When Jeff Touzeau of Hummingbird Media emailed me late August with a subject that read “Wireless opera at L.A.’s iconic Union Station,” I didn’t think much of it. When he circled back a few days later wondering what my thoughts were… I began to take notice. I mean, most operas use wireless nowadays so what was this “huge deal” he was mentioning? I reversed, read it and realized what this stoic moment was about: Audio specialist Sennheiser was helping to create LA’s first opera where the audience would be able to wander around freely listening on wireless headphones. Experimental? Yes. But so was Ben Franklin and look where that got him? History books. Meh. Who wants that?
Coined as a “headphone opera,” artistic director Yuval Sharon took on Invisible Cities to pave this historic moment for his company, The Industry. Just their sophomore production, Yuval mentions the real credit for the idea belongs to sound designer Martin Giminez. “Martin came to me and said ‘what if we did an opera with headphones’… I liked it, but I wanted something bigger. More grandiose,” says Sharon. It wasn’t until Invisible Cities came along and grounded it to the architecture inside Union Station that it made sense. When Sennheiser stepped in to assist from a technical standpoint, they knew they had something.
From writer/director Marion Kerr comes the indie web series Misdirected. Currently debuting its first season, the show centers on Freddie (Lauren Mora) who’s struggling with a recent diagnosis of amnesia. Now spit back in to a world she can’t remember, her friends Josh (John T. Woods), Gerald (Ross Philips) and Cameron (Joel Kelley Dauten) try everything they can to help Freddie remember the life she once had or the life they think she ought to have…
The cleverly edited episodes by Emily Chiu paint a comedic canvas that are engaging and fun to watch. Short. Sweet. And they keep you wondering – a perfect mix for the I-don’t-have-time-for-this web watchers. While the 9 episodes were visually captured by cinematographer Alex Simon, it was Michael Flowe who found himself recording the five days of production audio. He later sat in the post mixing chair to design the sound for the project.
Michael Flowe on set
The Atlanta, Georgia native talked to us about starting out, being a one-man-band, and what it was like to re-record his own production audio work.
What attracted you to putting on a pair of headphones and recording sound? I studied sound design in college and our first project was to create an audio scene of all of our own captured sounds. This experience really put a spark in me that sound can create and mold the way you see a picture. After that, I was working as a sound designer at a production house in Atlanta. Their production sound mixer moved so they asked me to fill in – which began my production sound career.
What is it about sound and being part of the storytelling that you like the most? I enjoy collaborating with people who enjoy the creative process and understand that we all need each other to make a greater product of art.
With smaller budgeted projects like Misdirected, what do you look for so you can say yes to a project? Normally, I always look to the people that are involved in the project. I have a pretty strong discernment when it comes to people and character off of the first meeting, so I use this to help me decipher which projects are worth taking a risk for.
The F8 LED Fresnel is definitely next-gen lighting. I remember picking up my first Fresnel a long, long time ago and thinking to myself, I need to hit the gym. I guess Zylight looked at it another way. This fixture is very lightweight and compact. It carries a 5″ width footprint and power is supplied through battery or AC.
It’s a fully dimmable LED light with both wireless and DMX control. The fixture comes in either 3200K or 5600K color temperatures, and can be used with a yoke or handheld system.
The MS-DSLR2 Messener bag is designed to carry your camera, lenses, memory cards and even your iPad. The main compartment can fit a camera and a few lenses with an additional storage area for up to 3 lenses. Made from padded, 1000-denier Cordura material, the bag is durable and light enough to carry without stress. The font of the case there is a fold-out flap to store a tablet that has a built-in anti-scratch screen protector.
I arrived in Austin, TX excited and surprisingly well rested for my first ever SXSW experience. Equipped with a nearly all-access Badge and a couple of cameras, I headed into the unknown…
Day 1: Tuesday
After taking a nearly 45 minute bus ride that my host had previously promised would “Take ten minutes. Tops! I take it all the time…”, I got off the bus and headed east on 4th Street. Remembering I heard someone say most stuff was on 6th, I started up to 5th and stumbled upon Antone’s. Having heard of the legendary venue, I poked my head inside and luckily caught the entire set of Akron/Family. Their blend of jammy, folk-rock was just right the thing to start off my first day and take some stress out of not knowing what I’m doing.
Directed by Danny Madden, Euphonia follows a bored, K-Mart employed high school boy, Will (Will Madden) who for some reason or another hates every minute of his white, suburban existence. The film, which was well done, is a must watch for any sound recordist or designer and that’s why we’re so interested in it here at S&P.
As the minutes pass closer to the all conclusive fade to black, Will’s days of hanging out with his friend (Bejnamin Papac) and trading notes with a female classmate (Maria Decotis) become bleak. So he turns to what any teenage boy does to fill his loneliness-porn (kidding, but just a suggestion, Will). Nope, he actually buys a sound recording device, a Zoom H2, to be exact and starts to capture the audio world around him. Now consumed with his newly found obsession it eventually becomes so intense it slips him into a world of discontent.
Shot outside Atlanta, Georgia with a near zero dollar budget, Danny Madden, created a plot through sound imagery that’s engrained with inventiveness and passion. Though Will is center stage, the real characters are the sounds that begin to take over his life. Besides directing and writing the project, Madden also cut the film and looked to Steve Bissinger for additional sound re-recording and theory. We were able to sit down with the two storytellers to see what it was like creating a character we could only hear.
Being my first visit to both SXSW and Austin, TX, I was a little overwhelmed by the number of bands playing at different bars spread across the city. I planned to forgo many of the known bands who were playing at the festival to check out some up and coming bands and hang with some friends. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t even come close to seeing everyone I wanted to see. However, the many acts I did manage to see didn’t disappoint. Here are some of my best and worst moments from SXSW 2013: