School of Motion

Sound in Motion: An Interview with Sono Sanctus

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Tune in and learn from Wes and Trevor, the sound design masters of Sono Sanctus.

Good sound design can set an animation apart from the rest of the pack. We may be pushing pixels left and right, but the audible experience needs just as much love.
On today's podcast, Wes and Trevor of Sono Sanctus, bust down doors and deliver a really unique podcast experience. They're here to provide insight on how they have approached sound design for clients with a live case study. You'll get to hear explanations of why they chose to make certain decisions, and join them on the journey of hearing a piece come together.
Wes and Trevor have an extensive portfolio with brands that some of us have only dreamed of working with. Make sure to head over to their website and check out the work they've done! Honestly, you've probably heard their work before, but didn't know it was them.

Sono Sanctus Podcast

Sono Sanctus Show Notes

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Sono Sanctus Transcript

Joey Korenman: School of Motion Podcast listeners, we have a very cool episode for you today. Not only do we have two incredible sound designers on the show, but they are actually going to break down case-study style, some work they did for us on a recent project. We released the intro animation for our Design Kickstart course, and that animation was created by the insanely brilliant Allen Laseter. So we had Wes and Trevor's company, Sono Sanctus, do the music and sound design for it. Of course, they slayed it and did an amazing job. And in this episode, they're going to break down the process that they went through piece by piece, playing snippets of sounds and mixes and early versions of the music. You're going to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the audio track for Allen's animation.
Joey Korenman: In addition, I ask Wes and Trevor all kinds of questions about the art, science, and business of sound design. It's a fascinating and somewhat experimental episode and I really hope you enjoy it. So, here we go.
Joey Korenman: Wesley and Trevor, it is a pleasure to have you both on the podcast. Thank you. I'm really excited about this one. This is going to be an interesting experiment for the School of Motion podcast.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, thanks for having us.
Trevor: Yeah, we appreciate you having us on.
Joey Korenman: I thought I'd start with a softball. And it's funny because this is one of those things that, until I was writing questions for this, it never occurred to me. I didn't actually know what the name of your company meant. I'm not even sure I pronounced it right. Sono Sanctus.
Wesley Slover: Sono Sanctus.
Joey Korenman: Sono Sanctus. Okay. And then, can you tell me where did that come from? What does that mean?
Wesley Slover: So it's Latin for sacred sound. And the reasoning behind it was that my background was doing church audio and I wanted to transition into doing sound design and music and what I do now. And so, when I first started, I was both consulting for churches and doing sound for motion graphics. So I came up with a name and brand that would sort of fit both of those things.
Wesley Slover: I've really grown to like it and I like it because it's ... Sanctus has an association with liturgical music, holy music, which I always thought was really interesting because it's music that has a really specific purpose to it. It's designed, right? It's not art that's meant to just stand on itself. Bach was written to do something in particular. And I've always liked that kind of connection with what we do, where we make sound and music for videos and for apps and those kind of things, to serve a role.
Joey Korenman: That is fascinating. So what were you doing in the realm of church audio? And this is something that always surprises me, too. I grew up in Texas, where you have gigantic churches that have essentially the same AV system that an NFL stadium would have. But I'm curious, what was your role in doing the audio? Was it producing audio? Was it the technical side?
Wesley Slover: Well, I worked at a large church. I mean, it's not like Texas mega-church big, but it's big for Seattle. And I did a lot of different stuff. We did an AM radio broadcast, so I would mix that. We had various different services. Some were large traditional services with the pipe organ. Some were bigger, like modern. They had a really big college ministry, so that was more of the kind of big rock band set up. And then we had smaller setups as well. So that was my background working at a church but then moving ...
Wesley Slover: My idea ... doing the independently was to ... what I would see was churches would do, their sound system would be terribly rundown. So they would do this big fundraiser and have a full brand-new system put in and it would just sort of be this cycle of, you use it until it's run into the ground and then you have a company come in and install the big system.
Wesley Slover: So what I was really interested in doing was working with churches to sort of just make the best out of what they had and try to come up with solutions that were more simple and more based on people just knowing how their stuff works. Because usually, they're run by volunteers.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: So I wanted to be somebody who could come in and go, okay, what are you really trying to do? What do you need to do? Here are some solutions that are pretty simple compared to buying a completely new system, and that sort of thing. It didn't really work out that much because I think the problem was that the best solution is like there's just not much money in it, by design.
Joey Korenman: So let me ask you a couple questions about this. And then I want to dig into Trevor's past a little bit, too, because this is very interesting to me. A, I want to know, is it difficult to mix a pipe organ? It seems like that's got to be a tricky one, right?
Wesley Slover: Well, I mean, you don't mix it. It is in the room. It's the room, right?
Joey Korenman: So there's no amplification on the pipe organ?
Wesley Slover: No, no, no, no.
Joey Korenman: It's loud enough.
Wesley Slover: It's loud enough, and I mean, that's what I love about pipe organ. Now I go to a Unitarian Church that has a great pipe organ and a stone room. And you can only hear that in that space because, literally, that pipe organ is the room. But we experimented a little bit with mixing amplified music with pipe organ and that was really hard because just the way that the pipe organ is moving the air around in the room. Everything sounds muddy and weird.
Joey Korenman: It's such a cool sound. I'm Jewish and so I didn't have a pipe organ in my synagogue, unfortunately. I always tell people that I wish there was a Jewish version of that, where there was some giant, epic instrument. I mean, maybe if you're lucky you get an acoustic guitar or something like that. That's the best I've seen. No rock bands, definitely.
Wesley Slover: I mean, maybe that's the story of the Protestants though, right? That they could stay in one place long enough to build these cathedrals and pipe organs and everything.
Joey Korenman: I love it. I love it. So, Trevor ...
Trevor: Yeah.
Joey Korenman: How do you follow that story? How did you find yourself working with Wes at Sono Sanctus?
Trevor: So, yeah. My journey was a little bit longer. I was in Nashville. I went to school in Nashville and was recording bands, mixing music. I did a lot of mastering work in the music realm for a long time there and then my wife and I picked up and moved to Seattle. And it was actually in Seattle that I met people that Wes had known when he lived in Seattle, and he had actually already moved to Grand Rapids where he is now. But I started to get to know people and everyone's like, oh, man. You should know Wes. Seems like y'all are interested in similar things. And even though Wes was far away, he gave me a call the first time I heard about him and we just kind of started to keep in touch.
Trevor: I had had some experience in the sound design realm. I had freelanced for a small animation company that did kind of explainer videos and that sort of thing. And so I had some experience doing sound design and mixing for video. And then I used kind of all that sort of mixing knowledge from experience in school and in music. And Wes kind of took that and started to hire me on occasionally for projects here and there. And then eventually, I got super involved, and me and Wes started working together almost every day. And then now, I work with Wes full time. And yeah, I've been a part of Sono Sanctus for several years now.
Joey Korenman: That's awesome. Working together making holy sound, you know?
Trevor: Exactly.
Joey Korenman: It's the American dream right there. So one of my favorite questions to ask motion designers is, how do you explain what you do to your family members? And it's always very difficult for us and I imagine it's got to be, well, I don't know. Is it more difficult for a sound designer to explain it? I think for me, it would be more difficult to explain what a sound designer does, but maybe it's easier for you. So how do you describe what a sound designer actually does?
Wesley Slover: Well, for me, for a long time, I didn't want to call myself a composer because I felt like Mozart's a composer, right? What I do on my computer isn't really the same thing. But recently, I started just, when people say, "Oh, what do you do?" I say, "Oh, I'm a composer," because people understand that I don't have to explain things, right? But as far as, I don't know. Trevor, you could explain how you describe yourself as a sound designer, I guess.
Trevor: Totally. Yeah, I've tried so many different approaches, because there are so many times that people are just very confused as to exactly what that means. But generally, I'll kind of describe it as creating the sound that is used in anything that they use in their day-to-day life. Whether that's showing them kind of in a movie or a video, an advertisement or an app on their phone. Usually I'll try my best to figure out what they might know about and then show them a relevant example in that field. And then suddenly, it instantly clicks rather than trying to describe the process of creating sounds for animation or videos and things like that. Usually, if I'm just like, "Hey, here's this really cool video, listen to this. I did the sound in this," and that is usually the best track to help people understand.
Wesley Slover: The thing that was most helpful to me was, I did a Super Bowl commercial for Airbnb a couple years ago. And all of a sudden, it was like, finally I have a thing. I can just be like, "Yeah, do you watch the Superbowl? I did one of the commercial's music."
Wesley Slover: Otherwise, it's sort of like, well, there's this internal video for Google where they're communicating. People are like, "Okay, what? How ..." I had no idea just how much stuff was getting made until I started doing this work.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, that's something I want to dig into in a little bit. You know, when you were talking, Trevor, it made me think of when people used to ask me what I did, and I said, "I'm an animator," because that's kind of how I thought of myself. They would immediately picture Disney or Pixar, right?
Trevor: Totally, yes. The cliché example that you kind of had to, kind of, navigate around.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, so then I just started saying, "I'm an animator, but not like Disney and Pixar." And then that just confused them more. But I'm thinking in the realm of audio and specifically sound design. Everyone, I think, is conceptually familiar with the idea of sound effects, right? When you're watching a movie and there's an explosion. Well, it's not like they had a microphone next to that explosion. I think most people kind of get that and you have to get that sound effects somewhere. But what you guys do is a little different because a lot of the sounds you're making are not real sounds and so I'm curious if you see a real kind of delineation between what you do and what, say, a sound designer on a James Cameron movie is doing. Is it a different kind of thing working in the realm of motion design and advertising and the things you're doing or is it the same?
