Detritus 291

video – Kijek/Adamski, audio – Grzegorz Mańko, making of


> working remotely? some invaluable tips (although having to have a chat app running at all times sounds like a permanent distraction. I used to have ichat running all day, to be available to talk to other people working on current film project, but I grew to hate it – its basically a distraction… and I am more productive via monotasking)


> Short films are such fun to work on, but this is interesting re Oscars & short films this year


> interesting new platform & model for supporting artists, musicians, film makers & other content creators Patreon (thank Rene)




> ever wondered why the drummer in The Muppets was called animal? Science, that’s why (thanks Michael!)


> Johnny Greenwood and modes of limited transposition


> Fascinating read: attempting to find the source of the ska (& later reggae) chop on the offbeat


> great photo series, of grandparents & their grandkids side by side… but then they swap clothes


> Interesting chord explorer Max for LIVE plug





Scattered Light 106


looking for the right note?
shot Feb 19th with Canon 5DmkIII and 100mm macro lens

LAKE Ambience Library released

I’m very happy to say that HISSandaROAR AMB007 Lake Ambience Library is now available, with a good discount until the end of the month – check it out here



Scattered Light 105


A visitor checking out my Firstman synth, shot today Feb 19th with Canon 5DmkIII and 100mm macro lens…

BTW does anyone in NZ have a reccomendation for a good synth tech, who might have a look at the Firstman for me? It was dead when I bought it & I’ve had someone have a look at it, but we only got so far without a circuit diagram (got it to power up but no sound) – I have a PDF of circuit for it now… email me?

Scattered Light 104


one of the locals… the Tui near here have quite a strange song, a resonant filter sweep rather than a longer song, I’ll record them once the cicadas quieten down…
Shot 18 February at my Plimmerton house, Canon 5DmkIII and 100-400mm lens

Lakes 12 13 14

I’ve been to Lake Tekapo plenty of times before, but this was the first time recording…




The next day I drove up the road past Mt John observatory to investigate two smaller lakes, first Lake McGregor


And then Lake Alexandrina, which was a bit larger & at one end was a cluster of very old school baches/holiday homes….


Captured a wide perspective while I was there


And a third perspective, more sheltered & ‘lappy’


Lakes 10 11

I left St Bathans & headed south, and then followed the road as though I was heading over to the West Coast.


First stops were at Lake Hawea, a large sub alpine lake


Quite surreal to drive off road & along the stony beach with a view of such epic mountains!


Then I headed to nearby Wanaka – its years since I had been there & wow, so much development in the township (offscreen to the right of this photo) but easy enough to get far enough away to not hear town activity…


Lakes 7 8 9

OK, so before anyone local pipes up, I do know Lyttleton is not a lake! I actually went there to see what industrial ambiences I could record, for another library I am slowly working on & I did record some great material for it, including some guys using a really nasty sounding water blaster on a ship in dry dock (I think they were worried I was noise control or something) Anyway I kept driving past the main harbour & found this sheltered pier by the boat club and recorded some of the gentle water lap, so its not technically a lake but they are potentially very useful waterlaps which will be included in the LAKES library….


(double checked the handbrake was on!)


Next set of lakes I recorded on my second road trip down south through Central Otago – this time I left my parents house in Ashburton & drove down the East coast & then turned inland into Lake Aviemore which is a man made lake, part of the Waitaki hydro catchment area… yay for clean power!


From there I backtracked a bit & then drove up & over Danseys Pass

Danseys Pass

An hour or two later arriving at the historic Saint Bathans, another man made lake although this one was due to gold mining back in the day…

St Bathans

The lake itself is in quite an unreal landscape due to the limestone, but it was the one time with this library where I had no choice but to record late at night due to the presence of birds. As most of the lakes I had been recording were sub alpine, there were very few, if any birds present, which is important in terms of the recordings being universally useful…. Despite the blue sky, this is a long exposure taken late at night on a very still night!

St Bathans

The timelapse shot at the end of the promo video was taken at St Bathans, using my 5DmkIII on a Rhino slider & SYRP Genie motion controller – shot starts @01.31

Music Friday 02


> I found amongst my vinyl a copy of Douglas Lilburns ‎‘The Return And The Elegy’ which is a very beautiful electroacoustic work, released on LP in 1967 & features altered Maori spoken word & processed field recordings… So tempted to rip it & post it, but its not mine to do such things… It did make me buy a copy of Lilburn: Electro-acoustic works which is spread across 2CDs + 1 DVD & is available from Smoke CDs Radio New Zealand also produced a fascinating series about Lilburn, in particular this episode Methods is well worth a listen…


> Been thrashing new album by Hatti Vatti – worship nothing boomkat link


lovely work by NZ composer & film maker David Downes performed by NZ Trio



> stream or download Kode 9 mix on RinseFM


> Ultimate Lee Scratch Perry album guide



Who remembers this from the first time round? (Porter Ricks – Biokinetics)

The following track in particular always makes me feel like I am in the hull of some vast ship, slowly chugging across the ocean…


Happy birthday for Feb 6th Bob! Love this remix by Photek (channeling Rhythm & Sound!)



+ soundcheck before the show (embed is disabled)



(love the piano line that comes in @0.56)



LAKES 4 5 6

These three lakes I visited while staying with my parents in Ashburton – we headed inland, past Methven & through the foot hills of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Coleridge – an area well known for fishing, tramping, 4WD etc…


This recording session was a valuable learning experience for me, to not take anything for granted! We first stopped at the eastern end of the lake & I did a bit of recording – it was a beautiful sunny day but there was enough wind to create quite choppy small waves coming in, but quite nice sounding & discrete wave breaks…


We then drove right up the side of the lake & around to the top, to the Western end of the lake. In here it was totally sheltered from any wind & there was hardly any water movement at all = very useful sounds for layering ambiences!!


Then we drove back, stopping half way along the lake, driving out through bush until we were down on the waterfront. But here the waves were totally diffuse – it was like a more generalised roar of waves.


Moral of the story: there is no one sound of a lake. Here on the same day I recorded three totally different perspectives of the same lake, so different they might as well be different lakes!

On the road running up alongside Lake coleridge were two small lakes, which sounded completely different again! The first lake was Lake Evelyn & parked at the eastern end the waves were singular little plunkers


And the last lake for the day was Lake Georgina, which looked beautiful as the light started to turn golden, and had very nice subtle water movement sounds…


Headed home that day feeling very happy, having effectively captured five beautiful & discretely different lake ambiences and to ahve spent a perfect day in such beautiful country!



LAKES 1 2 3

I’m in the final stages of the next HISSandaROAR Library, an ambience library of lakes which should see release late next week. Back in July last year I went on a road trip down south for two months, prior to heading to Japan, and have always wanted to capture some of the pristine lakes in the South Island. Not only are they incredibly beautiful & peaceful environments to visit, they also tend to be quiet & isolated recording locations…
I’ve taken the same approach as with my BEACHES Ambience Library i.e. recording each location multitrack, using MKH8040 ORTF pair, an MKH70 super directional spaced pair and a DPA 4060 spaced omni pair…



The first lake I recorded was Lake Pukaki, which is down in Central Otago and very close to Mt Cook, New Zealands highest mountain, in fact to get to Mt Cook you drive right around Lake Pukaki…



Next stop was Queenstown & we drove up to the top of the lake, to a tiny town called Glenorchy where I recorded the lake from a small jetty. I first recorded waterlaps underneath the jetty…



Then set my mics pointed at this pontoon, which was providing a nice boat-like water lap…



Next stop was TeAnau, as we were on our way into Milford Sound…



More to follow…

Detritus 290



> love these 8bit water colours


> the truth about youtube tutorials


> didnt realise Photosounder plugin was now available for OSX too (it works a bit like Metasynth, using images & sine waves to create/edit/process sounds) – their visualizer Spiral is kind of interesting too


> the Sennheiser 416, some people love them & others hate them…


> the world’s most used sequence?


(presume everyone has seen this, but if not)


> nice patch tool for all those new (& old) MS20 owners




(thanks Manuel)



Pyramiden (Introduction with sound by Dr. Karen Power) from Marianna Williams on Vimeo.

“I confronted absence in the Arctic. While still around 80o North, I documented the site of Pyramiden, Russia during its initial restoration. Both the world’s most northerly Cold War frontier and one of two Russian claims in the Arctic, the small coal mining community supported several thousand people at its height before suffering economic hardship in the 1980s. In the attempt to resettle the community in Russia’s neighboring site of Barentsburg, aircraft carrying women and children from Pyramiden crashed during landing. When the men of Pyramiden heard that none survived they immediately abandoned the site, forsaking artifacts of their lives together. Years passed in the frozen tundra, the elements both preserving and eating away at various sections of the settlement, before Pyramiden received a second glance. My experiences have not only lead to my continued desire to question how we see the world around us, but to also give a voice to those who have none by making personal histories known.”

Direction, cinematography & editing by Marianna Williams
Sound recordings & score by Karen Power

Career Advice: part 2

(reposting this, as it remains relevant & is a shame to be lost in the archives)

Prompted by a question on the Social Sound Design site ages ago, lunch with someone who just graduated from university, and the emails I get every so often asking advice, here is my second installment of career advice, as it pertains to my own experience – part one is here and you should read it first. (And anyone emailing me for advice, please appreciate this is the only way I can share such ideas – my free time is too scarce to do this only for you i.e. an audience of one)

So every few weeks I get asked variations on a recurring question: How do I become a sound designer? How do I get your job? How can I get work in the film industry? And inevitably the only way I can answer such questions is by asking questions back, as a means of establishing whether the person actually understands what it is they are asking e.g. what exactly do you think sound design is? What do you think my job is?

The next step tends to be about clarifying what research & steps they have already taken on the path to where it is they are aiming to go – it literally took me 20 years to get where I am now, and I know how hard I have worked in those 20 years (very!) so I am always interested to have realistic discussions with people about goals & the possible paths to achieving those goals. But I do start to sound like a broken record, repeating the same anecdotes & philosophy…. Which is why I am writing this post, so that next time I can say: “go to my blog & read the two Career Advice links in the side column” – then get back to me…


A typical email often asks “How did you start out as a sound designer?” and while my immediate reaction might be seen as a case of semantics, the fact is I didn’t start out as a sound designer. I certainly had the goal of being a film sound designer but I have always considered the role of sound designer (as it pertains to film soundtracks) to be a senior role, one that requires a lot of experience. It is not a term to be used lightly or it starts to become like someone who cuts hair calling themselves a hair designer… So first you start at the beginning, learn to walk etc…. Now don’t get me wrong, every single person working in the film industry got there via a unique path – there aren’t too many rules, but the reality of history is a good guideline. So here is a typical path to becoming a film sound designer:

step 1. do some film and audio education (one to three years)
step 2. do work experience (one week to one year)
step 3. attain trainee position (six months to one year)
step 4. become assistant sound editor on TV series (one to three years)
step 5. become sound editor on TV series (one to three years)
step 6. become assistant sound editor for film (one to five years)
step 7. become sound editor for film (three to five years)
step 8. become sound designer for film

Note: Some people never advance past being a TV sound editor – some people never advance past being an assistant sound editor – many people never advance past being a sound editor. It is VERY IMPORTANT to appreciate that none of these are judgements or criticisms. Anyone with experience will tell you every person in the team is crucial eg an incompetent assistant sound editor can do an awful lot of damage! In many ways it may be more beneficial to have your goal but keep an open mind, because you do not want to miss opportunities that arise simply because you were too single minded.

But the most important aspect to note from that list above is this: the majority of your learning occurs when working. If you have just finished step 1 i.e. are finishing your studies, then really you are just out of nappies, you aren’t even walking yet. I cannot say this enough: practical experience is the most important learning you will ever do. And that learning process never ends – this is not hyperbole; after 20+ years of working I have learned so much this year from the two film projects I’ve been involved in! I’ve learned a phenomenal amount, but many of the things I have learned this year I could only have assimilated because I had already spent 20 years learning lots of other stuff. It is cumulative, but it never stops. And if you ever meet anyone who acts like they know it all, take a step back and make a mental note that you are dealing with someone with an ego problem.

Now with respect to the different pathways I know of rare cases where someone went straight into a trainee assistant sound editor role on films, but the most important factor involved in the years of commitment to an art form such as film sound design is finding out what you are actually good at. It may turn out that despite your aspirations of wanting to be a sound designer, that you are an awesome foley editor & that becomes your art form, or it may be dialogue editing that is the one for you, or mixing… This may be due to your temperament, style, mindset, personality, people skills etc… But its also worth thinking about how much responsibility you want – being a head of department means the final responsibility lies with you. And that is not a responsibility some people want, need or are suited for. But the moral here is if you are starting out, your job is to find out what you are best suited to in practice, not in theory.


Sound design, like mixing films, requires knowledge & experience of all the roles in film sound post and in film making itself, from screenwriting though production & editing to post… This is why I believe film school is the best training ground for film sound editors. I went to film school back in 1990, with the sole aim of eventually becoming a sound effects editor. During that year I did a weeks work experience with a sound post company in Auckland, and after finishing film school managed to get a six month trainee role at the same small company. And relative to those steps listed above, seven years later I got to be sound designer on a feature film for the first time (Saving Grace 1997) – in those seven years I was totally focused on becoming a sound editor i.e. I stopped all music projects, relocated cities twice to be where the work was… And I spent years working on TV projects as a dialogue editor, sound effects editor, ADR recordist, foley recordist, field recording etc etc…

A year or three ago I read Malcolm Gladwells book Outliers, and it really reinforced what I have outlined above about timeframes. I highly recommend reading it, but if you don’t, then the most valuable piece of information you can take away from it is the 10,000 hour rule: “In a study cited by Gladwell, violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music were divided into three groups: the “stars”, who had the potential to become world-class soloists; the students who were merely “good”; and a third group who did not intend to ever play professionally, the “teachers.” All of the students had all started playing around age 5, and for the first few years they all practiced about two or three hours a week. After age eight, marked differences began to emerge in the amount of time devoted to practice, with the best students “purposefully and single-mindedly playing their instruments with the intent to get better — well over thirty hours a week.” By age twenty, the total hours of practice were: Star Violinists: 10,000 hours, Good Violinists: 8,000 hours, Teachers: 4,000 hours
The same group studied amateur and professional pianists, with similar results. The amateurs never practiced more than about three hours a week, while the professionals increased the hours devoted to practice every year. Totals at age 20 – Amateurs: 2,000 hours; Professionals: 10,000 hours.” Gladwell sites many examples in many different fields but the conclusion is that it takes 10,000 hours to attain any form of mastery of a complex skill. If you work 50 hours a week for 50 weeks a year = 2,500 hours. Four years of constant work = 10,000 hours. But of course it isn’t that simple, more realistically it may take five to ten years of work to achieve 10,000 hours of experience in a specific role….


So the moral of this section is that becoming a sound editor (& even more so a sound designer) is a long term commitment. So you must think long term and acknowledge the commitment required. If your motives are unclear or misguided there is a fairly good chance you will not last the distance. Sometimes when I meet ‘normal’ people i.e. people with no involvement in the film industry, their questions can be very telling. The illusion is that working in the film industry must somehow be glamourous & exciting, but if those were the primary reasons you wanted to work in the film industry I don’t think you’d survive the first week. You need to love film, love it as an art form and as a means of story telling. And love the role sound plays in that process. You can put ‘sound designer’ on your business card if you like, but there is a reason films have credits. Apart from acknowledging the contribution each member of the crew has made, it is also a part of history – your history. Credits are given, not taken. And people notice – IMDB is an important tool for the film industry because it is a reference tool. You cannot add fake credits to IMDB, producers and directors rely on those credits to verify what experience a potential crew member has.


When I was at Film School access to gear was a real issue. I used to borrow a Nagra and a shotgun mic occasionally but when it came to manipulating sound, things got more difficult. Many things that people now take for granted, even on the simplest laptop setup, just were not possible. Now that access to gear is easy, people starting out have the distinct advantage of being able to learn & teach themselves basic skills. But gear does not make art. I’m old enough to remember when DV was released and all the hype of how it would ‘revolutionise the film industry’ and make it more democratic. So when DSLRs were released and the same hype was recycled I just had to smile… But here is why gear is important:

Like it or not, most professional sound editors are using ProTools. I know there are other programs that are capable, but I will repeat the fact: most professional sound editors are using ProTools. So when you finish your studies and you manage to get work experience or even just to sit in when someone is working, that is NOT the time to be learning the basics of ProTools. You must have already invested a serious amount of time getting familiar with it. Early on, you should consider getting work experience as a very valuable opportunity and you do not want to waste that time – you need to use it very carefully. You need to be learning why to do certain things certain ways. Thankfully ProTools is reasonably affordable now, so there is no excuse to not have read the manual inside out, used it a LOT and learnt the keyboard shortcuts.

