A ROAD MAP to 2030 might seem delusional in these uncertain times. But without plans we might never venture beyond our known limits.
To quote Sergei Eisenstein:
“Careful planning, and brilliant improvisation.”
Over the last decade I have noticed that it is a spark of an idea that sets me into motion, but it is research, experimentation, test recordings, trial and error, hard work and perseverance that produces actual results.
So rather than a strict road map, what I aim to outline here is a statement of intent. The future is unwritten but a lot of thought has gone into the direction to take when evolving HISSandaROAR. Some aspects are about providing a better service, while others have nothing to do with business at all.
Of all the software companies I deal with, I was most impressed a few years ago by Ableton when they ceased development of all new features and focused entirely on bug fixing. Legacy can become a metaphorical boat anchor unless carefully managed and the contrast between ProTools and Reaper perfectly illustrates how important long term planning is.
But experience is only useful if you learn from it, and I have always believed that the hardest learned lessons are never forgotten. Lived experience becomes part of your DNA, and hones your instincts. The only problem?
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. – Hector Berlioz.
So first I feel it is important to acknowledge how far we have come…
Where were we in 2010? I attended Film School in 1990, so by 2010 I was 20 years into a career in Film and TV sound post. The years prior to 2010 included US studio films like 30 Days of Night, and Bridge to Terabithia, but 2010 was truly a magic period with the Taika Waititi film Boy being a highlight. Visiting the shoot as well as recording ambiences and vehicles for the film set a blueprint for future films. 2011 involved multiple trips to Samoa for The Orator, followed in 2012 by field recording trips to Papua New Guinea for Mr Pip, and to Japan for Emperor.
Around this time a strong community began to form around the DesigningSound blog created and edited by Miguel Isaza, as well as Social Sound Design StackExchange. Sadly both are no longer active.
April 14th 2010, HISSandaROAR version 1 launched and it makes me laugh/cringe to visit the wayback machine from then!
So what has changed over 10 years?
It might seem self evident, but the visibility of sound has changed. My posting this photo back in 2008 was seen as an anomaly back then. Think how common it is to see photos of microphones now!
Back in 2010 I remember dreaming how great it would be if sound recording blogs were as common as photography blogs. Photography had a decades long lead in becoming accessible to all, but by comparison sound now has a strong creative presence in every medium, from community through to professional.
Tech inevitably changes, but what has impacted most?
Microphones – evolution of extended range mics with very low self noise
Recorders & Storeage – more channels, fast SSDs, a 48TB NAS – unimaginable in 2010!
DSP, Plugins, Apps, Izotope RX – many of which did not exist in 2010.
Fibre to the home – one of the best large scale infrastructure investments made in New Zealand
Social aspects of online communities have exploded over the last decade.
It is not news to anyone that 2020 has been a relentless challenge.
As COVID19 rapidly spread across the globe, it soon become apparent this virus would challenge the ideology and approach to health care of every country. It also became apparent that one aspect of living in New Zealand that is often begrudged – the tyranny of distance – could work to our advantage, and combined with strong empathetic leadership, extreme measures were taken of total lockdown and border closure with majority social support.
But the virus does not care for aspirations, and even a single case escaping quarantine could lead to a devastating outbreak. So while we now have relative freedom in NZ, our every action is made with extreme caution. It frankly feels like a miracle that I am now planning a field recording road trip down South for September. But my plans are made with the knowledge that everything could change overnight! Careful planning and brilliant improvisation!
In the past I have been approached a few times about the possibility of providing custom field recording services. Sometimes the requests have been unrealistic in scope, but given the current status of lockdown in other countries and the need for production to continue, I have been rethinking my attitude. Accordingly, if you live in a country still under lockdown and have field recording needs for a project then do get in touch. If I cannot help you myself, I pretty much know every experienced sound recordist in New Zealand, and will happily put you in touch with experienced people that I can personally recommend.
The sooner we can all get back to work the better. But with lockdown and social distancing, that makes studio work far more possible than travel for field recording. So if there are custom resources you need, please do get in touch!
“Falling ill on a journey
my dreams go wandering
over withered fields”
The most important part of HISSandaROAR is simple:
DIRECT ACCESS TO UNIQUE NEW SOUNDS.
Accordingly we are excited to announce:
New HISSandaROAR library format: UNIT Sound FX Libraries
with eight new releases available now!
