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In this episode of Sound Design Live, I am joined by the founder of AudioFusion, virtual training simulations for audio education, Sam Fisher. We discuss starting out in sound design for games and the super cool virtual studio environments he is creating.
Routing and gain structure are 80% of the job.Sam Fisher
- All music in this episode by Eugenio Mininni.
- $10 off any license of AudioFusion. Coupon Code: sdl-w9k44dje
- Designing Audio Effect Plugins in C++
- Optimization is big in development.
- Going to my first convention and being on the floor and meeting people changed everything.
- A lot of it comes down to how you break the ice.
- People need to understand what’s happening outside of the DAW.
- Patch bays are scary…Try to think of that bully like a baby with a pacifier in its mouth.
- You should have some sort of R&D in yourself. You should be ready for some sort of revolutionary tech that could radically change the way you work.
This transcript was automatically generated. Please let me know if you discover any errors.
I’m Nathan Lively, and today I’m joined by the founder of Audio Fusion, Virtual Training Simulations for audio education, Sam Fisher. Sam, welcome, Sound Design Live.
Thank you, Nathan. It’s great to be here.
So, Sam, I definitely want to talk to you about these cool virtual studio environments that you’ve created. But before I do that, let’s say that you are working in a studio or some other space for the first time and you want to get familiar with the set up, the sound system, the room. What’s one of the first tracks that you’re going to play to try and help yourself get familiar with it?
I like to play drums. I think the drums has a nice dynamic range. It kind of creates rhythm. There’s a groove. There’s a lot of energy that comes with the percussive instruments. So I’d like to pump that through the speakers if I get the chance.
Any particular drum recordings that you like?
I’m a big Mike Portnoy fan. A lot of his stuff is fantastic. Dream Theater.
So how do you get your first job in audio, like what was your first paying gig?
My first paying gig was doing sound design for a video game. It was an Android app called Jumping the Frogs. And it was like, I still play this. You’d have to check. I know that they talked about doing iOS. I don’t believe they’ve ever got around to it. And I’m sure with updates, I mean, there might be a way to wrangle it out. It was super fun. That was just the vertical scrolling game. There would be a frog that’s just constantly jumping and climbing up into the sky.
And the developer really wanted a Super Mario kind of sounding song and just coming right out of school. I was already just super fresh with my my editing chops. And I did some some minor composing there and also the voice effects. So that was really fun. There was a whole range of stuff happening in that project. There was a lot of fun.
And this isn’t jumping frogs.
It’s called jumping the frog.
Jumping the frog. OK, this is a children’s book called Jump the Frog.
That in that category.
OK, well, maybe if you do you still have any of the original assets. It’d be cool to, like, put a few of the sound effects in here.
I don’t know if the sound effects are there. Let’s see what I could find. Three questions. I don’t have anything that I did that that long ago, so I’d be surprised if you did. OK, I see I see their logo here seems to be because if you search the video here, there’s Chumpy the Frog, the main theme song. How do you get the job? Let’s see, I got this job from really just posting around and just wanted to find gigs.
When you’re coming out of school, you’re looking for opportunity. You’re posting your CV everywhere. And that’s really how you really started out. I mean, there was indeed that was pretty popular at the time, but I pretty much went from that straight into the development. So that was like coming at a school project.
Nice. And I just wondering, did that turn into more work for you in the future? I don’t think you do a lot of that kind of work anymore. But is that the kind of work where you do one thing and you do it well and you just keep doing it?
Well, it’s interesting because, again, like, I would separate the component of who’s making the music and who’s doing the sound implementation. And that’s sound tends to be when you’re in the game development pipeline. But in this case, right, there’s normally like there are more technical side and you’re more creative side.
Exactly. So the coders are really doing it. They’ll have a basic understanding, but they really just want to have a sound playback that’s at a certain size that’s not really taking up so much because they’re also trying to minimize their downloads size. It’s important for for people to think of the assets that meet these technical requirements.
Exactly. Deliverables, just the different deliverable then we might be used to. And again, working with the developer and understanding the formats. I was already interested in coding at the time, so I was doing the job. But learning so much about what’s involved in the process and working on my own project on the same time, or at least starting to be inspired to do it.
Interesting. So yeah, this is connected with the work that you do now with audio fusion.
Exactly. So it’s a lot of the same research and understand why that might be, why it might work better on this platform or why it might work with their framework, framework, better and framework. I mean what the coders might be using to make the environment when you’re working on Android and Android has their own software development kit, has their own software development kit, and there are a lot of third party developers who will make their own frameworks. And I’m sure people have heard of unity and real well, they’re even smaller brands that have done it.