But it raises an interesting subject of what are the pre-requisites to gaining work experience or a role as a trainee or intern. People can say what they like, but actions tend to speak the truth. So it is your actions that are interesting and will likely be the thing that sets you apart from all the other people who are after the same role that you are. So what have you actually done?

– studied audio? ok, what aspects of audio? (I am astounded at the gaps in some peoples knowledge)
– studied film & film making? (that is WHY we all do what we do)
– technically experienced with computers & peripherals? (ie can you be trusted with them?)
– learnt ProTools? (best to be honest but humble with this, you will be talking to someone who has used ProTools 50+ hours a week for years and years and years… And having done a ProTools course does not make you an expert, or even experienced)
– What other programs?
– what projects have you worked on? student projects? in what roles?
– what field recording have you done? What mics and recorders have you used? (subtext here: can you be trusted if I send you out with $20k of my equipment, so be honest)

Any official studies or qualification are only as good as what you did with them. What I am alluding to is your ability to show me actual evidence that you are already on your way and are committed to working. If someone told me they did even one year of study at a film school and they never worked on a student project I would be deeply concerned. But study is what it is expected of you, what did you do for its own sake? Give me evidence that you have initiative…


Ok I am all ranted out now, I’ll write part 3 when I accumulate enough ideas… Here are some actual questions people have sent me via email, feel free to use the comments if you have a question that hasn’t been addressed….

What does a Sound Designer actually do on a project?

As I’ve said above I consider the term Sound Designer to be one of the heads of department in the creation of the soundtrack for a film – the other HODs being the Production Sound Mixer, the Supervising Dialogue Editor and the Rerecording Mixers. (if its a large team there may also be a Supervising Sound Effects Editor) So in the role of Sound Designer what do I do? I read scripts, meet with directors and producers, pitch for projects, collaborate on budgets and schedules in association with the post supervisor and the post/mix facility. I ascertain the practical and creative requirements for the film, and clarify who will be handing which aspects of each element. I supervise/collaborate with the foley team, sound effects editors and collaborate with all of the other contributors to the soundtrack ie along with the other HODs already mentioned I collaborate with the picture editor, the composer and the post/mix facility. I work out what resources we need eg in terms of field recording, access to performers and props. I help manage the budget and schedule for sound editorial throughout the entire project. I check the work and offer advice to the sound editors I am working with, and incorporate their work into my master session so as to provide context when having run throughs with the director. I record, edit, develop and create sound effects, ambiences and build elements of the soundtrack. I provide temp FX and temp mixes to the picture editor and to the composer. Prior to predubs/the mix I track what progress is being made with all of the elements, and which have been approved by the director. I provide input on when conforms to picture changes should occur – during sound editorial and during predubs/mix. During predubs I manage what material is presented in which order, and insure that the dub stage is never idle and the correct material is available & ready. I also keep notes of any feedback and requests for fixes/additions during the mix and communicate these to crew to be addressed or address them myself. During the final mix I manage all the data and ProTools sessions feeding sound effects, ambiences, foley predubs etc and insure they are correctly conformed, updated with fixes (and track whether the fixes have been mixed.) At the end of the project I archive the ProTools sessions feeding the final mix, so the project can be revisited at a later date if necessary. Depending on the delivery requirements of the project, I may have to deliver copies of every ProTools session for the project ie the predub source sessions, the predub stems, the final mix sessions and the final mix stems. Thats most of it, but I’ve generalised/skipped details of lots and lots and lots of aspects of what i do as Sound Designer on a film. There are of course lots of important personal aspects such as making sure everyone involved in the project feels fully engaged and that their contribution is vitally important, and that the project needs their very best work. And that the director is 100% happy that the soundtrack for their project is being fully realised, that no stone has been left unturned or issue has not been addressed.

What was your progression like into the professional field? How did you get there?

I’m not sure where ‘there’ is, but if you mean here and now then my IMDB credits are a timeline of my work history. Early on I did a lot of TV drama series and that was invaluable experience eg we did three seasons of a TV series i.e. 39 x one hour episodes and that got me fast at ProTools, editing ambiences and sound effects etc. The series was set in a rural area and there were helicopters, boats and cars so I got good basic experience editing vehicles. TV is good experience because it is repetitive i.e. we had to do the sound editing for an episode in a week. So each week I had to do an ambience pass on a one hour show, every week. And one moral of post production is this: it is not how good you are, it is how good you can be in the time available. Your aspirations are secondary, because if you are given one week to do a certain component and you cannot deliver, then you simply won’t be working on that project by week 3. As I gained experience my boss obviously noticed that I was keen as hell and also what I was good at (ambiences, sound effects, field recording) so when we managed to land a film to do, he encouraged me to pursue those aspects. In 20 years of working I have never advertised because I always believed your work is the best advertising – which goes back to my rant about credits and IMDB – people notice. I slowly met lots of the other people working in the film sound industry, so they knew I existed and what experience I was getting. Then as I said above, seven years after film school I got offered my first film to be sound designer on. I got the role because no one else with more experience was available, but also because I was hungry for it. I had to change cities for three months to do it, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I could or would do it.

What process do/did you go through to find work both now and in the past?

When I was at Film School, there was no IMDB. So I collected up a years worth of the local film industry magazine ONFILM, as it listed the credits of all the film and TV local projects. I made a list of who was doing all the sound work, and I noted every project they had done as I figured the best people to approach were the busy ones. I went to film school in Christchurch but there was no industry down there, so the choice was Wellington or Auckland. Wellington was closer so I wrote a letter to each of the five people in Wellington who were doing all the work. I waited a week, got no reply, despaired, went to the public library and got a book out on job hunting. Realised people often do not reply, that is to be expected, and that you have to be far more targeted and proactive than writing a letter and hoping…. So I targeted one person in Auckland, I researched every project they had done, I watched the films they had done and made notes about aspects I liked. I wrote them a letter. I waited three days. I called them, I asked the first question every person should always ask when calling someone: “Are you free to talk now or should I call back when you’re free?’ (that job hunting book taught me how to ask questions where ‘no’ was not an option.) He was free, second question: ‘Did you get my letter?’ His reply, ‘no, I haven’t been to my POBox – what was it about?’ Gulp, ok, I had rehearsed what I was going to say, so I explained I was a film student and wanted to be a sound effects editor and his work on XX film was an inspiration to me and that I was coming to Auckland and wondered if I could come & meet him and possibly sit in for a few hours. We talked about XX film for a bit and he agreed to let me come visit. So I went up to Auckland and ended up sitting in for two or three days as he was working on a TV series. In that time he worked out I was a friendly, open person who was keen to learn. And this is a simple thing, but its a good example of where actions speak louder than words: when he agreed to let me sit in for a few days I asked what time he started work. From that point on I made sure I was always there before he was i.e. I was waiting when he arrived and unlocked the front door of the studio. Without saying a word that said I was keen as hell. I went back to Christchurch after my work experience and said I would keep in touch, and I did. And when the year at film school ended it luckily coincided with him landing a TV series and as I had been a student I was eligible for an employment scheme where the government paid half my $400/week wage for 6 months so he took me on as a trainnee for six months for a mere $200/week cost to him. And that was all the chance I needed. Within six months I took over every bit of work that he didn’t enjoy, but he also acknowledged what aspects I showed promise with & encouraged me. So that was my first break, which was really the most important one of my career. And I will be forever indebted to him for giving me that break – thanks John!! So working for a facility as I was then, it wasn’t my job to find work, I just did the work that he found. When we had gaps with no work for a month or so he had the great foresight to get me to work on his sound effects library. So I transferred his library from 1/4” tape to DAT, and logged it all to a databse with timecode etc…

How do I find work now? To be honest work often finds me, I’ve been around long enough that people know me, know my work & have a feeling whether I am right for a project. But I also do a lot of research, constantly in fact, as to what projects are in development. A producer told me years ago how it’s kind of funny that when a project gets a green light i.e. that it is going into production, they tend to get lots of phone calls from people wanting work. But the reality is that by the time a project is green lit, it has already been crewed – those people are about six months too late. That project will have been in development for years – films don’t suddenly appear, ready to shoot – they are written, and rewritten, and developed… As I’ve gotten more experience I meet more and more directors and producers, and from the outset I’ve always had an attitude that when I do a project, no matter the scale, I want that director and producer to finish the project completely happy and my aim is that when they make another project that I am the first person they think of when it comes to sound. Accordingly some of the first feature films I got was because I formed this collaborative relationship when they were making a low budget short film. Because I took it seriously & did my utmost to help make the project a success they remember, and eventually they return. It might take 5-10 years to get a feature film green lit, so (again) you must think long term. But being a creative, supportive collaborator is I think the most important part of how I get work now. I love working with directors and deeply admire their commitment & the huge range of skills required to successfully make a film, and I do everything in my power to help them achieve that.
Do you have a team of people that you work with such as a Foley Artists/Dialogue Editor/Composer Etc? If so how did this team come about? If not, does this mean you do all these elements yourself?

Of course yes. An example NZ feature film by a first time director might have say a budget of NZ$2.5 million. With that scale of film making, the minimum sound team involved would be myself for 3 months, dialogue/ADR editor for 3 months, assistant sound editor for 2 months, foley editor for 4 weeks, foley artist & recordist for 3 weeks. There is no way I could, would or should try to do all of that work myself – that would be insane. Occasionally on a short film I have done all the sound editing but we still need foley – both creatively and because every film made in NZ must deliver an M&E mix along with the full english mix. Otherwise the film cannot be sold into non-english speaking territories. But each person in a team is a specialist in their chosen field. I am not a mixer, I like to collaborate with someone who is a mixer and who is as dedicated and experienced at their role as I am at mine.
With regards to teams, like most people I am loyal. I have worked with the same dialogue/ADR editor on the last dozen or more films – he is a dear friend and the best dialogue editor I have ever worked with. There is only one reason that I would work with a different dialogue editor and that would be if he wasn’t available. The same is true of other members of sound editorial team. One you have done a number of films together the shared experience is very important.

What is your workflow process entail when working on a film/television project? How do you approach it?

To outline this would take hours and hours…. It is way beyond the scope of writing a response here – it would fill a book!

Could you please explain the difference between working on large budget films as opposed to low budget independent films in your field?

A film with a larger budget means it will likely have a larger scope, more complex requirements and greater expectations. Accordingly the schedule and budget to achieve a great soundtrack for it must also scale and involve a larger team. A large budget film will likely require temp mixes for test screenings. Picture editing will likely continue throughout the predubs and final mix, requiring multiple conforms. If the film involves visual effects these will likely arrive late, requiring sound editors to continue editing through the final mix. All of these factors must be taken into account when planning a larger scale project.

In your opinion who is doing fantastic work in your field?

This comes down to personal taste and aesthetics, but three people who’s work I deeply admire would be: Walter Murch, Alan Splet and Skip Leivsay. A while back I ran a survey here where I asked people to chose their favourite films for sound – see the results here – I chose: No Country for Old Men + Inland Empire + Punch Drunk Love + Tony Takitani + Barton Fink + Damnation
Do you have any advice for me regarding how to layout my CV?

No, sorry – a CV is really not much use to me, so I do not feel qualified to comment on how you should lay it out or what it should contain. Credits are what I am interested in – what have you actually done? And where can I see & hear that work? If you were approaching me to do work experience a CV is not that important to me. My theory is also that people skills are one of the most important attributes and a CV does not convey any of that. You could have the best CV ever, but if you have an ego problem or personality problems, aren’t a friendly & open collaborator then we won’t be working together. FWIW I would never, ever hire someone or have them be part of a team unless I had met them & known them for a while i.e. established what kind of person they are. There is simply too much at stake. I remember I had one young person come & see me and within five minutes they had stressed me out more than an entire film project does. Now why would I want to spend time with someone like that?

Do you have any advice for me as i am finishing my degree?

Get experience. When I see people complaining about how they can’t get a job because they don’t have any experience, but they can’t get any experience because they don’t have a job I think that what they are actually saying is this: I do not have any initiative. If you are a student soundie, then go make friends with your fellow student directors. If they are actually aiming to be directors they will be making little no budget projects all the time, and they will need help with sound. Do not let budget or lack of it be an issue. I take issue with people who say they will not work for free as though its a universal statement. I do stuff for free all the time, like writing this. If you do not have paid work yet, then the best thing you can be doing is be working on unpaid projects – you will learn lots, and who knows – you might form a collaborative relationship which years later will land you the best project of your entire career.

I’m currently trying to make my way into the TV / film industry after just finishing college. I’m more into the audio side of things and I’m trying to find out how to find experience as a sound assistant / boom op or something. Should I write to companies, producers or the sound recordists? On a TV or film shoot, who actually appoints the sound assistants and boom ops? I’m not quite sure where I go from here. Any advice welcome.

No one in their right mind will hire someone with no experience to go straight on to a shoot. You need to approach the sound recordists/production sound mixers and see if you can get work experience and/or be an assistant/trainee. The production sound mixer/recordist is the most senior sound person on a film shoot & as I understand it they hire/provide their boom and assistant. But even more so than in post, allowing someone on to a shoot involves a huge amount of trust and will only come from an established relationship. It isn’t hard to research production sound recordists in your area and find out what work they have done. Then its a similar case as to what everyone goes through – making contact & establishing a relationship. If you are in it for the long term even if there are no opportunities with someone you may well still want to meet them, so eg five years later when you do have some experience they might remember you. But I repeat – I do not work in production sound, so you are asking the wrong person.

Other relevant posts:

Timothy Muirheads companion post on Azimuth Audio blog

Let me know via email if you find other relevant posts?

first posted Oct 8th, 2011

Detritus 289

> a mortally dangerous sound system? why? science (thanks Jay)


available here – is this the answer for every kid who asks their parents for a pony?


> music app volunteers to “correct wrong notes as you are playing them” – really? scary orwellian thought…


> Tragic news of Philip Semour Hoffmans death…

Q&A With Philip Seymour Hoffman – Tribeca Flashpoint Academy from Tribeca Flashpoint Academy on Vimeo.


> a spectral tumblr gallery of sorts


> parents/breeders flying anywhere with babies/tiny kids/little people: please see #2 (i am an uncle of nine, so don’t take this the wrong way, but there is no worse sound, especially in an enclosed & confined space)


> interview with Angelo Badalamenti



> 10 legendary samples & the story behind them


> fascinating idea: “…two songs, “Life” and “Death”, split onto the two sides of a record. When played together these two songs form a third song, “Duality”


> & more wild vinyl! unfortunately its sold out already

Plastic Infinite from Sculpture on Vimeo.

> 120 answers to the question: What are some of the most important, iconic, and/or beautiful scientific and/or technological images?


> Scuzzy theremin in your browser


> How music hijacks our perception of time



Music Friday 01

> another local blog Public address does a weekly post of music so I thought I’d start doing the same, based on what I’ve been listening to this week.. feel free to comment with links to new music you’ve found this week & loved, or old music that you’ve refound & reloved…




Chris Watson
> A LIfe in Sound: A selection of progammes and soundscapes featuring sound recordist Chris Watson via BBC (thanks Richard!)


Little Huia
really love this tranquil new album by The Green Kingdom – Expanses, listen/buy it at bandcamp “As indicated by the title, these pieces are meant to evoke vast and expansive environments, either real or imagined. These landscapes can often provide a sense of calm and wonder at our relative insignificance in comparison to the majestic grandeur of the larger universe all around us….”


A norwegian train ride set to Deepchord presents Echospace’s Liumin – via


(you’ll need to provide your own soundtrack for this)


beautiful new album by Ryuichi Sakamoto – Three (iTunes link) or (Amazon link) the title referring presumably to himself, Jaques Morelenbaum (cello) and Judy Kang (violin)



STL – At disconnected Moments available at boomkat


> and maybe file this one under juvenile/#shred – Lorde performing at Grammys without Autotune? (no embed, it got pulled from YT by humourless Grammy people)


(Marcus Miller trying to channel Sly& Robbie?) of course thats the hand of Miles Davis at the start of this post, from the inner sleeve of Tutu, which I cranked up on vinyl last night while organising my studio downstairs… Check this site for a lovely reminder of the LP artwork from his lifetime of music



Freaky sound of the day

Some somewhat freaky vocals, from upcoming MONKEY VOCALS library
recored at 192kHz with MKH8040 microphones & then pitched down 2 octaves…

And a quite strange ambience, pitched down 1 octave…


Detritus 288

> data sonification tumblr


> Spike Jonze AMA


Zimoun : 43 prepared dc-motors, 31.5kg packing paper, 2013 from STUDIO ZIMOUN on Vimeo.


> tactics to cope with idea overflow?


> free new glitch audio plugin: Fracture


> fascinating read about Google buying Nest & the rise of products resold as services



NOISE / IdN MAGAZINE from Mr. Kaplin on Vimeo.


> great twitter account posting behind the scenes photos from movies eg check this one of a centrifugal set from 2001 A Space odyssey


> inside Daft Punks grammys setup


> famous movie quotes as charts


SYN-Phon ( Graphic notation) from candas sisman on Vimeo.


