A story, a podcast, gunshots and a nomination!!
It is a very interesting what modern production can do. Two men thousands of miles apart (approx. 3,915 miles) who have not physically been in the same space for over 6 years producing extraordinary works via internet file transfers. Here’s a glimpse of what can be done.
Opportunity is like a blinking light in a dark room.
Anthony Phills is an award winning Full Stack Designer, Author, Programmer and Visual Storyteller who has designed for Adobe, Siemens, Hilton Hotel and other major corporations. He has also designed for major celebrities like Barry Bonds, Johnny Gill, Jay-Z and his designs are featured in the Disney film ‘Million Dollar Arm’. Last year Anthony won the Best Full Stack Designer 2018 North America from Lux Magazine and an Honorable Mention in the 2018 International Design Awards. As you can tell from the links I was also mentioned as I had the honor of composing the music and/or Sound Design for his creations. I met Anthony during Animae Caribe in 2013 after I saw the one and only Stan Lee introduce and endorse him in a video.
I made up my mind thinking that ‘if that guy knows Stan Lee he’s got to be really good’. Most importantly, for me, was that he was born and spent his early years in Trinidad & Tobago and as a fellow ‘Trinbagonian’ I wanted to reach out to him once he arrived and, as far as I can tell, among all the people that were taking selfies with him and asking him for advice, I was the only one who followed up after the week-long conference
It all starts with an idea
Fast forward a few years and a few products we have completed together (we have not met face to face since 2013 – we have the internet) and we come to the world of Tony Knight, a creation of Anthony Phills and with it comes the world of story, design, technology, podcasts, advertising, publishing and sound. It’s called MPI (Multi-Platform Interactive) or Binge Publishing and yes it is trademarked. It is an ever-growing series of books and other products that you can see here. Explore it and see what I mean.
I am now happy to announce that The Knight Trilogy (and everything that goes with it) has been nominated at the 2019 New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles. The New Media Film Festival showcases exemplary stories utilizing the latest in digital technology with judges from Marvel, Emmys, Recording Academy (Grammy), HBO, and more. I am honoured that I have produced all the audio components, sound design and music for the product (including the ad below).
So let’s take a look at one of the products I have produced in terms of music, sound design, audio mixing/mastering and distribution – The podcast series called ‘The Blackouts’.
“Dr. Julia Fissan from the OASIS (Organization of American Secret Intelligence Service) Medical Research Group has been given audio recordings from Special Agent Tony Knight’s USARA (United States Advance Research Agency) Powershell suit. Knight is trained for death but is afraid to die. “The Blackouts” are reflective. Does a near death experience change a person’s perspective on life? Are all people trained to spy and kill cut from the same piece of cloth one that is woven with heightened instincts and a thirst for danger? “The Blackouts” reel you into adventure, espionage, death, life, love and hope!”
We will look at one of the podcasts I produced – Episode 4: Mission Beyond Time.
Soundtracks, Sound Design and Bang Bang
One of the main concepts I wanted to keep within the world of Tony Knight is that, whatever the format, sounds have to be consistent for the reader/watcher to remain into the world that was created. As you would see, the main music theme that I composed will play a very important role in keeping the world associated to the brand ‘Tony Knight’.
Anthony wanted the theme to reflect excitement, espionage and danger but at the same time reflect an urban feel. I decided to combine Big Band, seventies (think of Shaft) styles and Hip Hop elements to create the main theme. Also adding the sound effects that are within the world of Tony Knight (computers, guns, helicopters etc) heightens the excitement of the music. The final main theme is called ‘Black Site’ You can see a Wikipedia definition of what a black site is here.
Take a listen and feel the excitement!!
If this music sounds familiar it is because it was used for all the ads for the Knight Trilogy including the ad you heard in the New Media Film Festival nomination video in this blog. This is why it is important to keep themes consistent with your brand. It reinforces identity and engenders brand loyalty.
I was then able to use the main theme (or variations of the theme) to create the different products that we were creating for Tony Knight. For the podcasts I wanted the narrative to be the focus of the podcasts without the music being a distraction so, by taking elements from the main theme, I created a slower version of it to be used. I also made it in such a way that it can be looped if necessary.
This music was also very important as it was going to be used for all the podcasts in this series and it went well with the mood of the narration. I was actually given different reads of the narration for each podcast episode and had the freedom to edit which takes sounded the best to me and also to determine the pacing of each sentence to best reflect the mood each episode.
Each episode starts out with computer keys typing and a tape recording sound effect as this is a report from Dr. Julia Fissan on her observations of Tony Knight during his blackouts. It is important to know that the background music is at a low volume so that the focus would be on the narration and sound design. In this example (Episode 4) you would hear other sounds (dogs, water, wind …. among others). What I would want you to listen for is WHEN they start and just as importantly, WHERE they are in the stereo spectrum – also called ‘panning’ (left … right … if the sound is moving from one direction to another). This is VERY important as it adds to the realism of the podcast and keeps the listener attentive.
The videos below show two parts.
1. The first one shows all the elements involved to create the episode. For example, the gunshots – the shots are individual elements as well as the bullet cases dropping on the ground. They were placed in such a way that it sounds fluid and engaging. All the elements are then mixed together to form a complete stereo mix.
2. The second video shows the digital mastered version of the stereo mix. A general definition of digital mastering is the process of taking an audio mix and adding a final equalization (EQ), compression … etc to have it ready for distribution across various media. It sounds more complete and you can listen to the final version here.
As mentioned before the podcast series ‘The Blackouts’ and all the other products are part of the ecosystem we’ve created called ‘The Knight Trilogy’ has been nominated at the 2019 New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles. The awards ceremony will be in June so we have high hopes of walking away with one (or more) awards. In the mean time we have Season 2 coming so be on the look out!!
In my next blog I will be showing how I did the Sound Design for the music video ‘My Love’ with artists Abdiel and Destra Garcia. The video was directed by my friend, Film Director and FX Makup Artist Steven Taylor .
Tell me what else you want me to blog about in terms of music production and/or Sound Design. Looking forward to hearing from you.