by Andrew Emge
This interview is How I Work #7 - see link at the bottom of the post for other interviews in the series.
What is your current studio/workspace setup like?
We’ve had our studio in Brooklyn for about two and a half years now and we really love it. It’s on the top floor of an old printing factory in East Williamsburg/ Bushwick. It’s got 20 foot ceilings and really cool old doors and exposed brick. We have one mix room and two edit rigs. The mix room is setup for 5.1 with a VO/Foley booth.
The rest of the space is pretty open and it’s where we host our monthly concert series OTB Live. One Sunday a month we have three bands come and play a 4 song set. We usually have about 50 people, it’s always a great time. There’s a mailing list on our website where people can sign up if they want to attend.
We also just opened a satellite mix room in Chinatown. It has a larger mix room and VO booth also setup for 5.1:
• Pro Tools HD 11 on Mac Pro
• Genelec 8050's for the main LCR monitors
• Genelec 8030's for the rear monitors
• JBL 6312 sub
• Yamaha HS5’s for near-field monitors
• Apogee Symphony I/O
• Kensington Expert Mouse
• Grace M101 mic pre & Sennheiser 416 for VO (voiceover)
How long were you a freelancer/independent before OTB?
One Thousand Birds has been open for two and a half years. I spent about 6 years working at studios out in LA before coming to NY to go out on my own.
What is one thing you know now you wished you had known 5 years ago?
To not be shy with creativity and also not get too attached to your own ideas. The audio post process is the most fun and productive when it’s totally collaborative. Sometimes that means having the confidence to try something totally off the wall while also listening to ideas that might not have been your first instinct, but that totally work and add to the piece.
What software/ hardware/ gadgets can you not live without?
My Kensington Expert Mouse. It’s mapped out to my edit tools, and at this point it’s nearly impossible for me to work in Pro Tools without it.
We use Pitch 'n Time Pro a lot - it can be so transparent on dialogue, and it’s great for time-fitting VO. For sound design it’s great for creating rises, bass drops, and doppler effects.
iZotope RX is great. I love the Declicker for mouth noise on VO, and Spectral Repair can sometimes be like magic (I once had to pull all of the birds out of a scene of dialogue which normally would have been an insane edit, but I did it in about 10 minutes with Spectral).
A good convolution reverb - aside from Revibe they’re the only reverbs that sound natural to me. I’ve used Altiverb, Space, and Waves IR-L - once you find your go to impulses and get them dialed in they can all sound great.
Where do you find inspiration for your sound design work?
Movies mostly. There are so many talented people doing such good work these days that most everything I see in the theater sounds spectacular. This past year I loved Mad Max, I had it on repeat in our new studio when we were doing the final construction - I probably watched it 10 times, the 5.1 mix is really fun.
What’s your favorite time-saving shortcut/tool?
Pretty simple but key commands for trim to region start/end haha. Also home and end keys for jumping to the top and bottom of my session.
What's a typical day like for you?
Depends on what I’m working on. If it’s a mix I’ll start by making sure all of my elements are converted and working, and all OMF/AAF’s are pulled into the template. If it’s a sound design project I usually start with the most featured sounds first, like the engine in a car spot. If it’s not just one featured sound I usually cut groups of sounds together, like all of the feet, then all of the BG’s, then all of the whooshes, etc.
What are your top films of all time?
You were the first-ever Hybrid Library owner (!!!) - how does the Hybrid Library fit in with your sound effects library and how has it helped you to grow your business since then?
We always do some amount of custom recording for all of the jobs we do, be it feet on a specific surface, or group voices for backgrounds, and that part of our library has really grown since we opened, but we still use the Hybrid Library every day.
Where's the best place for people to follow your work or contact you?
(I've done mainly commercial work for the past 7 years or so but there isn't really a full credit list for that. I think the most complete is on SourceECreative, but you have to have a membership to access it.)