> compulsory reading: Tarkovskys Sculpting in Time



“Living Symphonies is a sound installation which grows in the same way as a forest ecosystem. Portraying the thriving activity of the forest’s wildlife, plants and atmospheric conditions, it creates a never-ending symphony heard amongst the forest itself.
Composed and realised by James Bulley and Daniel Jones, Living Symphonies will be taking place across four of England’s forests during summer 2014, co-produced by Forestry Commission England and Sound And Music with support from Arts Council England.”


> wow! 36 albums by Fela Kuti re-released via bandcamp – thanks for the tip Marc!


> Interviewer: “Do you see yourself primarily as a film maker, or as an artist who makes films?”
Steve McQueen: “I don’t see myself as anything… I just do stuff… I’m lucky enough that I can do stuff….”
From a fascinating episode of The Culture Show on BBC with McQueen… So what are the odds of 12 Years a Slave winning the Oscar for Best Picture? Have you seen it? No doubt it is brutal but essential viewing, it would get my vote (American Hustle seemed lightweight in comparison, The Wolf of Wall Street cringeworthy & Gravity was intriguing but its story arc lacked depth) Here’s hoping the voters agree!


Ryoji Ikeda :: superposition [updated 28 JAN 2014] from ryoji ikeda studio on Vimeo.

Ryoji Ikeda :: superposition [updated 28 JAN 2014]



Why do an Artists Residency, Japanese translation

Arigatou to Hidemi for completing this Japanese translation – English version is here




レジデンシーが提供するもう1つのカギとなる要素は時間です。たいていその時間は固定された期間です。その時間は普段しなければならないことから離れたものであり、またあなたの“普段の”生活からも離れたものです。時間はあなたのアイディアに集中するものであり、それらを探求するものであり、調査し発展させ新しい作品をつくり、最終的には発表や展示するためのものです。私の場合、かなりたくさんの調査の後、2013年の9月から10月まで小豆島での2か月間を過ごし最初のアートレジデンシーとしての仕事を完了しました。小豆島は日本の瀬戸内海にある1つの島で、特定非営利活動法人アート・ビオトープとともにアートレジデンシーの活動をしています。2つ目に私は2013年の11月から12月の2か月をLittle Huiaにて過ごし、オークランド地方の公園のアートレジデンシーの活動を完了しました。Little Huiaとはオークランド近くのワイタケレ山脈公園の中にあります。

Little Huia








一旦あなたの申請書が送られてしまうと、次に来るのは待つこと…そして待つことです。たいてい申請書の締め切りまで数か月の期間が設けられていて、何の連絡もありません。t。この待つ期間、レジデンシーは横に置いておいて自分の生活を続ける十分な時間になるでしょう。私が2つのレジデンシーに応募したのはとにかくそれが私にとっての望みだったからです。というのも万が一1つのレジデンシーの参加資格がもらえなくても、もう1つのレジデンシーに望みを持てるからです。そして 2つの全く違ったレジデンシーから参加許可をもらえるよう申請書を提出しました。2つのレジデンシーには申請の過程の中で類似点もありましたが、どちらも要求していた主要なものというのが具体的でユニークな、また発展したアイディアでした。どちらのレジデンシーでも参加資格をもらえた時、私が極限まで到達できるよう私はたくさん考え、リサーチを行いました。




Little Huia



Little Huia

日本に到着するといつもがやがやしています。しかし初めて小豆島行のフェリーに乗ったとき(過去に2回小豆島に行ったことはあったのですが、レジデンシーの1人として到着することは以前と違った気持ちでした)私は子供の様に大興奮していました。さらにこの1週間以内に期間限定の生活を築きあげるということは面白いことだなと感じていました。地元のみなさん手助けとサポートありがとうございました。Little Huiaでも同じことを感じていました。生活を築くというのはなんて驚くほど速いものなのでしょう。
そして今から述べることが両方のレジデンシーに共通していたレジデンシーの特性です:あなたはレジデンシーに着くとすぐに地元の人々のサポーティブネットワークを受けることができます。その地元の人々はもちろんあなたに手助けをするために存在するのですが、また彼らはあなたに成功してもらいたいと思っています。難しい状況に陥った時ほどポジティブに、心を開いて協同的に行動することは生活において非常に貴重なことなのです。 例えばたくさんの新しい人々に出会い、様々な状況下で新しい関係を形作ることなどです。これらはクリエイティブな考えに良い影響を及ぼし、本質的に言えば人間の魂にとって素晴らしいことなのです。
次に私が味わった新事実はコンセプトから現実への変化です。Little Huiaでのレジデンシーに参加している際にそれがはっきりと明確になった特定の場所を覚えています。それはちょうどここでした。

Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia

始めにプロセスについてです。プロセスを練る際に今まで経験のないことをどのように行っていくのかということを学びました。何を進んで行うのか、何を行わないのかはっきりさせることです。私はかつて完璧主義者だと責められていましたが、私は違います。私は実践主義者です。しかし私が‘これで十分’と受け入れる度合いは他の誰のものでもなく、私の考えが基準になっています。 新しい教訓ではありませんが:‘忍耐’はとても大切です。 例えば小豆島を撮影した20秒間のフィルムは低速度撮影ではなく通常の撮影にもかかわらず6時間もかかっています。もし人々がこのショットを見て、フィルムに映っている演技者のことを聞いたとしても、演じている人は誰1人として存在しません。すべてがリアルであり、だからこそ時間がかかったのです。



次に、そして最後にこの2つのレジデンシーから私が学んだ最も重要なことは最も重大な発見でした: アーティストとして成長し、芸術家としての全作品を明確にしています。私が発展させてきた私自身の作品は、当たりを這いつくばって発見し、壁にぶつかって、目的と方向性を持って歩いています。レジデンシーの経験がなければ私はそれを持っていなかったでしょう。そしてその孤独がこれから訪れる深い何年もの時を与えてくれるのでしょう。

Little Huia


Little Huia

そして重要なアドバイスをします:ほとんどのレジデンシーでの募集は年に1度しかありません。ですからもしあなたが興味を持ったのなら申請書の締め切りをしっかりと確認しましょう。なぜわたしがこれを言及するかと言いますとオークランド地方の公園でのレジデンシーの締め切りが 2月17日と迫っているからです。ちょうど1か月ほどしか時間がありません。-より細かい情報はこちら link


Thank you! Arigatou gozimasu!

Detritus 287

Max Cooper / Tom Hodge – Fragments of Self from Nick Cobby on Vimeo.


> ironic photo augmenting #funny!


> Good source of replacement tapes for many different tape echo units


> “Naughty passengers will be crushed” & other funny fake signs on the UK tube…


“We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means,” Tarkovsky explained in an 1983 interview, “I prefer to express myself metaphorically…” Some of Tarkovskys polaroids here – I have a copy of this great book: Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids



> so whats your NAMM/GAS favourite? So far mine would be Arturias Beatstep – primarily for use with modular synth via its cv/gate support… & its super affordable!


> The secret sounds of trees


> birds sleep? I thought they were like meth addicts, grab a nap once a week or so…. #wrong – not sure they mention it in that article but swifts sleep while flying! now THAT!! wow! if there is reincarnation, can I please come back as a swift… (wonder if they ever have that dream of falling?)




>a translator we all need: “Literally” becomes “Figuratively” & “Will Blow Your Mind” becomes “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment” & “One Weird Trick” becomes “One Piece of Completely Anecdotal Horseshit” – Downworthy plugin for Chrome


trailer for HER, except Philip Seymour Hoffman replaces Scarlett Johanson


> I read this ironic headline recently somewhere, but can’t remember where… or now, find the link… but a search did lead me to the fact that its a hoax…. but best of all, it made me remember & crank up the vinyl of this tune:

& while digging through some of my vinyl to find it, I also cranked up African Head Charge – Environmental Studies (iTunes link) – wow, what a fantastic record – its as vivid & weird & mysterious & unknowable now as it was when I first heard it back in the 1980s… I can clearly remember where I was & who turned me on to this, back in the day…
(thanks Duncan (rip) & Sean)


> “some analysis is better than no analysis” – whats that saying? there is no freedom without dissent…. “If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”


Detritus 286

> Interesting notes about Spike Jonzes new film HER


> Acoustic scientists shatter the world record for longest ever echo (note: competition does not include Roland Space Echo)



> nice freebie for Kontakt: a drumkit deep sampled via cassette tape


> some weekend listening: Joe Strummer spins his favorite tracks from around the world #archival_radio


> and some more good listening, a very nice mellow dub-techno mix by Casey Borchert for Arctic Dub – download etc here


ooops – video is David Lynch interviewed by Mike Figgis – watch it at vimeo


> Why audio doesn’t go viral – well, not counting music, which is constantly ‘going viral’ (thanks Rene)


> Googles music timeline visualization is kinda interesting eg the genre of ‘dub’

Little Huia

or the band CAN (it seems to display album/band rather than just band)

Little Huia


> After searching years I finally found a schematic for my broken Firstman SQ01 synth & sequencer – the schematic PDF wasn’t free, but it & a ton of other synth schematics are available from Music Parts site



> There are people you will meet, throughout your life, that make you stop & go huh? What IS it with this person, that they just do not get!? It is likely that they never learned this



> Love these flight paths of birds, by Dennis Hlynsky


> A virtual microphone? I’m sure its capable of colouring a signal, but…

but… i would be prepared to pay money to never hear that guy sing ever again.. is there a plugin for that?


> There is a saying, which I partially subscribe to when it comes to some recording situations: “Its better to ask for forgiveness than permission”
A simple example: years ago I needed to record some ambiences for a film in the Auckland Britomart train station. The idea that I might need a permit never even entered my brain, so I wandered in there, recorded three or four different perspectives and was about to leave when a security guard came up to me & asked what I was doing. He was being polite & non-aggressive, and I well know it pays to smile a lot in situations such as this & make light of it, but I was duly informed that I must stop what I was doing and that I would need a permit & where I should go to get one. I apologised and left, and in hindsight I guess it was a case of ‘asking for forgiveness’ rather than permission. But, next time, if there is a next time, I would get a permit & follow their protocol.
So while that saying is useful in certain circumstances, it misses a few important ethical & human aspects. First, in my experience if you engage with people, they are usually happy to share their expertise with you. And that expertise can make all the difference. But if you do make regular use of that saying to justify your actions, I suggest you also read this article: When “Life Hacking” Is Really White Privilege just to be clear you aren’t forming some sense of entitlement and/or actually exploiting people & situations….



Detritus 285

> wow! Ryoji Ikeda has been awarded the Prix Ars Electronica Collide @ CERN residency which will take him to the CERN headquarters in Switzerland to work with data produced at the large hadron collider. Ikeda’s first visit will be this spring where he will be paired with scientists from CERN, and his residency will run across two years! Can’t wait to see/hear the results of that!!


> apparently Stonehenge is actually a giant xylophone!


> Fantastic tribute to Dziga Vertov (thanks monoskop!)- Dziga Vertov is the creator of Man with a Movie Camera, amongst many other great pioneering film & musique concrete works


> trailer for Gondrys new film: Mood Indigo


> Mindscapes: The first recording of hallucinated music (?really – not so sure about that ‘first’ part)


> imagine a digital version of Dust & Grooves where they go around talking to people about their MP3 collections? yawn… but Dust & Grooves itself is fascinating – interviewing & photographing vinyl collectors


> This is a tough read (tough, because its hard to believe there has been so little progress…) but it is important to read… I am sure it applies to crew as much as directors:
How women are treated in Hollywood


> Post-digital analog – no, not about 808 clones… but a fascinating read (thanks Tom!) “The challenge for Apple’s audio engineers is less about improving sound than deciding whom they are improving it for: you or Siri.


> vimeo gets more interesting by securing exclusive digital VOD rights for 13 films that premiered at Toronto Film Festival (they offer $10k to the film makers & get 30 day exclusive VOD or until they recover their $10k, then its a 90/10 split – 90% to film makers)


> Mmmmmmm just got some new modules, the Intellijel Dubmix with its two expanders – VC control of mix/pan/aux sends FTW! Now the process begins of rearranging my existing modules to fit it in… & best feed it!



> A question: moving into my new house I have split my studio in half – upstairs is my writing/sound design studio (quad monitoring, 192k PT, modular synth, 88 key controller etc) and downstairs is my analogue studio (Toft 24.8.2 desk fed with my older 16 output 192 voice ProTools rig & all of my analogue outboard) but the one bit of outboard I do not own & wish to, is a good compressor, with sidechain input – what would you recommend thats both affordable & good? Doesn’t need to be new… or even recent…. Drawmer? DBX? Someone somewhere has a tip for me – like all my analog gear, bought for far less than its worth due to the migration to digital for many people…. Work-in-progress photo below, nothings even plugged in yet… but just you wait!

analog num nums



> Musicdrop – a 3D printed music box, you provide the tune, they print it, video & stream it & then post it to you


> some of the sounds of New York as a physical sculpture



> would love to listen to/through this sculpture on the A50


so wrong… but so funny!!


Why do an Artists Residency

Seeing as how the last four months of 2013 for me involved completing two Artists Residencies, I thought that while the memories are still fresh I would reflect on what they meant to me, their lasting impact… & a little bit of advice and encouragement if you are considering applying for one.

Without wanting to sound like a physics lecture, Artists Residencies are about space and time. Many different institutions and facilities offer Artist-in-residence programs all over the world – many are listed here. The residency must be applied for to a strict deadline and they exist to provide a place to work and develop your art, away from your usual place of residence. In a sense they could be considered a working holiday but the work you do and how you do it is the key. Some residencies are aimed to support specific mediums, which is obviously an important factor in finding a good match between you, the artist and the residency. So finding the right residency is the starting point.

The other key element that residencies provide is time, usually of a fixed duration. Time away from your local commitments, time away from your ‘normal’ life. Time to focus on your ideas, explore them, research and develop them, to create new work and eventually present or exhibit it… In my case, after a LOT of research, first I spent the two months of September & October 2013, on Shodoshima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan completing a residency with the ArtBiotop Organisation. Secondly I spent two months of November & December 2013 based in Little Huia, in the Waitakere Ranges Park near Auckland, completing an Auckland Regional Parks artist residency.

Little Huia

The answer to this question (why do an Artists Residency?) will be different for every person who applies, because it is a direct reflection on where you are at with your own art. Some residency programs are targetted at new/emerging artists while others seek mature artists with an established body of work.

For me, I consider myself a combination of both of these. I have spent 20+ years working in the film industry and developing my aesthetics, approach and processes. I do have an established body of work, but the majority of that work is work on other peoples projects. At the end of 2012 I went through a period of reflection, initially motivated by the death of a dear friend & mentor. The resolution was a shift in my focus, to creating my own work. And successfully applying for these two residencies was a crucial part in my creative evolution, but it wasn’t quite the abrupt shift in approach that it might at first appear…

Back in the late 1980s, when I was attempting an electrical engineering degree I slowly came to the realisation that I could not live a life as an engineer. Electrical engineering just did not excite me, nor engage what I considered my strongest personal attributes. This finally became crystal clear in an interview with a local electronics company – in hindsight the interviewer was a very clever, insightful person who within 15 minutes helped me clarify what it was that I wanted to be doing. And it wasn’t electrical engineering! I am indebted to him for this, some people live their whole lives without such realisations. So I was slowly spending less and less time at Engineering School and spending more time hanging out with friends at Ilam Arts School, one of New Zealands two top fine arts institutions. The contrast in how these people lived their lives was in such contrast to those in engineering. This sounds ridiculously obvious now, but when you’re young & finding your way in life such things are important, especially when you consider the choices you make back then affect the rest of your life.

During this time I slowly vowed to live my life as an artist – not someone who has a job and works from 9 to 5, spending the rest of their time trying to forget or avoid work. I wanted to evolve my life to do work that I cared about, that I thought about 24/7, work that I could provide a unique perspective on. And this attitude has served me incredibly well in the following decades – both in the 20+ years of working in the film industry and during all of the spare time that I have invested in my own projects. But through reflection and evolution I have slowly come to want to reverse the roles, that is, to spend the majority of my time working on my own projects. And these two residencies have provided the most beautiful, supportive and inspiring situations in which to finally address that desire.


The first step, after deciding you want to do an Artists Residency is the application process. I am sure this process alone eliminates a lot of people, because it involves a lot of deep thinking, and putting ideas into words, words that anyone can understand. Most residencies provide guidelines for your application, for example the Auckland Residency Program notes that priority will be given to:

• artists capable of high quality and innovative work
• artists who propose a clear result or outcome from the residency
• artists opting for new, site specific work either related to a specific place or park feature or to the residency experience
• artists whose work encapsulates or alludes to “sense of place”
• artists who offer some interaction with others eg. park visitors, park neighbours etc.

