Happy New Year 2019

It’s been a real busy last half of 2018 for Hands on Sound but now with a rare off day I can offer up a few updates on what’s been going on. Documentary projects both on location and in post. Everything from educational to political, social and nature doc work. We’ve gone on location for a reality/ travel show pilot and on a sound stage with electronic music pioneers as they prepare for a tour. There have been a few network one offs for PBS, TBS and Fox. In the world of music we contributed to a Bob Dylan box set, produced prom videos for Phil Lee and even composed some original electronic music. Currently we have 3 indie films in post mixing and one more coming up on location this month.

If you are a client or friend of Hands on Sound, thanks for all your support in 2018, where we invoiced a record number of clients. If you are a potential client…get in touch.

Post Sound Mixing- Locally & Globally

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July and August finds 3 indie short films in post here at Hands on Sound and I'm having a blast with this group. The modern world is so great in as much as it allows productions to work remotely yet collaboratively.  Projects get uploaded to me, work gets done, mixes go back up for review and notes...and we then make it to the finish line together.  It's a nice workflow.

I'v teamed up again with director and filmmaker Noah Weisel on his film noir piece Ghost Dick.  For this one Noah is shooting on the Fisher Price PXL2000 camera for a unique B&W look and all sound is being done in post here at Hands on Sound...ADR, SFX music etc.  With San Francisco as the backdrop to this detective story, this short harkens back to the classic era of film noir.

Following up on the production sound I did a while back for Travis White and his short Game Time, the film has gone to final cut and is back with me for mixing and sound design.  It's always a pleasure to cut dialogue that I recorded since I'm familiar with the source material and know it was captured well.  IMDB tells us that Game Time is "A film about nerds and the jocks that harass them, with a sci-fi/fantasy twist" and I can verify that is true.

On the schedule for today is a mix on the French film Zero One.  This one is a 17 minute tale that examines life and death on a somewhat philosophical level.  Zero One was shot in Paris and is presented simultaneously in both English and French, with subtitles. This is my first time working with producer/ directors Kirsten Russell and Frédérique Nahman and they are a joy.   Some of the audio fun for me has been sourcing SFX and backgrounds that are Paris and France specific...and keeping it real.  With this being filmed in Paris, edited in New York and mixed in California, the project is a true testament of global creative partnerships..

Over The Years- Graham Nash

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30-Song Collection Spotlights Nash’s Best-Known Songs From The Past  50 Years And Includes More Than A Dozen Unreleased Demos And Mixes 

Available On CD, Vinyl, And Digital From Rhino

Order your copy here: https://rh-ino.co/overtheyears

I had the honor and privilege of putting together this set of tracks for Graham with his long time friend and partner in crime, Joel Bernstein. I served as the project's engineer, compiling, assembling and pre-mastering the 2 CD/ double LP collection.  

Some of the highlights on this one were cleaning up the original demos of "Our House" and "Marrakesh Express", and mixing the demos for "Wasted On On The Way" and "Wind On The Water".  Our collective archival minds also helped to unearth an unreleased mix of "I Used To Be A King" featuring Jerry Garcia's original pedal steel track, recorded at Wally Heider's in San Francisco.  A superb mastering job by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering brought the  project to the finish line.

Learn more about Over The Years on the Graham Nash website.

What's Up? Doc?

Some of my most satisfying days are spent on location, doing documentary sound.  Whether we're in a room, out in the world walking/driving around or capturing an unexpected moment, this type of recording is a blast.  There are so many stories out there and an endless amount of interesting people with fascinating viewpoints that just call for attention.

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In this era where DSLR cameras, and to an extent mobile phones, are able to get usable footage in a somewhat stealthy manner, I'm often times the most visible member of the doc film crew.  I've got at least a bag with recorder/mixer and transmitters in it and once that boom pole comes out we attract more attention than we'd like.

This past weekend Hands on Sound and Bohanti Productions travelled to California's Central Coast to start work on a documentary piece about musician Phil Lee.  This was a run 'n gun affair with a couple of proper sit-down interviews tossed in as we got an overview of Phil's world before heading out on tour.  With 2 DSLR cameras we grabbed hour upon hour of footage with Phil and had him mic'd up for the majority of his waking hours.  Following Phil around town we got a good taste of his local haunts and the folks he encounters.  For many of the innocent bystanders our cameras just indicated we are photographers and must be hanging out with someone interesting.  It's the bag that gives the crew away, so my deal is to get rolling on the wireless mics and then cover the bag with a jacket or sweatshirt...ending up looking like a guy who is carrying around a bag on his shoulder or is the photographer's helper.  In the bag I keep a shotgun mic setup on a pistol grip and that serves as extra coverage when needed...such as when we encounter someone on the street or in a restaurant.