Wesley Slover: I think it's definitely a different animal. The process of making a minute-long piece compared to doing a feature film, or even just a narrative, longer form narrative film is just, the process is really different. And we tend to wear a lot of hats that would all be divided up if it was part of a feature film, if that makes sense. I would imagine, it's the same with like, VFX, where we're sort of doing all the different pieces because it's so small that it wouldn't make sense to have a team of 10 people all doing specific roles.
Wesley Slover: And I think another thing along these lines is foley is a huge part of a soundtrack that is more specific to TV and film and foley are like the sounds that are performed. So like footsteps, you know if I have a coffee mug that I pick up off a table or put it down on the table, that would be foley. And in a film, you have a foley artist who is just doing that all day like they just they roll through doing all the footsteps in the film and all the cloth moving and all of that stuff. Where when you're doing it with a motion graphics piece, it's not nearly as literal, like you said.
Wesley Slover: So that process is just a little bit different. And I tend to think of all of that as sound design at that point. Even if technically maybe it is foley or something like that.
Joey Korenman: Right. Yeah, that was a good explanation, actually. So then there's two of you. Who does what? Or do you sort of break up tasks into, you know, like, Wes, you were telling me like you call yourself a composer, not like Mozart. So you also qualify that, right? I don't know you're pretty good man, like don't sell yourself short.
Joey Korenman: And then Trevor, your background you came from mixing and stuff like that. So, is there a split of responsibilities? Or do you both kind of do everything?
Wesley Slover: Yeah, we definitely have a fairly clear split, but I mean, our roles overlap for sure. But I feel like I'm more of the chaotic creative person on the team. And Trevor is very organized and thoughtful.
Wesley Slover: And I do projects that involve music, and Trevor doesn't write music much for the company. So I'll let Trevor speak more to his role. So where I tend to be on a project is, if a project needs original music, or like heavily musical sound design, then I'm going to be really involved with that the beginning.
Wesley Slover: At this point, I on board all of our projects, so whenever somebody reaches out to the company, I talk to them help figure out what we need, and then bring Trevor into depending on what role he would serve on that.
Wesley Slover: And then I also do sound design as well. Trevor, I'll let you say more what you do.
Trevor: Totally, yeah. And so in this situation, it's usually that I'll be handling a lot more of the sound design and then usually mixing for most things. But with kind of a lot of the stuff we do, while we kind of delineate the work fairly clearly, our work also blends together a lot. So the sound design and music are very much married and very much working collaborative. So even though we kind of have those rules set, we're also still often passing back and forth and integrating each other's work into each side and then with mixing, bringing it all together and making sure it's a cohesive end product. And so while we have that delineation, it also is a lot of collaboration in the middle.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, and if I can add to that just kind of for context, so before Trevor, join the team I used to do all of that myself. So anything that we needed to mix, sound design, do music. I mean, I would bring in contractors occasionally, for specialists, but like basically I have those skills like I can technically do them. But having Trevor on the team now our mixes always sound better. Like if we have a project that has 13 languages that need to go out, or it's an interactive project where there's hundreds of assets that we need to organize, like now that Trevor's on the team, those things just work better because he's just better at that. And then we also have a handful of other people that we work with. So we have Chad, who, I would say has a very similar role to Trevor, who works for us one day a week.
Wesley Slover: And then we have a handful of, I like to think of them almost as specialists that we bring in for certain things. So a good example is our friend Brandon, who's an orchestral composer. He's written cues for Destiny 2: Forsaken, Call of Duty: WWII, Guild Wars 2, like he does a lot of big video games and that kind of stuff. So if somebody comes to us and they're like, "Hey, we want this epic cinematic score." If we can, we bring him in to do that, because he's just he's very good at it. And my role in that is more of like, creative direction of just going like, "Okay, this is who we should have working on this music. This is why we should be doing this music. This is how that music's going to work with the sound design in the mix."
Joey Korenman: So that's like the audio equivalent of the real flow technician that comes in and does fluid sims or something.
Wesley Slover: I don't know what any of that means, but I'm going to say yeah.
Trevor: Yeah I'm going to say that probably is right. But I don't actually know what that means.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. It's a little inside that little motion design humor there, fellas, you know...[crosstalk 00:17:51]
Wesley Slover: I think I feel comfortable saying that it's like if you're a studio that mostly does 2D animation, and the client wants like something that's 3D, maybe bringing in somebody that is a cinema 4D powerhouse.
Joey Korenman: Exactly. Exactly. And Wes, are you acting as producer too? Like you guys don't have a producer yet?
Wesley Slover: Yeah, so right now I'm a producer. But, in a month our producer starts. So we're going to have a producer 25 hours a week. This has basically been the dream since I started this company to have somebody who can really take care of the details. Because for us like that, I think that that client service is just incredibly important. And you know, animation studios are busy, you're juggling all of these details. And it's like, the more that we can be ahead like checking in just be like, "Hey, just, you know, making sure that we're still on schedule for this. Let us know how we can be accommodating." And have it freeing me up to not have to reply to emails quite so quickly and everything is going to be really great for us, I think.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, congratulations on that, that is a huge move, and it is definitely a quality of life improvement. For sure. So, I want to hear a little bit about how this became your full time job because I was thinking about this, if someone came to me and they said, "I want to be a motion designer," then I would say, "Why? Why the hell would you want to do that?" But after that, I would say, I could tell them steps to take, and I would know, there's kind of a path to doing that now, and it's getting to be more and more clear. But if they said," I want to be a sound designer," I'd probably try to talk him out of it. But then I would say," I have no idea what that path looks like." I mean, and maybe I'm wrong, because I'm just not in the world. But it seems like it's a little bit less understood than even motion design, which still isn't totally understood by most people. So how did you find yourselves doing this and then turning that into a business? How did you get hooked up with Oddfellows in these amazing studios that you now do lots of work with?
Wesley Slover: Yeah so for me, if I go back to when I went to school I wanted to be a record producer and like record bands and stuff. And then partway through school realized that wasn't really the life that I wanted but discovered sound design, of like, oh, anything that makes a sound somebody made it, well that's interesting. Oh, video game sounds like there's tons of sounds...
Joey Korenman: That was the gateway.
Wesley Slover: ...being made for that. So I wanted to get into video game audio and that I feel like there's a much clearer path then there was 13 years ago or 15 years ago whenever I was finishing school. But at the time there wasn't really like the Twitter community and everything and so I didn't really make it into that, but got more interested in film and started working on little films with friends. I was making my own weird electronic music and doing sound designee things.
Wesley Slover: But when I discovered motion graphics was, a friend of mine knew Jordan Scott, who I'm sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with his work. Jordan was working on a video for his wife's baking blog. And my buddy was like," Hey, you should have you know, my friend Wes he's trying to like do more of this kind of stuff should have him take a crack at the sound design for it." So I did that piece. And that was like what opened my mind up to oh, there's this whole world of motion graphics and there's like a community behind it. And that video got quite a bit of traction, I think I had like 20 thousand views on Vimeo like, pretty, pretty quick. And then someone had commented, "Oh, that, you know, this, my sound, too. And so I sent them a message. And I started just doing this thing on Vimeo where it was like, oh if somebody commented about the sound, I'd reach out to them and say," Hey, I'm just trying to like learn more. If you have personal projects, I'd love to like collaborate and learn and and all of that."
Wesley Slover: And then once that was picking up more I felt more comfortable just reaching out to people who liked stuff I worked on, whose work felt like they were in a comfortable place in their career. Like I didn't want to reach out to people who were like the Beeples of the time.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Because it's like, they're just going to get inundated with stuff. It's like I'm trying to find my peers really. And I got plugged into the community on Vimeo and built up a clientele that way, just through making friends, basically. And it is a way to both learn the craft because I mean, that's like an incredibly important part of the career. It's not who you know, it's what you know, and who you know.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, then it's sort of like there was a pathway at that point, because I was in enough to be able to sort of figure out how to meet more people and do more work and work with bigger studios and that sort of thing.
Joey Korenman: That's super cool. So you kind of used the community to kind of practice helping out people doing personal projects and things like that.
Wesley Slover: Yeah.
Joey Korenman: And then you sort of leveled up. My question about that is, when you get into the work that bigger studios are doing, and even companies like School of Motion, like when we make something, or when we commission an animation or something, we can budget money for sound design, but you know, the lone freelancer working on a personal project, things like that, a lot of times just grab a stock track and, you know, maybe a sound effects pack and kind of wing it. So have you found it easier in a weird way as you've gotten bigger to actually get paid to do this, like in the beginning was it hard to convince people that you should pay me to do this?
Wesley Slover: Well...
Joey Korenman: Take your time, take your time.
Wesley Slover: I don't think so. I don't think it was hard to convince people to pay us to work on stuff but we've never really seen personal projects as part of our commercial. Like, we don't really charge for personal projects, I guess what I'm saying.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: And it's actually helped us as we've grown, like our music library and stuff has, unfortunately, we're a lot busier so we can't really help out on nearly as many personal projects as we'd like to. But I always try to offer like, hey, if you want you're welcome to use something from our sound library. And that's just a way that like we really appreciate the motion graphics community and want to be a part of people that are doing their own experimental projects and trying to learn and stuff so it's just like something that we can do to help support those people. I don't think I really answered your question.
Joey Korenman: You know what, in a way you did, I mean. So then my next question might actually get to the root of this. So what I'm wondering is, so when I, let me take like a step backwards. So when I was still freelancing, so this was before School of Motion, and then before the studio that I ran for four years in Boston, I was freelancing, and I worked a lot with ad agencies doing the types of videos, you kind of alluded to this, you don't even know how much stuff is being produced until you get into it. And then you're like, you realize there's this infinite just supply of video is being created. And this was when I started to really get in to motion design and into the community and the cool studios. And I noticed that the good sound design really helped make the piece a lot better. And I had a hell of a time convincing my clients that they should invest in that.
