Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Field Trip to Harman!

It's a week full of field trips for my Trends in Modern Sound Design class! We did Sony Games on Monday, and today we drove up to Northridge to check out the Harman/JBL facility. Our call time at the plant was 8.30, and because they had to drive all the way through LA, the students left plenty of time for traffic. Of course, because they did that, traffic was light, and they got to Northridge with plenty of time to spare. So, we found a diner:

Matt, Patricia, Beth, Josh, and Stephen (Jeff couldn't make it and Kyle was ill)

When we got to Harman, Dr. Sean Olive took us around. Dr. Olive designs all of the listening and testing facilities and tests that Harman uses to measure subjective response to the products. Here he is showing Matt and Josh one of the test cars that Harman uses to evaluate automotive sound systems:

How many bodies can you fit in here?

After the tour, Dr. Olive sat us down for a few tests. The first was to see how well we connected 'good' sound to 'lossless' sound. It was a double-blind test to see whether we could identify mp3 or pcm audio (we all did well, thankyouverymuch).

The second test was much more subjective, and it involved evaluating loudspeakers in a double-blind listening environment. Both experiments were interesting, and we're glad that we could provide additional information to Dr. Olive and his research.

Another great field trip! Next week: back to the classroom!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Field Trip to Sony Games!

My Drama 255: Trends in Modern Sound Design class recently took a trip down to Sony Games in San Diego to tour the facility and meet with Kurt Kellenberger, one of the sound designers who works at the studios there. We met at 7am (in the morning!) to carpool down in morning traffic, and Kurt met us there. He started with a tour, showing us his private studio space, the foley room, and a large library of foley props before sitting us down in one of the mixing suites for a talk:
(Kurt pauses. Students smile. Loudspeakers loom.)

Kurt came to Sony from a theatre career, so he was able to talk about the specifics of making the transition from theatre to games. A lot of the thought process is similar, but there were some key (and surprising) differences about the game world. The students had lots of questions, especially Jeff, who is a gamer himself could ask specific questions.

Everyone had a great time, and we're looking forward to the possibility of having Kurt come up to UCI to talk more and check out our world of sound!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sinan Zafar: Honors in Sound Design

Mike and I (and the Design program in general) are pleased to announced that we have a new Honors in Sound Design student: Sinan Zafar:

Sinan comes to UCI from Cupertino, CA, and has a background in performance (specifically musical theatre). Since coming to UCI, he's advanced so far as a designer that he regularly takes graduate level coursework and is designing on the mainstage this season at UCI (you can hear his work coming up in The Misanthrope and in Hello, Again). We're proud of him, not only for his own accomplishments, but that he is our first Honors in Sound Design student EVER!

Congratulations Sinan!

Meyer Constellation Tuning

Intrepid MFA student Patricia Cardona wanted, for her design for Waiting for Godot, to use the Meyer Constellation system that we own here at UCI. The Constellation system uses VRAS (Variable Room Acoustic Simulation) technology to alter the acoustic properties of a room. UCI owns a portable system, and it gets used in a few shows per year. The last time we had any Constellation/VRAS training, however, was before any of our current students were here at UCI, so it was time to ask Meyer to provide some training. Fortunately, Mac Johnson at Meyer was excited to come down with some colleagues to help us learn how to take advantage of the Constellation system.

The Meyer visit lasted over three days. On Sunday, Mac and Pierre Germain came in to do some secret math to make the room sound natural. Patricia, Stephen, BC, and I were on-hand to help them out, but due to the proprietary nature of the techniques, we weren't allowed to be in the room to watch the magic happen.

On Monday, we took a break from work on Waiting for Godot, but Mac visited my Trends in Modern Sound Design class to talk about his life before and after his being hired by Meyer. Mac regaled us with tales of the road and more than a few words of wisdom about high standards, interpersonal communication, and professional flexibility/adaptability. On Monday night, we met for libation and mirth.

Tuesday morning, bright and early, we met back at the Robert Cohen Theater to get cracking on giving the Constellation System some personality. Pierre had done a terrific job of making the room sound natural, and now we welcomed Steve Ellison, who gave a primer in the parameters and power of the Constellation System. Steve walked us through the interface and helped Patricia create a few presets to get her started as she heads into tech this weekend.

Here's Steve and Mac on the set of Waiting for Godot:
And Steve with some of our MFA students, probably rapt with attention as Mac activated the room with his mellifluous baritone voice.

It was an exceptional session! I've used VRAS a few times in my work over the past few years, but I feel like I understand it now at a level that I had not been able to understand before. I can't wait to try using it again soon, and I know that many of the students feel the same way!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday Margaritas (and special guests!)

You've probably read about it already on this blog, but every Monday we all get together to celebrate anything and everything. This week we were honored to have Mac Johnson (Education Program Coordinator for Meyer Sound) join us! And... alum Joe Wilbur also dropped by. This picture was taken before things disintegrated... but we won't discuss that here ;)

In face order from left to right: Josh Fehrmann (MFA1), Sinan Zafar (BFA4), Joe Wilbur (alum), Vinnie Olivieri (legendary), Mac Johnson (Meyer), Matt Glenn (MFA1), Beth Lake (MFA3), Jeff Polunas (MFA3), Stephen Swift (MFA2), Patricia Cardona (MFA2), BC Keller (sound supervisor)

Darron West drops by

Last week, Broadway sound designer Darron West came by to talk to Vinnie's Trends in Modern Sound Design class. Darron is back on Broadway this week in tech for David Henry Hwang's Chinglish - opening soon at the Longacre Theatre.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thank you science!

A 29-year old woman hears her own voice for the first time:

A baby hears his mother's voice for the first time (thanks to cochlear implants):

The world keeps getting cooler.