds Wilde. I hope you enjoy the first Sunday Sound coming to you from the new studio!

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    I've gone back to running my studio from my live/work space after renting a commercial space for a few years. It was the right decision for me at this time in my career, here's some points to consider if you're wondering which option is right for you 

    How Rick Rubin gets people to do their best work

    Worth a read by the perfectionists who stress over the tiny details in their mixes: the 80/20 rule as applied to audio engineering

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Monitor engineer Grace Royce and FOH engineer Aaron Glas on touring with and mixing Fitz & The Tantrums live

    Sound designer/engineer Amber Tisue is one of just two female Chicago engineers, and she's just taken the healm at Studio A at Stir Post Audio

    Loving this message from mastering engineer Piper Payne

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Just beautiful:

     

    Joining the list of actors who jam jazz style when they're not on camera, Jeff Goldblum plays a jazz show almost every week

     

     

    VOICE OVER

     Still wondering whether to go ISDN, Source Connect or ipDTL? Have a listen to these back-to-back comparisons

    Have we seen the end of the movie trailer voice?

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    This article on modern magic and the meaning of life is a few years old, still fascinating 

    It was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings recently. These pictures of the landing sites, then and now bring the history to life 

    Ooh! The creator of Calvin and Hobbes has been drawing a comic in secret!

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on June 22

  • Sunday Sound - Monday May 26 2014

    Today's Sunday Sound is different for two reasons: it's not on a Sunday, for a start, and it's the last Sunday Sound while the Sounds Wilde studio is still at Hackney Road.

    I moved house on Tuesday and the lack of broadband access in the new place (till June 9th! WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG??) means a delay to your regular programming (I'm working off mobile broadband dongles for the time being). Althought, it's (another) bank holiday weekend here in the UK and despite the fact I'm working right through, it's still technically the weekend today, so I think we can treat it like it's a Sunday, right?

    I've talked a bit about what moving the studio will mean to me and Sounds Wilde and I'm planning a blog about leaving Hackney Road for early June, so I won't bang on about it now, suffice to say...I've got weirdly mixed feelings. Two years ago moving my studio to Hackney Road was my saviour, and now there's a big part of me that will be relieved to leave. Some awesome memories, and lots of frustrating ones. 

    Part pensive, part inspired, part eager, part wary. That's a good mix for a milestonish Sunday Sound roundup as well, I think. Enjoy.

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    For anyone interested in the mediums of audio recording, this article about the changes in music technology, and the interest in old technologies, is a great read (I'm making a date to get to the exhibiton at the Science Museum too)

    I'm enjoying this roundup of sound design podcasts

    Professional courtesy may be your most under-rated tool: a cautionary tale in 2 parts about miscommunication on audio projects with multiple production stages, studios and engineers 

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Gotta love a good thereminist: short documentary about Thereminist Lydia Kavina

    Kate Bush at Abbey Road studios. Here's how her classic track Wuthering Heights was made (at AIR Studios rather than Abbey Road)

     

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Nothing better than a music quiz on a lazy long weekend...

    Interesting article on the overlooked acts of the British music scene, including loads of examples so you can get stuck into the sounds (if you are at work, the first pic in the article is definitely NSFW)

    After 2 years (attempting to) work in a studio above an EDM producer, I wholeheartedly sniggered at this SNL parody:

     

     

    VOICE OVER

    The great, the good & the ones that just didn't work: the art of guest voicing in The Simpsons

    A look into the world of a highly successful gaming voice over actor: Adam Harrington has had over 1000 roles in games

    How to manage a successful voice over career part 1 looks at agents: the benefits and whether you need one. Abbe Holmes is an Australian-based VO and coach and if the industry there may differ from where you're based, I think the majority of the points she makes will be relevant, especially for the UK

      

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    Marina Abramovic is an inspiration

    For everyone who's always thought being a Google Doodler would be the best job ever (if only I could actually draw)

    Years before Disney, Lotte Reiniger was making gorgeous animated feature films

     

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on June 8

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday May 14 2014

    This time next week I will have moved into a new home.

    When I was a fulltime office/studio-based employee, moving home was a bit stressful, something for which I had to take time off work, call utilities companies and change addresses on my lunchtime. I'd moan to my colleagues about how the internet wouldn't be on for another week, canvas opinions on my most efficient commuting route and unpack boxes every night after work for a few months until everything was pretty much the way it was going to be. And every day I'd go into work where there was internet, showers (if I had hot water issues) and stability. 

