The Early Years
I learned to load a Nagra when I was 6 years old, and it’s been quite a ride from there. An internship at a serious games lab found me recording, editing and installing dialogue and pretty soon I was doing that full time. 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 a few years in startup land I jumped back to USC as staff at the Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT). I manage dialogue production and sound design, along with creative services and whatever it takes to get the job done.
A focus of my recent work has been developing tools and workflows to improve production quality while reducing turn around time, both for dialogue and video production. Analyzing steps in the ICT’s dialogue process showed me where I could improve as an engineer, editor, and producer. Our VO director and I drilled session techniques, timed pages of dialogue, and reworked our studio setup to provide the best environment we could for our actors, while saving time in the booth. We’re now producing better dialogue faster, cheaper, and with less busy work. We’re also doing more of it, encouraging projects to fully voice their systems, and banish TTS to where it belongs.
On the video side, ffmpeg is magical, amazing, and can be incredibly fun when you have a 24 node render farm to run experiments with. I helped automate video post production for projects like “New Dimensions in Testimony” and its spin-offs, taking production time down from months per survivor to weeks.
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, dialogue management, IR tracking, and the occasional bullet. I was responsible for dialogue 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 applications around trauma resulting from 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 dialogue production on INOTS and related projects in 2013, including engineering the sessions and reworking earlier material to meet new production standards. I helped automate the video production pipeline, and also assumed responsibility for the system hardware, both in Los Angeles and at installed sites across the US.
“New Dimensions in Testimony” is an interactive history exhibit, where the public can ask questions of virtual representations of Holocaust survivors. Starting with several hundred hours of interviews shot in both 4K and 6K RED, NDT uses a heavily automated ffmpeg/Nuke pipeline to trim and comp the interviews, leaving the busy work to the computers wherever possible. I helped put together the ffmpeg pipeline and supporting Python scripts, and also developed the audio workflow, including setting standards and training and supervising the voice assistants who did most of the RX work. NPR
I’m currently working on a number of projects, producing new variants of the job interview practice system VITA, helping to project manage the ICT’s futures ideation platform, and producing an extension of NDT towards other historical narratives.