Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Filtering by Tag: giga shane

Everyone's Bee is Important: bee-hind the noises

As Mila puts it in this interview, “Daddy draws the (un-intelligible) and his friend made the noises.” Ha!

This project came about when 3 year-old Mila Shane improvised a song about the Importance of Everyone’s Bee. (We all know everyone has a bee, so I won’t get into that here.) Then her fantastic filmmaking father Giga Shane animated it, and brought me on board to sound design. As you might imagine, I had a lot of fun with this project.

Giga and I chatted about the approach on the phone and he basically told me “go nuts!” (while of course leaving Mila’s song as the focus.) I think this is the best sort of collaboration- where there are a few guidelines and boundaries but plenty of room for experimentation and fun.

Despite the fact that this was one of those start-friday-finish-saturday turnarounds, I decided it would be a good challenge to not use any pre-existing sounds (i.e. commercial SFX libraries) since:

1) I like how constraints often lead to more interesting results. Given the amount of personality in Mila & Giga’s contributions, I wanted to put as much character into this thing as possible!

2) To paraphrase Alice Waters, if you want a great meal, start with delicious ingredients. I love applying this idea to music and sound, hence using homemade sound effects instead of “canned”. For this same reason, most projects I do these days involve at least a few live musicians :)

Here’s a list of how I made every sound effect in this thing!

sound effects

  • 0:00 waves/water = bathtub/bucket sloshing
  • 0:03 shooom = mouth sound
  • 0:03 birds = the sound right outside my front door in the morning (featuring my neighbor’s birds)
  • 0:08 logo disappearing = bathtub draining
  • 0:10 title card = B’s played on the chromaharp
  • 0:15 branches extending out = opening my blue umbrella
  • 0:16 bears = me growling
  • 0:18 bees = me buzzing
  • 0:19 bee body pump up = accordion air release
  • 0:19 bee’s wings sprouting up = umbrella
  • 0:19 hammer hitting flask = tapping trumpet with harmon mute
  • 0:21 honeycomb filling in = lips/finger noise with delay
  • 0:25 grey transition = removing disc from led zeppelin boxed set
  • 0:24 factory ambiance = bike wheel spinning + me saying “tikatikatikatikatika”
  • 0:25 flask falls = me meowing
  • 0:29 close-up flask bubbling = water boiling on gas stove
  • 0:31 psychedelic tongue warp = mouth/tongue noises + whistling with effects
  • 0:33 teeth flying in = trumpet valves rattling
  • 0:33 lips/faces appear = me “taking a bite” sound
  • 0:33 lips/faces pulled apart = me saying “whoa!” as grandpa
  • 0:35 teeth fly out = more trumpet valve rattling
  • 0:36 jar appears = catching a pickle jar
  • 0:36 house appears = snare brush in jar
  • 0:37 garden fall = oven opening
  • 0:37 shutters/walls appear = paper
  • 0:37 curtains up = my curtains
  • 0:38 plants grow = vocalizations
  • 0:39 volcano / green ocean = vent hood rumbling (cheap piece of metal from home depot)
  • 0:41 it’s like, the universe, man = bunch of vocalizations
  • 0:42 honey men vocalizations = “say ahh” vocalization
  • 0:47 cosmic honey color swirl = vocalization
  • 0:48 eating cosmic honey = me saying “bwlowllowllowllowlow”
  • 0:50 bee quick entrance = me quick buzz
  • 0:52 start honey button = me saying “blerp”
  • 0:53 honey machine = chromaharp and accordion ascending glissando + vocalizations
  • 0:53 honey machine slams = plosive P’s (me saying “puh!” really close to the mic)
  • 0:58 team hands = leg slaps
  • 0:59 space cats = me meowing
  • 1:02 bees fly by = me buzzing
  • 1:17 bees exit = more grandpa whoas

Check out Giga’s write-up for even more Bee-hind-the-scenes goodness including storyboards and photos of him and Mila on their way to the Lower East Side Film Festival premiere.

What is a Mullet?

Well, hello again. I had the pleasure of creating music and sound design for this charmingly funny video by my friend Giga Shane.. in which he interviews his parents to gather their theories on the age-old question: “What is a Mullet?”

I brought in some lovely live musicians for this one including:

Bass Clarinet: Eleanor WeigertBassoon: Brittany SeitsCello: Heather McIntoshVocals: Angeline Gragasin

I added some humming, then dusted off the accordion, broken guitar, and even some whole wheat spaghetti to season the music with the right mood for this bizarre conversation.

Special thanks to Richard Howarth for some very detailed work in helping get the dialog levels under control!

Speaking of… this conversation was recorded casually on an iphone, which presented some interesting challenges from a post audio perspective. Who wants to geek out!? Bear with me and I’ll reward you with a few pictures in a moment.

Usually when I’m processing vocals (from a singer tracked in studio for example), they’ve been recorded at a pretty constant distance from the microphone. Microphones will respond differently depending on how far away a sound source is, so this contact distance is helpful because it will yield a relatively consistent balance as far as low, mid, and hi frequencies in the voice. However, in this case Giga and his parents are at different distances from the iPhone which resulted in this scenario:

  • Giga (close to mic): More “harsh” or “bright” frequencies, louder volume
  • Parents (further from mic): More hiss and “muddy” frequencies (more of the “room noise”), softer volume

Since there is music underneath the dialog, it’s important for the speaking to be consistent as possible… from an EQ perspective AND a volume perspective. This will help it be more intelligible, and not as easily covered by the music.

Fortunately there are really cool “dynamic EQ” plugins built for just this type of scenario. I was able to apply a specific EQ setting for Giga (to tame the harshness) and a very different EQ setting to his parents (to reduce the hiss and muddiness).. and automatically transition between these in cases where the phone or the person speaking is moving. That is really really cool, right?

After improving the EQ balance of all the dialog, the overall volume levels could be dealt with using envelopes and compression.

Hmmm, as I seem to have gone on and on about the sound design / mix side, I will summarize the music side quickly: super fun! As promised, a few session photos:

Brittany Seits, Bassoonist Extraordinaire:

O, the delicate timbre of whole wheat thin spaghetti: