Friday, November 21, 2008

ACM Interview: Tomlinson Holman

Winner of the 2001 Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement, Mr. Tomlinson Holman is Professor of Film Sound at the USC School of Cinema-Television and a Principal Investigator in the Integrated Media Systems Center at the university.
Tom was chief electrical engineer at Advent Corporation, founded Apt Corporation, maker of the Apt/Holman preamplifier, and was at Lucasfilm for 15 years where he developed the THX Sound System and its companions the Theater Alignment Program, Home THX, and the THX Digital Mastering program.
He is founding editor of Surround Professional magazine, and author of the books Sound for Film and Television and 5.1 Surround Sound Up and Running. He is an honorary member of the Cinema Audio Society and the Motion Picture Sound Editors. He is a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, the British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. He is a member of the Acoustical Society of America and the IEEE. He has lifetime or career achievement awards from the CAS and the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association. Tom holds 7 U.S. and corresponding foreign patents totaling 23, and they have been licensed to over 45 companies.

Supplemental videos (.mov):

Does THX stand for Tom Holman Experiments?

Can you tell us the history of THX and how you came up with the idea?

How do you see the future of digital television and digital cinema?

How do you see the future of multichannel music?

What do you think about "Wave field Synthesis" and other researches in audio technology?

What is the next generation 10.2 channel sound system that you're working on?

[via Association for Computing Machinery]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The winners of the Giga-Hertz Award

The Giga-Hertz Award (given by the ZKM | Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe and the EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO des SWR Freiburg) addresses composers working in the areas of electronic and acousmatic music. A Grand Prize and four Special Prizes are awarded once a year by an international jury.
The Grand Prize honors the artistic and life’s work of renowned composers of electronic and acousmatic music.
This year the Grand Price of € 15.000 goes to the british composer Trevor Wishart. The four Special Prices, each worth € 8.000 go to Natasha Barrett (born in Britain), Dai Fujikura (born in Japan), the Portuguese João Pedro Paiva de Oliveira and to Åke Parmerud from Sweden.

Members of the jury 2008 are Ludger Brümmer, Detlef Heusinger, François Bayle, pioneer of electroacoustic and acousmatic music who developed the famous Acousmonium, Jonathan Harvey, Armin Köhler and Peter Weibel.
They said: "Particularly with his developments in the area of the software synthesis, he made complex sound processing understandable and applicable. Trevor Wishart designed in 1986, together with other composers, the Composers Desktop Project for Atari and Unix computers. Is to be emphasized also his work in the musical education and the formulation of its aesthetic and technical approaches in educationally oriented writings such as 'Audible design' and 'On Sonic Art'. [...] His music is enormously effective and has influenced generations of composers. "

The award ceremony will be held at the ZKM | Karlsruhe on November 29th, 2008 (starting at 7.00pm), in line with two Award-Winner-Concerts on November 28th and November 29th (8.30pm).


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ben Burtt interview - Upcoming Pixar

[photo via]

Sound Designer Ben Burtt moved from LucasFilm to Pixar a few years ago and headed up Sound Design on WALL•E. Have a read of this Q&A below with Burtt, thanks to Upcoming Pixar.

Some excerpts worth mentioning:

BB: I have always felt that the best way to get a robot voice is to have a human element and an electronic element and blend the two. So I worked out a circuit where I started with my voice and broke that down in the computer and then re-synthesized it. And the voice of EVE was done in a similar way. We used a woman at Pixar, who was named Elissa Knight. We started using her as a scratch track and once again, just like with me, once I ran it through the laborious computer process, we got results that we liked, and we felt we should keep it.

BB: I’ve always found, when you’re trying to create illusions with sound, especially in a science fiction or fantasy movie, that pulling sounds from the world around us is a great way to cement that illusion because you can go out and record an elevator in George Lucas’s house or something, and it will have that motor sound. It will be an elevator and you might associate it with that, but if you use it in a movie people will believe it’s a force field, or maybe it’s the sound of a spaceship door opening.
[...] It’s forging those connections between familiar sound and illusionary sound that I think is the basis of the success for a lot of the sounds that sound designers have put in these movies.

BB: I’ve been on this film for three years, so the work was being embedded right from the beginning, sometimes we would do some sounds and then do an animation test to try those sounds out. Those kinds of opportunities are great. So of course I’m very proud of that, what film gives you a chance to do sound effects as well as key voices in the film. Maybe the only other big assignment would be to do a movie with no music and see where you could go...

[some fun facts about
WALL•E’s sound design - promotional PDF]

[read more via]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daniel Teruggi: GRM at 50

On Friday, November 14, Electronic Music Foundation will honor the 50th anniversary of the Paris-based Groupe de Recherches Musicales (Music Research Group), one of the world's major pioneering organizations in electronic music, with guests like Daniel Teruggi, director of GRM, François Bayle, past director, and Marc Battier, professor at the Sorbonne.

Teruggi @ Tempo Reale, 17th May 2008

The story of GRM begins 60 years ago, in April 1948, when Pierre Schaeffer, an engineer for the French Broadcasting Company, took a sound truck to a railroad switching yard at Batignolles, in Paris, to record the sounds of steam locomotives, wheels, and whistles. He used the sounds to compose Etude aux Chemins de Fer (Railroad Study) and coined the term 'musique concrète' to mean music composed with sounds (as against symbols for sounds). Following an enormously successful broadcast of a Concert de Bruits (Concert of Noises) in October 1948, he initiated a succession of research projects that culminated in 1958 in the official formation of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales with François Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Iannis Xenakis, and several other composers. The goal was to explore the new creative possibilities in using all sounds in music. The result was the beginning of a musical revolution.

[via Suzanne Thorpe - Arts Electric]

[Listen to Daniel Teruggi speak at Arts Electric]
[more on the concert]

THX 1138

THX 1138 is a 1971 science fiction film directed by George Lucas, from a screenplay by Lucas and Walter Murch.
It was the first feature-length film directed by Lucas, and a more developed, feature-length version of his student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which he made in 1967 while attending the University of Southern California, based on a one and a quarter page treatment of an idea by Matthew Robbins.
The film was produced in a joint venture between Warner Brothers and Francis Ford Coppola's then-new production company, American Zoetrope.
The film's use of the number 1138 has become an in-joke in popular culture, and more commonly in works by Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Combinations of the title and number can be found in several Lucasfilm releases, including American Graffiti, and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films.
According to Tomlinson Holman, the inventor of the THX system, the name of the technology was deliberately chosen because it contained both a reference to his name, and to Lucas's THX 1138. The original name was "Tom Holman's Crossover" (Crossover being sometimes referred to as Xover) or the "Tom Holman eXperiment."

[source: Wikipedia]

Clip from THX 1138 with commentary part 1 of 2

Clip from THX 1138 with commentary part 2 of 2

Photo set by Marc Wathieu

Buy more. Buy more now. Buy more and be happy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

De Musica 2008: the creativity factory

DE MUSICA 2008, the week-long workshop by Nuova Consonanza will be conducted by Alvise Vidolin. He is one of the protagonists of experimentation in electronics and he collaborated with the most important composers of the 20th century. A pioneer of computer music, he is a sound director and interpreter of Live Electronics.

The workshop is focused on the elaboration of sound in real time and the use of computer for contemporary music, through the analysis of electroacoustic works by composers Vidolin has worked with. He will also explore the most updated systems of elaboration in real time and their application in multimedia field.

Lessons will be subdivided into three sections:
listening and analysis
experimental workshop and practice

Theoretical lessons will develop the following subjects: process of live elaboration of voices and instruments; sound spatialization; techniques of live interaction and performance practice; system design for live electronics; performance environment design.
Analysis of live-electronics works by Giorgio Battistelli, Adriano Guarnieri, Luigi Nono and Salvatore Sciarrino will be carried out for solo, ensemble or musical theatre.
The workshop will take place in Max/MSP environment and will include the analysis and rehearsal of the pieces for the final concert.