Examples of your work, your history, your personal goals and character references are usually required. While there are some similarities with applying for a job, I believe the core issues can be summed up as: what do you want to do during the residency? And are you able and likely to do it and have a successful outcome?

Simply having to clearly express what it is you want to do is an invaluable process for any creative person. Clarify your intent, and communicate it in a way that anyone can understand.

Once your application has been sent off, then comes the waiting… and waiting… Usually there is a period of months between application deadline and any further contact, which is enough time that you have to just put the idea of the residency aside and continue on with life. The reason I applied for two residencies was about hope as much as anything – I thought if I didn’t get the first residency that I applied for, then at least there would still be hope for the second one. I pitched totally different projects for each of the two residencies and while there were some similarities in the application process, the majority of each required specifically and uniquely developed ideas. I put a lot of thought & research into making sure if I did get to do either of the residencies I was going to achieve the utmost that I could from them.

And then one sunny morning the phone rang… you could not wipe the smile off my face for weeks! And when I discovered I had been accepted for both residencies I was ecstatic – the universe was encouraging me in ways I would never forget.

Each residency program provides physical help in different ways. Some provide per diems, others provide transport (to the residency, and while at the residency). For the Shodoshima residency I was provided a house and a car for the duration of my residency, but getting myself from New Zealand to Japan was up to me. The Auckland residency provided a house and a weekly stipend (enough to live and cover basic materials) – getting to the residency and transport at the residency were up to me. So researching an appropriate residency for you, is dependent on what you need and can afford to do.

And there will be practicalities. For both residencies I needed to set up my own little composing/mixing/post production suite in the house provided. Now consider the practicalities of that: hundreds of hours spent in a room with all source elements, CPU, softare, storage & backups, monitors and acoustics. My excess baggage to and from Japan was equal to about half my airfare. But that didn’t worry me – I planned for it. Do not take anything for granted.

For me, making the schedule work with two residencies of two months each meant I had to juggle timing a little, and sadly I also had to pull out of working on a film that I was booked for. But there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity these two residencies represented.

Little Huia

I won’t go into too much detail here, as the ramifications of both the residencies are deep, far reaching and in some ways beyond words. But I can imagine looking back in a few years time & being able to point directly to the residencies, as to why I am now wherever I will be by then.

The first thing I really noticed with the residencies was the dramatic shift from research, planning and developing/clarifying concepts to arriving at the residency and starting work.

In the months prior to travelling to Shodoshima, I spent hours and hours online doing virtual location recces on Google Earth, Maps & street view and Flickr. Hours and hours, stashing bookmarks, taking screenshots etc… And a lot of time clarifying and evolving ideas, researching concepts & techniques…

Little Huia

Arriving in Japan is always a buzz, but catching the ferry to Shodoshima for the first time (I have visited Shodoshima twice before, but its a different feeling arriving on day one of a residency!) I was like a kid on a sugar rush! But it was also interesting that within a week I had settled into my new temporary life, thanks to the help & support of the local residency people. The same was true in Little Huia – it is amazing how fast one becomes settled…

And that is one attribute of the residencies that was common to both: you arrive and instantly tap into a supportive network of local people, who are there to help you, and who want you to succeed. Being positive, open minded and collaborative are invaluable attributes in life, but even more so when being thrown in the deep end, meeting a lot of new people & forming new relationships in situations such as these. Good for the creative mind, essential in fact, but great for the human soul too!

The next revelations I savoured were the shifts from concept to reality. I remember a specific point during the Little Huia residency where this became crystal clear to me, it was right here:

Little Huia

A good friend & DOP/filmmaker had agreed to shoot a little documentary about my residency (you’ll get to see it, sooner or later) and while out recording in a really unique visual location (as per that photo, a road literally carved through the landscape) I suddenly thought of a great steadicam shot for the doco. I did a pre-viz version, shooting with my 5D and comped it into a video, sent him a youtube link and the next weekend he brought his steadicam out & we revisited the location.
But after shooting my idea for half an hour & getting it in the can, we both then relaxed & started shooting material with the steadicam that was so much better than what I had conceived. I came away from this experience with a resolution: it is the concept that gets you there in the first place, but the gold comes from being open minded and exploring the possibilities in situ. Its not a new adage but it reinforced my belief that the best work comes from working, not from thinking about working.

Little Huia

I also knew I would be influenced & inspired by engaging with the environment and locations from both the residencies. People talk about the form of light in New Zealand, but waking every morning to a view of the Seto Inland Sea of Japan was bliss. And equally, living mere metres from the Manukau harbour had a profound effect on me, it reminded me that I could never, ever live out of sight/hearing of the sea.

Seto Inland Sea

In both residencies my work was totally altered by the places I spent time and the people I met. It is easy to say in hindsight, and it is easy to think about beforehand. But just how it happens, moment by moment and day by day, is heavenly.

Little Huia

The two biggest things I learned from the residencies?

First, was about process. Evolving my process, learning how to do things I planned but had never done before. Clarifying what I was willing to accept and what I wasn’t. I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist before, but I am not – I am a pragmatist. But what I accept as ‘good enough’ for myself is based on my own ideals, no one elses. And not a new lesson but: perseverance. As example, one 20 second shot in my Shodoshima short film took six hours to capture, and it wasn’t timelapse, it was a real time shot. When people see the shot & ask about the actors, there weren’t any. It was all real. Hence the time….

And despite having witnessed it many, many times on other peoples projects, the process of evolving my own projects with a clear screening deadline rapidly approaching, is some of the hardest work I have ever done. If you want clarity of vision, book a screening! What is that old saying by Leonard Bernstein:
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time”


Screening my work, and discussing it with the audience was also profoundly satisfying. The stress and adrenalyn of finishing the work, the anxiety of it screening (I’m not religious but I prayed to technological gods for pleeeeease, no playback glitches!) and then witnessing how my work changed before my very eyes, just by having an audience present, are incredible things to learn.

And unlike any time in my past I felt like I really OWN my work. I have always had a slightly uneasy relationship with what I make (I am without a doubt my own worst critic) but after weeks and months of being present, and making the most of every day to create the best personal work that I could, I was more than happy to own it. And during the Q&A from both the residencies I answered questions with answers I didn’t know I had until I said them. Insight into your own work, is such a blessing.

Little Huia

Secondly, and finally, the most important things I learned during the two residencies are the most personally profound: growing as an artist, and clarifying my ouvre. I feel that in my own personal work I have evolved, from crawling around exploring & bumping into walls, to walking with a sense of purpose and direction. Without the residencies I simply would not have that, and that alone will serve me deeply, in the years to come…

Little Huia

Should you apply for an Artists Residency? Only you can know the answer to that question – are you ready? Are you able to take months away from your normal life? Are you able to support yourself? Is your work ready? Do you have clear ideas about what you’ll create? If yes to all of that, I cannot reccomend the experience highly enough – it IS life changing.


I can also imagine a hundred ways someone could come unstuck, and for that reason the residencies tend to be well screened. But bear this in mind, even the process of applying for a residency will teach you things about yourself that you may not even be aware of. For that alone it is worth it. And I tend to take the long view, if you are committed then even if you don’t get accepted with your first application, then that is just feedback to you, to evolve your ideas & present an even stronger application next time round.

And some important advice: most residencies only occur once a year, at most. So if you are interested, it pays to track the application deadlines. Why I mention this is that the deadline for the 2014 residency in the Auckland Regional Parks is closing on 17th February – you have just over a month to get your application in – more info here

Good luck!

And I can’t finish this monologue without offering my profound thanks to all of the people who made these two residencies possible for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! I know I will revisit both residencies, for the rest of my life & I so look forward to meeting again the fantastic people involved in making both happen. Thank you! Arigatou gozimasu!





Other resources (please comment with any & I will update this article)

Rate my Artists Residency

I would also be absolutely fascinated to read any comments from other people who have done an Artist Residency – please feel free to comment (& apologies but comments are moderated, only to avoid endless spammers – your comment will appear as soon as I am awake!)

Detritus 284

Interesting… until it becomes an advertisement for Spectrasonics… Would love to have a play on those bass steel drums – there is a full bands set of instruments for sale locally for nz$8,600… I hit up the seller to see if they would consider splitting the set apart… maybe…


> Floodtide by John Eacott makes music from the movement of tidal water. A submerged sensor gathers information from the tidal flow that is converted into musical notation


> 11 favorite New Yorker cartoons


> Sonic Wonderland is a new book by Trevor Cox (UK release Jan 16th, USA release Feb 10th, review in the Guardian here.. I just bought a copy for my iPads kindle app, so not sure about those release dates) which grew from his website Sonic Wonders – a global sound map of interesting listening locations


Prodigy – Firestarter without music?


Nirvana – Teen spirit without music

Queen – I want to break free

Note: these alt soundtracks/music-less music videos were created by Mario Wienerroither


> Hauschkas guide to the prepared piano



> Bumping Into a Chair While Humming – A Book on Sound by Ezekiel Honig, support on Kickstarter


> a Folktek sample library? such interesting & disturbing sounds


RMX™ (loop) from beeple on Vimeo.

Creative Commons REMIX of Transparent Machines™ – Cinema 4D project file available here sound design by standing wave


This needs an alternate soundtrack too – a horror film score anyone?


> All the best scientifically verified information on Fukushima impacts


Detritus 283

> “It was a combination between programming a knitting machine.. and morse code…” – the history of Blue Monday (love the part @17.20 about it ‘making sense’)


> wow – 4,057 feature films and 8,161 short films submitted to Sundance this year!




> A bluetooth bathtub/speaker? Can’t but help think even if I was filthy rich there would be quite a few things in the queue before this.. But first thing I’d be doing would be hooking up an oscillator & trying to find the resonant frequency!


“But with all the attention paid to the machinery of making movies and to the advances in technology that have led to this revolution in moviemaking, there is one important thing to remember: the tools don’t make the movie, you make the movie. It’s freeing to pick up a camera and start shooting and then put it together with Final Cut Pro. Making a movie – the one you need to make – is something else. There are no shortcuts…. If John Cassavetes, my friend and mentor, were alive today, he would certainly be using all the equipment that’s available. But he would be saying the same things he always said – you have to be absolutely dedicated to the work, you have to give everything of yourself, and you have to protect the spark of connection that drove you to make the picture in the first place. You have to protect it with your life. In the past, because making movies was so expensive, we had to protect against exhaustion and compromise. In the future, you’ll have to steel yourself against something else: the temptation to go with the flow, and allow the movie to drift and float away….” – Scorsese, from a letter to his daughter


> And in contrast; an open letter to the film industry



> Shhhh your TV? I wish that technology could be applied to many things… eg nose-breathers in film screenings, annoying kids, crying babies on planes, muzac-on-hold, stupid compensatory-fat-exhaust-pipes, imbeciles tooting in tunnels, (insert more grumpy old fck lists here) etc etc…


> re photos, amen!


> incase you haven’t seen them, a great series of portraits where the photographer digitally & seamlessly adds herself to her childhood photos…


> Hmmm PCMD100 – handheld 192k


> some heavy, but vital, reading about 2013


Adam Magyar, Stainless – Shinjuku from Adam Magyar on Vimeo.


its the ‘fro that makes it (thanks ignatius@m)






Detritus 282



> ever wonder why Netflix made House of Cards? not ‘why make a TV series’ but why that particular show/genre/style?


> Punch drunk?


> all I wanted for Xmas was a…. plate reverb


> listen to… singing icebergs


> Birders using smart phones to attract birds


> Mini interview at c74 with Johnny Greenwood


building a wooden air raid siren? (thanks Guy)


> Perfect pitch? There’s a pill for that



> Cable sock?


The sound of the earth from Lotte Geeven on Vimeo.


> Listening inside the World’s deepest hole




> Urban Soundscape Competition: Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee is issuing a worldwide invitation for submissions of sound files representing the SIAF 2014 theme that are suitable for reproduction in urban public spaces. The winning submission will be played at SIAF 2014 sites in the city during the festival, and will be heard in public spaces in Sapporo throughout the event. Judging by Ryuichi Sakamoto, submission period: Saturday, February 1 – Monday, March 31, 2014 – more info in English here and Japanese here


> Computers watching movies? More info here

Computers Watching Movies (Exhibition Cut) from benjamin grosser on Vimeo.


Motivation, Attention and Boring Sounds

NOTE: If you’d prefer to read this in Chinese, Jennifer Chen has very kindly provided a translation available here – thanks Jennifer!

This post is (a repost from 8th August 2010) and is dedicated to Benoit, who asked me to comment on a post he made expressing a feeling of discontent and frustration – amongst other things he had returned from holiday with no interesting new sounds… I began writing a reply and it started to turn into a novel, so I am here writing it as a more generalised response…

As a starting point I think it is worth watching this video:

Its a funny video but he also makes some very important points; about being objective, about what you are lucky enough to already have, and how quickly you take that for granted. There is a saying I like to repeat: Familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes the same-ness of experience can lead people to think the experience has no worthwhile meaning. Contempt is a strong word but the essence of its meaning is about judgement

With regards to recording sounds, I suspect the issue may be a case of being too judgemental BEFORE you record. I truly believe having an open mind is very important when recording. Its easy to say ‘I am open minded’ about some topic or concept but having an open mind in terms of real time experience is different again. It requires delaying the judgement of whether a sound is immediately interesting. This is related to the idea of delayed gratification – when we were little kids we tend to run around doing things that immediately make us happy. As you get older you realise some things are not fun at first, and require struggle and hard work, but because more effort is required over a longer time, the reward is even bigger. But you do not receive the reward until you finish it. Which means perseverance becomes a very important skill to develop.

sound advice

On some creative projects I go through short periods where I think the project has become worthless – it’s all bad! Why am I even trying to finish this? I guess it is a form of doubt. But I’ve learned that it is important to just delay those feelings. I tell myself: stop being judgemental and keep going! Do the next step, and the next one, and once the project is a little further developed, then stop have & see how you feel about it. And funnily enough this tactic usually works. Whatever made me feel bad was momentary, a passing mood shift or something external & short lived. Most projects of any depth take time and there will be stages that feel frustrating, but you just have to keep going and push through those feelings.

sound advice

So back to recording sounds. There is a Japanese term ‘wabi sabi’ which I can only give my own interpretation of, but to me it means finding beauty in the imperfect. Sounds which at first might seem broken or not useful can turn out to be very, very valuable and inspiring. I recently did an interview for local radio, and the interviewer asked me to take her location FX recording. I thought hmmmm where can we go easily and get an interesting sound? On the day we went to a local playground – I thought maybe the swings might make an interesting creak… Try the first one: no, second one: no, try the seesaw – its a little bit interesting – it has a big spring and the impact when it hits the rubber tyre is nice. We record some, then go over to the hurly gurly (a rotating toy that four kids can sit on and spin around) I give it a spin and WOW!!! Its a bit rusty and sounds very, very heavy. It sounds nothing like what you imagine. I instantly think about what it will sound like when I slow it down an octave!! We record it. Here it is, first real speed, then 2 octaves down, then convolved through an IR (play it loud! It has gorgeous low frequencies!)

Playground FX 01 by timprebble

Then we go over to a climbing wall with small chains on it. It’s not a super-amazing sound, but I know how useful chains can be – especially exterior ones, so I rattle them and record them.

So in ten minutes, two things happened: the first two sounds I failed to record anything interesting, but I found one amazing sound & two useful sounds. Which will I remember? The first two or the last three? Here is the seesaw hit, first real speed, then 2 octaves down, then backwards, then through two different IRs:

Playground FX 02 by timprebble

But what if I hadn’t persevered and tried the last three? I would have nothing. What if I waited until all the kids left the playground and I could get super clean recordings like I ideally want? I would have nothing. I did actually record all five, because sometimes boring, normal sounds are what you want too! And appreciating the true nature of what may appear as a boring sound is an important aspect of this too!


Another example to illustrate the point: when you edit ambiences for a film, inevitably you need the sound of a fridge for any scenes set in a kitchen. So I went through a phase years ago, where everywhere I went, I recorded the fridge. Fascinating right? Not very… The rock & roll life of a sound designer? While on holiday, staying in a motel, at night I would record the fridge for 5 minutes. Put it in the library and forget about it, it is a boring sound right? But I use those fridges, and they are MY fridges! I was there & I recorded them. They have context – I remember where I recorded them, and guess what? Every one of those fridges sounds different. They all have different character. And sometimes they are more than just ambiences. A film I did in 2003 called Perfect Strangers was about a guy who kidnaps a girl and takes her to a deserted island. She eventually ends up killing him and putting him in the freezer. At first I put in a normal sounding freezer sound but the director and I came up with the idea of making the freezer more interesting. The girl starts to go a bit nuts and talks to the freezer, so we started using the fridge motor starts and stops to punctuate the one sided conversation she was otherwise having. It worked very well, but guess what? I couldn’t have made the idea work without all my library of fridge sounds. Fridges are boring right? Not. At. All!

sound advice

The moral of this is that reality is FULL of interesting sounds, it is up to you (and your attitude) to find them and make them interesting!


