Three great films!

The NZ International Film Festival has come to an end and I am (VERY) embarrassed to say I only made it to three films. In the past I have usually made it to 15-20 films over the 3 weeks of the festival – the selections made by Bill & the team are reliably excellent & the only reason I didn’t get to more is due to work and other commitments – my schedule meant I was away down South for most of the festival & got back to just in time to catch some excellent films this weekend…

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Cemetery of Splendour by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

My memories of Uncle Boonme Who Can recall His Past Lives are so strong that I juggled my schedule to see Weerasethakuls new film in a cinema. If you have any experience with his films, you will know patience is a virtue… and a virtue which is rewarded. Slow film is a sub-genre that requires submission – no matter what it took to get there, the race through traffic to find a park or whatever, the film requires you discard your sense of time and slowly adopt the pace, sensibilities and amorphous spiritual world of this brilliant Thai director & artist.

The film employs the metaphor of a hospital room full of psychologically damaged soldiers who spend 95% of the film sleeping (or in a coma) to enable the audience to slowly question the basis of the reality they are suspending their disbelief from. One of my theories relates closely to a film I am working on later in the year, so I wont go into it too much, but for me the bottom line of any film is not based on its box office success, or some review. It is solely based on how I feel when I leave the theatre, and how long those feelings stay with me. For half an hour after the screening I wasn’t sure I should be driving – I felt like I had slowly fallen into a trance or waking dream, that was so complex that a day or two of thought was required to assimilate it (while knowing aspects of it could never be assimilated). To quote Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

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Our Little Sister by Hirokazu Koreeda

I grimaced when I saw someone post a comment online about how great Mad Max Fury was for its strong female character & I thought hmmmm… does that really equate to a woman acting like a testosterone fueled male? But at the end of this beautiful film I couldn’t but help feel how great it was to spend almost all of a film in the company of an excellent ensemble female cast, working with such a beautifully complex script. Such great characters & a story that isn’t afraid to confront some of lifes most profound issues… Beautifully observed & highly reccomended!

Ex Machina by Alex Garland

AI, right? I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this film, and the start had me doubting my choice but slowly the psychological complexity grew until I was trying to second guess the third act…

For me, there are two forms of sci fi. One involves robots, explosions and spaceships (i.e. is action based & aimed at physical and/or emotional 12 year olds) – the other probes & questions our morality, our core reasons for being & the deepest recesses of the psyche. No prizes for guessing which I prefer…. Ex Machina is definitely worth a look, sharing some philosophical aspects with HER but without Spike Jonzes deft touch…

HISSandaROAR first five

While I was preparing the HISSandaROAR Sale I zoned out & watched all the promo videos I’ve made over the last five years… It was kinda fun, enough time has passed that I can watch them as though I didn’t make them… Apart from the sounds & footage it was also fun to hear the bits of music I used for each one, some of which I’d like to revisit for other purposes…
Anyway I am going to post them over the next week, so apologies in advance is you’ve seen & heard them all before 😉
Heres the first five – I know Vegetable Violence was shot on my old DV camera (hence the aspect ratio) so these also represent a timeline of me getting a better camera, and hopefully getting better at using it!

SD001 VEGETABLE VIOLENCE

SD002 SWISHES

SD003 SEAL VOCALS

SD004 FIREWORKS

SD005 PRESSURE

The Great Martian War

Archive recreation for The Great Martian War documentary by impossible factual for History Canada.
Directed by Christian Johnson, (Plazma). and Steve Maher (impossible factual).

Using World War I archival footage, CGI, and some reenactment footage as well, this shows what a real Martian War would have looked like in 1914

Music: “88” by Working for a Nuclear Free City.

(this would be a GREAT project to recreate archival sound for!!)

CAUTION

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Might have to get me one of these signs – would be a quite effective burglar deterrent (unless they were wearing tinfoil or something) – if they didnt believe & looked in the window & saw the modular synth running they’d soon change their minds!!

Shipwreck revisited

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I’ve slowly learned if you visit a location and the conditions aren’t right, it is still valuable as a recce… This was my third visit to this shipwreck, dawn tomorrow will be my fourth – it is such a pleasure being able to pre-visualize & enjoy whatever mother nature has to offer, dusk tonight was gorgeous… And the resident gulls didnt seem to mind me slowly flying overhead at all!

Lewis Pass

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nice drive across the Lewis Pass today – love those ancient beech forests!

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Frosty shadows

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One thing I have noticed, shooting with my drone, is how pronounced shadows are when you are up 100m… And yesterday I went for a fly early in the morning and there was still quite a bit of frost on the ground, but only in the shadows!

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Happy Birthday x5

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Another year has passed & now we are five!

Unlike a lot of other companies we only have one sale per year – I stopped buying Waves products a few years ago because it seemed like as soon as I bought anything, a week or three later it would be on sale for a tiny fraction of what I’d just paid for it!?! Sooner or later you start to wonder what the true monetary value of it is… But I do appreciate sales serve a purpose…Some people simply never buy anything unless it is on sale, and for tighter budgets it can make resources available that otherwise might not be…

Many, many years ago – probably after having to rebuy ProTools for the second or third time – I realised that my sound library was actually the most important creative asset I owned. Apps and plugins that I loved came & went (remember Turbosynth? Hyperprism?) – if I had to, I could cut & manipulate sound on anything, including 1/4″ tape or using apps I would prefer to never touch. But without source material, it doesn’t matter how good your app or plugins are… And if that source material is great, rather than good, the chances of creating something extraordinary becomes even more likely.