And their frameworks could also be very technical and as a sound person, to be able to just read their technical spec, you can understand why one format of exporting might be more optimized than another.
Let’s talk a little bit more about this, because I know there are a lot of sound engineers like myself at home right now not working on shows and kind of wondering like what other things can I use my audio skills to get into? And working on games or creating my own games or working on software is one of those things. So I’ve actually been getting into some software development and working on some Web apps. So what first of all, what could people be looking at if they want to maybe just do some sound design for software in terms of like creating these deliverables and assets?
How could they get started with that? And secondly, if people wanted to maybe look at learning some coding to create their own projects, what could they look at? I know that’s like a big open general question, but maybe just from your own personal experience, how did it work out for you in terms of getting started?
I really love that question and it starts at a different place for everyone. I was reading a book about coding at the time and that just kind of gave me a really technical understanding. I had already made the game or made the sound for this game, which was more just make the assets, make export it in their format. And it was I guess that’s that’s the entry level of doing sound for games. Right. You’re going to be working on sounds the way you normally would in an environment, but the way you deliver it to your your developer is going to impact how they can really begin because it falls into optimization if you want to know how to implement that yourself at any level.
So there’s just get it to play back based on certain variables and the application or the environment. That’s that’s really fun. Footsteps sounds are so great because. Right. You can make one footsteps and you could pitch shifted every time it’s playing and it’ll sound like multiple effects and you could control the volume so that you’re kind of creating this non-linear playback. But it’s only one sound. Otherwise if you make seven sounds that’s still going to add up. And if you have seven sounds for everything, it starts to add up.
But in this case, you’re going to be doing some really just it’s not just based on playback. It’s based on the variables and some basic effects that you can apply to it. OK, sorry, I was going to say that in a more advanced level, you can get into coding synthesis, which is math and science, and it’s so much fun if you ever get to that level. That’s that’s I mean, that’s it never ends. I mean, be doing it your whole life.
That’s what people are doing in the industry that I haven’t done it. But I’ve looked into a little bit about working on games. And from the little advice that I’ve heard is that there are lots and lots of people out there who are also just starting out and like doing their first independent project. And they are also looking for people to collaborate with. So there are lots of places out there that are trying to help people get connected and use these opportunities.
So there are game producers and independent people out there producing projects who who need audio people to do this stuff. And most of those gigs starting out are probably going to be unpaid. But that’s where you get the experience.
Definitely. I’ll tell you from once I started working on my projects, I obviously wanted to network and do the entrepreneurial thing, but I came across a lot of game developers and if I was more focused on game sound, I would be just having more of these jumping frog games on my under my belt. What I learned from doing this project, I’ve given away for free advice to developers who obviously feel confident they could play back sounds very easily. They could download free sound effects.
But do they know how to optimize their apps so that they can reduce their file size? That was something I was able to just say, hey, you know, if you do this, you’re actually going to cut everything in half. If you if you make a loop of drums and four bars and you have different melodies that you just introduced based on a variable and the scene, maybe it’s a bass level, maybe it’s the second phase of the boss getting beaten.
If the bass half what music should get a little bit more intense, it should really be just one loop added back on top rather than just a long timeline of music.
Wow, that’s interesting. Yeah. So it’s less about just recording another piece of music and how to optimize it to deliver that stuff so that it all works. That’s really interesting. So you could almost just have a job where you are audio optimization expert for for delivering on these platforms.
Definitely. Definitely. And being able to solve problems or implement something that could bring out more vibrance in the in the game or technology. There’s so much you can do if you understand some of these nuances and how you could reduce or I like to really use optimize, but it’s overused. But optimized optimization is so big in development, so it comes with the territory. If you’re doing audio, you have to consider what is optimization, what it might mean to different people in the pipeline.
Yeah, was just a quick personal story, which is that it used to be. So I deliver this podcast with SoundCloud and it used to be that SoundCloud would it would basically stream whatever file you uploaded. So if you uploaded an uncompressed wav file, that’s what it would try to stream. And then recently they changed it so that you could upload an uncompressed file. And then based on whoever’s listening to it, it would then on the fly convert that into whatever streaming file format would be most optimized for the listening experience.
And that was great. So I started uploading all uncompressed podcasts and they could be really big, hundreds of megabytes to SoundCloud. And then people started complaining because there are plenty of people who still download the file and listen to it later instead of just streaming it on a podcast platform. So then I had to go back to just uploading AP 3s. So, yeah, just made me think about, like, considering like who are all the people that are going to be experiencing is down the line.