Benoit also expressed a feeling of being overwhelmed with the constant flood of information: twitter feeds, endless web site updates & blog posts, new equipment reviews and software releases. I think that feeling is shared by many, and while the obvious answer is to just disengage, the people who will actually be the best at managing it will probably be the ‘digital natives’ – the kids who are growing up now, who have no experience of life before the internet. But identifying the problem is part of solving it. Consider it this way: you ARE in control of your attention. A simple example: I do not watch television, live, ever (or very, very rarely). Apart from the dire scarcity of any good quality meaningful television I also cannot stand the constant interuption of advertising. At one stage I thought getting pay TV would solve the problem, but they just replace general advertising with their own advertising. I believe television to be an insult to my intelligence. But no one makes you watch television, and we are all sentient, so the choice is yours.

Kill your Television

When I was young I was more of a gear addict but now I don’t care so much – I have the tools I need. If another version of ProTools was never released ever again, I could still make film soundtracks with what I have. My recorder & mics work well, I do not NEED more gear. And while the people who are constantly trying to sell you more gear will attempt to make you believe, having more gear will not advance you creatively necessarily. And defintiely not as reliably as working on your own attitude & experiences will. So I stop reading reviews and it is only when something very specifically interests me, that I read about it..

Learning to filter the crap out of your life so it doesn’t waste your attention is VERY IMPORTANT! Plenty of people have written blog posts about this topic, so it is worth doing some searches to find specific means of efficiently accessing ONLY the info you want. For me, using an RSS reader has become fundamental to how I deal with the flood of information. I use Googles RSS Reader, as I can access it from anywhere (home, work, laptop, ipad) and while I have 374 RSS streams feeding into it, there are probably only a dozen I actually check each morning. And even then I only read the new posts that interest me. But all those other feeds sit there, accumulating information that I can refer to when I feel like it. The point? it is up to you to develop strategies of managing it.


The same goes with twitter – looking at a constant stream of twitter posts is like insanity: hearing 1,000 voices inside your head. The way I deal with it, is again via RSS feeds. I follow over 1800 people on twitter, and if they mention or message me I get it, but the core people I follow, I subscribe to an RSS feed of their tweets (go to their twitter profile page – there is an RSS button) So in Google Reader I have a folder of twitter feeds which cuts the constant flood of 1,800 peoples tweets down to an archive of 20 peoples, which accumulate until I read or delete them. Twitter lists work a similar way.

The last aspect I take from Benoits post, is really him questioning his motivation and direction – a loss of desire. I suspect this happens for most people at some stage in their life. For some it takes the form of a mid-life crisis, but here is another way of thinking about it. Maybe it is something you should actually think about every day? A film maker I worked with years ago died this week, she was only 49. She doesn’t have any days left now. So maybe every morning it is worth thinking about how your day should be best spent? If you do not feel inspired to compose or record, don’t do it. Putting yourself under pressure may be self defeating. But sometimes it is the act of doing that generates inspiration and not vice versa.

sound advice

If it is a comparative issue ie I used to enjoy X but now I don’t, then its worth thinking about the context & situation when you were doing X happily. What has changed? The only constant is change, so there WILL have been change, but how has it created a different feeling in your behaviour and appreciation for what you used to enjoy? As I eluded to before, is it just familiarity? It is no longer a new experience…

If the issue is motivation, then maybe the problem is defining the actual goal. Getting started is directly related to finishing, so what it is you are starting, so as to finish? What is IT? I hassled a friend about this once, as he was in a rut with a project and went on and on about the various ways the project was going to fail. So I asked him what success was? What is a realistic successful outcome of the project? Clearly defining that may help motivate you to start, develop and finish it. But without it, it may never be started.

sound advice

Prevailing Wind

Little Huia


I remember years ago, recording on a beach down on the West Coast of the South Island and a local farmer came wandering along & during our conversation I asked him what the prevailing wind was here.. He gave me a look, a bit like ‘are you an idiot?’ and replied ‘from the sea’ – well, duh! Of course… And I did already know this, as anyone who has visited the West Coast knows, a Nor Wester will pour with rain there… & be dry on the other side of the alps…


Little Huia


I visited these trees way down South, pretty much as far as you can go south in NZ without crossing over to Stewart Island, and they so beautifully visualise the prevailing wind;
a southerly direct from Antarctica!


Little Huia


I shot those photos in a paddock right by Cosy Nook a rocky inlet on what must be a very bleak coast in winter… Had I been aware & done a little more research I likely would have also visited Slope Point, where these photos were taken, such incredibly wind tortured trees!

As someone who either tries to record the wind, or alternatively avoid the wind while recording other sounds it is interesting to learn about the prevailing winds… The image below is from wikipedia and illustrates how prevailing winds are a part of our planets global circulation

Little Huia

But for a beautiful and current (within 3 hours) animated visualisation of global wind I highly reccomend visiting Earth, a visualization of global weather conditions which is ‘forecast by supercomputers & updated every three hours’ and was created by Cameron Beccario (that link is set to display the planet with New Zealand in the foreground, but you can simply click/drag the globe to see what the wind is doing where you live)

Little Huia

Why no liner notes?

“Learn the history of songs. That’s the problem with downloading music now. All you get is the music. You used to buy albums, and the cover would tell who the producer was, who the arranger was and who the musicians were who played on the album. You don’t get any of that now with downloading. It’s sad — there’s a lot of history that’s been lost.”

That quote is from Ricky Lawson drummer & composer who died two days before Christmas, and his comment is so very true, but one has to wonder why?

I understand why if the album is some dodgy rip, but when it comes to official digital releases how come we get less and not more? Consider a CD or vinyl release – to add liner notes adds costs, in design and especially in printing if the liner notes are totally additional to the front & rear cover… But with digital releases, there is practically no cost at all in adding extra JPGs or a PDF… So why is it so rare to get artwork & liner notes with digital releases? Are there digital releases with good liner notes?

Whats some of your favourite albums for their liner notes?

Brian Enos solo releases were always interesting and the little diagram on Ambient 4: On Land tweaked my imagination about surround sound decades before I got anywhere near film and working in 5.1


Having just moved 37 crates of vinyl from Miramar to Plimmerton, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having my turntables hooked up again and pretty much every time I put an LP on, my eyes glaze over savouring the artwork. For album liner notes there is quite a collection here but if you want to indulge a little in LP art check out LPcoverlover or Danas Collection of Unusual LP Covers or Bizzarre Records….. But for beautiful examples of contemporary music design check out Hard Format

USB Sharing

My new year (and the end of the old one) was spent moving atoms – lots of them! While I was away for the last four months doing my two Artist Residencies, all of my ‘stuff’ was in storage at my studio (my apartment building was bought out by NZTA so they can demolish it for a roading development) So upon return I have slowly been moving everything into my new place at the beach in Plimmerton and by the end of January my Miramar studio will be no more….
So it is also a great opportunity to rebuild my studio and one issue I struck today I found an excellent solution for, so figured I’d share it: USB keyboard & mouse sharing between multiple computers.

My physical desktop space is always fighting for attention, which controllers to have immediately at hand? When you add a few music controllers (ableton Push, MIDI keyboards etc) then the idea of having two keyboards & two mice cluttering up precious space just is not going to fly – its not like I operate both keyboards at the same time, I want to share one keyboard and mouse between the two computers.

The old school way to do this was via a hardware switcher, so if you had two computers side by side, you would install a small hardware switcher and send the USB signals from one mouse & keyboard to whichever computer the switch was directing them to…. It seems a bit Pavlovian (can we attach a bell to the switch?) but since in my new configuration I want to have two macs side by side (MacBookPro and MacPro Tower) I started searching for a USB switch and found this: SHARE MOUSE – a software USB switch!

By installing a tiny app on both computers one USB keyboard and mouse is shared via whatever existing network is in place – wifi, ethernet etc… A few tweaks and suddenly my two computers are behaving like one: I can manually switch devices via a hotkey, but I can also set up the position of the two monitors so the switching is seamless, eg if I move my mouse off the right side of screen of computer 1 it switches control over to computer 2 just as though both screens were running on the same computer! This is genius implementation, and in hindsight makes complete sense – no delay, no switch or key to press!! But SHARE MOUSE doesn’t stop there, it also syncs the clipboard between computers eg say I have a spreadsheet open on the right hand computer and want to copy text from there and paste it as metadata into SoundMiner running on the left hand computer… easy!

It also offers support for a few features I have no need for, but could be potentially super useful eg on a dub stage: you can share a single mouse and keyboard between up to nine computers! And it works on both OSX and Windows….


Smell the dew









A lavendar and dew jitter patch, created by a spider?

shot on Dec 26th 2013 with Fuji X100s

Detritus 281

> A few gems from amongst the 98,886 rss articles NetNewsWire has patiently been collecting for me while I’ve been in Little Huia… having fast(ish) internet again is like having the oxygen turned back on!




> I’d like to ride past this sculpture on my bike, while holding a drum stick out – more pix here


> Erik Satie had 100 umbrellas – who knew?


> Hang on, I’ll just pause the cupboard #glitch_art



> which privacy stereotype are you?


> 38 beautiful abandoned places – worth a visit for a glimpse of Mirny Diamond Mine in Eastern Siberia


> Some great reading: an archive of all the Collateral Damage articles from The Wire



> Robot rides fixy!




> The age of enthusiasm


> Brian Eno and Grayson Perry on how the internet taught us we are all perverts


> the power of Tavener’s soul music – Nico Muhly


> Why you’re creative when you’re tired



> a contender for shortcut/scripting/Quickeys: Keyboard Maestro


> Manipulations of musical patterns by Laurie Spiegel


> relatedly, anyone tried/using Synfire?


> Music and Memory


> Thanks SonicCouture for the lovely Xmas present: a Grand Toy Piano Kontakt instrument!



> 6 psych tips for creating an ideal workspace





Detritus 280

> an indepth look at the new Sound Devices 633


Roadrunner entirely revoiced & resynced by eurorack modular synth!!


> free collection of prop samples via University of Iowa


> Steve Reich: Writings on Music, 1965-2000 (2002) – get epub here – Music as a Gradual Process is required reading!


thanks Benoit!


>”Most of the time, you’re working on your voice. It’s just your own journey….


> iBeacon? no, not iBacon, iBeacon


> Cornell researchers 3D prints a fully functional loudspeaker



> Synthesisers are killing film and TV music, say British composers – they left the number two out of that headline: ‘says (two) British composers’ – the way its written you’d think the entire UK was full of luddites or something….. some funny thoughts in the comments…


> for your minimalist Xmas wishlist? A silent compilation LP



> And there be the last detritus for the year – have a great holiday!


Full moon night shoot at Whatipu

Little Huia

Little Huia

Second last night in Little Huia – drove over to Whatipu & went for a walk in the moonlight, shot these long exposures with 5D mkiii and EF15-35L lens, Dec 17th.
Processed with Silver EFX – as shot the sky was bright blue, like daylight…

Field Recording Competition 1 – winners!

Field Recording

Sorry its taken me this long to post the winners of the first Field Recording Competition, as you know I’ve been a little busy but am starting to get caught up…. Congrats to the winners below – lots and lots of great entries, but these were the stand out sounds to my ears!

I have a prop in mind for the next competition, will post it in the next few days since while the deadline wont be until end of January people might have time to experiment during holdiay downtime….




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

CK: I took one of my cardboard boxes and took a look around in my room to decide how to resonate it. Because i didn’t want to make crunchy, crispy, dry or percussive sounds which you can easily produce from cardboard material. So I decided to go with simple idea of bowing the box. First I bowed the box with a chopstick and it didn’t create the sound i would prefer. Then I found my 50cm ruler. It felt like it would work. But simply bowing the edge of the box wasn’t enough because it needed a kind of rosin to resonate. That’s why I wet the ruler with water. When I was bowing the box, the wet ruler made the box’s edge wet. Now it was resonating.

TP: How many takes did you do to find it?

CK: I bowed the box around 50-60 times in 45 minutes of recording. It might sound like the recording is distorting but it’s the sizzling sound of the ruler bowing the edge of the box.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

CK: I used my Sony PCM-D50 recorder with XY microphone position to record.




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

CT: I made a list of 4/5 possibilities and that was the first one… I knew it was going to be the one. I saw the bass string in front of me and the rest was a creative evolution from that. I thought I could get a rich, complex and really interesting sound.

TP: How many takes did you do to find it?

CT: I needed 3 takes.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

CT: Beyerdynamic MC930 > SD Usbpre2 (via spdif) > Tascam DR100 mk2 (24/96 mono)




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

DG: I just thinking about how to make music with these sound of box keep falling down from upstairs




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

HA: I found this interesting helicopter’s flying like element when I was playing with my cat.

TP: How many takes did you do to find it?

HA: A few takes in different rooms such as bath room, room with wooden floor and Japanese Tatami room.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

HA: Tascam DR-40




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

IG: The recording took place in a tiny corridor in a basement few doors away from my recording booth. To record the sound I placed U87 inside the box (running through focusrite8 red pre) and used cello bow to create the sound. I recorded several takes and chose the one I liked the most. All of them sounded interesting and good enough to my ear so the choice wasn’t difficult.




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

IH: I tend to approach all my work with the same process: I start with something simple and build in complexity until I don’t know what I’m doing anymore then go through the realisation that the simple solution was the best. I made instruments with elastic bands, I froze boxes, I combined them with other materials, I tried using the acoustics of the box in an Alvin Lucier type way. The more complex it became, the further from the sonic character of the box I got. The first thing I had tried was simply dragging my fingers along the surface of the card. Listening back to my recordings I realised these recordings conveyed the most of the sonic character: the corrugations, the dryness, the resonance. From there I realised I could bring out more of these features by using a harder tool. This turned out to be a piece of wood. Although this added it’s own sonic character, it was better than using metal or plastics.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

IH: I used a Sound Devices 702 with a pair of Line Audio CM3’s in a coincident setup. I had tried contact mics, but the airborne sound was closer to what my ears were hearing.




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

KL: This sound was one of the last ideas that popped up. I placed two condenser cardioid microphones, one outside the box, recording overall and the second facing the surface from the inside, trying to catch the resonance of the space. I started to draw abstract lines with a pen, later on found some patterns by writing down numbers, when I realized after several takes that actually I began to hear an animal roaring, a wild angry tiger somehow. So this was it for me. A sound that its origin is recognizable, yet at the same time it simulates a completely different one. I chose to work with a corrugated cardboard box so, basically, I controlled the tension, the hanger of the animal by pressing the pen differently each time on the surface of the box.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

KL: I recorded with two Octava MK 012 condenser, cardioid mics, passed through Edirol M16DX sound card to end up in Logic pro 9 of a MacBook Pro.




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

OK: We wanted to do something differently. So we tried something else except cutting or screeching boxes. We tried box, water, and contact mic combination and we loved it

TP: How many takes did you do to find it?

OK: It didn’t too much. About an hour.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

OK: We use a Nagra SD hand recorder. And use some cheap contact mics 🙂 a cardboard box and a bottle of water.




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

RG: I really just started playing around with the box, dragging it around on pavement, on dead leaves, then concrete, and then tried a few other things, but nothing really struck me as unique. I then switched gears, and attached a home made piezo contact element to the inside of the box with a rubber band, then took various objects (including a beetle!) and scraped/hit/brushed/ the area around the microphone, but nothing was really exciting. I even threaded some kite string through the box and used a power drill to winch it through really fast, but that didn’t sound impressive either. Finally, towards the end of my session, I grabbed a small plastic rake and started to scrape the box with it, and ran across a neat sound, I switched to the metal rake in the picture, and tried a few more times, and pulled this sound out.

TP: What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?

RG: Piezo Contact element (simple radio shack type), Mbox 2 (from late 2000s), and Macbook Pro (Audacity).




Field Recording


TP: How did you discover this particular sound?

VM: First I took a long thin box. At one side I placed my Zoom hn4 inside the box. At the opposite side of the box I placed my kitchen oven grill. Then I tied an ordinary rope to the grill. After that I winded round that rope to the another small box. The sound goes after I pull the rope with small box up. I suppose the rope transmit the sound vibrations to the grill and the big box is vibrating and also acts as a resonator.



On the Water

Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia

A particularly spectral sunset, those red horizontal lines look like audio spectrum analysis… Went for a drive around some of Manuakau Harbour in a little boat, the tide had just turned & while there was quite a current flowing into the harbour in some places the water looked very glassy… shot with Canon s95 in waterproof case, 16 December 2013


Had two great screenings last night, of ten short pieces of my work-in-progress from the Artists Residency in Little Huia – thanks to everyone who came, and especially for the Q&A. It is SO great to be in the presence of curious minds! Photo below is from the first piece, where I asked the audience to wear blindfolds and listen, with their ears only…

Little Huia

Last week Justin Gregory from National Radio came & visited to record an interview, which was broadcast yesterday – if you’d like to hear my ramblings beautifully edited into something coherent, have a listen here (stream or download)

One of the questions last night was, where from here?