Joey Korenman: But now it seems like maybe because of, partly because of companies like Google who have infinity dollars and understand the value of design, and it's kind of baked into their ethos, that sound seems to be less of a second class citizen than it used to be. So I'm curious if you feel that that was the case and it's changing, or if you've had a different experience?
Wesley Slover: Well, I think I can speak to, or want to speak to part of what you were saying, jump back for a second. So my pitch to clients is often that the value add of sound design dollar for dollar compared to what an extra couple days or a few days of animation will get you is like pretty massive, right? Because like, as far as the whole budget, the sound is really pretty small, but it's pretty clear that it brings a lot to a project.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: So that's like my sales pitch for it often. But also understanding that you know, not everything does need sound design, like there's, I don't know, there's a lot of corporate explainer videos that it's just like yeah, it's fine.
Joey Korenman: It's good enough.
Wesley Slover: You just put some Effy music under it and like there's some voice and like a visual that is communicating what needs to be communicated. Then I don't try to go after that and be like," No, you're wrong, you need to have sound design." And that's actually one of the reasons why I don't work a lot locally here in Grand Rapids. I like to work with local studios and local creative people, because there's a great community of people here. But a lot of the budgets tend to be super tight because the big brands like Herman Miller here, they send their stuff out to agencies in LA or New York.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: And so the stuff that's left are often really tight budgets, and that's where I understand of, yeah, if your whole budget for the animation is that tight, it really isn't worth it for me to try to squeeze more money out of you, you know?
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: So that's kind of jumping back. As far as sound being more valued now. I feel like it's been, I think people have recognized the value of it for a while. I think maybe what we're seeing though is that it's become more attainable. So imagine it's kind of similar with animation of, now you can do so much more from a home studio. And you can buy, you have a lot more gear is like in a price point that's accessible. There's a lot more good sound libraries that are easier to get to. So I think in a way, it's the barrier of entry has gone down for sound designers and also for companies to hire sound designers. And then it's made it just more pervasive. So it's like more noticeable if there's not any sound effects in a piece because you just sort of get used to it.
Wesley Slover: But I also see on the other hand, there's really like this race to the bottom with library music. Where like library music in the last 10 years or so has gotten really good. It's pretty incredible if you go on like Marmoset or Musicbed or something like how much well produced music there is on there. But now you have companies with these subscription models like Musicbed just switched over to this where it's like, people are paying like next to nothing to be able to use this music. And that's where I kind of see some of the value going away of like, there's not the like financial value of it anymore. But there is the taste value, right? Like people want their music to sound good and they notice if it's super cheesy, but it doesn't necessarily equate to dollars. Does that make sense?
Joey Korenman: Yeah it actually sounds similar to what's happening with the bigger music industry, where the price of music is basically zero at this point, right?
Wesley Slover: Yes totally.
Joey Korenman: You get a Spotify subscription and every time you listen to your favorite band they get one 100th of a penny, or something like that. [crosstalk 00:29:52] Yeah, right? So from the consumer standpoint, it's great from the artist who has to, you know, produce that.
Joey Korenman: So this is interesting Wes I didn't actually think about that how that market force could affect the kind of things you do because Sono Sanctus also has custom music that you've composed and produced. And I'm assuming you licensed that. And you know now you've got, I mean I remember when I discovered PremiumBeat...
Wesley Slover: PremiumBeat.com.
Joey Korenman: PremiumBeat, wow that was so spot on. PremiumBeat.com, we're buddies with them and when I discovered them, I was blown away because I used to use this company, I'm sure they're still around Extreme Music. And I remember like to get the license to use one of their songs one time on one project could be 1500 dollars. And now you can go to PremiumBeat and basically get a buyout for you can use it on YouTube and you can use it on this and that and you know, it's like 30 bucks per use or something like that. It's very, very inexpensive compared to what it used to be. And to me, I thought, oh, that's great! But I never thought about the downside of that.
Joey Korenman: So do you think that that's going to, in the end, kind of cannibalize the stock music industry?
Wesley Slover: I think a little bit. So I think the thing that is important to keep in mind is it's very much based on the usage, right? For instance, you said, you go to Extreme Music, and it's like 1500 for a license. It's like, well, if that's a TV commercial, that's like, easily 15 thousand.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: And so what I think is happening, like I think where this subscription model or the super just, you know, making stuff super cheap really makes a lot of sense is like you said, there's an infinite amount of videos being produced for like internal corporate videos or whatever. For that stuff it's like it, yeah it completely makes sense, like, you don't want to spend 1500 dollars on a little HR video that's super basic, you know what I mean?
Wesley Slover: So I think what's happened, and then also with like YouTube videos, too, right? Like YouTube, there are so many pieces of music getting used for YouTube. And so to me that subscription model where tracks are super cheap, it makes sense because it's just like there's so much getting used that, yeah, sure, you know, the song might not, like make a ton of money, but you can make these songs really quickly. And it serves that utility. And I think that where I see the cannibalizing happening is like as the stuff on the upper echelon, like the paid advertising, like TV commercials, paid web ads, that kind of stuff. As companies make their licenses more inclusive of that, that's where I see things being cannibalized because like, all of a sudden, it's like, oh, well, now you can't make the big money on a TV commercial because all these companies now are offering that in their 200 dollar range instead of...
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: ...the higher. I mean, it's really complicated because there's so many different companies and they all have different rates and different things. But I think that's really what I'm kind of keeping an eye on. It's like what's the top end of that. But you know, on the other hand, and I'm just starting to kind of rambling on this stuff is but...
Joey Korenman: Keep going keep going.
Wesley Slover: You have the background is that you had these like music agencies that will pitch for these huge budgets, right? And so the ad agency model for the most part is like, okay, we have a commercial, they reach out to a couple big companies that have gigantic rosters of people and a lot of tracks in their libraries, they pitch stuff, somebody wins, there's a big payout. And then that the music agency is like taking half of that or whatever it is. And so you have, there's tons of money to find a track in this way that's sort of just like just throw give us every option we'll pick one and it's easy. But also it's expensive, because you have to have like this huge infrastructure to do that.
Wesley Slover: So I don't know, I think the ceiling is like super high still. I guess is what I'm trying to say, is like you have this, it's bizarre because you have this race to the bottom kind of thing and then this ceiling of like, well, depending on sort of where you fit into that means different things for you as a composer. I don't know, does that seem like relevant to kind of what your audience is interested in? Like, these are things that I think about, but it's also...
Joey Korenman: I think, I think, I mean, frankly, I find it fascinating and I think there's a lot of similarities with what you're describing and things that happen in our industry too. I mean, it's funny, because I knew this, I just hadn't thought about it in years that you're right, you have to pitch sometimes, and that literally can mean making, like writing a song and let you know, maybe not fully blowing it out, but you're literally writing music and sending it off and hoping they pick it so that then they can pay you to tweak it, you know, five or six times and use it.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's very similar to what happens with studios. I mean, it really is like sound design and motion design. I mean, they really are just, they're siblings. It's really awesome.
Wesley Slover: But I mean, the thing that's really great about music is that you do a pitch for a piece of music and you have a piece of music that can fit, you can just slot into something else really easily. And so it really is great to be able, a great way to build a library of like, sure, you know, this track didn't win this project or whatever but now it's an asset to me. Where I would imagine with design studios, like you still would use some of the creative techniques or the direction for pitches in the future, but it's not quite as easy to just literally plug and play it into something else, you know?
Joey Korenman: Yeah. So let's talk about something else you brought up, Wes. You were talking about how it's a lot more accessible now to get sound design and I'm sure part of that is because the gear necessary to make really high quality audio tracks has gotten super inexpensive and it's the same thing that's happened with the world of post production. So, I remember when I started my career in Boston, the big audio houses would all advertise their half a million dollar console and the speakers and the giant room they had, and the anechoic chamber they could record in. And I'm assuming that now the barrier to entry is a lot lower so can you talking about what do you need to get started in this field this point?
Wesley Slover: A computer.
Joey Korenman: A puter. That's it.
Wesley Slover: I'll let Trevor speak to this he's our resident gear expert around here
Joey Korenman: Oh, awesome.
Wesley Slover: Because he's spent time in the real studios. I didn't really do the biggest, I've been in like post studios a bit but Trevor was in Nashville doing all the like actual studio work and stuff.
Trevor: Totally. Yeah, I mean, definitely the barrier to entry for being able to do some decent quality work is way, way lower. I mean, if any listeners are even just looking to dive into it like you can, if you have a computer and a digital audio workstation, we use Pro Tools, because that's an industry standard and what we're both very efficient at, but you use that and you get Soundly, which is a new sound databasing library service that is actually free or a subscription to get access to like a huge library of cloud sounds to use. And just with like those three things, you can put together something. You could put together a basic audio edit. Obviously, that takes some practice and some knowledge of exactly how to do that. But you know, that's kind of the low point of barrier for entry is that those things are accessible now, where previously, you're right, it was like a million dollar studio in order to create sound design and record all the pieces you need and do a proper mix down.
