George Vlad is a passionate sound designer, recordist and composer based in London, UK. He mainly creates audio for video games and field recordings as Mindful Audio, travelling extensively to capture a variety of rare sounds, from natural ambiences to odd vehicles and vintage aircraft.
How did you get into the audio industry?
My first contact with the audio industry occurred when I started producing electronic music some 15 years ago. After discovering the concept of a DAW, I realized that I didn’t need a huge studio, an expensive mixing board or a roomful of synths to do what I loved most. However, I soon noticed that I spent more time working on FX chains than actually composing, and this led me to focus on sound design. I still continued composing music, but this took a back seat to my work as a sound designer from then on.
What’s your favourite piece of studio equipment?
Although it’s not strictly studio kit, I love my Sennheiser Double Mid-Side rig (an MKH 30 and two MKH 8040s in a Cinela Pianissimo blimp). It is incredibly versatile, allowing me to record both in the studio and in the field. The 3-channel recordings can be decoded to mono, stereo, quad and 5.1. Most importantly, it sounds great and reaches well up into the higher frequencies. As a bonus, it works well in temperature and humidity extremes.
What’s your favourite sound and why?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I love creature calls that are difficult to record. Last year I was lucky enough to record a Nile Crocodile bellowing on a trip to Senegal, and it’s probably my favorite recording yet. The way it starts off like a sort of engine and then unleashes is just beautiful, and the environmental reflections convey its sheer size and power.
What would be your dream sound library to record?
I’d like to do ambience libraries of similar niche environments all over the world. For example, Cloud Forests, Deltas, Oases etc. Not too easy to put into practice because of the inherent costs, but I’m slowly getting there.
What led to the creation of Mindful Audio?
About 5 years ago I started to record a lot more audio for my daily work as a sound designer. I amassed a good collection of sounds and started sharing them with fellow sound pros. This is when it dawned on me that I could package these recordings as libraries and sell them for commercial use.
What projects have you been working on recently?
In terms of game audio, I just finished working on an update for side-scrolling shooter Door Kickers Action Squad, which was a lot of fun because I got to use Weaponiser. I’ve also been working on Wordscapes, a mobile word game that gets more than a million daily players. At Mindful Audio, I’m working on a couple of updates for existing libraries and I have a few new ones in various stages. I also plan to release a series of vlogs about my field recording trips as soon as I get some of the studio work done. They’ll soon be up on my Youtube channel.
You recently designed some presets for Weaponiser. Can you take us through the process of how you chose, recorded and edited the sounds?
Working on the presets for Weaponiser V1.1.0 was a lot of fun. When I spoke to Matt and Orfeas about it, it was clear that the realistic firearms category was covered. Therefore, I decided to create a few crazy weapons using recordings of hits, impacts, ice, water, fire etc. from my own collection. Since time was short I didn’t get to record as much as I wanted, but my back catalogue saved me as usual.
What do you like most about Krotos Audio software?
It’s going to sound cliché, but the thing I like most about Krotos software is how innovative it is. It isn’t just another compressor or synth emulation. It takes existing workflows and packages them into neat software that just works. I love how much room for experimentation it allows and how fast I can get the results I want.
How do you see audio technology evolving in the future?
If the current trends are any indication, audio technology is going to move towards software as a service and not as a product anymore. Fast and regular updates will become common, with user feedback being taken much more seriously than before.
What’s the greatest sound design-related tip or piece of advice you’ve ever learned?
Sound is not 50%, 30% or 100%. The final product is more important than anything else. A wholesome approach to sound design is preferable to a smug attitude towards the other components of a media product. To put this into practice, I recently started to learn photography, videography and game design. It’s not always relevant to my work, but I feel like it makes me better at my job and it also offers a welcome break from focusing on audio. Browse some of Mindful Audio’s sound fx libraries here.