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This past December I went out on the road for a couple of fun weeks with the documentary crew from Kindness Films.  This was another 2 DSLR shoot + Sound.  Most days we had our subjects mic'd up for the day with boom added in controlled situations.  In the more guerrilla moments I once again employed the hidden bag and pistol grip shotgun.

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Documentary sound also give the opportunity to get creative in sound gathering and allows me to play with plant mics, PZMS, handheld recorders and even at times stealthy on my own body mics.  Thinking fast and being as invisible are strong skills to have on these shoots since there aren't re-shoots and multiple takes.  Interactions are real and in the moment, often fleeting and brief. Ya either catch 'em or ya don't.  I like to catch 'em.

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Interviews, Interviews, Interviews

There is a lot to be said for the old adage "Variety Is The Spice Of Life" and it's something that personally I crave.  At any given time I can be working simultaneously on a music project, an indie film, a documentary, or a marketing piece...but one thing that seems to remain constant are the weekly corporate video shoots...interviews, testimonials...or as many call them...talking head videos. 

Hands On Sound gets the call from national agencies and production firms to provide solid and reliable audio recording/ mixing on their shoots.  Apart from quality work, what separates Hands On Sound from other service providers is the delivery of cleaned up, named, organized and Post-Ready files for all clients.  This means that noisy corporate environments with intrusive background sounds,  HVAC hum & noise and other less than desirable distractions during the interview shoot are removed before file delivery...making the Editor's job so much easier than what they get from most Sound Mixers.

Here are a couple of recent jobs that both had a great deal of audio issues with location specific noise during the tapings.  While irritating in the moment for the production crew, I knew that the eventual piece that would go out to the world would have clean sound...and Post-Ready files delivered by the next day.

 

 

Sound Design For Fun & Learning

I never tire of learning, trying new things and taking on new adventures.  In the learning department, I've been taking a number of classes...most recently at College Of San Mateo and City College Of SF.  Both schools have great Digital Media and Music programs where I've enjoyed their offerings in Sound for Games & Interactive Media and Sound For Picture.

Last week as CSM we wrapped up the semester with an Electronic Music Concert that put on display student works in the sound and visual arts.  I participated by recording the concert and presenting a sound design piece that I did for the MUS293 class Audio For Visual Media. Click below to watch and listen.

Mastering The Mix- 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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The San Jose Sharks and SJ Sharks Productions are known for the high production values in their In Arena video packages and their offering for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs raised the bar just a bit higher.  The 2018 version included an interactive LED bracelets on all the fan's wrists, projections on the ice surface and a heart pumping video presentation on the center scoreboard.

SJ Sharks Productions came to me with the soundtrack for the show and asked for it to be mastered/ sweetened with the goal being making the audio every bit as dynamic and moving as the visuals.  Knowing the bowl of SAP Center quite well, I sculpted and crafted the 3 movements of the show to be big, wide and deep.  As an added bonus, I was in attendance for the world premier of the show and go to experience the overwhelming reception by the sell out crowd.

The Sharks swept Anaheim in the 1st round and eventually got ousted by Las Vegas in the 2nd round, but in the meantime hockey fans got to experience one of the best NHL Pre-Game Spectaculars around.

March Madness With Capital One

It's always a joy to record sound with talent who is easy to work with and has a great voice.  This was the case a couple of weeks ago when I provided location sound for DDB Chicago & MWAC on a shoot for a series of Capital One spots. Our subject was legendary sportscaster Jim Nantz, who brings some humor to the NCAA Final Four tournament along with his cohorts Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Enjoy one of the completed pieces here and watch some others over on the Gallery Page.

Sound Design For Animation

In December, Hands on Sound had the pleasure and fun to once again work with the San Jose Sharks on their annual Holiday Video.  For this year, SJ Sharks Productions decided to do an animated cartoon featuring some of the team's favorites.

To capture the player's lines, I put together a portable version of "The Cone Of Silence" recording booth for a morning at the Shark's practice facility and cycled the players thru, as their schedules permitted.  From the session, cleaned up/ production ready files were delivered along with a bin of SFX, ambiences etc to spot to picture.

Once picture was locked, the project came back to me for mix and a quick turnaround to meet the holiday driven deadline.  Later after the piece had been up for a few days, SJS Productions put out to social media our usual outtake/behind the scene clip that the fans always love. 

Enjoy!

The Town Kitchen- Entrepreneur/Staples

The San Francisco/Oakland/ Silicon Valley is known for innovation and it's entrepreneurial spirit.  Hands on Sound had the opportunity to be part of this piece created for Entrepreuneur.com and Staples recently.  Watch and learn how some young ex-Google employees joined together to make a unique and thriving food delivery company in Oakland. In the audio department, it was a fun challenge to capture and deliver clean sound in this busy and noisy commercial kitchen environment.