Trevor: But yeah, it's definitely a different thing. And it's really cool how much, and it kind of opened up the doors for people like Wes and I who, we have really nice studios but they're home studios that we've set up like private spaces that we have. Rather than having to build out a several hundred thousand dollar build out somewhere that is immovable and has so much overhead, is we can do this in our own spaces and still put out a really high quality product.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, I feel like I should add to that too Trevor. There are certain things that those facilities offer that you can't really get around otherwise. So for instance, like it's nice to have a studio in, I don't know, in Brooklyn or whatever, because like there's talent around, they can come in, but like ultimately, it's like there's a desk with computers. When you go into these studios like the design of the room and how it's built acoustically, and all of the treatment and the soundproofing and stuff, that stuff is like incredibly expensive. And so for us, we kind of can get around it working in these small studios that just don't cost nearly as much. But we also don't have a good room where like an agency could come and sit and review a session.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: So there are certain trade offs that are just like inherent in what we do. And for us, it's actually the low barrier of entry thing you know, like was basically it was like out of necessity that I was working out of like our bedroom when I first started, you know, and off of a laptop and everything. But I've actually grown to really like the style of work. It's just like, it's nice being home. It's nice communicating through Slack and emails. And there's a certain amount of a lifestyle that the setup that you choose kind of works in. Like it's sort of, I don't know, in a way, it's like your equipment, kind of does dictate like how you want to fit into the industry in a way.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, that's really interesting. And is it the same kind of, you know, I can understand you buy a computer and Pro Tools and this cloud sound library, which I'm going to look into as soon as we're done recording this because that sounds cool.
Wesley Slover: You just gonna drop it a bunch of like fart sound effects into this.
Joey Korenman: Oh, I mean, that's generally where I go first, when I'm testing out a new library.
Wesley Slover: Oh dear. There's gotta be so many on there.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, and it's at some point, I'm gonna have to try and compose Africa by Toto out of farts. So bless the rains.
Joey Korenman: But when you're composing music, is it still like you can just, because I know that, you know, I'm familiar with logic and I'm a drummer so I hang around musicians, you get it? And so you could, like I can open up a piano roll and just click and make a piano song out of it, and like they're using real samples and it sounds pretty realistic. Like, is it even with composing, is it still, almost, maybe 1000 bucks and your in? Because I know that that's where I've seen music producers and people who record bands get really finicky with oh, but you have to have this compressor this outboard thing that doesn't sound right you have to have this EQ that's 20 years old. Is that still a thing or is it all just software?
Wesley Slover: So I mean my setup is almost entirely in the box. So the hardware that I have is I have an interface, which is what converts analog in to the computer and then converts the digital signal back out of the computer so you can listen to it through speakers.
Joey Korenman: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Wesley Slover: So I actually have like a super basic super cheap interface and then I have digital preamp so I have a nice thing I can plug my microphone into that basically just all that the cheap interface is doing it's just routing that data straight into the computer. So it's not using the crap that's inside the cheap box it's using crap in the good box.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: And then I have the opposite where I have a nice digital to analog converter and headphone preamp that comes out of my computer. And a 80 dollar MIDI keyboard that I should really upgrade. And my speakers, I think I'd go for like 3000 for the pair, which is not that expensive. Like, I'll probably upgrade those to something more in the like 5000, 6000 range, but at this point, it's like well, I'm used to them and I like them. So I use them, you know?
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I'm actually curious, I'd actually like to ask you about that Wes because our video editor, Jeahn, is an audio guy also and he knows all about speakers and stuff like that and he's made a case for especially for him, but anyone who's even editing or doing any kind of audio to have really nice speakers, and I've actually never really had nice speakers until recently. So I'm curious if you could talk about what the 3 thousand dollar speakers give you that the 300 dollars speakers don't give you.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, I mean for one, these are big, so I get a lot of bass response. So I have a nice natural like low end. Like if you have little speakers, you won't hear what's happening in the base. And so you may overcompensate for that of going, oh, the boom doesn't sound boomy enough, so I'm going to like turn it up. But then you put it on like actual speakers that have frequency response down there and it's just breaking your house.
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: So that that's like, to me, that's the biggest thing and otherwise, it's just like having speakers that you like is really important. Because otherwise you're going to compensate to try to make it sound how you like it
Joey Korenman: Mm-hmm (affirmative) and over process it. Yeah.
Wesley Slover: Yeah. So it's like, I think a visual monitor's a good analogy right? Where, I don't know, if you don't have much detail in the blacks of your monitor then you're not actually seeing what the video you're outputting actually is. And so you're doing stuff, you're manipulating it in certain ways that are actually going to make it look bad on a good screen.
Wesley Slover: I don't know. Trevor knows way more about this stuff so really he should be the talking. And you worked at a hifi shop, too, so he can sell you on however much money you want to spend he'll sell you on it.
Trevor: Yeah, totally. I can convince you to buy...
Wesley Slover: Some monster cable.
Trevor: ...some hundred thousand dollar speakers if you'd like. They do sound great, but you probably shouldn't buy them. But yeah, no, it's the same thing. It's just like your speakers and or your headphones. But I do think that there is an advantage to at least having good speakers to reference rather than just working in headphones. They are your window into everything that you're doing and you're manipulating and changing sound all day long in order to meet your goals, a client's needs, whatever is happening and if those speakers aren't accurately representing how it's going to be heard in the world, whether that's through an inaccurate frequency response, or whether that's through an incomplete response where you're not hearing all of it, or a poor setup in your room not having a space to use the speakers well, you're going to make really bad decisions, you're going to make decisions that are not necessarily making something better, just making it sound different in your room so that you don't dislike it as much.
Trevor: So having a really good set of playback is super crucial because it informs every decision that you make all day long. So something that you know well, how it sounds, how it's going to translate. It's especially just crucial in mixing because you're making decisions about how something will come across to every other person in the world that hears this. So you have to know exactly what you're hearing, have that be consistently heard, and then know how what you're hearing here translates to someone's phone, someone's computer, someone else's headphones, someone's air pods, how that's going to come across. Because at the end of the day, that's who is going to hear what you did, and not necessarily who's sitting in your studio next to you.
Wesley Slover: Something I'll add to that though, is that the acoustics of your room are super important. So if you put a great pair of speakers in a typical office room that has a wood floor and glass and reflective surfaces, it's like really echoey...
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: It's gonna sound awful.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Acoustic treatment like in an edit bay is super important because yeah, like I said, it doesn't matter how good your speakers are, it's not going to sound good and it's not gonna sound clear. And I think that headphones though, definitely are like way better bang for buck. You know, you spend 250 dollars that's like, comprable to my EMI 250 dollar headphones are comparable to my 3 thousand dollar monitors. You know?
Trevor: Yeah your money goes a lot further that way.
Wesley Slover: Yeah way further and you don't have to worry about the acoustic considerations. I think a lot of it though is, as far as an editor too, you're going to hear more of like the noise in your microphones and like clicks and pops and the kinds of things that you're going to want to catch before you send it to somebody to mix. Because it's so immediate and right on your ears but headphones are also fatiguing. Like I would not want to work in headphones all day every day.
Trevor: Totally. They really does fatigue on your ears as well as, it's really great for critical listening, hearing the details and things, but I do agree with your editor that also some things hearing them in headphones do not translate to hear there how they're heard in the real world very well. Even if you really used to working in your headphones, things like in mixing like where how I have a VO sitting in a basic mix is way easier to dial in on speakers because of just the way it interacts in the room, as well as the natural sound field that a speaker gives you. Whereas in headphones, it's very exaggerated and very in your head, and sometimes those sorts of decisions can get skewed in headphone sort of situations.
Joey Korenman: This is fascinating to me actually, I think I could definitely get sucked into this rabbit hole of audio because I love how there's so many similarities with motion. I mean, there's like this hardcore kind of science component, that you kind of have to wrap your head around this technical hurdle. But then once you get that, now you've got this infinite sort of play field. So let's kind of move into some specifics here and then we're going to dive into a case study of some actual sound design, which I'm excited about. And one of the things that I'm always curious about is how do sound designers actually make the sounds that we're hearing? Because sometimes it's obvious. You know, if I hear someone tearing a sheet of paper, I assumed somebody put a microphone in front of a piece of paper and torn it in half. But then when I see the kind of stuff that Oddfellows does and Buck and these sort of abstract motion designee things, and the sounds are not real sounds, they're bleeps and boops and things like that. Where does that come from? Like, what are the various ways that you two source or create the sounds?
Trevor: Totally Wes, do you want to side this or you want me to?
Joey Korenman: Why don't you go ahead?
Trevor: Yeah, there's a wide variety. And I think it also depends first, aesthetically what it kind of feels and looks like with the music choices, but there's sorts of tools we'll use to it will be whether it's sort of synthesis using, whether that's synthesizers or using other tools and samples in order to create those sorts of effects and those sorts of feelings that can match abstract motion in really interesting ways. But also sometimes it's finding weird sounds and sound libraries and then manipulating them to create something entirely different through using audio processors as you know, delays, reverbs, chopping, editing, pitch shifting all that sort of thing. As well as some recording to or we'll also, if we're trying to get a very specific sort of feeling and we aren't achieving in any other way, it's also really nice to add in layers of actually recorded fully and actually recorded audio in our studios.
Trevor: So it's so many different paths and it's so much dependent on what's happening on screen. And that's really a lot of the fun part about that style of animation and why we enjoy working on that a lot is because it's a little bit of a just like a creative outlet because there is no this has to sound like this like it with live action stuff or with animation that's very literal.
Trevor: There's only so much you can do, you're kind of trying to make it seem like it is. But with a very abstract animation, you can create a world of sound using whatever seems to fit the style of animation, the style of music, the aesthetic of what's going on, and also really help accomplish whatever purpose or goal that that animation has to present to the viewer. It's really an expansive and crazy world to work in.
Joey Korenman: Let me ask you about the synthesized sounds that you kind of referenced where there is no sound of a line tracing on screen and looping around and landing on the clients' logo, right? You can't find that in a sound library. And maybe aesthetically, it doesn't make sense to go to a sound library and pull a stock kind of bloop sound effect. You want something a little softer, and you have this idea in your head. So then what's the process like of, I guess like I'm trying to draw an analogy for between what you're talking about in motion design. In motion design, a lot of times you have an effect in mind, in your head, that you're trying to get and the way to get it is you open After Effects and you basically have to try a bunch of different recipes of layers and effects and tricks that you've learned over the years to build that thing you're thinking of.
Wesley Slover: Totally.
Joey Korenman: And it sounds, I'm assuming it's the same kind of thing with audio and I'm curious, how do you approach that and how did you learn to do that, frankly? Like how many failed experiments were there before you finally got the hang of this?
Wesley Slover: So I do more work with synthesizers. So I'll speak to this one.
Wesley Slover: I mean, that was the kind of stuff that I did for years before I did this for a living was just like playing around with reason and learning how synths work and making synth patches and weird electronic music and stuff. My process now for, I think with sound, it's a little bit more of trying to set yourself up for happy accidents. Because there's so many variables and it's complicated that I mean, like there's some sounds where I go, okay, this is pretty simple sound I can create, I can tweak some knobs and make that. But usually what I'll do is, say I have a piece where we go, okay, this needs to sound light hearted, but synthesized, and here's the music track. So then I will listen to the music track and I will go through patches, like tons and tons of patches on my plugins, and find stuff that's pretty close to what I like or something that's like, ooh, that's interesting, or like, ah, that's resonating really well with the music or whatever. And then I'll play a bunch of stuff that's in the key of the music.
Joey Korenman: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Wesley Slover: And maybe I'll go oh, this is really close. Now I know I just need to make it a little bit less of this and a little bit more like this. You know where you're already like in the ballpark.
Wesley Slover: And then I'll create basically a sound library for that project specifically. So it's all harmonious with the music, all aesthetically, it all fits together. And then from there, I do a lot of sound editing to get it to do things that I want to because I'm not, like there's some people who are really good at tweaking knobs and coming up with synth patches, where I think that my strength is more in like the editorial of taking lots of bits of things and putting it all together in a way that matches the animation, and sounds rich and full.
Wesley Slover: So yeah, I'll start taking those sounds and kind of find moments of where they fit and how it feels good with the music and the soundtrack as a whole. Because you're considering on the one hand, yes, you need to match that specific moment, like the light bulb turning on and the ray of light opening up. But also it has to feel natural with the voiceover and the music from a story arc perspective.
Wesley Slover: So, that's kind of why I like to sort of go okay, I create a bunch of ingredients that are really close and then start moving things around cutting them up trying different things until you feel like ah, yeah, that's it that works great.
Joey Korenman: That was a really good explanation and my next question is then, because doing that requires like this artistic subtlety, and probably a lot of experience to just know what is even possible and what works. Do your clients typically give you direction towards that? Or are your clients typically even capable of like thinking at that level in terms of the sound design? Or does that all come from you guys?
Wesley Slover: In my experience, what I like to get from clients is that they have a description of sort of how they want it to feel, and this depends on the music too. Because usually, if there's music already selected, that really informs a lot of what the soundtrack is like. Like what Trevor was saying before. If the music is really futuristic sounding, then it's going to lend itself towards sounds that are also futuristic sounding.
Wesley Slover: I think that the thing I probably get most often from clients offering sound design direction, and I would say that for the most part, clients don't really know what to ask for or don't like have anything particularly in mind, and that's great because then we can just sort of foster the process. But sometimes we'll get reference videos of like, oh, here's this video, here's that video. Ideally, it's a mix of two or three videos, because the challenging thing with that is with a piece of music you can, it can stand on its own, where with sound design, what is happening in the animation really dictates what you can do in the sound design.
Wesley Slover: So an example of this is when I'm doing a project, it's a product like the, I don't know what you call it, like the hyperreal, is that would you call it? Or like hyperkinetic kind of stuff. Like super close up 3D model of a thing flying around and deep, you know, exploding and like coming back together and all the...
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: ...you know, showing the pieces of it. What is that called?
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I mean, I don't know that there's actually an industry accepted term for that.
Wesley Slover: Okay that makes me feel better.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I mean maybe what you were thinking of is macro? Because...
Wesley Slover: Oh yeah, macro.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, when you're really close, like that's the term but yeah, I liked your terms better though hyperreal. It's kind of neat.
Wesley Slover: Yeah. So for instance it's one of those kind of pieces. And so somebody sends us like a ManvsMachine Nike spot. And it's, you know, the soundtrack is awesome and it's matching everything, but I go, okay, well, this has all of this stuff happening on screen that I can sync sounds too. And if your video doesn't have all the stuff, like I don't have a thing to like anchor the sound too. So it is kind of hard to give direction in that sense, because it's really like the sound is really following what's happening in the visuals, which is very unique to that project.
Wesley Slover: But usually what we do is we start with like a demo section. So we tell our clients, we try to start with the music first because like I said, that kind of influences everything else, and figure out what the music is. And then once we have our music direction, more or less, figure it out and like 15 seconds of animation. Then we'll do a demo section of sound design. And we'll use that as like our jumping off point. Because it tends to be way easier to talk about sounds that exists rather than sounds that don't, you know?
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Like we can just go oh, this sounds too childish, or like, oh, it's too aggressive or too, whatever, like, perfect. And we're, I don't know, I'm curious what you think, Trevor? But I gotta say we never like throw out a demo. It's more of like, turning a few things down in the mix and changing a couple elements.
Trevor: Totally. Yeah, it's rare that we'll, you know, pitch a demo, and they're like, completely wrong style, doesn't fit at all.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, and then it's nice because then we just focus on that. We think of it like a style frame, right? So it's like something that we can, they can show their client if they want to. That kind of it is up to the director whether they feel like they want to bring the client into those kind of decisions. But yeah, so we can go back and forth and really nail that down. And then once we get that done, executing the rest of it tends to be really straightforward. And it's more about just certain moments that just maybe don't land how the director has in mind or whatever.
Joey Korenman: Right. I can remember, and I have to say like for everyone listening that like, Wes, and I don't know if I've worked with Trevor yet. Or Trevor worked on the...
Wesley Slover: Oh yeah [crosstalk 00:59:35]
Joey Korenman: ...he's on Kickstarter thing. Yeah.
Wesley Slover: Yep.
Joey Korenman: But I remember Wes working with you specifically on the animation that opens up all of our School of Motion tutorials, and you made this soundtrack. And I was, there was something about the way, and you compose this like piece of music, essentially, that went perfectly with the animation, but the ending wasn't quite working and I was struggling so hard to figure out how to describe to you what it was that I was hearing in my head. And I remember feeling inadequate, like I didn't have the music theory to speak your language. Do you find that that's ever an issue or, I mean, somehow you got what I was getting after and you nailed it...
Wesley Slover: I think...
Joey Korenman: and made this perfect audio track.
Wesley Slover: I think there's probably a lot of different ways to work on it. In my experience, I feel like the issue is really when people use musical terms but incorrectly, that it's a problem.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Because if someone's, I've had an example like, oh, it should be more melodic, but then they show me a reference it's like, oh, no, you're talking about the chords like there's no melody to what you just sent me so that's a problem because then I started doing literally what I'm being asked to do, and we're not communicating
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: What I like to do is really try to go, I like to talk to director like, what are we trying to accomplish? Like what is the goal, what is sound and music and the mix doing to achieve the goals of this project, whether it's a video, a video game, an app, like an installation somewhere. Because then from there, we can start talking about, oh, well, you know, you're trying to make people, I don't know, like your product. Right? And your product...
Joey Korenman: [crosstalk 01:01:14]
Wesley Slover: ...is like, it is something that is geared towards people who are not super technically minded but maybe want to feel more technical or something like that. And then we can start to go okay, so we want this to feel like it's chic like futuristic, but not like aggressive or scary or like hackerish. And so we can start a talk in terms of just like, how do you want it to feel? Like what do you want it to remind you of? Because then I can take that and convert it into like, okay, well then like melody would not be a good tool in this instance, or like, sound design would be a better tool than the music or maybe we just need to tone the sound design down because it's distracting us from this dense copy that you've got on this.
Wesley Slover: I mean, that doesn't necessarily get to, if you as a director have like a specific idea in mind that you're trying to communicate, that is a little bit harder because you really have to figure out how do you communicate that. But I think even still, if you're able to communicate kind of what are our goals or what should the sound accomplish here, rather than specifically, like prescriptive what should it be?
Wesley Slover: That way at least get you like, a lot closer?
Trevor: Totally.
Wesley Slover: And it gives me ideas as a composer and sound designer of things that I can try. Because a lot of times like, oh, there's like a few different ways that we can approach this.
Wesley Slover: And it doesn't have to, there's not necessarily just one solution that's the perfect thing, you know?
Trevor: Yeah.
Joey Korenman: Exactly, yeah.
Trevor: And to add on to that, just to add a little bit more is, I feel like Wes especially, and I've gotten a lot better at this, to being able to translate visual language into auditory language is probably one of the most important skillsets that we use daily, just because we're obviously working with people from other skill sets that aren't going to have language for audio. So in that way, sometimes it's a lot easier for us to, having learned in practice how to translate what someone's trying to do visually, to just talk about what you're trying to do visually and we can be like, oh okay, that's why this sound wasn't working, is because I was thinking about it this way. Rather than, you know, it's hard to build up in an auditory language with, you know, a client or a director in a short amount of time, just because most people don't have a really great vocabulary for sound and music. And so, there is so much that can be lost in translation there.
Joey Korenman: Totally.
Wesley Slover: It's really hard to talk about and it's really subjective, too.
Trevor: Yeah.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I would imagine that's just an ongoing challenge. I mean, that's a challenge for motion designers too, to get their client to say what's in their head in a way that then can be translated into pixels. And it sounds like you two deal with the exact same thing.
Wesley Slover: For sure.