Along with updates for all existing libraries:
Universal Category System implementation
Updated EULA and MULA
Sound Libraries as Subscriptions
HISSandaROAR COMPLETE available as a one click download
UNIT Sound Libraries are a new approach to singular sound effects.
At times we’ve resorted to buying single sounds from companies such as SoundDogs, but the frustrating aspect that sticks in our craw, is that they are often literally single sounds.
But as every sound editor knows, options and choices are crucial to creating great results when working in context. Accordingly our UNIT sound libraries have a singular focus, but apply our inherent modus operandi to provide multiple options.
Imagine you need some NZ cicada recordings for a project. Our super affordable UNIT Sound library of cicadas provides a small collection of recordings, rather than a single cicada ambience recording. Singular focus does not mean single sound effects.
UNIT sound libraries fall into the US$2 – US$10 range, and only exceed this zone when it is warranted due to being scarce, rare sounds. As with all HISSandaROAR libraries, UNIT libraries feature rich metadata, photos and our standard professional-use royalty-free license. We will also provide a means for users to lobby for individual sounds to be released from existing large libraries.
UNIT Sound Libraries have now officially launched with an initial batch release of new sound FX libraries.
Check out: HISSandaROAR UNIT Sound FX Libraries
As a business model Subscriptions appear to be an efficient method to rapidly devalue media. Spotify is just one of many bad examples of opaque licensing deals that primarily serve to build equity in a business for a select few, at the expense of those who actually create the content. Such motives were clearly revealed with their CEO’s tone deaf message demanding musicians churn out music more often, to suit their inequitable approach.
With HISSandaROAR we plan to take an entirely different approach to subscriptions, effectively treating each library as an open ended subscription.
For example: the very first HISSandaROAR library VEGE VIOLENCE is still incredibly useful as a Sound FX library, but when it was recorded the only access I had to vegetables was from a supermarket. Since moving to Karehana Bay I’ve put a lot of effort and time into establishing a vegetable garden, with the aim to become more self sufficient and sustainable. But there is also a benefit for sound!
Last seasons tomato plants are ready to be pulled out and one sound I love is that of roots being ripped from the earth. Should I start recording VEGE VIOLENCE 2? No, my plan is to instead treat the VEGE VIOLENCE library as an open ended subscription, with free ongoing updates rewarding your initial investment.
After releasing TIMPANI X FRICTION I saw a great video of someone using multiple friction mallets on a timpani, to create a form of chording that evoked feelings of DOOM! I still have my two Timpani and also happen to own a potters wheel, so one of these days I will find a way to mount a Timpani on the potters wheel, slowly spin it & record some Timpani friction chords. Not worth releasing as a separate library, but a fantastic free addition to an existing library.
But I also have another motive for providing updates to HISSandaROAR libraries, and it directly relates to UCS – the brilliant standardised category system for sound libraries developed by Tim Neilson, Justin Drury, Kai Paquin and many others.
To implement the UNIVERSAL CATEGORY SYSTEM my plan is to revisit and update every HISSandaROAR Library. Starting with SD001 VEGE VIOLENCE, I will be expanding the existing metadata to include the new category system, as well as the optional filename scheme.
To help motivate each library owner to access this update, each library will also benefit from:
– an Izotope RX pass (especially the early libraries released before RX existed!)
– bug fixes (please report any existing library bugs to our bounty hunt)
– new sounds (as described in the subscription section above)
UNIVERSAL CATEGORY SYSTEM
If you are new to UCS, it is a public domain initiative by Tim Nielsen, Justin Drury, Kai Paquin and others, and I highly recommend reading up at the official UCS site.
Briefly, UCS is a standardised category and sub category list for the classification of sound effects and ambiences. The aim is to establish a consistent approach, regardless of who recorded the sounds.
The profound secondary benefit is that it also makes language translation for the essential information more easily accessible.
A minor but important update:
Our previous EULA and MULA does not explicitly allow for the use of our sounds in music production. But as those who have contacted us to check, we encourage use in music and our license agreement has been updated to explicitly allow this.
Another update: using our sounds for machine learning is now explicitly denied. NOTE: This does not mean our sounds cannot be used for machine learning, it simply means a separate license is required for machine learning purposes.
Updated PDF copies of the HISSandaROAR EULA v2 and HISSandaROAR MULA v2 will be available on this site in the coming weeks. Existing licenses will be honoured forever more, but the new licenses contain the explicit additions.
When HISSandaROAR launched in 2010, reliably delivering 1GB was a challenge. Nowadays with fibre becoming ubiqituous, it is not uncommon for some products (sound libraries, sample instruments games) to exceed hundreds of gigabytes.