And that’s a lot of what software development is, it seems like to me, is that you are taking this one idea that if I were just delivering to you, Sam, right now, I could just, like, ask you all these questions. And I know all about your life and like, OK, here’s the file format that you need for your particular application. But if you’re trying to do things at scale and making them for kind of anyone in the world, like, then the number of variations of how someone might experience your work then is like hugely magnified.
And I’m sure you’ve had to figure that out as well. So I just wanted to share that story of how I understand that a little bit, which is delivering the podcast to people. So I’m sure the complexity expands even more with the kind of like software and games.
It’s so complex and you wouldn’t think it, but the smallest micro detail can impact the entire operation on an audio. We’re a little bit it’s a little bit less pressure for us, but as it gets more technical, it really there’s a lot to consider. And I guess I’ll share one more point about that, because we were talking about the loop of the boss, right. Where we’re just trying to play back some very basic for bar loop. It’s going to just be the kick drum for a sec.
We’re walking into the room with the boss and we’re hearing the kick drum. It’s just four bars playing over and over. It’s that seven minutes of audio. It’s this one tiny loop that just seamlessly playing back keyword. Seamless and that the waveforms are just matching at the zero across points so that when loops over doesn’t sound like it’s cut out or interrupted. So by that you feel convinced the music is just playing. And then as you’ve made this spend, after you pass four bars, again, this is coded.
This isn’t going to be on a time line like Ableton or Pro Tools. It’s coded at this audio file, but it’s playing. And when it ends, it should just start over and you count how many times you’re starting over. This is in code. So, again, as an audio person, you don’t have to worry about it. But how do you communicate to the developer, hey, if you do, this will reduce the audio size together.
It’s the communication and it’s the way that we could collaborate. And by that, too small for our loops can be done in so many variations. You could pitch it at one point. If you’re losing, you pitch pick it up, you can pitch it down. But it’s the same four bars and the experience could just be endless.
I’m sure a lot of things have happened since jumping the frog and then now audio fusion. So I was wondering if you could sort of zoom in to on a point in your career where something changed for you. I found that a lot of people that I talked to have some point where they decide, you know what, I really know what I want to do now. I know where I need to go. And you take like a hard left turn or you say, you know what, I’m not going to do this thing anymore.
So I’m wondering if there’s someplace that you can take us to. So looking back on your career so far, what’s one of the best decisions you made to get more of the work that you really love?
For me, a lot of it happened towards the end of the universe. You and I had this trumpeted program and it was transitioning and thinking about my own development and starting to experiment with different ways of working in audio for some of the songs. The sound implementation inspired me to really take my work seriously. I wanted to make a compressor plug in, but I was like, why make a new compressor plug in for a while? And I kind of go along and simulate the whole mixer and studio experience.
But so that already happened. I had the idea of the prototype. It was great. But going to my first convention, being on the floor and meeting people in the industry changed everything and it continues to change things and. Oh, wow, really just showing up.
What does that mean? You went to your first convention and you had a booth or you were just meeting people. There is going to be a good question. I was actually just an attendee with my laptop just showing my project that anybody right out of college just really you just walking up to people who say, hey, you want to see something to some degree, some some contacts I made ahead of time and that I was able to have meetings, that it was at a really small scale.
But at any point I was just I would meet these people who were console manufacturers and they just wanted to kind of get their feedback on where I was, this idea at all. And evaluable. I wasn’t even looking for a job. I was more just what is what do you think of this? Is there potential can we solve this problem for for a lot of people? So I guess it’s worth mentioning my project, we’re simulating sound spaces for virtual for virtual training and education by providing simulations of the hardware where people could experiment what it might be to work on a mixer, whether small format or large work with patch bays, work with external devices in the way that all that signal works together, signal flow.
And from here, I was just really passionate about it because I had done that myself. I was that person who was struggling to have access and I just wanted to know as much as possible about the hardware to be able to understand this was more my art. Right. I wanted to understand sound engineering as much as possible, just like I wanted to understand all these different variables inside of sound implementation for games. So from from really just showing up and just having this strong emotion about doing it, I think getting some feedback, having that reflected back, I mean, made me realize I wanted to do it.
And there was just a lot for me to learn and I’m really glad I did it.
