The Queen’s Gambit Sound Effects Editor James David Redding – Interview

In this interview, we interviewed James David Redding III, Prolific Sound Designer & Sound Effects Editor who has worked on The Queen’s Gambit, American Rust, The Americans, 30 Rock and The Matrix sound design, plus countless other projects.

James shares with us his beginnings in the industry, as well as what it was like working on the iconic sounds of The Matrix so early in his career, and how he approached the sound of The Queen’s Gambit, and much more.

James talks about how Reformer Pro and Weaponiser are always ready to go in his sound design template, and how much fun he has whilst saving time using Krotos software,

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Alessandro

Hi all, this is Alessandro Mastroianni from Krotos. Today I have the great pleasure of having a fantastic guest with us. He is a sound designer and sound editor with a career spanning many years. In fact, an overall audio post-production wizard with many credits under his belt, including projects such as City on a Hill, The Americans and The Queen’s Gambit: James Redding. Hi, James. Thank you so much for being with us. I’m really excited about having this chat with you and thank you for taking the time from your, I’m sure, very busy schedule.

James Redding III

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to chat with you.

Alessandro

Right, so, as usual, we must start with the classic question on how you got started in the industry. I’m always fascinated to ask this because there is no such thing as a standard entry into this industry for us, so I’m excited to hear your story. Can you share a bit of that?

James Redding III

I mean, I’ve always been interested in sound. I was in a bunch of bands in high school. I started playing the guitar when I was in 6th grade, so about twelve years old. And I wanted to be the consummate rock star. Slash was one of my idols. And then I just wanted to be that person. Obviously, you can’t meet the Slash standard. But then I realised I wasn’t actually a very good musician. I was really good at making noise, but not musicality. I could tell when something was off, but I couldn’t get myself to produce what I wanted necessarily. So, I got into recording my friends and such. I went to Ithaca College in upstate New York. And then I started out as an English Major for one semester to appease my parents because my mother said I needed to have a real job. I shortly transitioned into their television and radio department and thought for a while that I wanted to get into radio and music production and so I got really heavily into audio production classes. And while I was at Ithaca, I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles with their study abroad programme.

And I went out to LA and I was looking for audio internships in LA and I came across this studio called Dane Tracks and they sounded really cool. And I was like, all right, let me go check it out. And I went to their post-production studio and I got to meet Dane Davis and he was working on this film at the time called The Matrix. And I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody. It was really, really tough. But I just remember being like, “wow, this is fun”. And got to work with the Wachowskis and watch Dane as he created all these wonderful sounds. I mean, coming up with the idea of ‘bullet time’ and what the audio world would sound like when you’re travelling at the speed of a bullet and stuff like that. And I was like, wow, this is exciting. So, I went back to finish my degree and when I got back to Ithaca, I just buried my head in audio post-production. And I probably covered about 90% of the senior films that year for audio post, between mixing them and doing some sound design and stuff. And when I graduated that year, I used the alumni network of Ithaca and called up Ron Bokar of C Five and he gave me a quick opportunity at C Five.

But unfortunately, the project he was on was going on hiatus just as I started. But he connected me with another friend of his who went to Ithaca who worked at a company called Sync Sound and Sync Sound was looking for a night-time digital assistant. And I said, “Okay, sure”. So, I started off as a 6pm to 2am shift in the studio, cleaning up and reorganising systems. And at that time, Pro Tools was version five, I think, this was back in 2000, Pro Tools was version five. And not everybody was using it. There was another system called AMS Audio File. And so some of the editors used that. Some of them used Pro Tools and then they would switch rooms. There are about twelve different rooms at this facility. And so we’d have to move these carts that had basically a keyboard and monitor for the Pro Tools or would have the control head for the audio file. And every night I’d be switching rooms for the engineers. I did that for about six months or so. And then I got moved over to their big mixing stage, which was Digital Cinema, which was at the time the second-largest mix stage in New York.