Currently HISSandaROAR COMPLETE 68 weighs in at 548GB, which involves downloads totalling 425GB. For some people this still remains difficult to download, which is why we offer the option of shipping COMPLETE on a USB3 Hard drive. This usually only takes 3-5 working days shipping with DHL to anywhere on the planet. But we knew there was a better solution.
If you own any of the excellent deep sampled instruments from companies such as SonicCouture or Spitfire, you will know they offer downloads using a dedicated app. The beauty of this approach is that it makes the process frictionless, and that is our primary aim.
Accordingly we have been implementing and testing delivery of COMPLETE (and individual libraries) using similar technology ie one click downloader via a secure, fast app which can be paused and continued, as well as optional limit for data throughput.
We look forward to offering this in the very near future:
HISSandaROAR COMPLETE – one click download
If you’ve been at all engaged with my endeavours online for a while now, it turns out 2020 is an 11 year anniversary since the last time I took on virtual interns. While it placed varying demands on my time, it was rewarding to engage with a younger generation and has been fascinating to see their development into professional careers. I still get emails asking for such an opportunity to be repeated and until now I have been non-committal, but I am now happy to announce the return of the virtual interns, albeit via a more formularised approach.
The primary focus and motive is Narrative Film.
Topics covered include:
Pitching for projects
Collaborating with Director, Producer, Editor
Collaborating with Composer, Dialogue Editor, Foley etc
Career strategy, development and advice
People skills, project management
Film Sound Study – a film by film analysis
Every part of the course will involve practical exercises with materials provided, such as video, sound library content and PDF for offline use.
Now one request: Please don’t email me asking when and how you can apply. As with all HISSandaROAR comms, the first people to know about anything we do are the subscribers to our newsletter.
If you want to be notified when the HISSandaROAR Sound Studies launches please:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t assign tasks and work. Rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”
Antione de Saint-Exupery
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; Seek what they sought”
Many years ago I read the fascinating book Creativity, Inc. – Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. The book essentially discusses the modus operandi of PIXAR, and amongst other things they describe a brilliant creative tool called a Brains Trust. Basically the Brains Trust is a group of film makers that a Director can solicit help from, whether it’s discussing scripts, ideas, feedback from test screenings, or potential issues. The aim is to provide insight, and help avoid any blind spots or incorrect assumptions.
Accordingly over the coming months I will start to invite people to join the HISSandaROAR Brains Trust. But don’t worry, it wont involve Discord, Slack, WhatsApp, FB Messenger, or Reddit. Deep thinking does not benefit from instant gratification and pseudo pressure of a real-time messaging system. The Brains Trust will rely on simple old email. Easy to read when it suits, think about and reply whenever clarity strikes.
Similarly I have plans to form a HISSandaROAR Brains Language Trust. I have travelled enough in countries where English is a second language to appreciate the cost of assumptions made when ignoring language support. Basic communication is one thing, but working to include subtlety is also important. Along with UCS, the aim is fully translated metadata for every library, for every language.
Another initiative I will be pursuing is to implement support for personal non commercial work. Imagine a cross between an Artists Residency and having private access to materials and advice, towards a specific non-commercial project.
If you want to be notified when the HISSandaROAR Artist Residency launches, please:
As you can imagine some of the changes I will be implementing require a retooling of this very website. Ten years ago I knew when I was learning how to implement ecommerce that the version I was building would require a rebuild to scale up, and the same applies now.
I started learning wordpress by using it to start a blog back in August 2006, after attending a workshop at the Berlinale Talent Campus. At no point have I considered myself a web developer, or a graphic designer. But I have loved learning, through necessity, as a means of clarifying what is possible, how it can be implemented and why it matters.
Version 4 of HISSandaROAR is slowly evolving behind the scenes. Expect a party when it launches!
To every single person who has supported HISSandaROAR over the last ten years I have to say a huge THANK YOU! Your support keeps me humble, and I often reflect on how when I worked in the film industry I primarily answered to the director and the producer. HISSandaROAR means I feel more like I am actually working for all of you.
You may not know it at the time, but the ultimate reward for me is to hear HISSandaROAR sounds used in clever, creative and ingenuous ways, in a multitude of brilliant projects. So thank you for your support. Thank you for the constant inspiration and I sincerely hope we get to continue collaborating for another decade.
Kia Kaha! Stay Safe!
August 24th 2020