Cool. And, you know, I think everyone can relate to this, especially now. And lots of people are sort of looking for other opportunities. What can we be doing while we don’t have live shows that that maybe six to twelve months off for us right now and we’re all sort of selling ourselves in one way or another. You know, a lot of us don’t like to think that that’s what we need to do. Like, I just do work and then people like it and then they hire me again.
But in some way or another, we’re either pitching to people, our services and saying, like, hey, I can help you solve a painful problem and or I’m working on this piece of software that helps to solve a problem. So I’m really impressed that you just we’re kind of cold calling people like, you know, face to face. And that makes it a lot easier. But I think you’ve probably had to do a lot of that because as you and I both know, trying to, like, get something new off the ground is a lot of work.
And unless you have the cure to cancer, like people are not calling you up saying, like, hey, Sam, I heard of you. This new software project, please. Please, please, can I give you all my money, like, you know, that’s not normally happening, you really having to tell a lot of people before you get to a tipping point maybe where the thing sort of takes on a life of its own and talking to a lot of people about these kinds of projects, it seems like that is is actually really common.
It’s way less common. These stories that you hear where someone just comes up with an idea and then like a month later, they have a whole business around it. And that’s why people starting out in audio realize that it’s really the people who are successful in audio are really the people who stick around the longest. Right. So sorry, I’m turning this into a monologue, but I’m just impressed with your story of, like, how do I get this started?
I guess I’ll go to this conference and try to talk to as many people as possible. So don’t tell me a little bit more about that experience, like how are you approaching people and what were you saying to sort of get them into conversations?
So there’s there’s something to separate here. There’s cold calling where you shop face to face and then there’s cold calling when you actually call them on the phone or send them emails to different phases for me. At first, I guess I really just wanted to share the experience and get that feedback when people would be there. And I had gone to a convention the year before and I kind of already had that glow and realized that that’s where I could meet people.
That’s where I can network at the next phase. I guess it’s realizing you’re an entrepreneur. I did not know what that was even at the convention on the floor. People might have even said it to me, but it just was a term that flew through my head. So when someone told me to watch Shark Tank, that’s when I realized what an entrepreneur for about a year. And I’m like, all right, that’s the questions they want to know from this and that.
I’m like, I just want to know if this is going to help solve a problem. Let’s let’s verify it, I guess. And on the tech terms, I guess I had an MVP at the minimum viable product. It does what you want to do and it proves the point. I was obsessive about it, so it was more or less done. A lot of things came down to optimization. Right. So that’s why it became a little bit more of a developer figuring out how to optimize a sophomore.
But to bring it back to the entrepreneur thing, I had to take on a lot more, making a software, having an idea, making a software and launching a software one thing and then actually getting it in front of people. Like you said, no one’s calling you unless you have the cure to cancer in the beginning was very tough for the few interactions. There’s a lot of discussion on analog and digital isn’t going away. I think there was some of the language I could have improved when sharing the product idea, rather that it be an understanding of signal flow and how to treat sound and different in different scenarios.
So in the first few in the first few years, it was more me trying to figure out how to communicate with people. And I guess when fast-Forward to near where we are now, the pandemic hit, I felt my pain point just globally amplified wasn’t based on, oh, let’s try to do this and make us and make us make a million dollars. I just want people to be aware if they’re dedicated and they want to be able to practice.
This is a tool that’s available to them. And I kicked up the outreach to emailing people. These days we’re a lot more susceptible to emailing and they’re also more susceptible to the idea of, hey, maybe we could be doing this virtually. And that’s that’s the cold call where I’ve been at the last two months. A lot of emails.
Right. Do you want to talk about that for a second, just because there may be people listening like me who want to know, like how do I connect with people who might be interested in my idea, my business, my services, without feeling sleazy? Because there’s a lot of people who I think they don’t reach out about their idea, their project, because they don’t want to annoy people. But the thing that you’re making right now could really be helpful to someone.
So, yeah. Would you mind just talking about the nuts and bolts of reaching out to someone?
I guess it’s more like how you feel. The conference thing was like a great point, like how do you really break the ice and have that kind of conversation? You really just have to you have to have your kind of language down if you’re if you don’t know how to. It’s just like being being a professional for the audio industry. You have to be able to articulate yourself to your client to understand so that they understand what value you’re bringing. And a lot of it really comes down to how you break that ice.
Now, finding that my way of originally finding them was going to these conventions, sometimes it was it was harder than it looks because there’s a lot of time and commitment you got to take to go to a convention. At this point, you really do. And these days, I mean, you have the social media. There’s there’s lots of ways of engaging with people. I think the second you have a product to sell and you asked for for some sort of verification and you’re already a salesman, that’s what I realized.
