An experienced and innovative sound designer Ryan Hobler has worked extensively in commercials, movies, podcasts, art, and music. Ryan is one of the industry’s finest sound designers and his diverse showreel is a fantastic example of his range of abilities.
We seized the opportunity to peer inside Ryan’s creative mind and find out what makes him tick. In this interview Ryan joins Krotos Product Expert Alessandro Mastroianni from his home studio in New York.
Watch the full interview with Sound Designer, Ryan Hobler
[00:00:00.190] – Alessandro Mastroianni
Hi. My name is Alessandro Mastroianni. I’m a product expert at Krotos. And today I’m really excited because I have with us Ryan Hobler, who is a sound designer at Gramercy Park Studios. His work mostly involved working with commercials, but he is also a great songwriter. He has a fantastic series on Instagram and YouTube called And/Or. He works with podcasts. He’s a man of multiple talents. I’m really excited to have this chat with him. Thank you so much for being with us and having this chat with me.
[00:00:32.960] – Ryan Hobler
Thank you, Alessandro. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:35.100] – Alessandro Mastroianni
I’m really interested in your work with commercials because we didn’t have any guest that specialises in that sort of area of audio post. Do you want to talk a little bit about that kind of workflow?
[00:00:49.590] – Ryan Hobler
So, yeah, working in commercials is really interesting. When I was working at Genie Music Flavor Lab, we were working mainly in promos. They worked on a lot of Discovery, PBS, History Channel. It would be very straightforward. It would be like, oh, we’re just doing this promo for the next show that’s coming up. We’d work on it. And it would be like, maybe a day’s work. Then it would be out the door. Commercials. At the time, I worked for Grey Advertising ad agency in New York City, and they had an in house post production facility, I think that was called at the time, Tape Center when I started. Yeah, it had so many names. I went over there and it was such a culture shock because you could be working on… I had friends who were working on television shows and movies, and they’d be two, three months working on an entire television show series, like, at the time, probably 20 episodes of content. And I started off working on something for just as long, but it was a 30 second commercial. The primary challenge for me, especially as a young, thoroughly not ready engineer, was actually learning how to communicate and how to speak and listen to people as my clients for the first time.
[00:02:06.940] – Ryan Hobler
That’s still something that I just find to be the most exciting and exhilarating part of the job. What’s so interesting to me about working in the commercial space is you’re working on primarily. Like. All these small pieces of content, 15, 30 seconds. But there’s so much time and effort and such a large group of people working on that. That if you’re not on the same page with everybody. And if you don’t communicate. If you don’t speak and listen to what this thing that you’re creating is supposed to be. Then it can very easily go off the rail. So one of the first things that I learned was get to the heart of what do we want to convey here? What is the emotion? And I felt like my musical background kind of contributed to this kind of effort. You’re performing as a sound designer mixer with clients breathing down your neck and in the advertising world, everybody was breathing down your neck like, come on, we got to get this out. But you’re also shepherding their ideas that they’ve been working on for months before they walk through your door. What’s the emotion behind this?
[00:03:15.260] – Ryan Hobler
What’s your intent behind this? If I grab and snag and embody that in the sound, the music, the sound design or whatever, then it’s brilliant.
[00:03:39.970] – Alessandro Mastroianni
Let’s dig deeper a little bit into the workflow of working with ads. Do you want to tell us a little bit how you approach a project?
[00:03:49.980] – Ryan Hobler
Working in that kind of environment? You want to work as fast as you possibly can. You don’t want to think about too much, like, what you’re doing and how to do it. You want to just do it. If you’re making a genie coming out of a lamp sound, you don’t want to be thinking about how that’s being routed in ProTools. You want everything at your fingertips, like, as soon as possible. The template that I’ve created for our folks at Gramercy Park Studios is exhaustive. So there’s a bunch of stuff in there that just helps us execute as fast as possible just to stay in the creation energy, as opposed to everything inside of behind the scenes happening in ProTools. I don’t want to be thinking about any of that stuff while I’m crafting sound design and atmospheres and things like that. Along those same lines, like, using Krotos Reformer Pro is one of my favorites because I wind up using it because of the immediacy of how simple it is to use. Me also being a performer by nature. As a musician. A singer. I love being able to create sounds and just point that little dot in that XY graph in Reformer Pro on one of my And/Or videos.
[00:05:09.800] – Ryan Hobler
Actually. Most recently. I was sound designing this butterfly that comes into the screen. And it kind of flutters into the screen and then lands on this branch. And I end up using Reformer Pro for that. Sometimes when I watch these videos, when I’m sound designing something, I hear the sound, and I make the sound with my voice. I just go and that sounds like a little fluttery butterfly to me, but I wanted it to have a little bit of an edge, so I wound up just doing that and then opening up Reformer Pro and kind of going in between, I think the leaves and twigs library and, like a sizzle, like a burning library that comes with the Reformer Pro. It just works. I love the fact that you could work with layers and point it in between up to four sounds in Reformer Pro at the moment, and being able to do that is just wonderful. I love using Reformer Pro is my favorite. That’s, like me. I sing. I vocalize. I want to perform my music. I want to perform my sound as much as possible. I want it to come from me. There’s something for me personally as a musician, first and foremost, playing my synthesis here, you can’t see it, but playing a synth, like playing sounds through that, tweaking a synth that feels more natural and more alive to me than going into the effects and files and editing them little sounds like that.
[00:06:44.270] – Ryan Hobler
You could do that with Reformer Pro in like 2 seconds just going like that, as opposed to taking several, maybe eight layers of files and tweaking them to sound the way that you want them to sound.
[00:07:01.270] – Alessandro Mastroianni
Really cool. So since you mentioned And/Or, let’s talk a little bit about that. Such an interesting series. My favorite one is the Rubik’s Cube. And I love how actually, I don’t want to say it why don’t you talk a little bit about what it is and how you came up with the idea.
[00:07:20.070] – Ryan Hobler
And/Or came from a place of, I guess reconciliation. For me, I have these two sides. Like I have my musical side and my audio post sound design side. I kept these two things separate for such a long time. The more I did worked on music, the more I worked on commercials, the more I worked on films, podcasts, etc. The more I discovered that this is a ridiculous mindset to have. Like, why are these two things why am I treating these two halves as completely separate? It’s called And/Or because I do music and or sound design for various shorts. I started on Instagram because at the time Instagram evolved since then, but at the time Instagram, the limit was like 1 minute for a video. And I love the idea of doing something really short. I also wanted to do something where I could experiment and I experiment all the time. I’m always trying to push myself and try new things, even in an ad sense, where maybe I’m working on a very simple sound sonically simple sonic commercial where it’s just a voiceover and a music track. Even if I’m working on something like that, I’m still exploring various ways to maybe do some parallel impression on the music and really pump it up when it goes to this wide shot in the commercial with meaning and intent throughout.
[00:08:46.490] – Ryan Hobler
But that is limited. The And/Or series, it’s basically whatever I want it to be. I reach out to various visual artists, whether they be motion designers or animators or friends of mine who have way more visual sensibilities than myself, and I say, hey, you want to make a video together? And they say, sure, it’s just for fun. I don’t get paid for it. I’m not looking to get paid for it. And it’s just a creative flex just to be here’s a visual with nothing on it. And now let’s make something out of it. The Rubik’s Cube one. I saw that. I think I saw that on Instagram and I reached out to the animator and I was like, hey, can we work together? And there’s something beautiful about working one on one with someone again. And that’s been the case on pretty much all those videos. I think there’s been about oh, man, I can’t remember there’s 16 of them now. I had a little cheat screen up there, but there’s 16 of them and it’s just fun. I just go out and I look for exciting visual artists and I say, hey, let’s make a video together.