And I started becoming a mix assistant in the afternoon. So, I got moved up to 2pm to 8pm which was much nicer on my sleep schedule. I worked with the great Ken Hahn and Grant Maxwell. And they taught me a lot about mixing. And then a lot of other mixers would come through, because again, being one of the larger stages in New York, Tom Fleischman came through. Lee Dicker came through. Leslie Schotz, Gary Rizzo, Ryan Kleise came through. Everybody who came to New York at one point or another sort of stopped in there. And it was great because I got to see so many different styles and learn so many different ways of people working. That was 2001 or whatever. And then I started just doing my own projects. And from there, I’ve gotten to work on dialogue editing, sound effects editing, Foley editing, Foley recording sound design, mixing. I’ve done everything from trailers and commercials and video games up to feature films, documentaries, and television series. And I’ve been sort of lucky that I don’t like to be pigeonholed and I like to be working.

Alessandro

That’s actually really cool. And I love the story about the very first small indie project that was Matrix. What a way to start a career. That must have been fun. And actually, sorry. Please go ahead.

James Redding III

It was great because Dane Davis is such a great master, and he’s so humble, and he was just so much fun to work with. And I keep in touch with Dan, and we text back and forth, and whenever I’m out in California, I stop in and say, “Hi”. And he’s a great guy. He taught me a lot of how to think about sound. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re using. It matters what it turns out to sound like, which was a lot of fun.

Alessandro

Yeah, I bet, that sounds really exciting. And I also love this idea that, I’m very much like you, like I like the fact that even if when you’re very young, you’re told that you need to heavily specialise on the field because you need to be the “go-to-guy” for doing a very specific thing. But I do see a lot of value in knowing a lot about many things. And it sounds like you’re doing exactly that. You have projects where you work as a sound editor, as a sound designer. I know you also have credits as a rerecording mixer, and you briefly mentioned dialogue editing and all that sort of stuff. So, would you say that mostly you do sound editor at the moment? Do you have, like, a speciality that you’re doing mostly at the moment?

James Redding III

Yeah, I mean, mostly people hire me for sound effects, but most of the time I’m either hired as a sound effects editor, sound designer, or a re-recording mixer for sound effects. I’ve done full projects where I’ve done everything, but recently, I’d say over the last couple of years, it’s mostly been heavily sound effects, which is fine for me because personally, that’s what I enjoy more. It goes back to my musicality and not being quite musical, I still like to make a lot of raucous noise, being able to stretch myself creatively with sound effects; as much as a creative challenge as dialogue editing can be, trying to clean up something or whatever, there’s something just more spiritually freeing for me with sound effects. I’m constantly listening for new sounds, I’m recording new sounds and that’s just where my head usually is.

Alessandro

Since I think that there is quite a lot of confusion in people that are not into the industry as to what exactly it is that the sound effects editor does nowadays (I think that many people have like some confusion with Foley arts and what a re-recording mixer does), would you like to explain a little bit what it means today? And I also know that it’s a bit dependent on projects and budgets, but can you give an overview of what it is that you do?

James Redding III

I could try. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, trying to explain it to people and I don’t think they always get it. But a sound effects editor, one thing people don’t realise while watching their programmes, television, movie, whatever, is that while they’re capturing the image, they’re trying not to capture more than just the voice. Part of that is just so that we can have control over things later and to keep the voice clear. So, when they capture just the voice, everything else is kind of gone and we have to create the world. So as a sound effects editor, most of the time we’re tasked with creating the sonic world that you’re watching. We’re cutting in backgrounds. I think people are always amazed whenever I give a studio tour and I show them that I have layers and layers of sounds that are background sounds, sounds that you take for advantage in the real-life, right? This idea of a sonic world around you; you don’t notice that there’s a vent going and a fan going and a bird chirping and a car passing by. As a sound effects editor, I noticed all that stuff and I’m putting that in to build this sonic world for what you’re watching because whether it’s reality or fiction that you’re watching, we’re still trying to just capture that voice and it would sound very weird without the rest of the world around it, but we have to control it.

So as a sound effects editor, we’re putting in these layers. In some ways, I’d like to say that we’re sort of adding ingredients for a cake, right? We’re putting in backgrounds, which are kind of like flour, and then we’re putting in birds and cars, which are kind of like sugar and eggs, to sort of blend it together and give it a little flavour. And then we’re adding some vanilla, which is like the sound design, right? The vanilla flavour and the cinnamon on top to give it that extra spice, extra kick. That’s the sound design sort of part of it. And it’s all coming together. And then that’s where the re-recording mixer comes in, more like the baker, right? The sound effects editor is kind of like the sous chef. And then the re-recording mixer is a baker, where they take it and they blend it all together and they masterfully craft it and bake it to just that right consistency for your ears, where you sit there and go, “This tastes good going into my head. Oh, yeah!” So that’s sort of how I like to describe the two different disciplines, as far as editing and rerecording, mixing and Foley sort of gets in there and people do get confused.

I always think of Foley, as I tell my students, I actually just taught this last week. Foley is like the ADR for sound effects. We’re performing a sound effect in sync with the picture and it’s a very specialised sound. Most of the time it’s covering footsteps and Foley is just another ingredient to put in that cake. It’s what makes it either vanilla or chocolate cake. Right. You’re putting in that extra ingredient that’s giving it that flavour. So that’s where Foley is its own little speciality. But we’re all part of the same thing. We’re all part of the same team and we’re all trying to make something delicious. It’s just instead of tasting it with your mouth, you’re tasting it with your ears.

Alessandro

Wow. This is one of the best explanations that I’ve ever heard about the various disciplines of audio post-production. Really cool. And while you were telling this, I was thinking that Matrix must have been a fantastic project to learn on, also, because there were so many things that we now take for granted that that film completely revolutionised. As you briefly mentioned ‘bullet time’, which has been now exploited to death, but that was the very first thing. And what is the sound of slow-motion? How do you create a sound that doesn’t exist? It must have been like a very cool project to start your career on.

James Redding III

It was great. And the best part about it working at Dane Tracks was it was a very small audio post crew. Dane Davis, Julia Evershade, Eric was on it. We had a handful of people on it and I got to see everybody doing their job. I got to see the dialogue edit, I got to see the sound effects edit. We went and recorded stuff with John Fasal. We went and destroyed Julia’s bathroom because she was having it renovated anyway, and it was marble. So, we went in and we bashed the daylights out of this marble bathroom and collected these great sounds. And there’s the lobby, right. The lobby shoot up scene is Julia’s bathroom being destroyed.

And then I got to work with John Rosha at Warner Brothers. At the time, he was a Warner Bros Foley artist and we took televisions, we took 27-inch television, tube TVs because you got to remember this was the 90s so we had tube TVs, we didn’t have the flat screens yet and those vacuum tubes: John Rush figured out that if you took the plastic casing off the TV and just exposed the tube and then threw a brick at it, once you broke that seal, it imploded and came out with this great boom! We blew upI think we imploded like at least 20 televisions in the Warner Brothers stage. But again, I got to see this.

I never thought of the Foley artists doing explosions and John taught me that and I never thought of these little glass movements for the bomb in the elevator, John was showing me. “Oh yeah, if you take these test tubes and you slide them against each other”. So, I got to see all these great, different parts of it and it was such a learning experience, an eye-opening experience for me so early in my career, that I was very spoiled.

Alessandro

Yeah, it sounds very interesting. So, moving on, at Krotos we are very much into workflow. We are trying to revolutionise the way that the sound designer approaches the job. So, it’d be quite interested in learning how you start a project, how do you approach it and what are the differences between the projects that you do? For example, what is the difference between feature film, not just in terms of budgets and requirements, but also the scheduling of a feature film versus a TV series, things like that. And also if you could tell us a little bit how Krotos products fit into this workflow, I’d be really interested.

James Redding III

So, I kind of approach every project the same, whatever their budget is, whatever their schedule is. After having a discussion with the creatives on it, whether it’s the showrunner or director, I dive in and for me usually, it’s sound effects so I start with the background so I can get through the whole project once just setting up how the scenes are flowing and really what I’m trying to do is establish what the flow is because as a sound artist myself, I like to have a flow. I like to feel how it’s going to move and so I start with the backgrounds and I get a nice big broad stroke across the whole thing of backgrounds and then I start going in with details and details and details and details and again it’s a flow thing though.