I took a student project. I said, hey, can I help solve the problem for your students, too? And it wasn’t really the same kind of student educator conversation. It was more of a potential sales, any type of person to a potential client. So I don’t think that ever shakes off. You just have to be a little bit more comfortable in those boots.
OK, great. And I think your approach of just not saying, hey, can I sell this to you? But, hey, can you help me validate this? I like that approach.
Any kind of conversation there’s going to kind of be it’s going to feel that validating. But that’s, I guess, an email. It’s kind of a little bit easier because in emails you don’t have the physical thing and it’s more can you make that first? It’s not like it’s similar to blogging, but you want to make your point really early so that people understand what it is that you’re trying to get across to them. But otherwise, if it’s if it’s going to be face to face and you’re going to them as an attendee, there’s there’s a lot of variables there, too.
We didn’t really mention exhibited at some of these shows that did as and them.
OK, so you liked it so much. You’re like next year I’m going to have a booth and meet even more people.
Exactly like I did what I wanted to understand what was happening in that space. So it was definitely an investment on my part. I’m happy I did it. A lot of the people that come to me now are people that just remember me from that show. So, you know, there’s definitely some face value that’s that’s that’s got to be taken for granted. But it was just wanting to understand the landscape. And I think when you’re when you’re in the entrepreneurial space, a lot of people tell you’re going to fail fast and then try again.
So I’m just trying new things.
All right, Sam, so you make tools to help people learn mixing and signal flow, among others. So what are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are starting down this path? I’m not sure. I know you do a lot of demo calls with people. You you now see students using all this equipment for the first time. Could you talk about just like some of the most common things you see people doing wrong who are starting out?
I think starting out at a lot of people feel like that just what they know inside of the doors and not feel like a music producer professional. Then you kind of put yourself in this area where you don’t really understand where you’re at in terms of like what you understand in audio. You’re kind of overlapping with something, might be a really experienced engineer. And then it just you could be confused. You don’t want that to happen to you. Right. We’re talking about language here, and you can’t take that for granted by any means.
So what I’m meant to say here is, is that when people start to learn audio at different levels, they have to be able to feel comfortable experimenting with new things. And I think the first thing I see is that there’s a little resistance. I’m guilty of that. I think we’ve all kind of been guilty of that. And that’s something that we’re trying to sort through the product as well as just make it feel a little bit friendlier. Can we make it relatable so that people could explore the environment or not feel so attached to what they know inside of the digital workstations and really early stage before all the hardware comes, before they start getting set up?
People have to understand something like, that’s right. Or GarageBand. And then we always have this comfort zone that we’re trying to break out of that we’re like, are we going to move up from garage to logic? Like that was such a huge effort. And thankfully, they made the sessions switch to logic process. That was like really a selling point for me. It’s like our idea of what professional was. I think that we’re always kind of combating that now, getting hands on.
I think that people need to also, again, not feel like they’re working inside of their workstations. They need to understand what’s happening underneath and be able to feel comfortable troubleshooting even just on the console itself. And a lot of that takes exploration. People want to mix a lot, so they’re kind of doing what they feel great doing. But when you’re when you’re trying to learn and you’re trying to at an educational level or a professional level, you want to try to use your time with the hardware as efficiently and as effectively as possible so that you can absorb as much to take with you for the next time, especially if that’s not a piece of gear.
That’s yours to ask me before about. If I go into the studio or kick what I play, I mean, the first thing I do, I want to understand how this whole place is wired. I want to understand what’s going on in the ins and outs so I could feel more comfortable that I know what things I can do if I have different clients and studios. And if you’re an event owner, a venue owner, or if you’re if you’re working on that event, there’s a lot of different configurations you’re going to have.
So you have to always be comfortable coming out of that box and just feeling comfortable with the hardware in front of you. Different in different scenarios, Patch are very scary. I think everybody has that. Audio engineers, lab engineers. Does it matter? It’s really just the ins and outs of the entire environment. So, I mean, try to try to think of that building like a baby with a pacifier in its mouth.
And that’s interesting. So I think we are getting more and more comfortable with tools that are kind of available at our fingertips, you know, like anything we can load onto our phone or our computer. But really, that’s only part of the signal chain. And so if we were to start out at the beginning of the signal change and go to the end, then we would spend a lot of time just learning about the source and how to make the source, you know, how to be artistic with that, how to be technical with that.