Joey Korenman: So let's, yeah, let's dive into an actual sound design project that you recently completed for us and absolutely crushed. And I want to kind of get specific here and actually play some of the samples that you gave us and then some of the layers that you kind of worked in towards the end. And everyone listening, we're going to link to this and to be honest, I don't know how well we're going to do describing the sound of an animation that you can't see because this is a podcast. But if you have the opportunity go check out the show notes for this. And it is the intro animation for our Design Kickstart class, which is going to be launching in January, I believe, and we hired this complete hack to animate it for us. His name is Allen Laseter.
Wesley Slover: Boo.
Joey Korenman: Not very good. He's one of the best animators in the world, I don't know, he's very, very, very, very good. And he made this beautiful thing and once it was kind of all done and approved visually we we're like, it sure would be nice if there was some sound in there maybe some music and so, you know, we couldn't afford Antfood and so we called Sono Sanctus.
Wesley Slover: Story, hey, actually, that's yeah, that should just be in our tagline like Sono Sanctus if you can't afford Antfood. [crosstalk 01:05:29]
Joey Korenman: I hope you two know I'm kidding. We didn't actually ask Antfood we did go directly to you. But I thought that that joke might land so. So why don't we start? So from my perspective, the conversation we had internally was like, okay, we're going to ask Wes if he could do this, and that was kind of it. And then our producer on this class, Amy, sent you the animation. What happened from there? Over at Sono Sanctus HQ.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, so we get the animation, we look at it and the first thing that I usually try to do is just start putting music from my library against it because when I hear it or I see it with different music, I can sort of draw out things, like recognize things about the animation of like, oh, this pacing is working or like these textures fit really nicely, you know, that sort of thing. It's like, it kind of just offers a good way to kind of daydream about it. So I put it against a bunch of stuff. And I did some like kind of quick edits. So I dropped it in Pro Tools, I dropped the music in and then just kind of cut it to like fit the basic arc of it. Because like most the times, you just drop a piece of music and it's like, you get the intro, especially for the yeah because I think this piece was like 10 seconds long.
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: You don't actually even get into the music track at that point. So I kind of cut it to see how I was feeling and how certain moments would feel. And then I took some of my favorites of those and I sent those back to you all to just go okay, I feel like these kind of work, maybe I would identify a few things in particular of like, I like the textures of this, I feel like it fits with the graininess of the animation but, the pacing is probably too slow or you know those kind of caveats and notes to help you understand how to think about and communicate about it.
Wesley Slover: And then I asked you all to go, okay, what do you like about each or like, what do you like of these? And also, what do you dislike about them? And from there, it gives me a lot of data points of like, okay, it needs to be this tempo range, or like, these are just aspects that the clients not into, or like this thing resonates. Like it gives a lot of very tangible examples. And I think that yeah, the like and dislike is super important in my mind because it keeps me from, like if I have a client brings me references it keeps me from latching on to something about their reference that is not what they actually like about it. Because that used to be a problem where I would kind of go, okay, like, this is something in common and I'm like, oh yeah, well, we don't actually care about that. What we like is this part, you know?
Joey Korenman: Right, right.
Wesley Slover: So that gives like a lot of, it helps articulate and clarify direction.
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: And what became clear was that none of those tracks were going to be right because sometimes I'll pitch one of those and it's, actually, in the more recent School of Motion intro we just did, we did the same process. And we realized, like, no, this track is it, it just needs a little bit of editing and customization. But in this case with Design Kickstart, none of them were quite right. But I had a lot of info I could use so I worked up a demo, sent it back, and that was, I think you pretty much signed off on that. Other than knowing that we had to go into sound design and refine it further.
Joey Korenman: Well, why don't we actually play a few of the options that you sent us because I remember going back and forth with you and Amy and Allen and I basically just said I defer to Allen because you know this, the entire piece was designed and animated by him it was really his vision and that's typically what we do when we commission these course intro animations, I just want the artist to do their thing and I stay out of the way. And it was really interesting because the songs I liked were very different than the one he ended up liking and then he asked you to make it more upbeat. So why don't we play a few so the listeners can actually hear what you gave us.
Wesley Slover: So those tracks none of them, you know, worked as is. But they gave us some information that I could use to write a new track. And so what I realized, I really liked this kind of grainy sampled analog textures that were in a lot of the tracks that I pitched. You all seem to be responding to that as well because of the way that it matched with the graininess of the animation.
Wesley Slover: And so I started with a break beat, I've got a sample library of just a bunch of drum breaks, they recorded a drummer in a studio doing a bunch of like kind of old school drumbeats. So I found one that felt like it fit the pacing of the animation. And that also lined up well from where I knew I wanted the music to start and where I wanted the music to end. So that's sort of the skeleton and then from there, I recorded a baseline that was like a kind of more of a melody and it took it in like kind of a psychedelic rock sort of direction, just because I like doing that kind of stuff, there's a lot of texture to it. It also fit that the animation is like super trippy and abstract. And then from there, I mean that was like basically the song I was able to block it out with those two elements. And then I added a bunch of samples to that, that gave it sort of just a lot of character and texture and made it more interesting.
Wesley Slover: And also it added to the psychedelic quality, which was nice because I knew it would set us up to do sound effects that were kind of similar. And that would help blend the sound design in the music. So you kind of don't know what's the song and what's a sound effect that's corresponding to the picture. And what that does is it gives it like the sense of the music is much more responsive to the picture than it actually is. Because you've got the sound design that's responsive and then the sound design is sort of mushing, you know, it's becoming mush with the music track.
Joey Korenman: Right, right. Well, I remember listening to all the samples you sent over. And I should point out that the three that I liked the most Allen didn't like any of those. And he actually did have one that he liked. And what was interesting was, I should probably take a moment to describe the animation a little bit for people who haven't seen it. It's essentially like a first person view of a designer's hands, doing design things, you know, drawing a circle, and then pushing, you know, sort of color samples around. There's a little sort of flip book section like you're doing boards and kind of seeing them animate a little bit. And the whole time you're zooming first person style through this collage of images. And so the the final song really, really fits that because it is kind of psychedelic and Allen's style and the way he draws it kind of feels like that throwback 60s, Yellow Submarine, kind of look.
Joey Korenman: Allen had a note in that he was digging this really chill song called Mystic Blackout that you guys sent over. But he said, and I'm looking at the conversation right now, he said, "The chill vibe is an interesting approach but I think it'd be cool to see what happens with music that brings up that energy a little bit. I could be wrong, let me know what you think." And so that to me, that's the exact kind of comment I would also give you. Where I, and I don't know, does that give you the information you need to then go make the custom track, like was that enough? Just that little bit of, it could be cool if there was a little more energy, I could be wrong though.
Wesley Slover: I mean, so that is really like my favorite kind of feedback because there's [inaudible 01:13:54] and Allen and I, we work on a lot of stuff together. So I kind of know like, you know, what sort of things he might like and how to work with him, which also helps, like when it's somebody you've never worked with, that might be a little bit too ambiguous, you know? But I really love that because to me, it's sort of like, okay, I can totally hear what you're saying, like we should pump the energy up on this. But also feeling like there's a lot of trust where I understand what you're liking about it and I can make the music how I feel like it should be and not worry about hitting too many design parameters, if that makes sense?
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: Like if you give really specific direction all of a sudden, I get like I'm in a smaller box.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Where that I felt like I knew everything that I needed to be on track.
Joey Korenman: Cool, and you got it on the very first try.
Wesley Slover: Yeah you all are pretty easy going.
Joey Korenman: So why don't we take a listen to that.
Joey Korenman: So my question after hearing that is, once you did that demo and all of us at that point, were basically like, yeah, this is working really, really well, we like it. Did you change the sound of just the song? Did you add any more to it after that? Or was it basically done on the first drive?
Wesley Slover: At that point, I just refined the mix. I just kind of cleaned it up. And really, to me, it's like, I want to remove things more than I want to add more stuff. Because I wanted to make sure there's enough room for the sound design and keep it like kind of tight and tidy.
Joey Korenman: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Wesley Slover: So yeah, so at that point, it was really like about bringing Trevor in to do the sound design, which, you know, I had been keeping sound design in mind the whole time writing that song, so I sort of had an idea. But at this point, like Trevor and I work together on so many projects that I feel like we don't actually have to talk that much like we both are kind of on the same page just by default.
Trevor: Totally.
Joey Korenman: That's good.
Trevor: I'll just follow the conversation as to what you all said and I'm already, I definitely kind of already know how he works and the nice thing with working with you know, Wes doing the music is that he's extremely thoughtful about how sound design is going to work into it already. So I rarely have to fight with the music once I start because he's already thought through it. So it makes it really nice collaboratively.
Wesley Slover: And it's really it's easy where if Trevor's like, oh man, like I want to do something at this moment, but like the music is just making that not work. Then I'll either jump in and change the music track or I'll just go through and export all the stuff, all the tracks for Trevor, so he can go and like edit and stuff. And it's just like that kind of, it's something I really like about our company and a lot of companies that are doing the sound design and music thing because it makes that process just more natural than if you have a composer and a sound designer bringing everything together at the very end of a project.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: That's a bit of a tangent, but...
Joey Korenman: I mean that, I'm assuming that also takes a certain amount of maturity. Because I mean, anyone who's been in a band knows that in the beginning you want to shred, you want to show off. And then you start to learn as you play more music and write more songs that sometimes, actually most of the time, it's not the notes you play it's the notes you don't play.
Wesley Slover: Right.
Trevor: Yeah, totally. I mean, I think that's been huge and makes it really easy for me personally, to work with Wes is that he's never been like, super hardfisted about it needing to sound exactly like this. Like he's very open to whatever needs to happen. And so it's always been that sort of way where we're both working together for the same goal. And so there's very little needing to have some sort of ego about it. Plus, also most the time in client revisions, things change whether we like it or not.