    Now I'm moving my business as well as my home and stressful suddenly has a whole new level of meaning. I'm moving my studio into the same space as my home (to cut down on costs and for a better work/life balance, among other reasons) so there's going to be necessary downtime for parts of my business while I establish myself in the new space. There'll probably be at least a few days without (gasp!) internet access. There are already challenges to do with my new studio space which mean I might have to make changes to the services I offer. And I am ignoring the fact that I'm moving my kit into a slightly smaller space and I'm not yet 100% if I can fit it all in there...

    Cue panic stations? Well, no. I do hate moving, as many people do - I'm pretty sure it's regularly cited as one of the top five most stressful life events you can experience - and I'm going to have to suck it up and do it anyway. Being self-employed makes you resilient. You're either resilient, or you've quit being self-employed, because anything can change at a moment's notice and every time something changes it affects you directly.

    I've lost count of the number of at-the-time-catastrophic and unexpected business events that I've faced over the past 3.5 years. Lost count because there have been a lot and also because they're not that important anymore. Things changed: I coped. My business survived. So despite my worry and trepidation of what may happen, I'm going to concentrate on what is happening and trust in my own abilities of resilience to see me through.

    And, if in two weeks time you notice a gap where there should be a Creative Business Tombola, you'll understand why.

    Be practical

    I relate to this far too well: When you work for yourself, your boss is probably an asshole

    6 steps for launching an ecourse

    Are you a business or a company?

     

    Be productive

    15 things successful people do on Monday morning (as a solopreneur, I make greeting my team and boss a priority)

    The best productivity advice I've found (and used!) this week: change your life, 13 minutes at a time

    How 11 famous entrepreneurs overcame their biggest failures

     

    Be passionately creative

    RIP, H.R. Giger

    Your creativity is like any other muscle: you need to work it

    Have a happy and productive week 'till next we meet!

  • Sounding Wilde Tech Special & Voiceover Vlog

    New image, new show! The Sounding Wilde Tech Special has been released.

    This month's show has

    • Becca talking ISDN with eminent animation VO actor & director Dan Russell, whom we interviewed in February's show
    • Me getting to grips with the differences between ISDN, Source Connect and ipDTL and figuring out what would be best for you to connect to clients from your home studio
    • Our first Tech Help Corner: I help actor and voice actor Sam Lupton solve noisy gear issues in his home studio
    • PLUS original music from geek songstress Helen Arney, cabaret crazies The Late Night Shop Cabaret and beautifully melancholic instrumentalist Benedict Edwards

    What's not to love?

    Sounding Wilde - The UK's Premier Voice & Sound Radio Show - Tech Special May 2014 by Soundswilde on Mixcloud

    And if video's more your thang, my chat about ISDN, Source Connect & ipDTL in the radio show is taken directly from my first Voiceover Vlog so you can get it with bonus visuals!

     

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday May 11 2014

    I'm staring down the barrel of a time of great excitement and equally great trepidation: a studio move. By the end of the month I will have relocated my studio from east to north London, swapping a bit of space to better accessibility and a nicer environment. It's an excellent opportunity to take stock of my sound business, how it's grown over the past two years (the last time I moved studios) and assess whether I have everything I need to maintain the direction and growth I want. Translation: it's the best excuse I've had in ages to buy more gear

    I'm looking for a compact studio mixer and I've had the Mackie 1202-VLZ3  (or the newer VLZ4) recommended to me as a good affordable option. Can I cope without faders though? I'm finding myself surprisingly unwilling to change, and am leaning towards an Allen & Heath ZED60-10FX - familiar brand, familiar hardware setup. 

    Then there's mics. I've recently been introduced to Canada's Advanced Audio and I'm already hankering after their CM87 large diaphragm condenser (as a viable alternative to a U87), plus they donate a percentage of sales to the Women's Audio Mission (what's not to love?). On UK shores I am loving the retro look of Sontronics' Saturn and Orpheus mics and the overwhelmingly positive reviews from other voice artist about their sensitive responses and clear sound. 