My plan is to continue developing the projects I have been working on, and eventually arrive at a DVD/BluRay/download comprising my work from both residencies – Little Huia, New Zealand and Shodoshima, Japan. And once thats ready, in a month or two, I suspect there will be another set of screenings. One side effect of the screening was that its made me start to think about the idea of live cinema, in spaces not normally used for projection, & potentially with live sound & score…. but time will tell!

Anyway heartfelt thanks for everyone who made the screening possible!
Oceania were great providing screen, projector & sound system

But especially thanks to Michelle Edge for the tireless support for myself & my residency, but more importantly for the Artists Residency program itself. Applications have opened for the 2014 residency, and the two locations (Moonlight Bach in Scandrett and Tawharanui Bach) are as fantastic as my location at Barr Cottage in Little Huia. So have a deep think, grab a copy of the PDF application forms & apply – these last four months with the two residencies have been the best experience for me, ever. I will write more about it in next week or so, reflecting on the short & long term benefits of an Artists Residency, but in the meantime go read about the 2014 residency opportunity here

Detritus 279

> “Being called unoriginal douchebags in public? They already know that, and it pays handsomely, thank you.” – interesting discussion on inspiration versus theft


> Sonic shuffle – the app/album


> great film advice by Roger Deakins


> great live version of Aphex Twins Flim by The Bad Plus (youtube link, embedding disabled)


> I love this tune: KIll J – Phoenix (Galimatias Remix) – it is #sublime & a free download



> Manga that can be played by a music box!


> Great doco on Kickstarter about legendary session musos The Wrecking Crew – thanks for tip Gary, definitely worth supporting – the documentary is finished they just need funds to clear music rights. They have some seriously amazing rewards lined up too!


> these cardboard headphones by sound artist Zimoun made me smile


> The perfect MIDI gadget for anyone who plays drums by slapping their legs


> Sounds from space



> check out Cyclique, a light and sound installation composed of a matrix of 256 balloons inflated with helium and equipped with LED lights!


Birds of NZ App

Little Huia

Auckland University Press has just released its first app, based on the popular photographic guide Birds of New Zealand by Paul Scofield and Brent Stephenson. Birdwatchers can personalise the app with their own observations, building their own list of bird sightings. The ‘Bird Compare’ feature also allows them to compare two birds on the same screen (including recordings of variant bird calls) and Smart Search functionality supports bird identification by bird type, size, colour, physical features and habitat and can displayinformation on a region by region basis.

‘When traveling and on the road, the app is fantastic to quickly refer to,’ says Brent Stephenson, photographer for Birds of New Zealand. ‘It has all the text, photos, and distribution maps from the book, but probably the most useful feature in the field will be the audio clips now included.’

Author Paul Scofield says, ‘This will increase the opportunity for members of the general public to make remarkable findings, such as the recent instance that brought the reclassification of the thought-to-be-extinct, South Island kokako.’

If anyone thinks they have spotted something rare or unusual, they can report their discovery to the Records Appraisal Committee of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, which independently verifies sightings of rare birds from New Zealand.

So stop wasting your time with Angry Birds, and go get Birds of New Zealand!

Infra Red

Little Huia

This is frame 0005 from a 7,200 shot infra red timelapse I captured yesterday, for the Ruru sequence from The BirdSong Preludes. My old mod’d 40D is unstoppable!

Relatedly when I was up at Whatipu last weekend shooting that sunset time-lapse, on the way down the hill I came very close to a Ruru/Morepork – it was maybe 2m away from me, and of course flew away as soon as I went to set up my camera but I am 99% sure its wings weren’t silent – I heard or felt infra sound, a very deep, low frequency thrum as it took off… quite beautiful!


Little Huia

Little Huia last night, shot with 5DmkIII and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 lens

Signal Hill

Little Huia

Had a great shoot last night! The weather was looking dodgy but the forecast said no rain & thankfully it was right. I lugged my gear up the top of Signal Hill at Whatipu and set a timelapse running – this is four hours and 1,509 photos later…

Little Huia

Little Huia

Little Huia

Paratutai Island

Little Huia

Little Huia

I so love the colour shift as the sun sets – for about half an hour either side of actual sunset, witnessing the continuous gradient of changing light is about as close to religion as I get: four hours on top of a hill, watching colour drain from the sky & the stars slowly revealing themselves….

When was the last time you watched the sun set? And where?

Little Huia

Lens Addict

I know I’ve made the comparison between lenses and microphones many time before, but I at last have access to a lens that can focus to the degree that my Telinga can!

Little Huia

If you have ever held a Canon 5D you’ll appreciate they are quite a chunky camera – if its in your camera bag you feel its weight, but it looks like a toy hanging off the back of this lens: its a Canon 400mm F2.8, the newer version of which is US$11k on bhphoto!

Little Huia

And no I don’t own it! But sincere thanks to Topic Rentals for enabling me – check their site for great lens and camera gear rentals

First thing I did was head up to the same spot that I have recorded a Tui twice before – there is a tree that if you wait long enough he returns to… And sure enough after about 15 minutes of shooting/recording and getting nothing much, he flew in, I stealthly reframed & focused & I shot some beautiful close up video of him singing! Stayed there for another hour and only got one more shot of him… Planning, patience and perseverance…

Detritus 278


> Jan 4th 2014, cicada?



> making music with a moebius strip?



> Resonance in your body? Eyeballs 20-90Hz, Spinal column 10-12 Hz etc…


> interesting analysis of the stereotype of video games being male dominated


> Sounds from dangerous places



> love these fragmented sculptures



> funny isn’t it, that despite all the ux researchers & people making a living from supposedly making apps better suited to our use, that these two VERY human features are only found in two apps (afaik… there may be others)

– When you are listening to music & hit stop, the app does not create a digital cut to zero. It eases out, doing a quick fade to silence. Lets face it, going from X volume to zero is ugly, and the louder X is the more ugly the hard cut becomes… Well done Vox for implementing this feature. (I have nostaglic memories of this from mixing on a fully analogue film dub stage – the mixer hitting stop and hearing analogue multitrack tape gorgeously pitch bend to a stop…)

– If I stop watching a video before its finished, why does the app not remember where I got up to & if I later restart watching that same video give me the option to start from the beginning or from where I left off? Well done Kindle app and Vox both have this option available.




Little Huia

Lots of work still to finish – editing, grading, sound design, score & mix… but I am so looking forward to this screening! I have a projector, big screen & decent sound system sorted for it – can’t wait to see the material I’ve been working on for 2 months on a big screen. The screening is being held in Huia Lodge, which is a beautiful old building and was actually the school at Huia until the mid 1960s.
See you there!

That curve

Little Huia

Whoever designed that curve in the retaining wall (& whoever implemented it) on the foreshore of Little Huia deserves a permanent pat on the back. Beautiful!

Shot 29th November with Fuji X100s


Little Huia

As per the photo above an ableton PUSH device just washed up on the beach at Little Huia! I’ve been using a first gen Novation LaunchPad & as I am using LIVE a lot I decided to upgrade, and so far so good although I am still learning to use it. As with LIVE itself, it is easy to do the basic stuff, but requires time to get deeper with it… Certainly from a build & feel angle it is a solid bit of gear, which isn’t surprising since Akai actually built it – the pads are solid & responsive, and in terms of layout it appears highly evolved. And that is the part I will need to learn to appreciate over time..

Little Huia

This morning my music was yellow!

Relatedly, I have been developing some work using the LiveGrabber plugins to analyse music/sound and control VDMX via OSC – wow!!! Now there is a combination capable of some profoundly interesting cross pollination between image & sound!

4 ways to sync VDMX and Ableton Live from Studio Rewind on Vimeo.


Yesterday was a day bookended by dramatic clouds, first at dawn when I was drawn to the beach to record some Oyster Catchers (birds) having a territorial dispute, flying big loops along the beach as the intruding Oyster Catcher was shown the exit

Little Huia

Then at the end of the day, flying back to Auckland after a quick trip to Wellington to sort out a few things with my new house/studio – view from the window seat as the sun was just setting:

Little Huia

It made me think about how the ‘bad’ part of ‘bad weather’ completely depends on what you are doing. A beautifully sunny day with no clouds is always welcome but nothing beats the drama of an approaching storm, even if this morning was only a very brief shower…

Dawn clouds shot with 5DmkIII and EF70-200L lens, dusk clouds shot with iPad

Detritus 277

> Bricasti M7 Impulse Response Library – free/donation ware



> worth a read for all those people who keep posting the ‘slowed down crickets sound like a choir link’ – it’s not/they don’t!


> “Time machines don’t go up, they go everywhere”



> “I was a sound editor on “The Wire” – every episode. Any sound-related questions?
(thanks for tip Benoit!)


> nice squelchy dubby live set by TM404 aka Andrea Tilliander and his 303s



> I have an ableton PUSH thingy on its way to me… anyone reading this got one/used it lots? opinions before I dive in?




Little Huia

I can’t help but look at these sprouting ferns and be reminded of the shape of the cochlear, the element in our ear which allows us to discern relative pitch of a sound.

Little Huia

Little Huia

Little Huia

the lower branches untwirling like recursive paisley, only to become…

Little Huia

Little Huia

From the air, the overall shape of these ferns makes more sense – optimized for photosynthesis?

Little Huia

shot today 25th November 2013, near Scenic Drive, Auckland with Canon 5DmkIII and EF100L macro lens

Listen, here

Little Huia

shot 23rd November by Smiths Road, Huia Dam with 5DmkIII and EF16-35L

Night Fishing (for Birds)

While I enjoy eating fish (especially sashimi & sushi!) I am not much of a fisherman – ten minutes on the water and I am about ready to head home again, although I do like the saying by Henry David Thoreau: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” (And of course, the other funny but presumably untrue fishing quote: ‘the best two days of a boat owners life are the day he buys a boat, and the day he sells it!’) and while the idea of night fishing is intriguing, in my case it wasn’t fish I was after. And I also wasn’t on the water.

The first night when I arrived in Little Huia I was struck by a beautiful sound I hadn’t heard in years; the melancholic call of the Ruru/Morepork. The Morepork is an owl, native to New Zealand and as a night bird it is rarely seen, and generally only heard when you are in a quiet rural location.

The Ruru/Morepork has two highly evolved features that are amazing to witness. The first can be seen in a beautiful film by the other Artist in Residence in the Waitakere Ranges, Denise Batchelor. I very highly recommend you visit her website and watch an excerpt of her 2011 film Ruru here – the way the huge pupils of the Ruru expand & contract is astoundingly beautiful (and makes me wish for such a lens for my camera!)

The other aspect of the Ruru that amazes me is a sound you will never hear: its silent wings. Other native birds such as the Tui and the Wood Pigeon have beautifully audible wings, flitting through the trees they remind me of the sound of a Japanese fan being (very) rapidly waved – I have recorded some of these while in Huia and will post them in a future post. But the Ruru is a highly evolved night hunter, its incredible eye sight and silent wings means its prey don’t know to hide until its too late!

Here is a very short little doco with some great close up footage of a morepork in daylight:

That video doesn’t feature the morepork at night nor its call, but as I had heard them in the trees behind my house in Little Huia, I decided my first mission would be to try & record a Morepork close up. So here started my night fishing missions!

My first attempt was a dismal failure, and in hindsight laughable. I put together a portable record kit and prepared to head out into the night.

Little Huia

My night fishing rig included a Sound Devices 744 recorder & 302 preamp, a Telinga parabolic dish with MKH8020 and a pair of MKH8040s. I jumped in my 4WD and headed up the hill a bit, following the road to Whatipu and stopping every so often to listen. When I thought I was close to some Moreporks I would jump out, grab my backpack & start walking towards where I thought they were. But here was the problem: just as I started to get close to one, it would stop calling. And even if I waited, it would not start again. In hindsight, with its silent wings it had more than likely flown away without me realising. So after a couple of hours of this sort of behaviour I headed home with what I thought was only three single calls – a start but hardly what I was hoping for!

Apart from the beautiful plaintive call, the other aspect of the moreporks call that I am interested in is its timing. Unlike some birds which either sing rapid-fire bursts, or longer melodies, the Ruru calls sparsely & rhythmically – in a slow rhythm, more reminiscent of a temple bell than a drum beat. My ideal was to set my mic up under a tree with a morepork in it & record it for half an hour…

So I went to bed that night feeling a little disappointed, Ruru 1 Field recordist 0

By the next morning my sub conscious had come up with a better approach:

Little Huia

Being a clumsy city dweller driving around in a noisy 4WD, slamming car doors & lugging a backpack full of gear in hindsight is not really conducive to sneaking up on an owl who makes it living by stealth. Those moreporks probably heard me leaving the house & had a good laugh at my ridiculous antics. ‘Here he comes! Hee hee… let’s pretend we haven’t noticed him… ‘

So plan 2 was to set up my mics, and go home. As any bird photographer or recordist will likely tell you, even if you are being stealthy arriving at a location & then becoming silent, it usually takes 20 minutes before the birds will start to continue their behaviour like you aren’t there. The only part I was a little apprehensive about was leaving my gear in the bush late at night and it getting rained on. I have been out on a sunny day here shooting & a sudden rain cloud appeared from nowhere. So I solved that problem by asking the local ranger if I could set up my gear under a balcony by a currently unused camping building, Project K, late on a Sunday night. So about 8.30pm I headed up there, and rigged my mcid pointing in all directions – this time as I wasn’t having to be portable I again used Telinga dish, plus the pair of ORTF MKH8040s but also added a pair of very directional MKH70s, recording to five discrete channels on ym recorders. I angled & pointed each of the mics at trees where I thought Ruru might be hanging out, loaded a fresh set of batteries & went back home for a few hours…

Returning after 10.30 I had my fingers crossed – happily the recorders were still rolling, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered what I had recorded… For the first hour or so, only distant mroeporks are heard, but then only about 20 minutes before I went & retrieved my gear, this is what I captured:

From the excellent NZ Birds website:It is hardly surprising that, in Maori mythology, Ruru which hunts by night on silent wings and has a melancholy hooting call, is associated with the spirit world. In fact the special ancestral spirit of a family group is thought to take the form of Ruru. Known as Hine–ruru, the “owl woman”, Maori traditionally believed that these owl guardians had the power to, protect, warn and advise. According to such beliefs, the presence of a morepork sitting in a conspicuous place nearby, knocking on a window or even entering the house signifies a death the family while the high piercing call of the morepork is thought to herald bad news and the ordinary call to indicate good news on the way.

The DOC website has some interesting info about the Ruru, including what you can do to help the Ruru live long & prosper

I suspect I will do more of the set up the mics and leave it recording approach, and one idea I had help protect the gear incase of a sudden shower was to somehow rig up a small umbrella. After doing a quick search I found & ordered this handy device, the UC-6 umbrella and clamp made by Velbon.

Little Huia

While checking out other Velbon products I also came across their ultra compact tripod: the Velbon UT series looks like a more compact AND more sturdy tripod than what I am currently using as a mic stand for my MKH8040s!

Detritus 276

DJ shredding = too funny! the drop is pretty funny, but i laughed more at the 8bit beeps


> Buddy the talking starling!?!


> h265? wow! ProRes 4444 quality for 1% of the file size!!



> Space: the ultimate dawn chorus? “interspersed with deep bass pulses from the Sun”




> Interesting interview with five cinematographers



> i’m currently wearing out the mp3s of lovely dub techno EP by Fussganger – Akku (stream it/buy it here) #food_for_your_subwoofer!



> a new Sound Devices 633 – presumably aimed at production sound with 3 mic preamps built in (boom + 2 radios?) while physically slightly bigger than a 744 it has six inputs (3 mic and 3 line) and can record up to 10 tracks at 48kHz and 6 tracks at 192kHz. Price is us$3,100 so it is considerably cheaper than a 788T at US$6,395 or a 744T at US$4,195 (but of course lacks the inputs, hard drive etc of the 788). Wide range of powering options, but as someone pointed out shame it doesn’t have a power output, for powering a mixer/preamp for the line inputs…


> a 3d printed Obama speech about 3d printing




First Day of Summer

Little Huia

Pohutukawa flowering = the first day of summer in Little Huia!
shot on Sunday 17th November with Canon 5DmkIII + EF100 macro lens

Detritus 275

> beautiful! Six months of tonal vibrations of Tchaikovskys Swan Lake expressed in crystal


Stanford scientists turn seizures into sound


> The art of music in Jim Jarmuschs films


> Aesthetics and the art of audio field recording by Steven Miller


> Womentronic: Selective Herstory of Electronic Music


> A gun sound effects library for $1? Admirable ambition, but are there really 7000 people to support it? Knowing that it is all or nothing with Kickstarter I would have made it $7, which would still be a bargain and 1,000 supporters would be much more likely to be reached than 7,000… And no other tiers of rewards? Time will tell if their altruistic approach works – 25 days to go! Join in for $1 here


> “Could billions of stars be read like notes?”: Emil Schult talks to Diamond Version



> Autechre did a reddit style ‘ask me anything’ session recently, and someone took all the questions and answers and put them in a google docs spreadsheet, have a squizz here – when asked about film: “big fan of shane carruth and neill blomkamp… and loads of retired or dead people” and such interesting ideas e.g. “we were also doing stuff like making 2 melodies with slightly different notes or in a different order and then sending the muted one to the reverb and mixing the reverb quite low so you almost can’t tell”


> interesting: Sonic Shuffle an app, including “music created from a graphic score by Domenico Sciajno performed by a 48-member electronic orchestra” – preorder your USB memory stick now!


> the David Lynch suite? I’d stay there! Except. Its $1,200 a night. Guess its all booked up by the bourgeois/(burn the) rich crowd…



Green Lava

Little Huia

Little Huia

Little Huia

Shot at Little Huia, 8th November 2013, around the rocks at low tide
Shot with Fuji x100s with no post production – the seaweed is actually that colour!!

Detritus 274




> Sounds and Images of Uncertainty in Japanese Cinema


> interesting new noise-canceling window treatment


> great idea: Korg Little Bits


>and in a similar, but different approach Ototo turns ‘everyday objects into musical instruments’


> real time processing for creature vocals via Dehumaniser


> Q&A with Brian Eno


> Artist Leslie Garcia has used transducers and amplifiers to translate the “language” of plants into sounds audible to the human ear



> new work in Kyoto by Ryue Nishizawa


> stream the score to the new Coen brothers film



> slow television?



Hear, now

Little Huia

sunset just now, low tide at Little Huia 6th November 2013, x100S

SHODOSHIMA Field Recording Monkey Park

I’ve described my monkey macaque encounters on Shodoshima previously, and while I knew there was also a monkey park on Shodoshima I had been a little reticent to visit it. Partly because I was afraid it might be a zoo, which are often sad places… but also because I had so enjoyed my random encounters in the wild… But as it was my second to last day on Shodoshima I was keen to try & capture a lot of macaque sounds so I figured it was worth a visit…

First stop was the ticket office, where they and some adorable posters – I couldn’t tell whether they actually put a show on at some time with these particular monkeys



Along with the tickets was this great warning – love the second image on the left: is that some kind of mind control the monkey is using?


We wandered up the path…


And wow!! Macaques and lots of them!!



A large group of maybe 100 macaques were hanging around this shed, and when a little truck drove up they started to get excited, and sure enough a minor riot broke out when some food was thrown out for them!!


Performing a macaque vulcan mind meld?


None of the macaques seemed to take much notice of us being there, although the baby monkeys were inquisitive…


I noticed after the feeding was finished some of the monkeys would dig around in the dirt, maybe looking for food, but then would pick up two stones & play percussion on them!!

A group of tourists arrived and some more food was thrown out but it was hopeless for record as the people were making as much sound as the monkeys! So we wandered up the track and came to another large group of macaques, who seemed quite separate to the group feeding, but this was where I heard the most amazing macaque sound yet!!


While this group weren’t moving at all towards the feeding area, every time one of the workers went near the shed where the food was stored, this strange group cry developed! It was weirdly emotional and only a few semitones away from being human, have a listen:


Nit picking?


My assistant….


I know the feeling!!

SHODOSHIMA Field Recording Birds

As it as so warm on Shodoshima while I was there, I often slept with the door to the balcony wide open which meant I woke to the sound of the sea, insects and dawn birds… the best kind of alarm clock!!


My knowledge for identifying Japanese birds is fairly limited – the two small green feathered birds in that tree looks a bit like the NZ bird known as the wax eye or silver eye, and I can’t be sure they were responsible for the early morning bird song:


This bird I recorded at the same place as the deer calls, and it sounded a bit like the bird was being strangled!?!

The one bird that was easy to identify, visually and sonically was the crow. One afternoon when I was up Kankakei I recorded a tree full of crows who seemed to be playing in the wind, swooping around and landing back into the same tree.



After recording for a while there was a bit of a ruckus and all the crows took off, and a few minutes later I noticed two monkeys climbing down from the same tree!!! What on earth were the monkeys doing up there? Chatting with the crows? About what exactly?

SHODOSHIMA Field Recording Kankakei

Kankakei is a gorge which starts about half way up the largest mountain on Shodoshima and runs up to the top, with a rope way or gondola ferrying people through some truly epic views!


While I had taken the ride up & down the mountain a few times before, I read on a tourist map that there are two hiking tracks which run vaguely in parallel with the cable car so I decided to walk one of the tracks downhill, stopping to record whenever the ambience changed significantly (or when I got tired!)


The track was very well formed, mostly a concrete path zig zagging down through dense bush


Being quite sunny and open, the insects were having a party


“big rock in forest ambience, take 1…”

Further down the mountain….


I came across this stream, which when its raining I am sure is a torrent, but the tiny trickle of water seemed almost musical to my ears so I got my mics as close as possible, to try & isolate the water trickle from the general ambience….

Eventually I reached the bottom of the track and caught the cable car back to the top, with a GoPro camera suckered to the side


On another mission up into the mountains I recorded quite a different tonality of insects to the ones I recorded on the Kankakei walk.


Later the same day, half way down the mountain, very high frequency insects


This was the same location I recorded what was later identified as a deer call, but at the time I and no idea whatsoever as to what it was!!!

I stayed up here until well after dark as I had a couple of time lapses running.. So I recorded quite long files of insects, as the day changed to dusk…. this recording of dusk insects also has a very distant deer call in it…

And slowly dusk became night, and as in Papua New Guinea the night insects proved themselves to be far louder than daytime insects!! Just before I packed up to head home I put the mics up on top of the car, so they were VERY close to the night crickets


SHODOSHIMA Field Recording Bells

So this will be the final posts, retrospectively, from my Artists Residency in Shodoshima, Japan with some of the field recording I did while there. Most of these recordings were done for use in the sound design of my film projects, but some was more opportunistic – recording because I was experiencing beautiful sounds & had my record kit with me!

First some bells I recorded on Shodoshima!

1. Up on top of the mountains of Shodoshima there is an amazing old hotel or restaurant, no longer used but still in great condition. I was attracted to stop here by the amazingly overgrown footbridge across the road.




Up the top of these last two photos is a clue to the first sound I will post, but the sign for the old restaurant is also a clue


While the restaurant isn’t being maintained any more, up a track behind it is an amazing garden complete with recreated Greek structures




Like a magnet I was drawn to this bell, and it provided a clue to the gardens providence



From what I could make out it appears the bell was cast in 1973, as a gesture for world peace and is signed by Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations. I would imagine when this garden was opened it would have been an auspicious day, and while the Greek connection might at first seem tenuous, bear in mind the largest industry on Shodoshima is olives, and Shodoshima is a sister island with the Greek island of Milos.



2. next, Angel Road is a famous location on Shodoshima, every day lots of tourists visit it but the best part is that at high tide it completely disappears! Angel Road is a stretch of land which at low tide connects three small islands with the mainland.


The reason people visit it, is the tradition that if you walk across with Angel road with your partner/lover/better half, then it will bring good luck to your relationship.


Another part of the tradition is to buy tokens of your affection and leave them at Angel Road, some are left attached to a dedicated wall..


But many are attached to tree branches



When a gentle wind blows these shells contribute a beautiful element to the ambience of Angel Road


Beside Angel road is a small rocky outcrop with stairs leading to a lookout


Couples have tied shells and trinkets up here as well


The bell up here has an inscription




3. The next bell I recorded was at Shorinji temple. I was drawn here after researching the temples on Shodoshima and discovering this was the only temple with a dry garden/karesansui.





4. The last bell I didn’t actually record, not because I didn’t want to but….


I came across this bell up a valley behind Nakayama – there was a sign near the bell


If anyone who can read the sign would like to comment as to what it says I would really appreciate it!


the sound of an unstruck bell

a Zen koan?


Can’t but help think about how these bells travel through time, retaining their beauty & highly evolved resonance while outliving generations of humans…

Destruction Gully

Little Huia

With a name like Destruction Gully of course I had to check it out! Please comment and correct me if I am mistaken, but I think the name originates from the number of ships destroyed when trying to enter Manukau harbour, the worst being the Orpheus in 1861, with 189 lives lost. The track is on the road to Whatipu (maybe ten minutes past Little Huia) and the section across to the lookout is an easy, flat five minute walk through beautiful native bush….

Little Huia

Past the lookout, the track then winds steeply down to Makaka Bay (I didn’t do this part as I was lugging a lot of gear, but I am evolving a small, very portable alternate record kit for such excursions – probably just the SD722, MKH 8040s and Fuji x100s)

Little Huia

It was a little windy, and I could hear gusts travelling through the trees, until they arrived at the lookout and sometimes knocked over the Telinga dish! So beautiful to stop and listen for a while…

Little Huia

Listening back through the recordings I managed to find two melodic fragments of bird song that instantly made my eyes glaze over & set composition ideas into motion. And I appreciate I am a bit late to the party but I also have to say Izotope RX3 Advanced – Wow!! I had used the plugin a bit but hadn’t messed with the freestanding app much at all, but have fallen in love with just how much manipulation can be achieved with it, noise reduction aside! Along with AudioSculpt, this is going to be an invaluable tool for this project!

Little Huia

I will start posting some recordings next week!

Little Huia

Destruction Gully Track

Little Huia

Flowers in my garden

Little Huia

Little Huia

Reach for the sky!

Mistakes interest me – in some ways photography is much more forgiving than sound i.e. if you distort or overload a recording then it is next to impossible to recover useable material from it, although the same is true if you overexpose an image – there is no way to regain what is clipped… But underexposing or defocused images (& sounds?) have a different & deeper kind of appeal…

The image above of the daisys and dandylions is cute, but it is far less appealing to me than this ‘mistake’

Little Huia

And this underexposed flower is so mysterious

Little Huia

When I reframed & exposed it more ‘correctly’ more of its beauty was revealed, but something far deeper was also lost…

Little Huia

Reducing the information available to the viewer or listener is a basic technique, and motive for altering the source material, whether it happens at the time of capture or later in post production… I appreciate I am stating the obvious, but that deep crimson flower is a valuable reminder: if everything is in focus, then nothing is!

Little Huia

All images shot with 5DmkIII and EF 100mm F2.8L macro lens


I am so happy to be starting my Artists Residency in Little Huia! When I lived in Auckland in the early 90s I used to occasionally drive out here at weekends and go for a ride on my mountain bike… so it was the best kind of deja vu to load up my 4WD and head north

Little Huia

Little Huia

My first night in Little Huia! I was listening to some music and noticed this strange accompaniment, stopped the music and realised it was a ruru/morepork! A quick check outside and sure enough there are some moreporks not far up the road. So I decided that will be the first native bird species I record, such an evocative call with beautiful sparse timing… Batteries on charge!

Little Huia

My house is literally across the road from the beach

Little Huia

Dawn – the sun streams into the house in the morning

Little Huia

This is a wide shot taken from the look out in Huia, showing the heads of Manukau harbour.

Little Huia

My house would be the one on the very right side of this photo, with the red roof

Little Huia

Studio set up & functioning!

Little Huia

unpacking & repacking

un re packing

24 hours to unpack, sleep & then repack…

un re packing

FWIW the interior of a 4WD is a far better physical constraint than that of checked/excess baggage!

Fuji X100s pix from today, 26th October 2013

I Dream of Wires

Along with 2 months of bills, my POBox also contained the hardcore edition of the documentary I Dream of Wires by Robert Fantinatto & Jason Amm


extended cut DVD…. AND batteryAcid eurorack module!

considering my modular synth is in storage until Xmas this dvd is going to be my fix for the next two months! but i have thought quite a bit about this already & started to document, conceptual patches? or something, ideas… knowing the map isn’t the territory, just as the score isn’t the music… will try to evolve & document patch ideas, but….
its the sound that steers the ship!

First and last day back


I know we who live here, grin & bare it… but unless you are on the surface of some gas planet methink molecules just aren’t meant to move this fast (i say this after landing in a white knuckle northerly)

I guess it breeds the thinking of ‘if i can survive this, then anything is possible!!!’ but holy cheese balls!!! In the taxi from the airport we were being passed by cardboard boxes from someones oven, ten foot off the ground!


white caps in the harbour? ah wellington, how does the saying go: ‘you can’t beat it on a good day’ – the marketing dept. just happen to leave out the bit about there only being three good days per year…

welcome home!?!

Fuji X100s pix today 25th October 2013

Watery Sky


shot October 24th, 2013 with Fuji x100s somewhere up there

Homeward bound

dawn at 30,000ft

Dawn at 30,000ft, shot yesterday 24th October on my new Fuji x100s camera

dawn at 30,000ft

thank you Yodobashi, Osaka!

Detritus 273


> authecre-izing websites? eg this one


> remix Ghost Poet


via diffusion magazine


Luigi Russolo: The Art of Noises (1916–) [PDF available IT, EN, ES, DE, FR, RU]


> insults of the classical variety




> Really wish I had time for a side trip to Tokyo, to experience this


> Japanese straw beasts


> Tracking mouse movement over one year = beautiful drawings




more info


> A great opportunity for a local NZ sound/music/artist – an artist residency with the audio foundation


A New Assistant

I have an uber-post which is long overdue, of sounds recorded while on Shodoshima. It has been next to impossible to pause long enough to stop shooting or recording, let alone focus on post, let alone work on outputs for blog posts… But I have a down sampled session on my internal drive and failing all else I shall edit sounds while flying across oceans!

On my second last day on Shodoshima I was determined to record more macaque sounds, and rather than wing it and hope to find one of the tribes near a main road we instead headed to the monkey park. I was a little worried it might be like a zoo, which are often such sad places, but as we approached it soon became apparent this was a free range monkey park – the macaques could come and go as they please, and they did!


My new assistant?
Awesome cable wrangler, works for peanuts… but prefers edamame!
This was one of those moments (there were more than a few) where I had to decided whether to take the photo or stop the action… Got this photo just as he was looking like chewing on my mic cables



I know this feeling all too well!



I stare into your soul!



Best scalp massage ever!




I heard and recorded many takes of the most extraordinary sound of my entire trip here! That sliding door on the right of this photo is where the workers access material to feed the macaques… And when they do throw whatever it is the monkeys want to eat out, the crowd scene soon turns into a mosh pit! I shot some video of it & I will post it too, but that wasnt the amazing sound, but it did motivate it.

After we recorded here for about an hour, some Japanese tourists arrived and as they were talking loudly, we headed up the track further to get out of earshot, to a much larger group of macaques who were just hanging out… I had set my mics and was recording & taking photos when I noticed one of the workers head over towards that shed… And as soon as the group of monkeys realised what was happening this sound occurred, I can only describe it as an optimistic burble, it rippled across the hundred or so monkeys that were near us, and swelled as the worker got to the door and then died down… It was eerily human sounding, although off by a few semitones… But the group sound was just astounding – I have never heard anything like it before! Promise I will post it within the week…

From infinity, to one

Sorry Buzz Lightyear, your saying might be nifty for cartoon characters but…

On a daily or weekly basis the process for every creative person is different, but to finish a work the overall process is the same: start with whatever intentions, dreams and aspirations that you like, but know it will end. If the work is to be finished it must end, and that end involves a single outcome… For me, a few days ago I locked the cut, finished editing sound & composing, and output 1080p screener versions of my two Shodoshima Artists Residency projects… and screened them!


While I have been to many screenings, and more than a few premieres, nothing is more mind altering than when it is your own film being screened. Earlier the same day I had screened the cut on my iPad to the priest who appears onscreen in the film, and in that case I sat quietly aside and could only just tell what point the film was up to by the leakage from my Sennhesier HD650 headphones he was listening on… That was a slightly excruciating screening, since if he wasn’t happy with the treatment of footage that I used of him, I would have had to recut & rescore that section, the same day as the screening. Thankfully he loved it… Phew!



Anyway, after a busy day racing around, picking up projector & screen, and then finally setting up for playback off my laptop, the screening went very, very well and we had a really fascinating Q&A afterwards – not fascinating for my answers, but for the reactions and questions that both film projects generated. I guess none of this is new to seasoned film makers, but its new to me….


