Hey! You made it through the week. So happy for you! Really for a while we didn’t think you were going to, but you crash landed your vintage private airplane on the golf-course of life and walked away… as the old saying goes.
Anyway we’ve been busy, busy, busy and have several things to cover in this missive. First – The Creaky Stairs. WOW. A huge success for us. It’s been a very popular episode and has received a lot of very kind compliments. So thanks right back to everyone who has enjoyed the episode. One component that made Jared Rivet‘s vision (audiovision?) such a huge success – in addition to the wonderful performances by Tracy Clifton and Kristy Chavez – was the sound editing. We were lucky enough to have Craig Good back, fresh from his inaugural work on This Monstrous Life.
Craig is a man of many talents, you know he used to- hey! Hey, it just so happens I have Craig right here!
EBT: Hello Craig! How are you?
CG: Doing pretty well, Casey. Thanks.
EBT: You have a very interesting background – you don’t come from the world of sound design initially, am I correct?
CG: Not directly, no. I spent 31 years working first at Lucasfilm and then Pixar. I called it the world’s best film school, because I got to do a huge variety of things. One of them, on the early films, was post production coordinating. That meant I was working with Gary Rydstrom when he did the sound, occasionally jumping in to do foley and such. Also, in the old days one never knew when Ben Burtt was going to come through the halls looking for foley volunteers. In fact, he recorded me down in his “pit” one day. When Mola Ram dies at the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, that’s me screaming. He re-used that scream in some other movies, but I forget which.
EBT: You can be the new Wilhelm! I do recall, however, that you’ve always been something of an audiophile because even back when we first started I remember asking your professional opinion. (I believe you own some amazing other-worldly sound system if I recall).
CG: Yes, even before Lucasfilm I became friends with Dave Wilson, and helped him found Wilson Audio Specialties. We made audiophile recordings of live music, mostly pipe organs, and it when we would come back and listen to the tapes on his (excellent at the time) system it just didn’t hold up. That’s what drove him into the speaker business. He makes, I still argue, the best speakers anywhere. To thank me for helping out years ago they gave me a set of series 1 Sashas. Even though they’re near the “bottom” of his line, they really are pretty amazing. Most people have never heard what true audiophile speakers can do. Dave’s speakers are always a combination of precision and musicality. They’re my secret weapon, and I made all final mix decisions on your Earbud Theater episodes on them.
EBT: (We do love secret weapons). The quality shows, by way in the episodes, it really does. This is the second time you’ve done post on one of our audio dramas, the first being This Monstrous Life. Was there much of a difference in this process? Was it easier or more difficult. I know you actually nabbed some foley and sfx for this episode.
This episode was way easier for a couple of reasons. The first is that I learned a lot doing This Monstrous Life about how to work efficiently in Pro Tools with a complex session. The second is that this was much less complex. There were many fewer effects to find and cut in, and fewer environments to create. Also, the music was simpler to cut in, since this was all done by a film composer who knows how to write music that’s easy to edit.
EBT: Tell us about the equipment you use. I know of one toy you added to your arsenal that we down south of you are soon going to acquire as well… Lay it on us, thrill the tech-heads.
All right, I’ll go all Professor Frink on you here.
So you’re getting a Zoom H6? You’re gonna love it. I just recently got mine, and have been really impressed after using it on a couple of jobs in addition to yours. The crossed pair microphones are really pretty good, and make it easy to get phase-coherent stereo just about anywhere. To get the city background noises for The Creaky Stairs I just stood on a sidewalk in downtown San Francisco for a few minutes. Lurking outside a grade school got me the playground soundscape. For the footsteps I just mounted it on a tripod and used it as kind of an audio “selfie stick”. It let me have the mics right down near my feet as I stomped around in the house. I haven’t yet used the phantom power feature, but I do run the backup audio that’s 12 dB down (in case of unexpectedly loud sounds) and the feature that makes it start recording 2 seconds in the past! (It runs a buffer all the time, so if the band starts up unexpectedly you can get the take.)
My studio has a Neumann TLM-103 mic feeding an Avid M-Box. That’s what I used to get the flashlight and sleeping bag foley, as well as record the credits.
All of the above feeds into a 6-core Mac Pro with 32 Gb of RAM. That’s such a step up from the one-lung Mac Pro laptop that used to run my studio! Now I can run Pro Tools 11, Final Cut Pro, and just about anything else, all at the same time and it doesn’t break a sweat.
A real key to what I was able to do on this episode was iZotope software. It’s a lot like having Photoshop for sound. I used RX 4 Advanced to clean up the background noise from all the dialogue, and to pitch our actresses up by 1.25 semitones, which really made [Tracy and Kristy] sound like young boys. All the dialogue was gated and sweetened up using their Nectar 2 plugin. Remember those last two footsteps? The way I made them ring out in that distinctive way was using the transient shaping feature of their Alloy 2 plugin. It let me tweak the attack and sustain in different bands, which is just an amazing amount of control to have over a sound like that. It really let me sculpt it. Those iZotope folks have really figured this stuff out well. No wonder pretty much every movie post house relies on it. A friend of mine just got it, and it saved several takes on a movie project right out of the gate.
I’ve cobbled together a way to carry my mac into the room with the Sashas so I can make final mix decisions right there on the good system. I wrote more about that here on my blog. It was too late for This Monstrous Life, but it let me get to a good mix candidate on The Creaky Stairs in only a couple of hours.
EBT: Now I’m even more impressed. Well thank you again for stopping by, we hope you come back for more.
Sure thing, it’s been a pleasure. Uh – could you unlock the manacles now?
EBT: Oh. Well. I don’t have the keys, but I’ll find someone who does.
Hey wait! Come back!
Pretty cool guy. Going to give The Creaky Stairs a second listen, oh which reminds me. Credits. We were remiss in posting a complete set of credits so without further ado.
The Creaky Stairs
Written and Directed by Jared Rivet
Performed by Tracy Clifton as Tommy, Kristy Chavez as Danny, Jared Rivet as Adult Tommy and Seamus O’Toole as Dr. Williamson
Produced by Aaron Drown, Casey Wolfe, Nicholas Thurkettle and Branon Coluccio
Sound Editing and Effects by Craig Good – effects not created by Craig were found courtesy Freesound.org.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/Kevin MacLeod: Songs used include – “Ghost Story”, “Hush”, “Quinn’s Song: A New Man”, “Quinn’s Song: First Night”, “Quinn’s Song: The Dance Begins”
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Spot art for this episode created by the amazing Simeon Wilkins
Big thanks to everyone who participated in this! Big thanks to that ghost for not haunting us as far as we know.
We get a lot of reader mail (we don’t) asking us when the next episode is. Well, you can rest assured that there is always a next episode in the works in one way or another. Coming fairly soon we have a little ditty called, Scary Ride. And another from newcomer Aaron Woolfolk called Something’s Going On With Sam. But before those two hit, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re going to have a bad day…
…a very bad day…
… A Super. Bad. Day.