The Early Years
I learned to load a Nagra when I was 6 years old, and it’s been quite a ride from there. Inspired by my father’s career as a production sound mixer, I set out to do anything different, really, anything at all, until I realized all those years of experience could probably be put to good use. An internship at a serious games lab found me recording, editing and installing dialog. Pretty soon I was doing that full time, working on serious games and research applications for the University of Southern California. After a few years at USC, the group I was a part of spun out to develop language software for the DoD. That meant cramped offices, expensive coffee, and working in 3 or more languages at a time.
After 2 years in startup land I jumped back to USC as staff at the Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT). My work at the ICT was more research focused until I found myself pulled towards some of our mixed reality installations, and from there I transitioned back to audio full time. Now I manage dialog production and sound design, along with whatever it takes to provide value to our clients and get the job done.
A focus of my recent work has been developing tools and procedures to improve dialog quality while reducing costs and turn around time. Analyzing steps in the ICT’s dialog process showed me where I could improve as an engineer, editor, and producer. Our VO director and I drilled session techniques, timed pages of dialog, and reworked our studio setup to provide the best environment we could for our actors while saving time in the booth. I redesigned session setup and in studio workflow to make post simpler, and then built a new post production workflow that took advantage of these changes. We’re now producing better dialog faster, cheaper, and with fewer hands on steps, eliminating most of the busy work. We’re also doing more of it, encouraging projects to fully voice their systems, and banish TTS to where it belongs.
A mixed reality entertainment demo set in the old west. The player tries to talk their way out of a sticky situation set in a 1:1 scale wild west saloon. Gunslinger combines life size virtual humans with speech recognition, dialog management, IR tracking, and the occasional bullet. I was responsible for dialog production in Gunslinger, from engineering the VO sessions to mixing on the final 15 channel hardware installation. I also designed and installed the video projection setups, consulted on the saloon design, and scripted much of the content. See Gunslinger in action.
Piggybacking on the technology in Gunslinger, CHAOS was a full size mixed reality Afghan compound installed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Squads of marines would work with their translator to try and bring stability to a small Afghan village. Unfortunately, not everyone was always on the same page. I designed and installed much of the hardware, and helped with the software design, coming in from Gunslinger as an expert.
Bravemind is a leading VR exposure therapy application for treating post traumatic stress. I provided assets and audio expertise to Bravemind, focusing on naturalist sound design to immerse patients in the conflicts they experienced. Bravemind has been recently extended to investigate treatment for sexual assault, as well as conflicts beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. Vice Motherboard covered it here.
Imagine a dingy office in a small compartment of a Navy ship. No, dingier. That’s where INOTS, and it’s Army spin off, ELITE, teach newly commissioned officers how to counsel, direct, and if necessary, reprimand their subordinates. I took over dialog production on INOTS and related projects in 2013, including engineering the sessions and reworking earlier material to meet new production standards. I have also assumed responsibility for the system hardware, both in Los Angeles and at installed sites across the US.