    I haven't even considered software upgrades, interfaces, converters, studio furniture...this is clearly a slippery slope. There'll be a few weeks between the actual move and the new studio being ready for use, by which point hopefully my incipient gear-buying mania will have eased. Or more realistically, my bank balance will have been depleted by the inevitable unexpected costs of moving and I won't be able to afford new gear anyway. 

    The sensible side of me hopes this will be so, but I must go because I'm sure I hear shiny toys are calling my name....enjoy this week's links.

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    Feel-good Sunday reading: the tale of the two brothers who turned a love for vintage gear into a global business

    Budding game audio sound designers: check out The Essential Guide to Game Audio - a comprehensive book-workshop-app resource that sounds like a must-have for anyone interested in the industry

    Only got time for a quick browse? Here are 100 quick mixing tips from Steven Slate (Slate Pro Audio) just for you 

     

    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Like the author of this article, I love the Beastie Boys (and did get to see them live, in Auckland, NZ in 1999) and I had mixed feelings about a feminist cover of Girls. Would it work? I think it does.

     

    Even to electronic music enthusiasts, drone music is an acquired taste. I found this article while furthering my interest in female electronic musicians; while its focus is the music of French composer Eliane Radigue, I was interested in the writer's thoughts on how this subset of electronic music highlights the different ways we listen to and experience music. Read through & watch the short documentary at the end for a close look at a vintage ARP2500 modular synth - only 100 were every produced. 

    Working Coachella and how to survive festival season: interviews with monitor engineers Christina Moon and George Squiers

     

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    And in the "no shit, Sherlock" file this week: Beats by Dr Dre Headphones are really quite bad

    The 10 most technically amazing Beatles' songs

    This intensive examination of the vocab of hip hop artists is much more than a whole lot of numbers (which was my first impression)

     

    VOICE OVER

    I vlogged about ISDN, Source Connect and ipDTL: what's the difference and which one would suit your studio?

    And while we're on the topic, Creative Media Recording recorded a test of Source Connect Now vs ISDN via ipDTL. What do you think?

    The 6 biggest pet peeves of voice over casting directors

    This week I came across a great new technical resource for voice artists working from their home studios: VO Tech Guru. Check out his videos on setting your recording input levels and output levels as a starting point: he's clear, concise and knows his stuff. 

      

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    You may have seen Jordan Matter's beautiful photography before with his Dancers Among Us series. His new series, Circus Among Us is equally captivating in familiar and new ways

    You'll only make it as an actor if...

    Look away if you don't want to ruin your childhood..30 amazing behind-the-scenes movie photos

    Catch you for the next Sunday Sound on May 25th...

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday April 30 2014

    It's the end of April, which means the end of my Vlog-Every-Day-in-April challenge. I'm really glad I've seen it through and though I can't deny it's meant very late nights and gaps in other work (like my blogging...), this has been an experiment where I've definitely gained more than expected, and has thus been worth the effort!

    Aside from increased video editing skills, forays into simple animation and getting comfortable with being in front of a camera (surely that presenting career is only a few steps away...), more than anything this challenge has given me an excuse - a personal allowance - to be creative

    For a supposedly creative business person, I am very bad at allowing myself time to create. At the moment I find I will put almost anything before taking time just to eplore and make stuff: work, exercise, sleep, more work...I should also mention one of my 2014 goals was to implement a creative day every month. Fail. 

    I think it was the combination of a new medium (video) and a set task (and accompanying pressure) of making something new with it every day that allowed me to break this resistance and make stuff again. It was fun. It was freeing. I think I should do it more often.

    Expect more vlogging from me in the future...until then, I'll leave you with my favourite vlog of the month.

    Be practical

    Are you following the social media rule of thirds?

    Never say it's too expensive: wise words on knowing your worth and respecting other people's by Corrina Gordon-Barnes

    This is an interesting read: an actor's take on unpaid work in the media 

     

    Be productive

    Those thoughtful gals at Braid Creative share their not-so-secret formula for sharing content

    The single biggest reason behind the failure of most entrepreneurs today

    A free self-management system to stay on track? Yes, please!

     

    Be passionately creative

    I LOVE these creative business cards! Now, how to make mine look as awesome...?

    Translating client speak like a pro

    Bet you didn't know there was a hidden speakeasy room at Pixar where Steve Jobs hung out....

     

    Have a happy and productive week 'till next we meet!