This entire residency on Shodoshima has been a fantastic experience – every day has been an adventure meeting very interesting people, exploring Shodoshima, finding beautiful locations, and waiting for the right conditions to film. Sometimes that required incredible patience and/or repeated experimentation – for example there is a motion controlled tracking shot, into which walks a couple, it is a shot with a very shallow focus – the foreground is super sharp & they are in bokeh. But the late afternoon light is so beautiful, as is the space they inhabit, as the track occurs. That shot took four hours – setup & find the tracking shot, tried two different lenses before settling on the final one… tried half a dozen takes & got the motion and foreground working beautifully, and then wait…. trigger a track as a couple walked past, and watch the results… second to last take was gorgeous! Someone commented when watching it, that couple are perfectly timed. Aye! If they were actors it would be a simply timed cue…. but in real life, patience is one hell of a virtue! It took 4+ hours to be ready for that one shot… but as with shooting timelapse I really appreciated just having to be at a location for half a day, to find & capture some magic…


But sometimes it requires an open mind & to be ready! I filmed at two Masturi/Festivals and at the second we found a great location, up high looking down on the action. Between ‘performances’ a young woman and her daughter squeezed past us & sat right in front of where I had been shooting… the action restarted and rather than be annoyed by them I managed to capture a beautiful shot, almost point of view for the kawaii little girl, watching the action.


One of the questions at the Q&A was very sentient: ‘which came first, the music or film?’ – I really enjoyed observing myself and slowly a process evolved, not a workflow exactly, that term always makes me think of work specifically, but I found that conceptually I would rough cut a sequence, render a guide video, switch across to composing & sound design and evolve its form, mood & direction, possibly doing rough video recuts in ProTools, then output a guide mix and return to Final Cut, recutting to the new mix. This process happened on a large scale for maybe four or five sequences – once I had a direction in the music I would mix a long version of it, so I could at least keep picture cutting to a rhythm.

Best of all, none of this would have become truly possible or evident without a deadline. All the years I have spent in post production has made me appreciate how valuable deadlines are, and none better (nor more present in the mind) than a public screening! I had no problem getting up at 5am every morning for the last week to eat breakfast while I watched back where I was at by the end of the previous night. Moral of the story: deadlines clarify decision making!


Goodbye Shodoshima! I can’t wait to return and am already planning projects for that day!

So now I have 2 days left in Osaka/Kobe before spending 16 hours of torture flying home…. And then a totally different adventure begins! Before then I have some shopping to do, and some more inspiring art to experience as my last days on this trip coincide with the beginning of the Kobe 2013 Biennale! Last time I was in Kobe at the right time was 2009 – check some of the entries in the container art installation completition from back then here – I am looking forward to seeing what four years of evolution has created!

Field Recording Competition 1 – cardboard box

Field Recording

(reposting to keep deadline present for lurkers)

If you were one of a number of the people who heard the results from the first HISSandaROAR Field Recording Competition and wished you had taken part, then here is your chance!

This is the first in a series of competitions – you get one month to record and submit a single take of a performance with the prop, in this case a cardboard box. I’ll then spend the following month checking the submissions and awarding a prize (or prizes – I’m not setting a limit on how many prizes there will be, as I like to reward interesting work)

A cardboard box, a microphone, a recorder and you. Thats it! No processing allowed, submit a single take, details below. Deadline = October 30th. Have fun!

Upload details for the competition:

1. Check your file name is correct (as below)
2. Put your .WAV file, photo and text file into a folder with your name
3. Zip it, verify the file is called YOURNAME.zip
4. Upload it using ftp
5. Add a comment to this post once your upload is completed, include the name of your upload in the comment

NOTE: you will need to use an ftp app like CyberDuck, Transmit, Fetch etc

FTP details:

ftp address:




I’ll be thinking about these words as I listen to your recordings:
– performance
– uniqueness
– character
– fidelity
– resonance
– whats for lunch
– acoustics
– perspective
– etc

The entire essence of this challenge is to take something ordinary and use your creative skills to capture something extraordinary. Your access to technology wont impress me half as much as your ability to think (and hear) laterally!

NOTE: an update incase anyone does not see it in the comments:

I want to hear the prop – you can use a violin bow (or a hammer or your teeth or a car or a gun or a particle accelerator) on the box, as long as I hear it & know its a box… If for example you blew up the box with a mortar, I would likely hear it and think: I can hear the mortar, where is the box?

So feel free to manipulate or destroy the cardboard box using any techniques, tools, machinery, whatever… set fire to it if you want, freeze it in dry ice & crush it, throw it off a cliff… But I would like to be able to hear some essence of the prop in the final recording – otherwise you might as well record anything & say the box was involved somehow, albeit inaudibly, OK?

Ryue Nishizawa Shodoshima Work

Yesterday I got to visit Ryue Nishizawas new work in Fukuda, Shodoshima as part of the Setouichi Festival, which has just started its Autumn season. If the artists name seems at all familiar, it is possibly due to me raving about visiting his beautiful work of architecture and perception on the neighbouring island of Teshima (read here) and a contiuum in his work is apparent in this beautiful new work











Experiencing such surreal beauty is like being in a waking dream, the way the shadows of the trees played across the curved surfaces…. to spend time sitting quietly inside was just sublime…

Shoot day 33

Hard to believe I have been here on Shodoshima for 33 days! So much has happened it feels like six months, but time is rapidly running out and very soon I am going to have to stop shooting & stay indoors, editing & finishing sound & score for my two film projects.

Yesterday was one of those great days shooting – I headed up into the mountains with the aim of capturing just one shot, a motion controlled tracking shot filmed at macro level, with super shallow depth of field… I found some beautiful moss and after eight takes was sure I had two or three that would work… frame grab below:


So I packed up & planned to head home, back to editing & staying focused on the deadline… but around a corner I came across the monkeys again! I did a search and apparently there are five nomadic groups of macaques on Shodoshima, and as this was definitely a different group to the previous ones I had seen I just had to stop & take some photos… and record some of their unreal sounds!


This one literally walked up to about 5 metres away from me, posed & paused until I took this photo & then wandered off…


It seems there are always dramas in the macaque world, every few minutes there would be an outburst of confrontation, all of which I recorded sound for maybe 20 minutes and some I captured footage of – heres a great scuffle/play fight that broke out (shot with my Canon s100 so please excuse variable picture quality, but recorded ok with MKH8040 ORTF to Sound Devices 744) – warning! Sound may scare domestic pets!

The tribe were definitely moving in a clear direction – I recorded for about 20 minutes until they had all headed off, but I got to thinking that the best way to record them might be to go ahead & plant the mics, rather than creep up & slowly scare them away…. So I drove down the road maybe 10 minutes, to a lookout and set up my mics and left them recording….

I waited for maybe 20 minutes and could hear them in the distance, but they didnt seem to be getting closer… So I set up a couple of timelapse shots out of ear shot of the mics and set them going, click…. click… click….


After another 20 minutes they still didnt seem any closer, but there were some crows making a racket so I moved the mics up to another lookout nearby


The tree up in top left had maybe eight crows in it, and they seemed to be having a party, jumping off the tree into the wind, swooping around & back… I recorded sound for a while, and then went & got my 5D and shot some beautiful silhouette footage of them. The frame grab below is from a shot where four of them jumped off & flew in a big loop, following almost identical trajectories


Having shot & recorded my fill of crows I put the mics back where I had them earlier and was just checking shots on the 5D when I heard a rustle behind me, and there was one of the macaques!! My mics were already rolling, but I quickly set up the 5D and started shooting video as the whole tribe came wandering past!!!

I was shooting with my 70-200mm lens, and was mainly was focused trying to get close ups… So occasionally I would get a little fright when I realised one of the macaques was quite close to me. They were wary of me, but the bigger males also didn’t seem too scared of me, and this particular one almost got a little too close – for a moment I wasn’t sure whether I should keep shooting or scare him away from my recorder!!


I suspect I was lucky I didnt have any food in my recorder bag… or was he just checking my levels? Arigatou macaque-san

Temple #42

I found this temple ages ago, virtually via google earth, and flickr. Finding it in reality was quite a challenge, but find it I did today and set a timelapse running, which equated to chilling out for 2+ hours…. There is rain predicted for tomorrow so clouds are around, but they aren’t fast moving (yet) so I found some shade & read for a while on my iPad….

The approach to Nishotaki, temple #42 on the Shodoshima map is via a farm road near Ikeda Port, heading up into the hills passing through olive and fruit trees, the road slowly getting more and more narrow… Eventually it is single lane & slowly zig zagging its way up a very steep mountain… Reaching the small carpark the road is lined with stone lanterns, as are the steps leading up to the temple…. THe irony of lugging cameras, tripods, slider and motion control unit up such ancient steps is not lost on me….


Part of the temple is built into the rocks, but the photos I had virtually recce’d were all about the view of the Seto Inland Sea and the way the light strikes that upper temple


This is a frame from the timelapse I shot, simply breathtaking to view in real time


My 5Dmkiii enjoying the sunlight & the view, and angled away from the harsh late afternoon sun…


While i was relaxing on the steps I had also been listening out for visitors, as nothing gets in the way of a perfectly framed timelapse better/worse than another visitor who has as much right (or more) to be there… After an hour or so, a group of women could be heard making their way through the complex… but well ahead of them came the priest, we had seen each other when I arrived and he had granted me permission to shoot, but on his way up the steps he stopped and we had a brief chat, in that funny way when you both want to communicate but neither can really speak the others language. But I was prepared for such situations and had written a brief letter explaining who I was, what I was doing & asking for permission to film (Arigatou Hidemi san for translating it!) – he read it, smiled, “New Zealando?’ and then in broken english explained he was about to perform a fire ceremony for the group of women. I gestured at my camera, he smiled & nodded, and I followed him in to set up to shoot what was a very beautiful and personal ceremony.


As a film maker dependent on found situations & opportunities, I so appreciate such generosity. I was very careful to stop shooting when the main ceremony was over & one by one each woman was blessed. And I would never use any footage where the priest was blessing specifics for the women.

And I have changed my post schedule so I WILL have a rough cut to show this priest…. and the priest from Shirinji! I fear as a gaijin/outsider it would be very, very, very, very, very easy to misinterpret their generosity and potentially mis-represent them in ways that they would not appreciate. This cannot happen. As with my workshop, I believe collaboration is inclusive and it is vitally important to insure your collaborators are onboard and proud to be involved. I have worked on a few films where that was not the case & the taste is bitter and long lasting. And willfully I shall preclude it from ever being part of my oeuvre….

I left one of my GoPro cameras inside one of the stone lanterns in the carpark, shooting the sunset…. the other is hidden behind a guard rail on a very tight U bend half way up Chosi gorge…. Early start tomorrow to go retrieve them both, snooze while the data copies and then see what they captured! God/Buddha/Jah bless USB batteries! Those GoPro cameras are next to useless without them, but with them? A four or six hour timelapse is no sweat!



“We’ll change banks when I say so!”



“Look I am doing this filter sweep as fast as I can!”



“Humans have no idea about rhythm, I’ll show you how to stridulate!”


Drone in G


sustain via a tiny ronin!

Temple Shoot


On Saturday we finally found Shorinji, temple number 68 on the Shodoshima temple map and as far as I know the only temple on the island with a beautiful Zen karesansui dry garden. The resident priest was kind enough to let me film the garden, and even re-raked some of it for us (a cat had left footprints across part of it) – his ritual was beautiful to see, and the sound of the rake moving through the gravel was simply exquisite, one of those profound sounds I will remember forever!


I noticed the beautiful bell at the entrance but despite the urge I am never sure if I am allowed to strike temple bells, but while shooting two young men came and paid their respects at the temple and as part of their visit involved chiming the bell I figured no one would mind…. even if I did four takes, holding my breath until almost passing out in the heat, as the bell sustain slowly was replaced by the temple ambience…


Matcha tea and sweets at the temple, joined by a friendly stick insect



This temple also had a beautiful fragrant garden



Baby lotus flower garden


This is a photo from another temple we visited, mistaking it for Shorinji – big lotus flowers!


I have no interest in Western religions, but Zen temples invoke a stillness and appreciation of natural beauty that is palpable. Every time I visit one I leave altered by the experience, and I am very thankful for being allowed to film at Shorinji. I have visited many Zen temples in Kyoto, and often you are not even allowed to take photos and I can appreciate the reasons for this stance, nothing would be more distracting than sitting in quiet contemplation, surrounded by the click of shutters (real and the obligatory tinny phone camera click) So it was a long held desire of mine to be able to film in a Zen temple, and perhaps also a long held delusion to think a dry garden could ever be captured by any means other than being present. I did enjoy trying though!




A still/frame grab from a GoPro camera I placed on a shelf above us during the workshop held last Thursday. I came up with a simple but effective way in Photoshop & FinalCutPro to create an animated/graphic score using the outline of some of the offshore islands around Shodoshima, and we improvised a soundtrack for each of eight islands.

It was such fun, and I suspect for non-musicians it provided a little taste of what it is like to be part of a band or ensemble i.e. being part of a collective sound that is greater than its parts. But it also provided a valuable opportunity to be totally present and in the moment – becoming one with sound!

Prior to us starting the recording session I explained a little of my process and sited this gorgeous example by Toru Takamitsu of a graphic score:




I recorded the performances of course (in sync via DPA mics into MBox, and in parallel with MKH8040s into Sound Devices 744) and will be working with the workshop recordings as elements, along with field recordings & other music elements, in creating a final score for each island.








Had a great workshop last night – recorded some beautiful ensemble improv sounds, thanks to everyone who attended!!!

Next two weeks will be very busy; finishing the last shooting, refining the cut, sound & music – savouring every minute!

An Unidentified Sound


Today I heard (& recorded) a sound that I couldn’t identify. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of mystery, but this was a creature vocal and quite an eerie one. I also discovered a great new location on Shodoshima to shoot the sunset from:


But today wasn’t the first time I heard this particular sound – I heard it the day that monkey sat in shot on my timelapse. When I noticed him I heard the same sound way in the distance, and when I heard it so did he, as he cocked his head slightly askew & listened…. So… I am guessing it is a particular kind of monkey call…. But anyone have a better idea than my vague guess? Have a listen:


About an hour earlier I had been exploring further up this particular road & saw some monkeys, so maybe it was them, communicating long distance? Most of their close up sounds are either high pitched chitters, or the males make fairly scary/bravado sounds… but those sound kind of like how you would expect monkeys to sound:

I got a really strange feeling when I was recording the monkeys and one of them stood on its hind legs…


When I saw this & took the photo I couldn’t but help think it was somehow related to this earlier photo:


Severely tempted to photoshop a retro communicator in that monkeys hand!

Detritus 272

Frankly, thats actually better than my memory of it – laughter is better than dry retching!


> 10 Lessons on Filmmaking from Director Alejandro Jodorowsky


> The well sequenced synth?




> Carl Haber restores long-lost sounds (hyperbole deleted form headline, you’re welcome!)



> As I am now mid way through my Shodoshima residency, I had a weekend off & caught the ferry to Kobe and enjoyed some contrast – Kobe & Osaka suddenly seemed VERY busy! Being a big city Osaka always is (including the outer city Osaka has the second largest GDP in Japan and get this: seventh largest in the entire world!) but apart from having a great time one of the things that made me almost feel nostalgic (neostalgic?) was visiting Tower Records in Umeda and actually discovering some new music! Music I had never heard or heard of before, and it was also a new release, I actually bought a CD! Can’t remember the last time I said that…. The album is called BEYOND and is by Marihiko Hara & Polar M, let me see if I can find something to embed…


No Selfies

Years ago someone explained it to me eloquently, but I only half remember it; ‘if someone gives you a camera and you are over X years old, you will point it at what you find interesting in the world… But if you are under X years old you will point it at yourself….’

And so the selfie became part of (some) peoples lives… but not mine!

I can’t remember what age X equals, but it is not an age I have ever lived through. And this isn’t some whimsical old age retroactive theory, I have evidence dating back decades! And I would post it if I had access to my photo archive (no, its not ‘in the cloud’ – its in a box, under the stairs, exactly where it should be!!)

As a child I was notorious for being fairly placid (not really) but when Christmas came around & the multi-generational family photo was cued up, my tantrum preceded it by about 4 frames!
I detest having my photo taken, I have never known quite why but its a strong instinct & one I hold dearly….

As an adult I have tried to philosophise it: ‘the only evidence of my existence should be audible…‘ etc, etc… But as I am sure you will know, sometimes people require a photo…. so this is as close to a ‘selfie’ as I get!


For me, it just remidns me of the day I left the car at the top of KanKaKei & repeated my earleir descent of the mountain, but this time primarily for sound, with only a little P&S camera to document locations & grab GPS.

Frankly I preferred the shot from the day before, where one of the monkeys sneaked into one of my time lapses! I was paying more attention to my 5D timelapse, which was shooting into rapidily changing light & having its metadata cranked in real time… but at some point I turned around and… there he was!


My first thought at the time was oh sh+t! He is going to steal my tripod/GoPro camera! But then i rationalised it – does he have a USB reader & something to turn the 1000+ frames into timelapse? It was only hours later when I got home & actually DID turn the frames into timelapse I realised what he was up to! He was leaving me to do all the work & just wanted to appear in shot, bottom right, edge-of-frame…


While it doesnt take much post-fu to remove him from frame, do you think I would/could?

He knew exactly what he was doing…