I don’t like spending a lot of time looking for things. I have about four and a half terabytes worth of sound effects at this moment, 400,000 something files and luckily, I have a great database program to search through them. It’s all about trying to find that sound that I want to fit in quickly and that’s sort of actually where Krotos has helped me a lot with a lot of different parts of it.

So, where Krotos fits in for me with that is, I actually now have a couple of Krotos plugins just in my sound design template for when I’m editing. I have a Weaponiser in there, I have Igniter in there, and I have Reformer Pro. And what’s great about them is that I can quickly sketch out an idea, if not fully flesh out an idea, while working in such a flow. I’ve talked about Reformer Pro before on YouTube, where I used it for this water scene in American Rust, which was a Showtime series.

It was so freaking cool, I had it already in my template, so I just activated it. I put up my microphone, I loaded in some water sounds, and then as I’m watching this person swimming underwater, I’m like, “it’s triggering all these water sounds!”. The water scene went like that. Whereas if I was to do it the traditional way, it would have taken me a long time to get the right water sounds. And then you have to cut them in, right?

And then you have to sit there and you kind of lose that flow. There is a momentum to it, but you kind of lose the flow. It’s nice to be able to quickly get things done. Same with Weaponiser. I’ve used Weaponiser in a number of different ways for not only gunshots.

In City on a Hill, every gunshot since Season 2 has been performed with Weaponiser because it’s great because I can a) quickly pull up a couple of guns that I’ve already designed in there because these are all supposed to be real world guns. So, I’ve designed a couple of specific ones in there that I can sit there and I have my keyboard next to me and I just trigger them as I see them go by with the module flashes on screen. And I can go in and readjust them if I want to.

Sometimes what’s great is that I can take what the picture editor has already put in, because if they haven’t put in the muzzle flashes, they usually put in a temp sound effect, and I can usually take their temp sound effect and since Weaponiser is an instrument in Pro tools, I put it up on the MIDI track.

And it recognises the MIDI, and I can match what the picture editor has put in as their timing. Whether or not I like their timing, that’s a different story, but it speeds up the process that much faster for me getting where I need to faster, because again, it comes down to flow, especially with a TV series, a show like City on a Hill, it’s a one-hour programme that we have seven days to edit.

So, it’s a very tight turnaround and they’re expecting cinematic. And then when we go to films, usually it’s a two-hour film that I get something like six weeks to edit on. So, the turnaround comes out differently. The flow ends up being different, but I still approach it the same way.

I start with broad strokes, and then I go in in more and more detail, which it depends on how much time and how quickly I can do it and how much detail we can get done. So that’s why a quick way of working comes in really handy. Having my tools easily, readily available to me is very important.

Alessandro

Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I also like, other than the actual, obviously saving of time, I really like this idea of performing your own sound effects. I like the fact that you can really remove a barrier between the final project and you as a sound designer. It’s less editing, it’s less mouse and keyboard, and is more sort of a fluid experience while working on it, which I personally enjoy a lot.

James Redding III

Yeah. Especially with Igniter, since I’ve gotten that again starting about Season 2 of City on a Hill, I think is when I got a lot of these tools, I have Igniter so that I have it on my tablet that I can control the rev with my tablet, so I can just sit there with just a glide on my finger, riding that rev, and you can follow the flow of the car that you’re working on.

Weaponiser. Just the other day I was doing a gunfight that had shots, and then we need to hear impacts, and it was great because you can separate those different parts of Weaponiser. You can do the main shot, the body and the tail and everything. And so I made the tail, the impacts, and then since you can control it with different keyboard notes, I could do the shot, and then I could do the tail with my other finger, and it was great because then you get the rhythm, right.

Everything in life has a rhythm, and you can get the rhythm of the edit of what’s happening. And even though it might not necessarily be represented on picture, that rhythm sort of is almost more important.

