Post Magazine

May 2010

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Audio for New Media ALLIED For Woody Woodhall, CAS, president of Santa Monica’s Allied Post Audio (, audio for new media has more in common with audio for traditional media than one might expect.“The bottom line is to make it sound good and help the filmmaker tell a story,” he says. “We ap- proach any job from that standpoint.You still have to do the right work:You have to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.” Some of the first new media projects Al- lied Post Audio tackled were for the innova- tive animators at JibJab. Now, in addition to its regular roster of regional and national commercials, the company is starting to see Web-specific spots, such as a five-part series for Denny’s, directed by David Jellison of TWC Films, that riffed on a national broad- cast spot that Allied Post Audio mixed. “We did the Denny’s Web commercials exactly the same as the national spot,” says Woodhall. “You still need Foley, voiceover recording, sound effects, split mixes, so the workflow doesn’t change.The end result still has to sound great.” A recent Web commercial for ASICS, di- rected by Alex Ogus of TWC Films, promot- ing the footwear’s stabilizing capabilities for runners, had a “tricky edit and mix,” he re- ports.“The 15-second spot was a moving shot down a hallway in a house.You hear a weird noise you can’t put your finger on.The camera travels past rooms until it comes to elements and performed a complicated mix to illustrate the distance of the move down the hall and the other rooms,” he explains. Woodhall has three sets of speakers in his Pro Tools audio suite and switches among them to monitor for the expected playback platform. “It’s startling when you think the music is riding hot through the main JBL speakers, then you swap to the tiny little TV speakers.You have to work between the worlds and hedge your bets.When you mix for the Web, you try to lean a bit to- wards the TV-speaker mix under the as- sumption that the user is going to listen on a laptop or a tabletop 2.1 system.” He usually doesn’t do 5.1 mixes for the Web except for one group of new-to-the- Web clients.“We do a lot of documentaries, which are always struggling to find audiences,” he notes.“So a lot are moving to Web-deliv- ered platforms. It’s common for us to do 5.1 and stereo mixes for them:They want 5.1 for film festivals and stereo for the Web.” RONDO BROTHERS The San Francisco-based Rondo Brothers (, multi-instru- mentalists and producers Jim Greer and Brandon Arnovick, are regarded as go-to “music guys” who can fill scoring needs for new media.“When you need the music side of things, you come to us,” says Greer.“It can be for Web-only music or for a traditional song that you want to use in a Web com- Coupe Studios’ Kip Keupper: The studio recently created sound for Coke Zero’s “Facial Profiler” Facebook app. your phone, the need to reduce things down to a sub-standard format is gone.” Making music for the Web requires that its component parts be easily changeable. “The client may say,‘We like the melody but we want live-sounding drums,’ and you have to be able to deliver them in an hour,” he re- ports. “Pro Tools has a powerful array of music tools,so when we need to change the orchestration, we can do that. Being able to build yourself a machine that spits out what you need quickly is the probably the most important thing.” Another key issue is “making sure your mastering is up to snuff.You can take some genres really far on the Web: Rock or hip- hop played through a laptop can be really bangin’. But if you try that with a Beatles bal- lad, it will sound all crispy and processed.” Still, “once you give the client the final product, you have no control” over playback, Greer notes.The Rondo Brothers scored several :30 cinema pre-features for a major advertiser with “cool and fun pieces of music.” Playing in theaters, often before Avatar, should have been the optimum lis- tening environment, but “the music was toned down to the extent that you could hardly hear it,” Greer notes. By contrast, a score they crafted for the laundry room where the washing ma- chine is unbalanced and clanking until a man puts his ASICS on the machine and it starts to run smoothly.” While the commercial’s editor had indi- cated ideas for sound design in his cut, when Woodhall received the OMF file, it was silent.“We probably used 40 sound design mercial or videogame.” Two years ago the Rondo Brothers scored some “cool 8-bit videogames for cell phones” that had to sound like vintage Atari games. “At that time,music for cell phone games had to be delivered in MIDI, so we couldn’t use any real instruments,” Greer recalls. “Now that you can play HD video and songs on Sony Games last year to accompany a pro- motional video spotlighting their videogame line-up was played back as ex- pected in LA’s Shrine Auditorium. “They planned to play it loud on a big sound sys- tem and did,” he says.“We did our best to master appropriately in our little studio be- cause we knew they’d be dialing it up.We used Pro Tools and half real guitars, basses and drums played or sampled and half MIDI instruments, plus the iZotope Ozone plug-in that has nice features for mastering, and outboard gear like an Alan Smart C2 mastering compressor, Universal Audio stereo 1176 limiting amp and Pultec EQ. When you know the music is going to be heard in a big, boomy room you go for an all-digital, clean, take-no-prisoners approach and make it pop.” The Rondo Brothers were also successful with a Christmas spot for Palm Centro that played as a cinema pre-feature, broadcast commercial, and Web and social networking spot.“The client wanted a hip-hop track, so we did a remake of a Run DMC Christmas song,” says Greer.“In this case they gave us their video, voiceover and sound effects, and we ran the mix into our mastering chain so the music pumped underneath but the voiceover stayed kind of loud.We were able to make it all sound good.” May 2010 • Post 35 Rondo Brothers created a score for a promo highlighting offerings from Sony Games. AUDIO

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