Music has always been sexy. And I don’t mean baby-making Barry White music. I’m talking about the industry, the stigma and characters that surround music. It’s cool to play, listen to or be involved in music. I guarantee even Mozart saw some action from the groupies in his time. Sound design is different though. Generally, audio for content has always leaned more towards the geeky side. Take the awesome sound design of the Star Wars movies...most people know it’s great and can recognise the famous lightsaber sounds but who actually cares how it was made?
WeWork, The Farm, The Productive; you may have heard of at least one of these if you have visited any urban dwelling in the last three years. If you haven’t, the term ‘co-working space’ or ‘shared workspace’ should have penetrated your eardrums at some point, perhaps whilst buying an overpriced organic latte from a trendy vegan coffee shop.
There is no simple answer to this loaded question. Designers and marketers will obviously tell you a hard YES with a bunch of good reasons why. A lot of startup blogs and entrepreneurs say to concentrate on getting the clients/business first before committing to the investment of professional branding. For me, and for a lot of small business owners/start ups, I was in a bit of a quandary about this catch 22 scenario.
Welcome to the Square Mile. This is the name I call my studio weighing in at a humble 77 square foot. 7’x11’ to be precise. So…what is one to do with so little space? Research is the first port of call. Most project and bedroom studios are around this size so there’s plenty of information out there on acoustic treatment and utilising the space efficiently. Using that information and translating it to a professional environment that is client friendly, acoustically sound and comfortable is a taller task than one might think though.
I’ve had the idea to start my own studio since I first showed interest in the audio realm when I was about 13. In fact, at the age of 14 or 15 my brother and my dad built a recording studio in the garage to have jams and make a bit of cash from recording local bands. I remember saving up for a Tascam Multitrack Recorder and being amazed by the fact I could solo each instrument in the demo track installed on the build in hard drive (that’s right, no cassette tape on this machine!). I started playing around with the EQ and reverb, changing levels and effects. I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning to mix! It was fantastic.
It’s no secret that a lot of my time in the studio is spent cleaning up dialogue. In fact, for a longform documentary I will generally spend more time on the dialogue tracks than on the sound design and mixing. This is mostly because the dialogue tells the story. It’s the main focus of a film introducing characters, setting the scene, and gives context to the content. This applies to films as well as talking-head/interview style docs. The trouble is that dialogue (as opposed to voiceover) is almost always recorded on location and depending on that location, determines how easy my life will be in post production.
There are a lot of how-to articles and videos on the net about building acoustic panels for your studio or control room. They're really handy additions to any environment that requires less acoustic reflections and they're cheap and easy to make. I need mine to tighten the acoustics of the listening position in the room I'm currently in. Generally I'm sound designing and mixing commercials for TV which can be less forgiving when it comes to quality control than mixing music. My goal is to make more of these with bass traps also but for now I just built two panels that will be placed at the left and right mirror points from my speakers. Quite honestly, the way in which I built these is not that different to everything else on the interwebs except I did mine in 100-degree weather with a PBR in hand in about 2 hours for $22 per panel. My point is that this is easy to do and shouldn’t be a gruelling or tedious process.
361 days of sunshine on average per year, a yearly average temperature of nearly 80°F (27°C) and a 74% average humidity per day. For a pasty skinned, slightly ginger-bearded sound engineer that spends most his time in a windowless basement, I will tell you that this is most definitely a climate change I am not accustomed to. Florida is called ‘The Sunshine State’ for good reason. Even when it’s a cool 90°F (32°C), the humidity puts the ‘feels like’ part of my weather app to over 100°F (nearly 38°C). Well, this is where I live now…sort of.