And then we look at how we’re going to capture that source. And so you’re making me realize that, yeah, people are probably becoming more familiar with what’s in the computer. But then there’s this whole huge area that’s outside of that that we really need to understand to then make what’s in the work that we do in the computer, actually, where it can be fun.
Exactly. I mean, even ti so I guess a good analogy might be gained staging and clipping. Sometimes a print might actually introduce a really nice sound. If you give it a little bit of heat, you only really get that experience if you if you’re experimenting with the hardware. But if you’re not really aware and if you’re a beginner and you’re like, well I saw myself clip here one time, maybe I could clip on this device too. And it’s good.
No, it’s not really. That’s that’s two different grades of prints that are Clippinger. You’re not going to get the same kind of sound in the quality. And if you’re clipping on a on a lower grade print, everything else down the chain is just not going to sound as good. You’re just going to be losing things earlier on. So, again, just that constant awareness and not something that just totally digital. It’s similar principles, but just with a little bit of a different it’s a different way to handle it.
Sure. Well, Sam, we’ve been talking about this sort of in the abstract for a little while now, but I’d love it if you would give us like a ten. In it demo just like a short demo of soundtrack pro, because for people who haven’t used it, they’re going to wonder, like, what does this look like? What does it do? And, you know, people should really download it and play with it, but we can kind of give people that experience now.
So this is an audio podcast that a lot of people are listening to. But what I’ll do with this next part is since Sam’s going to be sharing his screen and sort of walking us through, it is I’ll cut that part out and I’ll put that on YouTube. So if you listen to the podcast, go to Sound Design Live dotcom search for Sam Fisher. There’s a search bar at the bottom of every page on Sound Design Live dot com. You’ll come to the interview.
And on that interview page, I’ll have a video here of Sam giving this demo for us.
So let’s see. I got some privileges here. Great. I’m going to do my whole screen. I see it. Great. So this is Soundcheck Pro and we have a series of pictures that we can work with inside of our session mode. There’s some learning modules so we can learn some basics of audio. Editorials, OK, but let’s for now, it just we’re going to try to explore really quickly a small mix and jump to a second mixer that’s going to be a little larger just so we can feel the difference in between.
OK, I like to show the mixer. It’s got some very interesting signal flow points and there’s some parts of it that are different that you might not find at a lot of traditional mixers. But it is these are points that you would see out in the field. So every console, every mixing desk comes with a tutorial and we could just learn a little bit more about the environment. So we have our console window that we just work our way through here, but we want to get sound in and out of the environment as quick as possible.
In this case, we’re going to be going for the input game. The signal is going to come in through the mic input. We’re going to go for the lower channel output. We could see meters showing signal coming in for the people that are just listening. Still, what Sam is doing is he’s loaded basically a virtual tiny little audio mixer and he’s actually playing audio through it. So we can see the signal. We can see the meter’s moving and he’s making adjustments on the console.
And and we’re also listening to it as well. So you can really run audio through this stuff and make patch points and changes.
Right. So there’s a lot to consider. But we call it we call it signal flow. Let’s see if I can get this to work. I’ve been doing this recently, but essentially the sound is coming in, going down the channel strip and then it’s going to work its way to the master output. Right. But there’s a little bit more to the board. There’s a little button here and that’s actually going to send the signal up through the effects section here and come down here and then meet the signal back here.
So there’s a little tiny amount of signal flow involved there, which is really fun. I’m going to clear out and we’re going to go over to we’re going to go over to another mixer really quick just to get an idea of how different it feels to approach another mixer. And again, if we’re too comfortable in one environment or with one piece of hardware, how are we going to feel when we get to another set of mixers and we’re talking about working with a client?
So we want to get paid. We want to look good. We want them to tell their their other friends and their other contacts about us. Let’s look at another mixer. We’re going to jump up to a 16 channel calling this board the Maggi. It’s a great beginner intermediate mixer, a lot of a lot of features here. But again, and sounds like every mixer will have a tutorial that comes with it. Here we go. So again, there’s our Mixu, look how much bigger it is, there’s a lot more going on.
Now we’re introducing the external wreck, which we have our Patch Bay. We have audio effects up top with some other processors on the bottom dynamics pricing below. And all that can be configured in and out of the signal chain with the patch. But this really reflects what you would see in a studio, this type of routing matrix. But really, these are just the inputs and outputs of every environment. So you can configure this ahead of time and call it your live performance if you want.
It’s really just your analog routing matrix. But again, we’re going to be starting to run through the run through the channel path. And the first we’re going to the input game. But look how many more knobs are involved here, right? There’s a lot more that could be talked about, but we want to get sound in and out of the mix. We have to know what we’re going for. This is our checklist for taking this plane off.