Joey Korenman: Of course. So we finally got the music track where we like it. And now it's time to sound design it. And this particular piece, it's got a combination of moments that are pretty realistic. The piece actually opens with hands coming into frame, holding a blue pencil and drawing a circle on paper. And so in my mind, I'm like, okay, you need the sound of a pencil drawing something on paper, but then there's moments once you get into it that are really kind of surreal and weird, a little bit.
Trevor: Totally.
Joey Korenman: So how did you approach, I mean, you know, maybe you could just sort of talk about the process that you went through deciding like, how weird and unrealistic these should be and how does that whole process start?
Trevor: For sure, yeah, yeah, you're exactly right. It's a blend of several different things here. You've got like a hyper realistic, very close up view of the physical action of drawing, but then that sort of zooms into shapes and the abstraction and movements in color that are very much not based in anything that would happen in reality. So you've kind of got this blending of both of those ideas. So in my process, I kind of try to take note of all those things. So there's going to be some really real natural feeling sounds because that's how it's going to have to intro. But at the same time, you're going to have to keep those sorts of sounds and textures and make them seem surreal after the animation really starts to get psychedelic, just like the music does. And I think that's a nice place where the music and sound design in it played well is that the music doesn't actually start right off the bat.
Trevor: So you kind of have this moment where it starts and all you hear is the pencil and the hand movements and then drawing that circle. And then after that hits, there's kind of a joint moment of music and sound design saying, okay, we're going surreal like okay, the scene changed and now you've jumped into this world where suddenly you're zooming into pages flying and shapes moving and colors coming in. So it kind of created a nice separation where you can have that first moment of just very realistic, very fully based sound, and then transition into something that feels more like a dream scape sort of thing.
Trevor: Now, the hard part with that sort of thing is if you try to join those two, sometimes it'll sound completely unrelated, and you don't want that. So it was also interesting to bring in the foley and the texture and the sounds of pencils and paper, but make that a surreal sort of soundscape that goes along with it. And so from there, it kind of comes from the circle being drawn, and then you kind of get this more fluid sound. And I know that I'm going to have to have sounds that really emphasize the cool motion, the zooming, the pushing, the watercolors coming in But also it's really short and the music is really cool once that happened. So I, the sound design needs to take up less space once that happens.
Trevor: So I kind of picked several moments that would stand out and then let the rest be more abstract. So those moments being I picked where the finger pushes the arrows and the arrows kind of shoot out to the side and then when the water drop, with a little color drop comes in, and fills in blue into the shapes there. And then the very ending sound as you're zooming into the papers flying. And that kind of gave me a structure of like, I'm trying to hit these beats, so to speak, and the beats lined out pretty well with the music. So I focus on creating interesting sounds for those moments where the rest of the soundscape is definitely more secondary sitting underneath the music.
Joey Korenman: I think this will be really interesting for our listeners. So why don't we play the sound effect. I think it's the first sound effect that actually comes in. And it's the sound of a pencil being put down on paper, kind of pausing, drawing a circle and then lifting up and then being put down and rolling away.
Joey Korenman: So listening to that, and especially watching it synced up to the visuals. It's really, really perfectly synced up and so I'm wondering how did you do that? Did you literally watch the animation and put a microphone next to your desk and just draw circles until you nailed it? Like how do you get it that tight?
Wesley Slover: First I sent Trevor a how to draw a circle instructional video on YouTube.
Trevor: I watched YouTube videos for a while to get the circle just right.
Joey Korenman: It's harder than it looks.
Trevor: No I mean, it's at the same time like really simple but also has some layers to it. So I did. I ended up recording for this. So I recorded myself drawing while watching the video kind of just like a foley artist would do in order to try to match that motion because it's not even just a simple circle, like having a somewhat steady state sound like the sound of a pencil scraping against paper will very easily sound out of place if it doesn't match the timing of exactly what you're seeing. So for that I did, I did record like, I just watched the video and I did a bunch of takes of recording it, trying to get that motion to really look correct.
Trevor: But the interesting thing is I actually recorded pencil on cardboard. So it was like a much denser surface that has a little bit more weight to it. And I think that really helped. Even though it seems like that's not what's happening. I think it really helps with how close you're zoomed in to the hand to make that pencil kind of feel like it's way closer to you, bigger than it actually would be in real life.
Wesley Slover: Yeah and like the grain of the paper is a lot bigger at that perspective.
Trevor: Totally. And I think it helped bring a little weight to that, even though if you listen to it again, you'll be like, yeah, that's really not what it sounds like when I'm standing you know, looking at a piece of paper several feet away from me and drawing on it.
Trevor: And so I use that sound as well as layered in some library sounds of a pencil and paper to help guide the arc of that sound going around. So while that's like a really simple sound, so to speak, it's the sound of just someone drawing with a pencil, in order to make it sound aesthetically what it looks like and kind of give it a character and life that's a little bit bigger than would actually be in reality. And it ended up being several layers that you put together.
Joey Korenman: I love the detail of using cardboard instead of paper. I mean, that's the kind of little inside baseball stuff that fascinates me that I would never think to do. And so the next sound effect I wanted to talk about is, you know, we see the hands draw a circle, and then we kind of fly through that circle and we start seeing little vignettes of different design moments. And then one moment the designer's fingers, and remember we're looking first person through the designer's eyes, sort of pushes this rectangle and it turns into a color swatch. And then those swatches fill in with color. And at the moment that the finger pushes that swatch, it makes this crazy noise because the swatch kind of duplicates and starts moving around. And so why don't we play that sound effect which you've helpfully labeled arrow push.
Joey Korenman: So that sounded effect obviously, I mean, maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't sound like there's a foley technique that gives you that. So how do you generate something like that?
Trevor: Totally. Yeah, yeah, this one is definitely more of an abstract thing and I wanted it to be kind of a moment that takes you, I don't know, the moment that feels cool and kind of isn't that surreal space. And so that sound is built up of a variety of different things. One of it is actually a big kick drum sample. And a kick drum that actually I think works pretty well with the kind of retro psychedelic music style. So that I blended with the music, but also kind of gave that impact of like when that finger touches it, something shoots off. So you kind of have that impact. And then I think there's actually several layers of kind of impacts and booms there.
Trevor: And then the sound of it actually going off is kind of a designed spinning sound. So it's like a sound of something spinning quickly back and forth. And then that it was layered in with some delay and some reverb so that it kind of feels like it's spinning and shooting off as it goes off into the distance.
Joey Korenman: And so is this all coming from a sound effect library that you have? Or are these things that you've built, and now you're reusing?
Trevor: Yeah, it's a combination of that. So some of those are drum samples that I've, I have kind of like a giant collection of tons of drum samples, some that I've recorded, a lot that I've purchased. And so that one was a drum sample of, I think, kind of like a big kind of concert drum sort of thing, which was just a sample that was there and then the spinning is also a library sound that yeah, was just a manipulated library sound that was a sound of spinning whooshing. I forget exactly which library that was from otherwise I'd give it a shout out.
Trevor: But yeah, so these are all library sounds that I have in my library and then using them and combining them and manipulating them to fit kind of what's happening on screen.
Joey Korenman: That's really cool. Yeah and now that you're kind of explaining how that sound is built, I can sort of hear those layers and...
Trevor: Exactly.
Joey Korenman: ...I think that's really helpful because I mean, I, as an amateur sound designer, I love learning new things, just in general. And it's really cool. It's kind of giving me some ideas about things to try. So then the next moment that there's like a really kind of crazy sound effect is, there's a moment where the hand comes back into frame with this little ink dropper and sort of drops color onto these swatches.
Trevor: Yeah.
Joey Korenman: Because they don't have color before that. So why don't we listen to that. That's a really interesting one.
Joey Korenman: So that one, obviously, like has some layers to it, but those little bloops and you know, that kind of initial sound effect, where the heck do you find that? Where does that come from?
Trevor: Yeah, you know, that's actually a library sound that is a couple layers of something that's actually fairly common in library sounds for animation and this sort of thing is just like a pop or a drop is often what they'll be called. And this one is like a pitch pop. So it has a little bit of just like a pitch tone to it, but it still has that kind of popping sound. And so it's just a few layers of those for the initial drop. And it really stands out in this video because the rest of these sounds that you've heard so far have all been very textural, all been surfaces, papers, hands, pencils, wooshes that are grainy. And so this is really the first moment of kind of a pitchy sound, a sound that has high frequency pitch into it. And I think that's what helps it stand out, which I think also matches really well with the fact that this is really the first dramatic color in this piece too. It's like this bright blue. So it's nice that it's kind of this little simple sound that stands out from the soundtrack as the color kind of stands out from the video.
Trevor: And that is pretty much just those little pitchy pop sounds, and then a delay and pitch down version of that as it goes around to kind of give timing to all the different drops that happen, as well as kind of the pitch down helps with the kind of the rotating spinning aspect of it so that it just fits. It just feels like it fits even though I didn't like go in there and tweak every single little drop to be exactly timed to exactly when it goes on to the swatch. It just, when that sort of motion happening they just kind of start to blend in a way that feels satisfying.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's really interesting to hear and really cool, frankly, to hear how much thought goes into every little sound that is put in here because I've never sat and watched a sound design tutorial. So I actually in my mind, I don't have the movie I can reference of, you know what it looks like when a sound designer sits there for hours and tries this sound effect and it's not right and then tries another one and that one's good, but I got to pitch it down. And I want to ask you a question, Trevor, because Wes made a comment earlier and it's something I actually don't think I've ever thought about, which is trying to find sounds that are in the same key or at least play nice with the music. Was that a consideration on this? Those pops have a pitch to them, did you have to kind of make sure that it wasn't going to create like a dissonant chord with what the bass was doing or something?
Trevor: For sure. Yeah, I mean, that's always definitely a concern. Anytime I'm putting a sound into an animation that has music I'm definitely concerned about pitch because you'll instantly either create dissonance or maybe the pitch will mess with a melody or something that's happening in the music. Regardless, you have to just make sure that it is working with the music and alongside it.
Trevor: With this particular sound, with these pitch pop sort of things, the pitch isn't quite as relevant because one, it's descending quickly so you can kind of, it's almost more like a pitch wheel sort of thing where the pitch is just going down, so it doesn't have to necessarily hit the right note. And it's not specific like a C dot sort of thing, it's more of a sound that has pitch to it, but the pitch kind of fluctuates, where if the pitch moves a little bit, like a pitch slide, it's a little bit less relevant if the pitch is exact, except where it starts and ends can be relevant depending on the sound. But in this situation, as long as the first pitch doesn't sound dissonant with the music, kind of the pitching down wasn't super crucial to have exactly on the right pitches on the way down.
Joey Korenman: So then we kind of move to the grand finale of the piece where we see the designer's hands doing that thing, like when you see in a movie, and there's like a movie director looking through their fingers in the shape of a rectangle to frame up their shot. That's basically what the designer's doing. And you're looking at a series of pieces of paper that are kind of flying by almost flip book style showing off the designs that are now kind of in motion. And let's play the sound effect that goes along with that because it's pretty dramatic.
Joey Korenman: Alright, so let's talk about that sound effect. So there's a layer of what I'm going to assume is either foley or like a ton of editing to get the paper to work so I want to hear about that. But then there's this zoomy, swishy sound that takes us sort of in and out of that shot, which ends with the title of the course coming up Design Kickstart. So how did you approach that sound effect?
Trevor: Yeah, yeah. So that one is great. And it kind of goes back a little bit to the realism of the beginning. Because it's back to it being papery. And then you definitely just have to add to the drama because the zooming's going up into the title screen. So it needs to kind of, with the music, resolve in a nice way. And that's actually something that I believe, if I remember, Allen, or one of you had a comment that it wasn't resolving on the first pass that we did not resolving quite at the right time. So that ended up actually being tweaked to make sure that the all those moments where we're coming together and emphasizing the right ending moment.
Trevor: But a lot of those dramatic whooshy sounds are actually a sound library that Wes created, that he calls fireball whooshes, which are just these like really wonderful, soft, whoosh sounds that are slightly textural, but also not overwhelming. And I use them a lot because they just fit in a lot of different situations.
Wesley Slover: They're just like super neutral.
Trevor: Yeah, you can talk about how you created those Wes...
Joey Korenman: Yeah I'm really curious.
Trevor: Because I use them all the time.
Wesley Slover: Oh, well, those ones I didn't, I mean, there from fireball whooshes like are pretty normal because you get that ... kind of sound. And they're just some fireball whooshes that I processed and we own, so like licensing with this stuff is like I can't just give that to anybody because of the source material I use.
Joey Korenman: Right, right.
Wesley Slover: But we have the same libraries and stuff. So with those I just pitched them down added some reverb basically to like soften and smooth them out a little bit more. We use them all the time because a lot of times you have these frame like swooshes by or whatever, you don't want to like draw too much attention to it, but you need to put something there.
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: So yeah, we use these all the time. They're so bland and boring, but they work.
Trevor: It's really a daily...[crosstalk 01:34:55]
Wesley Slover: Trevor's talk about how much we layer stuff. It's like having sounds that are layerable, you know, that are, they're not too big on their own so that they can serve a specific purpose, is really helpful.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's interesting just thinking about the sound effect choice, even if it was something really literal like an explosion. There's so many different kind of, it's funny I don't usually use the word texture when I talk about audio, but I think I'm going to start doing it because it really it's clicking in my head, the way you're describing these things, that you can layer them, that this is softer than a normal fireball would sound. I mean, I think, hopefully, if nothing else, everyone listening to this is going to have a better vocabulary when they speak audio to people like you and Trevor, Wes. So yeah, so Trevor, you actually brought up a really good point, which was that we heard a version that had the music and most of the sound design in it. And you guys said, "What do you think of this?" And Allen had a note and I agreed with it. He just said it first, but I want everyone to know that Allen Laseter I had the same creative thought.
Joey Korenman: But basically what he said was that in the beginning, when the music comes in, it would be nice if there was some sort of anticipation to that happening, like a swell or something like that because it just felt a little abrupt. And then maybe, I think he wanted to raise the volume of the pages flapping a little bit. And then he said it'd be cool if there was a crescendo to a climax before we get to the end title card. And those notes, I mean, after having talked with you guys for a while now I feel like okay, I kind of I think I could even interpret that a little bit as a non sound designer. So what did you do with those notes? And how did you adjust?
Trevor: Yeah, for the first one, for kind of as the circle expands and getting that little swell, that was a little bit of sound design, but that was actually also a tweak to the music, Wes.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, I did like have the bass like ... like kind of slide in. Because I think his note it was about he wanted the sound to make you feel like you're falling into the page kind of a thing. Is that right?
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Wesley Slover: You know, this is actually a good example of figuring out like what our tools are to accomplish this, right? Like he wanted it to feel like it's swelling and so it's like, with the music I could have the bass go ... to give that sense and it kind of gives you that tension and anticipation. Then I think I added in some of my other layers. I reversed some of the ambient textures just to give it a little bit of a build up in the music track.
Trevor: Yeah, yeah, that worked really well.
Wesley Slover: Did we also add sound design for that?
Trevor: I think I...
Wesley Slover: This was a while ago listeners.
Joey Korenman: So many project.
Trevor: I'm pretty sure what I did was, you have that little swell in the base kind of pitch down. And I just retimed the sound effects so that my kind of zoom in whoosh matched with those lining up. So the swell felt cohesive and fell time to the way Allen was envisioning it.
Wesley Slover: Yeah, so yeah, that's a really good example of us, the way that we'll put our heads together.
Trevor: Yeah. Because if we were unrelated and we were like doing this project from different studios, that sort of communication like, ah, what's the best way to accomplish that desire, would have been hard because it was kind of joint music and sound design not really one or the other to help best make that happen.
Joey Korenman: Excellent. Well, after you made those changes, I think that was it from us. Allen's first comment was, "feels spot on to me, beautiful work, no notes", which has got to feel pretty good when there's only like a couple of rounds, and then you're done. So let's play the final audio from the Design Kickstart animation.
Joey Korenman: So it's funny because it's only a 20 second animation. And, I mean, there's only a few moments in it. But now having talked to you both, I understand that even something that seems simple like this has a ton of thought and an abstract conceptual creativity that goes into it and plus a bunch of technical stuff, too. Is this, for you guys, is this kind of a typical, not in terms of length, but just in terms of complexity, is this typical kind of project for you?
Wesley Slover: I'd say it's like a little bit more complicated. Just because it's like a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. And there's no voiceover. So a lot of times if there's a voiceover, it's sort of like everything we're doing is just supporting that.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Wesley Slover: Where this, the music and the sound design had to stand on its own. But I would also say that we did this all really quickly. Like, you know a lot of these, what Trevor is describing breaking down the sound design approach and everything, are things that we do pretty intuitively, I think. So in that sense, I think it is like fairly typical. What do you think, Trevor?
Trevor: Yeah, no, it's so true. I think there are those sort of conceptual things we kind of have built into our initial conversations on talking about style. But yeah, you're right. A lot of this happens very quickly. And is very much just a part of the day to day how we would approach any project.
Joey Korenman: Well, I am, you know, over the moon with how this turned out, we've got a lot of comments on it. People love it. And you know, everyone who takes the class is going to hear your sounds over and over again. And I don't think they'll get sick of them because it's a really awesome work. So the last thing I want to ask you both is about where sound design is going. Wes, you were interviewed on Motionographer recently, there's a great article we'll link to it in the show notes, and you were talking about this cool project that you were doing essentially providing audio tracks to gifs, which I thought was genius. And in there you were talking about some of the new areas that you're interested getting into with sound design, because obviously, your bread and butter right now is taking videos and giving them audio tracks. But you know, the world of motion design is expanding, and now it's on phones, and it's in VR headsets and augmented reality, and things like that. Can you talk about what the audio version of that is? Where is sound design going and where is it popping up in places that it didn't exist a few years ago that you're excited about?
Wesley Slover: Sure. I mean, I think the motion working its way into more facets of media and life has opened the door for sound to do that too, because it's like the more stuff moves and feels alive, the more it feels like it should have sound. Some things that we're really excited about are sounds for the built environment. So we just did a presentation at an architectural firm talking about how sound can be used in a variety of context and places. We're really interested in making sound for things that people use. Because we really got our start doing advertising, and it's like, well, nobody wants to watch an advertisement. It's like something that's thrust on people. And so we're really excited about things that just like, using sound to make an interaction or experience better. And video games, too. We're working on a video game called Undermine that we're really excited about that's been a lot of fun. Trevor, do you want to add anything to that?
Trevor: Yeah, no, I think that covers a lot of it. I do think that sound is being considered more and more for a lot of different purposes and people are seeing its usefulness in designing for so many different circumstances, that I think there will be more and more kind of bizarre situations where sound will need to be designed. But those are the ones that we have been most interested in recently.
Joey Korenman: I have to give a huge thanks to Wes and Trevor who went above and beyond for this episode even pitching in on some of the editing duties. Sono Sanctus has made quite the name for itself over the last few years, and I highly recommend you head over to their site to check out their work. They were incredibly gracious with their time and their knowledge. And for that, I thank them and I thank you for listening. Seriously, it means the world. Head to SchoolofMotion.com for show notes, where we will link to everything we talked about here, and why the heck not sign up for a free student account so you can check out our Free Path to MoGraph class, which will give you a crash course in motion design, including a little bit of info on sound design. I think Sono Sanctus may even have a cameo in that course. So head on over. Check that out and I really hope that you dug this episode. I'll see you next time.