[00:10:11.420] – Ryan Hobler
It’s wonderful being able to make it from the ground up and have it just be what it is. But it’s all creation and it’s all experimentation. Whether it’s learning new tricks, using Reformer Pro or Igniter, or making whatever you want to make without any limitations.
[00:10:30.370] – Alessandro Mastroianni
There’s something very exciting and also very scary about having nothing at all to work with, having no production track to use as a reference, having no synch points, nothing. I find that very exciting. And as you say, you can be very experimental with it and very abstract even, because there is sort of like no real word counterpart that you need to respect in a way. So that’s cool.
[00:10:59.420] – Ryan Hobler
It’s my favorite thing to work on. Most of the And/Or videos are animated. I think some of my favorite ad work has been the animated stuff. Actually, one of the Applebee’s commercials I did was like this little elf and he climbs up this hill and he’s thinking about Applebee’s, but it was like a mini Pixar 15 second Pixar Movie it was so much fun to work on because there was nothing there was nothing there before, before there was something.
[00:11:27.730] – Alessandro Mastroianni
Audio post, music really getting all the audio industry under the biggest umbrella that you can think of, what you think is the future of the industry, and especially how do you see the role of the sound designer evolving?
[00:11:47.190] – Ryan Hobler
I’m going to look back upon my answer in like ten years and be like, what a fool I was. I didn’t know where anything was headed. I can guarantee you whatever I say right now will not be it. But I personally think that we’re headed I like the direction that you guys at Krotos seems to be headed in. But it seems like performance and kind of gesture based. The technology is so incredible what kids coming out of college can do and access today. They have all this technology at their fingertips. That wasn’t something that we had growing up, and it wasn’t as accessible, wasn’t as easy to pay for, to grab. It wasn’t something we get on an app on our phone or iPad or touchscreen, whatever. I imagine like that film Minority Report where Tom Cruise is just moving information all around on his virtual chalkboard. I would love to be able to manipulate audio in a way that’s more natural and based off of movement and voice actually physically interacting with the media. I feel like that’s where it’s headed. It’s got to be headed that way. It’s just going to get even better and more incredible.
[00:13:00.630] – Ryan Hobler
I’m really excited, to be honest.
[00:13:02.610] – Alessandro Mastroianni
I just want to say that it’s so cool that even an established sound designer like yourself still finds the time to do something like the And/Or series. There’s something very inspiring, because we all need to find some time to do some experimentation. And, yeah, if you’re younger, you can use that as a way to put your work out and find work. But even if you’re not young and even if you’re already established, it’s really inspiring what you’re doing with And/Or. I really loved it.
[00:13:38.820] – Ryan Hobler
Thank you. Yeah, I think it’s important. It’s key to keep on pushing. You always have to reach for something more. Like, you can’t just do the same thing over and over again. You got to explore. And I feel like if you’re not exploring, then you’re in a state of stasis, and you can’t become more than if you’re not exploring. You can’t become more if you don’t explore. That rhymes! But no. Thank you. I appreciate that.
[00:14:10.220] – Alessandro Mastroianni
All right. Thank you so much. I think we can close it here. And thank you so much for finding the time to do this. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
[00:14:18.950] – Ryan Hobler
Thank you. This is awesome.
In this interview, Ryan shares some insights into the fast-paced world of commercials, and the importance of creative freedom that you get from experimental art.
Ryan uses Krotos Everything Bundle in his workflow and he shares with us his reasons for including Krotos in his template. With a musical background, Ryan’s natural ability to perform sounds fits perfectly with the Krotos workflow.
You can try out our Sound Design Design Bundle for free! Head over to www.krotosaudio.com/sound-design-bundles and start your trial today
Ryan Hobler’s Sound Design Work
We’ve selected a few of our favourites from Ryan’s showreel but we urge you to check them out for yourself. Visit his studio page at gramercyparkstudios.com/ryan-hobler his personal website at ryanhobler.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to his YouTube channel so you don’t miss Ryan’s awesome And/Or series!
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