So we’re going for The Fader now. We have something different. We have a mix. But this is actually now sending the channel out so our levels are set. But we could take it in and out of what we’d be listening to. So now we’re going to have it set. The signal is reaching the masturbator. We could just turn that up a little bit just to verify that we have sound when we select the monitor source. This is actually what are we sending out to the speakers or what are we listening to?
There’s different sections of the of the mixture that we can observe. Our main mix we want to listen to is the masturbators. So we decided to mix. And lastly, we want to send that mix to the output so we slowly bring that sound up and we can start to hear it. Now, obviously, we’re working with a band. We’re going to be doing this 10 times over, bring up every microphone, every channel possible. And the show should be rocking within minutes.
Right. We want to feel comfortable when we do this, whether it’s a mixer we’ve seen before or not seen before. Soundcheck enables you to really kind of shed the skin and feel a little bit more comfortable when you get to the environment, know what you’re going to do, cools them.
I love that you can load a bunch of different mixers. You can really kind of test yourself and make sure that you’re not getting too comfortable in any one area. And one feature that I was really surprised by is that not only can you load an audio track to play through a channel, but you can load a bunch of audio tracks. You could load a whole multi-track file and then play it back through all of these and basically do kind of a virtual sound check and do a virtual show.
Like if you had a whole show recorded, for example, I suppose you could play that back through all these different channels and practice mixing a show in this virtual environment, right?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s it’s something that we’re exploring. My background was originally from the studio, so that’s where we see that reflecting a lot in the application. But from a lot of the discussions we’ve had, the summer was to explore how we can add some live features that promote that feeling. And we’re going to be doing obviously we the multitracked, which is fantastic, but we want to bring out the visual a little bit. So we’re going to we’re going to implement the video player.
So if there’s any video associated with the multitracked that you have, you could play that back on a separate screen or have it up in the corner and bring it make it larger if you want, especially there’s just so much more to look forward to on the live side, because we’re just going to be exploring that to further express the visualization of working with artists. We could actually designate microphones for the sources. They’re just based on category for educational side of it.
What we’re saying are these are dynamic mikes. We might want to use a large condenser. So it’s really there for the discussion right now. But again, all these features that just promote that feeling of working with the live within the live space, we’re going to be seeing that a lot of that over the next few months.
Any other important features you want to share with us to to wrap this up?
Yeah, sure. The best thing I would have probably demonstrated on the largest board, but what I want to make obvious is that while we’re working with these environments, we’re not just working on our mics. Right. We’re not just playing back approach session and editing it and hitting spacebar every couple of seconds and then just kind of listening back to what we’re doing. We’re going to be making a mix that we’re going to be hearing for ourselves. There’s going to be a headphone mix for each artist.
There’s going to be a mix that’s playing out to the speakers. Now, on the more advanced boards, we could start to really introduce the mixes and using different configurations that we could just really have more mixes considered and even if it was for deliverables. So I think, again, soundcheck is really different from your traditional. I like to say that it’s diagnostic and we’re not promoting that traditional experience. We’re working to just mix. We’re working to be efficient.
Right. So what I just quickly demonstrate is to do it visually. But on this board, what’s different is there’s a record bus and a mixed bus. So only do we have to have the input in and the fader. But now we have two busses. Now, why is that significant? Because we might have the drums, the bass guitar and vocal on channels. One, two, three, four. OK, we’re just subgrouping it for now, but we could have the entire band.
The record busts and then just the instruments on the mix bust, and you could record both those mixes at the same time and one pass, it can even be live if you’re if you’re dealing with a three minute track, OK, you could record them individually if you want to, just even mixing it down. That’s what we’re really talking about here, is mixing it down to the final deliverable, whether it’s a CD recording or a live recording that’s being made available for people to listen to and streaming.
What’s important here is that if you’re dealing with a really large recording, you could record both those passes at the same time with a mixture like this. And you could also utilize the cue for another mix. There’s just so many more things that you can do is that in one pass you could have all these different levels set and there’s just a little bit more intricacy than the more advanced part. But importantly, we can monitor each of those paths so you can have four mixes happening at one pass.
So a half hour could equals what does that? It’s one hundred and sixty minutes of music just in one single pass. Optimization, efficiency.
Cool things. And so for people watching this, if they want to download this and try it for themselves, which they should, they should go to audio fusion dotcom, right?
