It has been a busy two months for me over here at the Hobo underground lair, but alas I am proud to announce we have completed mixing the first season of Hacking the Planet! We might seem like some pretty hip engineers on the surface, but deep down we are all a bunch of nerdy hobos, and this show was perfect for us to mix! It’s a science program for The Weather Channel (and yes, I do mean the same weather channel you watched in the 90′s to see if it was going to rain…before Apple made an app for that).
So the question is… can science control Mother Nature?
The show, which was created by our good friends at Castle Pix, takes us inside numerous science experiments happening around the globe to combat extreme weather. And if one topic has dominated the media these last few years, it’s been global warming, hurricanes, tornadoes, lions, tigers, bears, OH MY!
…or just the weather part.
Now, I dont fancy myself a tree-hugging hippie or anything, but I am conscious of my footprint and how human industry affects our dear Mother Nature. Plus Twister was like my favorite movie in ’96 at the tender age of 11(Bill Paxton was the sexiest). So I have enjoyed learning about about a few crazy cool science experiments like cloud seeding, or redirecting the flow of lava (sounds crazy and is!). But what I like most about the show is how it tackles not just the questions surrounding how to hack the planet’s extreme weather, but the fundamental question – SHOULD we hack it? Human meddling perhaps is the very reason we are in this mess, so at what cost do we involve ourselves further?
But back to the point: the audio process! While this was a really fun show for me to work on, like all shows it did have its own unique set of challenges.
For instance, Hacking’s host, John Rennie (the man, the myth, the legend) confers with his pack of science nerds, Cara Santa Maria and Brian Malow, via Skype sessions throughout each episode. Sykpe audio is notoriously awful, the levels are inconsistent at best, and the sync is in a whole realm of its own. This was a beast I had to tame early on. I believe the natural inclination would be to try to clean up the recordings as best as possible, but I made a creative decision to embrace the computer audio, and in fact make it even more “digital” in places. I decided that when we are seeing a character through someone else’s computer screen I would take the already computerized audio and digitize it even more, just to give scenes more perspective. and when we were more or less with the character in their own space I would do what I could to clean and normalize the quality of the recordings while still maintaining the Skype vibe!
But true Hobos never let a good challenge slow us down! The show has turned out fantastic, attracting great ratings for The Weather Channel, and made me a little smarter!
Hacking the Planet is currently on air Thursday nights at 8 and 8:30pm and again from 11pm-12am. Shows also replay on Sunday nights! That’s a whole lotta science!
1. he is Lebanese, as am I
2. he is an Audiophile, ditto
3. he is a Rocket Scientist, and that is dope
He is Princeton Professor Edgar Choueiri, and he is awesome.
When Edgar Choueiri is not rocket sciencing he is developing his BAACH filter, an algorithm for turning 2 dimensional sound into 3 dimensional sound. So you might be saying, “hmm sounds like waste of time dude, Dolby solved that problem in the seventies with 5.1 surround sound, and then perfected it last year with Dolby Atmos”, wrong. While 5.1 and Dolby Atmos both strive to add dimensionality, they do so with the aid of several or more speakers (sometimes hundreds) that surround you; and that is all good in a theater but what about todays youth who think 128mbs mp3′s on earbuds sound good; how do they get great 3d sound?
Inspired at a young age by Bach’s ‘Mass in B Minor’ Choueiri wished he could hear his favorite piece of music as if he were in a concert hall listening to it played by hundreds of musicians spread out before him, when in reality he would be home listen on a set of headphones. How did he do it? Well, I’m no rocket scientist but here goes…
Imagine you are at home sitting on the couch watching a live symphony (you know, a wild friday night)… What you will notice is you are unable to pinpoint exactly where each instrument is coming from exactly; whereas if you were in the audience you could. The reason you are unable to do so is because of a phenom called ‘crosstalk’. In a nutshell the right speaker is playing all the info it wants your right ear to hear, and the left speaker all the sounds it wants your left ear to hear, BUT, our ears work good, so our left ear picks up some of the sound from the right speaker, and vise versa. We can solve crosstalk by having a sound barrier sticking straight out from our noses blocking sounds from crossing over from left-side to right-side, but that would look silly. So it took a rocket scientist to develop the BAACH filter; essentially an acoustic sound barrier (oxymoron?), eliminating the crosstalk without damaging the sound quality.
Now that I did a terrible job explaining that, check out the master himself describing it and have a listen to some incredible examples!
Bored at work? Not me, never the less I have provided myself with hours of mindless entertainment making Google Translate beatbox! Want to hear my sick nasty track!?
Go to http://translate.google.com - then copy and paste and press listen
pv zk pv pv zk pv zk pv pv zk kkkkkk bsch kkkkkk thp, ds thp, ds dsds kttp bsch kttp bsch bkbk.
Wanna make your own? Click here for a tutorial. You’re welcome
A few weeks ago, I made the trek from NYC to Paramus, NJ to have a listen to the newest audio format for Cinema, Dolby Atmos! Now I have to say, I was like a kid on their way to a candy store, I could not wait to hear the new sound, plus get to see the new Pixar movie, Brave. I was so excited I almost forgot I had to drive to New Jersey just to hear it! (What’s that about?!)
Now 5.1 and 7.1 are still awesome formats for listening to movies, and they have opened the doors for sound designers to have a lot of fun sonically. BUT, where having up to 8 channels is pretty cool, Dolby Atmos redefines the concept of channels and focuses instead on plotting sound effects individually in a 3D space by utilizing a combinations of 64 speakers! This was made possible by introducing ceiling speakers, which allow the audio to float anywhere around the room. It feels as though you are immersed in the movie and really compliments the 3D visuals.
Brave was amazing, and without giving anything away, there are some intense fight sequences and lots of arrows that whiz by! If you have a car, a zipcar, like long bike rides, or live in Jersey, check out Brave in Paramus, you wont be disappointed! (Also, keep your ears open for the Disney logo, the rainbow over your head is pretty cool!) Enjoy!