I also seemed to reach a threshold after a dozen or more years of working on films (& relentlessly recording a lot of new material) where my sound libraries scale & depth meant I could create pretty much anything from it. I love recording but often the most efficient way of approaching sound design is to be able to dive straight into the most complex elements of design & create at least a good & interesting version using existing material. Taking this approach rapidly identifies what your library does not cover, and clearly motivates & prioritises future recording sessions… Twenty years of doing that & the holes start to get smaller… But something else starts to become apparent:

There are certain sounds that are useful beyond their immediate obvious context – malleable sounds, sounds that contribute magic by not being in the foreground… I love that kind of sound & I am constantly seeking them. Those sounds also mean that the way I manipulate them is unique to me – I have zero interest in using pre-designed sounds. Years ago one company released a library of ‘signature’ sounds, but you have to wonder exactly who’s signature & why would it be on my work? Relatedly a year or two ago someone gave me a copy of their recently released scifi library – I was intrigued to hear it, but after spending an hour listening I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a single sound in the library that I would use – it was all overly processed with no untouched source material. If I got hired to design sound for a scifi project its so I can contribute my aesthetics and ideas, in collaboration with the director & sound team – not so I can use sound pre-designed by someone else (& sounds that anyone could use. As with all art, the more of ‘you’ – your life experience & unique ideas – you put into your work the better! Ideally that means your sound library contains a LOT of your own recordings, dating back to your first experiences… Augmented with interesting, clean and unprocessed field recordings from others, your library continually grows and becomes more & more valuable…

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Looking forward to our sixth year of work, I’ve already got at least half a dozen new libraries underway & a LOT of new ideas I want to pursue… Sound really is infinite! But in the meantime you have a one week window to grab a copy of ANY of our libraries with a 50% discount. The sale started this morning, and finishes midnight on August 13th. To access the discount use the code ‘zap50‘ when you checkout – the only restrictions are that the discount doesn’t apply to COMPLETE (its already discounted) or to site licenses.

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Here is a list of our most recent releases, but our early libraries are also as valuable now as the day they were released
SD024 QUADCOPTER UAV DRONE – unique airborne movement sounds
SD023 SWISH TWO – huge collection of organic dopplers & whooshes
SD022 MECHANISM – a unique collection of motors, machines, tools & rhythms
SD021 HEAVY METAL IMPACTS – large scale metal hits, booms & crashes
SD020 WIND INSTRUMENTS – organic source for animation & your gran(ular)
SD019 TORTURED WOOD – splits, breaks, hits, impacts, drops, throws, crashes…

AMB008 RIVERS AND STREAMS – from a trickle to a roar, and almost drinkable
AMB007 LAKES – pristine New Zealand lakes, captured with multiple perspectives
AMB006 BIG SURF – truly a hiss and a ROAR!

check ALL our SOUND EFFECTS Libraries HERE
check ALL our AMBIENCE Libraries HERE

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Thanks for all the support & encouragement – its been amazing to see how indie sound library resources have grown over the last five years, and like any one obsessed with sound I also buy libraries if I have a need for a project or see a new release that immediately inspires. A number of people have contacted me over the years, researching whether they could also get their own recordings online and one piece of advice I always offer is this:

Doing it all yourself takes considerable effort, research & learning. But if you are skilled at recording & editing etc then you likely have the technical ability to cope with everything that is required – it just takes time to learn. Whether you have the significant free time to invest in that learning is a personal consideration – like anything people get the best results when they do what they love or at least enjoy, so if it sounds like a chore then it may not be for you. Which leads to the second option, having your sounds hosted & sold via others. And here is the most important advice I can offer on that subject.

Having great sounds is one thing, reaching an audience or market is another. If you are going to sell your sounds via a third party then unless they offer something VERY attractive there is NO benefit in being exclusive. If you have your sounds on X reseller, why not also have them at Y and Z? There is an old saying that the best place to fish is where the fish are, but another aspect of being non-exclusive is that of being able to compare results. If you have your sounds with 3 or 4 resellers you can rapidly see who gets the best results for your work. Talk is easy, results matter. So if you are with Sonniss or ASoundEffect, why wouldn’t you also be at SoundDogs and ProSoundEffects and any/every other reseller? Only then can you know if the cut they take for hosting and marketing actually equates to sales & a return to you… ie YMMV!

Mt Possession Station

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My nephew is working at Mt Possession Station, so I went & visited him today aiming to get some aerial shots of a mob of sheep being moved… The station is in the same area I visited yesterday but felt so different today due to it being a lovely sunny day!

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From 120m up, looking straight down the sheep looked like bits of rice following some cpu intensive flocking algorithm!

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I flew low over some sheep & they did not like it at all – pretty sure you could actually round up a mob of sheep with a drone… But the cattle pretty much ignored me – seen it all before!

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Sunset

Inland Canterbury

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Despite it being Nor’Wester – hot & dry on the plains but likely raining in the foothills/ranges, we headed off up to Mt Posession and managed to get enough breaks in the weather to go for a fly & shoot some photos & video… Lake Heron above & Lake Emma below

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The 4WD track into Lake Emma looked a bit like stereo waveforms

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all shot with DJI Phantom 3 Pro