[read more - via]

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kim Cascone: the grain of the auditory field

Kim Cascone on diffusing field recordings outside of a performance space:

[...] Everyday auditory fields are complex aggregations, pools of sound, local and asynchronous interlocking fields of cyclic patterns; loosely intersecting, meshing and mixing into a contiguous background. The local habits and routines of people fuse into a rhythmic din, a tapestry woven from minute activities. Sounds are shaped into a seemingly random structure; we hear but don't listen to it.

[...] Each smaller zone of noise forms an aural or auditory field that we circumscribe with a perceptual horizon. If we were able to zoom out and see an acoustic map we would see many smaller fields intersecting with one another. There are no acoustic walls or boundaries in an open space. We store these structures as acoustic mementos or snapshots in time.

[...] This led to the idea of creating a new field in an existing field by diffusing sounds already present or by adding new unexpected sounds. By using an array of speakers placed in strategic positions within a field one could diffuse sounds and move them in space.

[...] One solution would be to borrow from the practice of acousmatic diffusion and diminish the role of the artist by physically locating them somewhere where they wouldn't be visible. Another way to prevent bracketing is to not announce it as an event with a location and start time. This way the people who visit the space would be in their usual non-linear listening mode for that environment and receive any sounds heard as being part of the soundscape.

[...] If the growing movement of field recording makes its focus the sublimity of the auditory field then work needs to progress on not falling into formulaic formats because they are standard and easy to interface with. If field recording is to escape the ghetto of sound souvenir or audio puzzle then break the habits which end up relying on technology to make it interesting.
Auditory fields are not music and by trying to present them as such we end up depleting them of their grain and deadening their soul, leaving little of value to share with the listener.

[excerpts from ‘the grain of the auditory field’ - pdf - by Kim Cascone]

Field diffusion

[via kitchenbudapest]

Friday, November 07, 2008

Burtt blasts again!

Wall-E: DVD Bonus - Animation Sound Design


Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Burtt

Collider has posted four must-watch videos of Ben Burtt giving a demonstration on how he brought Wall-E to life!

[Part 1 - download flv]

[Part 2 - download flv]

[Part 3 - download flv]

[Part 4 - download flv]


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Live!iXem 2008

Festival of experimental electronic music and arts

18>22 November 2008 - Palermo, Italy

V Edition

18 nov. 21.30 – Goethe Institut – Via Paolo Gili 4
Antony Pateras (pianoforte preparato), Sean Baxter (percussioni) e David Brown (chitarra elettrica preparata).

19 nov. 21.30 – Malausséne – Piazzetta Resuttano 4
AMP2 + SECRET GUESTS Live performances

20 nov. 19.30 > 24.00 – Left – Via degli Schioppettieri 8
AV screenings by Torregrossa

21 nov. 21.30 – ASK 191 – Viale Strasburgo 191
SonoRoom Live sets: Marco Pianges, Dario Sanfilippo, Samuele Calabrò, Gandolfo Pagano.
DanceFlor DJ sets: Ajno [minimal <+/-> techno | dubstep] and More!

22 nov. 21.30 – ASK 191 – Viale Strasburgo 191
SonoRoom Live sets: Nino Secchia e Dario Sanfilippo, Talachtis, Mathias Manceck+Raffaella Piccolo, Il cielo di Baghdad.
DanceFloor DJ sets: D.M.D. Death Modern Dance, Claudio Bonanno e Gianluca Scuderi, Ajno.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Sound Design workshop: report

Our friends Gianpaolo D'Amico and Sara Lenzi had published the report (with sound excerpts, Italian only) of the Sound Design: new forms of creative communications workshop, that took place the 26th October 2008 at the Festival of Creativity in Florence.

[leggi l'articolo - read the article]

[more photos here]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Exciting WALL•E DVD Bonus Feature

Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from The Sound Up – Ben Burtt, the acclaimed Oscar-winning sound designer, introduces viewers to the art of sound design using examples from WALL•E and historic footage of the early Disney sound effects masters at work.