And so you can sort of play that gunshot. It’s ridiculous. You’re playing gunshots, but it helps the emotion of a story in ways that people aren’t even conscious of. Most of the audience isn’t conscious of what I’m doing, and I don’t ever want them to be conscious of what I’m doing.

But being able to perform it, I can insert myself as an artist onto something. right? In just little ways. I tell the folks from Krotos constantly, I’m like, It’s just fun. And if there’s anything that you want when you’re working, I didn’t become an accountant for a reason. And I’m not saying that accountants don’t have their own fun, but in my job, I want to have some fun. If I’m doing this with some of these gruelling schedules and not having fun, then there’s something wrong. I got to be doing something different.

Alessandro

Absolutely. Yeah. If you don’t mind me asking, is that your home studio? Do you do a lot of this editorial part of the job in your own house?

James Redding III

I do. This is my home studio. I set this up about seven or eight years ago. I mean, I’ve had a home studio since I graduated. I’ve gotten it more powerful, I should say, in the last seven years. I’m now set up for 7.1 in my studio. And I’m in the process of figuring out how to get ceiling speakers in my space for ATMOS. But, yeah, I do pretty much, for the last seven or eight years, I’ve pretty much done everything out of my house.

The Americans, I mixed in person in New York, but the Queen’s Gambit crew, I did all my editorial stuff out of my house. I’ve mixed features here and then gone to studios in New York, California. I did a feature one time, it was so much fun where I did most of the temp stuff all at home. And then I went into a gigantic studio in New York and mixed some of it there and then got to go out to Skywalker for a couple of days and mix out there. So, it was sort of fun to see the translation and know that as long as you set things up properly to the standard and you sort of calibrate your room,

I was able to translate from my home studio all the way to Skywalker, which was just a fascinating experience and just such a fun campus to be on. But as far as being home, I love being in my home studio. I have my settings, my plugins, my keyboard. I have two different tablets that I use for different triggering purposes. I have one that’s an XY pad set-up. I have another one that I switch between using Avid Control on and using TouchDAW on as another keyboard so that I can get different octaves at the same time. My little S1, you can’t see it because it’s in front of me. The camera is actually sitting sort of on top of it at the moment. I have my comfortable little spot. I know what it sounds like, and I can drink my own coffee and I can see my daughter. And those sort of things are important.

Alessandro

Yeah. I think it’s amazing the way technology has evolved to allow us to do a lot of this stuff from home. I’m seeing it more and more, and obviously the pandemic. Well, I was about to say didn’t help, but actually did help into making this profession, this idea of working from home more acceptable at many levels. And I was actually just talking with another post-production mixer, we were talking about headphones, and we were talking about a specific model of headphones, and he was like a rerecording mixer in a massive studio in London, and he said, “I did all the temp stuff at home on these headphones, and it actually translated okay,” like he made a few adjustments on the reverb here and there, so the technology is definitely there and I absolutely agree with you there, those things are important.

James Redding III

It’s great to have the flexibility of it. Like I said, I’ve had this studio for a long time. I started off with a stereo set-up. When I first started at Sync Sound, I had, what was it, the Digi 001, I think running Pro Tools 5. At the time, I could only do stereo. I figured out a way how to trick it. It was Pro Tools LE, actually, and I figured out a way how to trick it to have time code before it was allowed to have time code.

Like there was no DV toolkit or anything like that. So, I learned how to trick it to have time code. And it was great to have that flexibility that instead of having to spend all night in a studio, I could bring stuff home on a hard drive and work on it a little bit. And then nowadays, unless I have a client that I need to meet with, I do like the comforts of my house, but I will go into the city. I have great relationships with Postworks and Soundtracks and Harbor and Sound Lounge and all these great studios in the city that have great mixers on staff too.

But I have the ability to go in and work with them also, and not have to tie up resources all the time. And sometimes I’m working on a small indie that can’t afford something that big, so I can mix it here and then go there and finish it up. But the other thing that I really like is I have my settings the way I like it. I have a comfort level of certain things that, I did find while I was at Sync Sound, I was constantly switching rooms and I would always have to bring my settings with me or reset them up.

