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Ric Viers

Sound Effects BibleWith hundreds of thousands of sound effects to his name, there probably isn't much Ric Viers hasn't heard. His Detroit Chop Shop sound design studio is one of the world's largest producers of sound effects for the motion picture, television, radio, and video gaming industries, while Blastwave FX is an e-commerce hub for new and exciting ways to deliver content to consumers. (Anyone care for over 100 weather effects on a single flash drive?) He wrote the book—quite literally—on sound effects, and runs a compendium website (www.soundeffectsbible.com) that gives readers a fully immersive experience into the world of sound creation and manipulation. And wouldn't you know it, Sony software has been there every step of the way. Read below to find out a little more about how Ric uses our software applications.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: Tell me a bit about how you started out in this field.


RIC VIERS: Well, I started out about 10 years ago doing sound design. I was doing location sound for longer than that, but I was about 10 years ago that I really began developing sound effects libraries.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: What product versions did you start on?


RIC VIERS: I came in on Sound Forge 4.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: Tell me a little bit about your company, The Detroit Chop Shop (www.thedetroitchopshop.com).


PhotoRIC VIERS: We started out as a post-production facility doing video editing and sound design—kinda like a one-stop shop—but it really started to focus on sound design, and that's pretty much all we do now.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: How to you market and distribute the sound effects content that you produce?


RIC VIERS: We provide two different types of content: content that we provide for outside distribution for companies like Sound Ideas and Hollywood Edge, and then we have our own distribution label called Blastwave Effects (www.blastwavefx.com). With that we're targeting innovative solutions. We don't do your standard audio CD. We do offer products on DVD because it's all 24-bit/96kHz stuff, but right now we're focusing on are USB drives, hard drive products, and downloads directly from the site.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: And these drives come loaded with specific content?


RIC VIERS: Yes. You can buy a category of sounds on a USB flash drive.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: Talk to me a little about your book, The Sound Effects Bible.


RIC VIERS: For years and years I looked for a book or any kind of resource on how to create sound effects, and I couldn't find it. You can buy a book here and there that claims to have a section on sound effects, but it was literally a page or two and they would glaze over the subject. It was nothing really in-depth. So after doing 150,000 sound effects, I finally said, Screw it, I might has well write the book myself. To my knowledge, no one's done even half the amount of sound that I've done. So the book is basically a how-to. If you know nothing to little about sound, you should still be able to pick up the book and, from cover to cover, understand the process of how sound works, how mics work, how to record, how to edit, how to design. All that sort of stuff.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: There's also a website that goes hand in hand with the book to enhance the experience, yes?


RIC VIERS: The website, www.soundeffectsbible.com, is a counterpart to the book. You can't really read the book and get all you can out of it without having visited the website. I could tell you, "Hey, this is a werewolf growl," but you really don't get a sense for what it is until you've visited the website, gone to that chapter, and then played the sample of what I was referring to. It's in its infancy stages, but I'm hoping to grow the website to where we have people around the world contributing to things like Sound of the Week and explaining how they're making their own sound effects. I don't want it to be one-dimensional where it's just my opinion. It's art, man. Anybody can do this, and anybody can do it a different way. The pulse of the book and of the website is, "This is what I know. This is how I did it. Now take what I know a step further and create your own stuff!"


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: How do you use Sound Forge and Vegas Pro—both individually and in conjunction with one another—in the creation and editing of sound effects?


RIC VIERS: Sound Forge is used in the early stage, but it's also the absolute stop before I finish any sounds. It's mainly used for mastering more than creation. I can say this. I've created literally hundreds of thousands of sound effects, and every single one of those sounds came out of Sound Forge. At some point I go in there and I normalize and I check the levels. But whatever the deal is, it all comes back to Sound Forge. The thing that I like the most about it is that it's extremely easy to use. You don't have to have a Ph.D. to figure out what you're doing in the waveform. I also definitely like the shortcuts that I apply myself. I can go in and program my keyboard to do certain functions. When I'm editing a waveform, I almost don't even touch the mouse whatsoever. It's almost like I'm writing a book. I know the program like the back of my hand. I can tell it to gate out a sound or auto-crop it, normalize it, or add EQ. All that stuff is programmed on my keyboard. I can have the Spectrum Analyzer up on the side of the screen, and as I'm editing my file I can see, "Okay, I'm heavy on the low-end," or "Where's that high-pitched ringing sound? How to I notch that out?" I can just look over there and go, "Okay, that's the frequency," then pull up a paragraphic EQ and just knock it out. It's extremely easy. Very robust, but easy nonetheless. Sound Forge 8 is my favorite so far. If a file clips because I process something, I can still hit normalize and undo that clipping. With previous iterations, if you had a file and you ran it through reverb, and as you applied the plug-in there was some kind of clipping, the file would be clipped and you'd have to undo the reverb and adjust your levels before reapplying the plug-in. Now if that happens, you simply hit normalize and it's like it remembers what was above zero and then shrinks it down to where there's no clipping. That by far is my favorite feature because it made the plug-in experience that much easier.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: What about Vegas Pro?


RIC VIERS: Vegas Pro, for me, has always been a multi-track editor. I remember back in the Sonic Foundry days when you had Vegas Audio and Vegas Video, so I was a Vegas Audio guy. I didn't have a million bucks to spend on Pro Tools, and at the time I was PC and Pro Tools was only Mac back then. I use Vegas mainly for doing sound for picture; any kind of picture sound I need to produce, be it ADR or Foley work, or tracking dialogue to film. That's where Vegas works for me. If I want to layer things or crossfade them.


SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE: You're in a world where conventional wisdom says to go with Pro Tools because that's the "industry standard." Do you run into a lot of situation where people are surprised by or even adverse to the applications you choose to use?


RIC VIERS: Other than OMF files, to my knowledge, there's nothing Pro Tools can do that Vegas Pro can't. They're pretty much the same program as far as I'm concerned in terms of functionality. I've gone on forums over the years and debated with guys about Pro Tools versus Vegas, and it all came down to this: the only reason that somebody would ever use Pro Tools, and this is my opinion, is because everybody uses Pro Tools. If you want to interchange files or pass stuff back and forth, there's a seamless transition. I do have a Pro Tools rig but I literally have never used it. I've lost gigs because I don't have a full blown Pro Tools rig—the "industry standard." If a filmmaker comes to me and wants me to do all his sound for his picture and I'm the last link in the chain, they don't care what I'm using because at the end of the day I'm going to give them the same thing: a two-track or a 5.1 mix. If you're a project studio and you don't have to interface with other studios, there's absolutely no reason to have Pro Tools. You can do everything you want with Sony products.


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