Yeah, they should go to audio fusion dot com. There’s a registration link on the sound check page. And I want to let you guys know that I have a coupon code for specifically for you guys at Sound Design Live if you want to take it. If you’re listening, if you go to the website, I’m sure it will be posted somewhere here.
We’ll put it on the show notes for this podcast and I guess below this video, wherever that ends up, we don’t want anybody to start texting and driving. Right. So I’m going to just shot this and send it to you or whatever you want to do there. But that will just introduce the education pricing for for anybody. It’s forty dollars for the year that’ll give you all access to all the five consoles we have now. Anything that comes out within the next year and trust me, there’s a lot of boards on the way.
We just put out two within the last month. Those are this cool. So we really put out we put out the smaller boards because we want people to feel comfortable and we want them to shed their skin. One of the things I’m learning is that we’re always kind of trying to make the language easier. Right. So.
All right. So you’ve made this really cool project and you’ve done Jumping the Frog and you’ve done a lot of other cool projects since then. But tell us about one time when work for you did not go so well. So what’s maybe one of the biggest and most painful mistakes that you’ve made on the job and what happened after that?
Well, that’s a there’s a lot, I guess I can consider there, but I guess really just it will come mostly from the entrepreneurial side, I guess there. But it may be it could be something that people relate to is just not really being sure of myself or being patient enough sometimes to just let something play out or that this person that respond to my email, maybe they’re just swamped, but I just get so worked up in the beginning and I would just have unnecessary discourage time where I wasn’t being as effective as I could have.
I think that’s something that I’m always kind of challenging on, is how people think or perceive me. And I think you have to be a little bit confident in the things you know and the value you can provide, but also be patient, OK?
Would you be willing to kind of tell us the story of how that happened?
Yeah, sure. Pretty much the entire summer, everybody I was reaching out to didn’t get back to me and tell you the some of your life was. I really enjoyed it. I’m just saying that sometimes I was like, wow, these people just give up. Like, what happened? Were they not happy? And they’re not telling me. And then sure enough, they’re just there’s so much chatter, especially right now. There’s just so much stuff happening.
And you have to just sometimes just let something play out and just reiterate, like, don’t let it be on your mind so that you could do other things without being distracted. Right. Because, I mean, I have things I got to do. Everybody’s got something they got to do stuff to do well and something that’s really just they just needed three days because they were on vacation or who knows what’s happening in every school right now. Everybody seems to be making decisions on whether they’re going to be campus or online at the last second.
And I think that’s been the hardest for the students.
But another discussion. Do you ever wish do you ever wish you were like data from Star Trek and you could just disable your emotions? Chip, I’ve never seen one it would be beneficial to.
I never see that. But I could totally use that film.
What is the book that you can recommend that has been really helpful to you?
Great question. So one book that really helped me in my career was designing audio effects and Plug and C++. I will Perkel from the University of Miami, somebody who I met going to an actual attending a talk of the student who I was just impressed that he had taken all his students on a bus and they drove from Florida to New York for a convention. They got I still have a notebook of every student that was on that bus because I took every email.
And I connected with Wil and he told me about his book, and it was something I ordered and just I read it on my porch every day after that jump in the frog thing. And then just again, I got a little bit more scientific. It wasn’t just playback sounds. It wasn’t just the time in the loops. It was more how to gain more compression work. How do you make it happen in any sort of programing environment? So designing audio effects and plug ins and C++ was something that I was able to understand without any high level audio knowledge.
Just sometimes if the read it two or three times before you really feel like I was going to say that we didn’t even get to talk about this, but the VR thing was something that was really exciting and taken the sound check and just again, just experimenting with different technologies. I use the studio project to just experiment with different platforms. And the and the virtual reality thing was just something that naturally came. And it was also just an exciting thing.
So that kind of also created some unique opportunities. Point is to experiment a little bit. Even if I think every company has some sort of R&D in yourself, you should have some sort of R&D. You should be ready for some sort of revolutionary tech or something that could radically change the way that you work.
Well, Sam, where is the best place for people to follow your work?
The best place for people to follow my work would be a fusion that come. That’s actually where I’ll be posting a lot of the projects that I’ve been working on in audio over the next few months. There’s obviously the sound check pro. There’s virtual studio, but there’s a couple of a number of other projects that I’ve been wanting to share. On a personal note, you could drop me a line. I could make my email available as ZF pro at Gmail dot com.
It’s easy to remember, but a lot of the work I’m very focused on audio fusion and sound check. So keep an eye on those on those projects.