And now it’s like, okay, it’s only every once in a while that I have the inconvenience of having to do that somewhere else. And it’s great because I always say to my clients, including the studios that hire me from New York, I always say, like, if I work here, I can be more creative faster. I have my sound effects, I have my database. And not that they don’t have the same sound effects. We all have sort of the same libraries, we all have the sound ideas libraries from like, the late nineties and stuff like that.

But it’s just that comfort factor where you’re like, again finding that flow. And it’s easy for me having the Krotos Sound Design Bundle 2, it’s like, okay, it’s set up: I have my microphone right here and, okay, I need to Reformer Pro something, pull it over, turn on my phantom power and go. Whereas if I try to explain that to another studio, that like, “hey, so I’m going to need a mic, and I’m going to need this, and that,”, there’s certain things about it that just make it so much nicer.

Alessandro

Absolutely. Let’s talk specific projects a little bit, if you don’t mind. So, you mentioned things like designing gunshots for a City on a Hill, and you worked on The Americans, which was a period drama, so obviously its own specificity. And I’ve actually watched very recently The Queen’s Gambit and absolutely loved it, it was obviously massively successful. And I’d be quite interested in knowing, I think it’s a project that is very interesting to do sound for, even if it doesn’t have, like, gunshots and other things that we typically associate with cinematic sound design, what it was like to create a sound world for a project that is more psychological, if you want to call it that, or a real dramatic story that was so fun and intense and emotional, but not only, if you know what I mean.

James Redding III

Yeah, it was one of those projects, I got to work with such a great crew of people with The Queen’s Gambit. And the way it came about was I actually happened to be at a holiday party at Gold Crust in New York, and I was talking with Eric Hirsch, and we’d never worked together before, but we were talking and he was like, “Oh, man, I got this great project coming up. I’d love to have you do sound effects on it,”. And Gregg Swiatlowski was going to be on it doing dialogue.

And I was like, “Okay, cool,”. I’ve worked with Gregg before on other projects, and I was like, “Okay, cool,”. And he’s like, “Yeah, it’s about chess,”. And I was like, “Okay, cool, try to still sound excited about it…!”, not knowing anything about it, really. But they were coming up with a workflow of which we were going to be doing sort of temp dubs while we’re editing and handing them back over to the picture department and then getting them back. There’s a lot of back and forth. And Eric was like, “Look, I really want you on this because you’re a mixer also, so you can sort of pre dub it and hand it off, 

And I don’t have to worry too much about it and everything,”. I was like, “Yeah, okay, cool,”. And then I got the first reel or the first episode. Actually, the first episode I got was the second one. So, I was very confused in the beginning. I was like, “I don’t know what’s happening!”. But I got the first one, and it was just shot so well, and it was acted so well, and it was edited so well. And when I started watching, I was like, “Okay, this isn’t just chess, right?”. This is something more. This is something that is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship across the board. And it was only fitting to try to match that with audio

. And so, my first task and actually what ended up being my biggest task for the whole thing was doing the background and coming up with what the world was going to sound like. It is a period piece. So, it’s trying to figure that out, right. Trying to make sure that you’re staying within that realm. But it’s also psychological. And how do you make the basement sound like a basement, but not be a basement, but be something else.

Right. It’s part of Beth’s sort of upbringing to some extent. It’s a scary thing that she sort of goes through and opens up a world to her that she didn’t have before. So, it was one of those things where you just sit there and you’re like, “Wow, okay, I gotta meet this,”. And those are my favourite projects. When you have a project that you can see all the layers that have gone into it so far and how good it’s going to be, you’re like, “Okay, I got to raise my game up,”. And those are great because they push you and they challenge you. And again, working with such a great team, Pat Cicero. I mean, it ended up being weird because while we were working on it is when the pandemic hit of Covid 19. And so everybody just sort of did this weird 180. I was already working from home, right? I was already here, but everybody else was scrambling and trying to figure out how to make that work. And so a lot of communication was lost during part of that, but it pulled through wonderfully. I was not able to be at the final mixes, unfortunately.

But man was super happy when I saw them, though, because I watched it with the rest of the world on Netflix when it was first released. And I just remember writing to Eric and being like, “Wow, this sounds amazing!” So, it was a pleasure to be part of that.

Alessandro

Yeah, it really was a fantastic production. Let’s finish off with talking a little bit about the future. You’re also involved in education. You teach at NYU, right? “Yes, I do,”. So, you have an overview into what the young generation of inspiring sound designers looks like. And how do you see the role of the sound designer evolving? It’s changed a lot over the years and where do you see the profession going? And maybe if you want also to give some advice to aspiring sound designers and in general, audio post-production people interested in audio bus production.

James Redding III

Sure. I’m very optimistic about the future of sound. I’ve seen it grow from what it was, some of the great classics of what sound design was and how we’ve advanced so far. There are some setbacks every once in a while, because audio is one of those things that people don’t understand quite yet. They like to say they understand it, right? Everybody’s heard the quote, “Sound is 50% of the film”, but a lot of young filmmakers don’t really understand how we expand the screen because it’s hard for them to touch it. It’s not tangible to them. When they see a picture edit, they understand the picture edit.

But when we change a frequency, depending on their hearing, right? Whether or not it works for them, right? But the young sound designers, the young students that I have coming through my class, I teach a sound mix workshop at NYU every semester. It’s 14 classes. And so I’m with these kids for a semester, and I’m seeing some great promise of kids who are getting it. They understand what their role is and how important it is and how to do it. Because of the fact that all these advancements have been made in the tools, they are able to get to places where before when I was first starting out, it was like, “Oh, hold on, I have to cut this Mag reel right now,”

They’re just like, “Oh, give me 2 seconds and I’ll tap it out on my keyboard,” and it’s done. They’re able to push it that much further. And I think they’re understanding the importance, and they’re trying to tell their friends who are filmmakers, who are directors at NYU, “Hey, let’s capture the audio correctly in the beginning,”. “Hey, this is what I can do for you in the end,”.

And that communication is starting a lot more, which is very promising because that’s I think the one thing that holds production back is not understanding that you need to capture it correctly the first time audio wise, it’s always going to be better. You know, as far as advice that I always give people is, don’t ever turn something off. Don’t ever shun away a job. My first job was at night-time studio assistant. It was that 6pm to 2am and I was lifeguarding during the day.

And then would go to the studio at night because I wasn’t making enough money at night. Was it gruelling? Yeah. But I also learned a lot because one of the great things about working at night is that there are a few editors, so I got to sit in with the editors. Always ask questions, always try to learn something new, even constantly.

Now myself, I’m always trying to push myself into learning new techniques, learning new ways of doing something. I’ve been reteaching myself things about MIDI that I had forgotten that I learned in school. Always learn from other people, right? I learn from my students. I always tell them, “I’ll teach you quick keys that you don’t know, but I expect to get something back from you,”. And what I get back from them is their thought process, right? Everybody has a different way of hearing. Always learn from what other people are doing.

We sit there and do critical listening classes where we sit there and listen to other people’s mixes. And, yeah, we pick them apart a little bit, but we pick them apart so that we can make things better, right? We’re not knocking the mixes. We’re knocking like, “Oh, what could have been happening here that caused that to happen,” right? It could have been a bad day. It could have been a rough schedule. It could have been X, Y and Z. How can we try to mitigate that in our future projects? So always learn, always ask and don’t be afraid to sort of step out a little bit. Don’t be obnoxious about it, obviously,

But don’t be afraid to step out and try to show off a little bit. You’re going to fail and that’s part of the learning process. There are times where I make sounds and I’m like, “This is the coolest sound ever!” and then I play it for the director or the editor and they’re like, “What is that? Turn that off! I don’t like that,” “But that was like an hour of my time!” But if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have learned the technique that I used to do that. I wouldn’t have pushed myself that much further and I want to say, like I always say, push and learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Nobody expects you to know everything. Even nowadays I don’t expect myself to know everything. I think that’s it!

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