Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Filtering by Tag: import2 demo

SxSW and Si Nos Dejan

Si Nos Dejan still

I’m excited and humbled to announce that I’ll be attending SxSW this year with a director I immensely admire, Celia Rowlson-Hall!

We’ll be there with her film Si Nos Dejan (pictured above)- “a love story flooded with good intentions and missed connections.” I composed the music and look forward to writing about the scoring process here.

She also has a 2nd film in the festival, which sums up the audition process in a bold and painfully accurate way:

The truth, it burns!!

Help Axe Cop get married! / Last Call with Carson Daly

Congratulations to my friend and collaborator Ethan Nicolle, who recently announced that he will be marrying a wonderful woman named Jessica!

Ethan is a freelance comic artist (as I’ve mentioned many a time on this blog, he created Axe Cop with his little brother, Malachai). As you might imagine, it’s tricky to pay the bills making webcomics.. especially really BIG bills. But, Ethan’s come up with a great & creative idea to help finance his wedding: a Kickstarter-like fundraiser where you can get all kinds of rewards (such as personalized art) in exchange for helping him out with the bill.

If you love Axe Cop (or his other webcomic Bearmaggedon) as much as I do, consider kicking in a few bucks and getting some great art by visiting this site:

Also, I’ve been meaning to post this for a while:

Last Call with Carson Daly did an excellent piece on Axe Cop- one I feel does a great job capturing both the awesomeness and sincerity with which it’s made. And several of the motion comics I scored & sound designed are featured!

As Carson will tell you, Axe Cop is currently being turned into an animated series on FOX. Huge congrats to co-creators Ethan & Malachai! This ridiculously creative series continues to expand into many forms of media :)

Violin and Paulilu

I’ve been recording like a fiend over the past few months and figure it’s high time to share a few pictures.

First up: just this week, violinist Cheryl Kim. Versatile, equally adept at vibrato-laden super-sweet high swelly parts and creepy scratchy textures. Cheryl made the excellent suggestion of using her mute for the higher/intense parts which helped cut back on resonance building up in the booth. If we were recording in a concert hall this wouldn’t be necessary, but for the dry/intimate sound I was going for this worked great.

Cheryl Kim - violin session

Cheryl Kim - violin session 2

On Wednesday, my buddies Paul and Lucia (Paulilu) stopped in with the very funny Jessica Chaffin (Ronna & Beverly, The Real Housewives of South Boston) to record some voices for an auto spot. Jessica spotted my recently acquired first cookbook (I’m 30… it’s about time, right??) and even gave me some suggestions of what to try next. No picture due to my smartphone’s tragic demise, but here’s Ronna & Beverly with a spastic dog:

My last conversation with Grandma Mary

Happy new year! I look forward to updating you on what I’ve been up to music-wise, but I’m going to start this year off with something personal:

Last month I interviewed my Grandma about her life- it turned out to be our very last conversation as she passed on a few days ago. I wanted to share the final 5 minutes of our talk because I found it very moving then and now.

She was a singer, dancer, choir director, artist, nun for 16 years, and step-mom to my Mom and her siblings. She taught free art classes, collected dolls and small dogs. She always encouraged my pursuit of music, and even gave me my first digital piano when I was a kid.


Baby Please

Congrats to director Eric McCoy and the band Fellow Rebel on the release of their first music video today! The recording booth scenes were shot here in my studio ;)

Kudos also to producer Justus Meyer, DPs Wojciech Kielar & George Nienhuis, Costumer Nicole Briggs, the rest of the crew, and of course the band: Matt Sax and Angela Polk. Those two have some pretty serious vocal abilities.

Happy early Thanksgiving!

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:

Chicago: Hawk

This week I returned from a trip to the midwest which included my old friend Nate’s (and new friend Abby’s!) wedding in St. Louis, visits to college buddies and former bandmates scattered across Iowa, and even a few days in my former home city of 6 years: Chicago.

Which is where I had the pleasure of recording one of my favorite singers on the planet (Hawk Colman) at Dan Smart’s studio Echo/Normal for a new project I’m excited to reveal more about in the future. I’m pouring as much time as possible into it, hence the scaling back of blog posts :)

Stay tuned.

IBM, GOOD, and a whole lotta drums

I had the pleasure of composing a drum-heavy score for this video which kicked off an IBM & GOOD collaboration called Figures of Progress. The very capable Brett Fallentine directed, and my buddy Pete Karinen (of Pete and Brian) produced.

This is the first project I’ve worked on with Matrix-style “bullet time”. Nice work, Brett and team!

New mics

Testing out my new mics.

My strategy over the years has been to buy nice mics, preamps, etc. one piece at a time.. gear that I can grow into as I become a better engineer & producer. I’ve been wanting to get a nice matched pair of small diaphragm condenser mics for quite a while and finally acted on the impulse. My good buddy / guitarist / consultant for all things pro audio Max Crowe directed me to a glowing review of the above Mojave mics in Tape Op, and after a little more research it was a done deal.

In addition to the horses above, I’ve used them to record acoustic guitar, congas, shakers & other percussion, and even as a second mic on upright bass… all of which you’ll hear soon in the form of a Dean Martin cover :)