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Sound: What You Don't See

Sound: What You Don't See

Experience Imagination | Episode 4

Show Host: Abhinav Narain – Project Coordinator

Studio Guests: Rick Morris – Director of Sound, Jesse Allen – Editorial Director, Penka Kouneva – Composer, Mike Brassell – Composer

Listen to What You Don’t See on iTunes, Spotify, or GooglePlay

Sound Design in Themed Entertainment

From music and dialogue, to sound effects and ambiance, sound plays a critical role in the impact and emotion of an experience. On this episode, we turned our mics around on the sound experts of our studio, both of whom are usually working behind the scenes on the podcast! Falcon’s audio experts were also joined by renowned composers Penka Kouneva and Mike Brassell to discuss the particular power that music plays in the storytelling of themed entertainment experiences.

Special Credits:

Special thanks to Penka Kouneva and Mike Brassell for joining our discussion!

About the Show:

Experience Imagination is a themed entertainment podcast presented by Falcon’s Creative Group. Every episode covers a new topic discussion with a panel of creative professionals. Tune in and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or GooglePlay.

What You Don’t See Transcript:

Cecil Magpuri: You're listening to Experience Imagination, a themed entertainment design podcast presented by Falcon's Creative Group. Every episode, we discuss a new topic with a panel of creative professionals. Hi, I'm Cecil Magpuri, President and Chief Creative Officer of Falcon's.

Abhinav Narain: Hey everybody. This is Abhinav Narain, our moderator for the episode. Hey Cecil. How's it going?

Cecil Magpuri: Good. Good.

Abhinav Narain: Today on this audio podcast, we are talking about sound.

Cecil Magpuri: Oh, audio. That's great.

Abhinav Narain: Sound design in theme entertainment.

Cecil Magpuri: Excellent.

Abhinav Narain: Why is this topic important? Why is sound important?

Cecil Magpuri: If you don't have it, it's like one hand clapping. You need sound to clap. Our experiences can't survive without sound and music. It's a very important component to what we do.

Abhinav Narain: Absolutely. And who is joining us in this conversation?

Cecil Magpuri: Joining us today is Rick Morris, our Director of Sound.

Rick Morris: Hi. Good to be here.

Cecil Magpuri: And Director of Editorial, Jesse Allen.

Jesse Allen: How's it going today?

Cecil Magpuri: And two composers are also joining us, Penka Kouneva and Mike Brassell.

Abhinav Narain: Fantastic. The conversation's going to start with Jesse and Rick and then halfway through we'll be able to bring the composers in to share their thoughts and insight as well.

Cecil Magpuri: That sounds great.

Abhinav Narain: Alright, well we'll catch up with you at the end of the conversation.

Cecil Magpuri: Perfect.

Abhinav Narain: To start the conversation I wanted to ask, why is sound so important for immersion?

Rick Morris: Sound is one of those things that really brings out the emotion. I don't see how you can get emotion with anything without music, without sound effects, without, of course, dialogue. It makes a huge difference of how the story is told and the emotion that you can pull out of people with music, especially with music.

Abhinav Narain: Jesse?

Jesse Allen: I think it's totally a feel thing, it's hard to nail down. Most people only notice it if it's wrong, or if it's absent. Then they're like, "huh, it looks like Persia, but it doesn't ..."

Rick Morris: It doesn't feel like it.

Jesse Allen: Exactly.

Rick Morris: There's something to be said about the fact that sound, I think, is the only truly 360-degree experience, that's why they call it surround sound.

Jesse Allen: Absolutely, it's pretty amazing, actually, how your hearing can detect things behind you or above you with pretty good accuracy.

Rick Morris: Yeah, actually amazing accuracy. It's amazing because you only have six inches between your ears but the sound reaches one ear quicker than the other ear and just that fraction of a millisecond difference shows you which direction the sound is coming from. It's amazing how the ear is designed and the way it bounces off the little folds in the ear and that kind of thing, all tells you direction of something.

Abhinav Narain: Now how do you define a great audio experience in themed entertainment, specifically?

Rick Morris: When you first walk in a lot of times your first experience is going to be the sound. You see the signage and that kind of thing, but you walk in and in your first queue line you're getting the music, and you're getting the feel of that environment, and sometimes sound effects along with it just to set up what's about to happen. So it's a big part of storytelling, is with the sound, when you walk in you've got the music in the queue lines and you go into pre-shows and you have sound in every part of it that is setting you up for the big event. Then, of course, the big event has the big sound.

Abhinav Narain: What has changed in audio in the last ten to fifteen years? What new abilities do you now have?

Rick Morris: I would actually like to back up a few more years before that because when I did my first sound editing it was on tape, cutting tape with a razor blade. Now, look at what we have today from back then. I got pretty good at it and pretty fast, but what you can do with digital and workstations now is just unbelievable. And now with the plug-ins that do so many cleanups and you can save some audio that we never would have been able to save in the past. It's learning the new techniques, new filters.

Rick Morris: I think what I've learned since even coming out of film world and getting into the theme park world is a lot of new techniques of how to make a sound that's going to really work for a different environment than in a pristine theater. There are different frequencies that are going to cut through, certain frequencies aren't going to work at all and it's a different way to approach sound than with feature film.

Jesse Allen: You have to take into account the physical environment in which the sound is being delivered.

Rick Morris: Yeah, it's a huge thing to take into consideration.

Jesse Allen: Traditionally the role of a sound designer is you take great sounds and you kind of mix them together or stack together, kind of sculpt a greater sense of immersion for a scene or for an action or whatever. But if you think of the sound itself, the recording itself, it's kind of like a really good photograph. You're making a collage of photographs but they're still photographs, they're not moving, they're not a living entity. You're kind of putting together stuff that has already happened. We used to call that kind of dead sound because it's never going to evolve. I think the greatest difference is you started there and now we have the ability to do non-linear sample playback, which means you can start the sound with any point within the sound itself. There's all types of synthesis, granular synthesis, there's stuff that can reproduce natural sounds in real time, just like a game engine can reproduce graphics in real time.

Jesse Allen: So now we're kind of venturing off into the era of no longer are you looking at the photograph of the image, or whatever you want to talk about, a photograph of sound, but you're able to kind of play around in that world. So where that's taking us in the future is you can have the soundscape but it can be ever evolving, it can be ever changing. As people walk through they're not going to hear the exact same thing but it's going to feel in the same nature of what the original design was.

Abhinav Narain: That's great.

Abhinav Narain: Rick?

Rick Morris: That's a really great analogy with the photograph because, going in a little bit different direction, with a photograph, you take a photograph and with tools like Photoshop now you can make that photograph into anything you want it to be and at the end you don't recognize that photo at all. The same thing with sound, you take an original recording or an existing recording of something and you layer that, you take frequencies out, you cut it, and maybe even turn it backwards-

Jesse Allen: Apply filters, yeah.

Rick Morris: Yeah, filters, all kinds of stuff and it turns into something that is totally different than what it originally started at. And that's the really cool thing about sound design is you take something, but in your mind, it's like you know how this can end up and what it can be used for, and that little piece of sound is one layer of this really cool thing. And that's why the photograph thing is a great analogy.

Abhinav Narain: You two came to themed entertainment from very different branches of post-production audio. Rick, you've already talked a little bit about it, but can we establish what they were?

Rick Morris: Yeah, I came from a very heavy feature film background, television, and live sound. I actually started in live sound for many years and then discovered post-production and got into television syndicated TV at first, and then NYPD Blue and Law and Order and that kind of thing, and then moved on to feature films. So my background is really strong in a lot of feature films.

Jesse Allen: My background came from my interest in programming synthesizers and samplers in the late 80s, early 90s. I was really fascinated with it. I got an internship at a theater company and I was helping them do sounds for live productions. After that I got a job as a record mastering engineer, and of course, in the early 90s it was a bit techno scene so a lot of DJs would come in and get their albums cut. They found out I had these skills and I was programming their drum machines and samplers and doing remixes for them and cutting the records, and that got me enough to get into post-production where I did a lot of documentary sound. At that time I was doing noise removal and very complex processes for the era. Then I finally made a bigger jump into video game sound in the PlayStation 2 era, and I always thought of those machines as really amazing synthesizers and samplers, and stuck with that for 54 video games through three generations of game consoles.

Abhinav Narain: So how do these two different backgrounds merge? Is there a common ground between the two realms that you were able to latch onto immediately?

Rick Morris: Yeah, absolutely. Both of us were sound designers and coming from feature film, or gaming, you still have a lot of very common elements in both-

Jesse Allen: The language is still pretty much the same.

Rick Morris: Now one thing, I'm getting it now a lot more, and Jesse's helping a lot because he has such a strong game sound background and coming out of feature films it was a totally different approach to sound than I was used to. And as I get into it more and learn more about it, this is really fascinating, this is really cool. This can take us in a totally different direction than just traditional post-production sound can, or has been.

Rick Morris: And Jesse should talk more about that kind of thing.

Jesse Allen: Well, I think what's kind of neat about this is Rick has that great ear for the overall orchestration of everything. I, essentially, think of myself more like a conductor. He's like here's the vision, here's what this thing should ultimately sound like, how do we technically pull it off? And that's the joy that I have, I'll be happy to technically pull all those sounds together and make them move around the way you would like dynamically.

Abhinav Narain: What's an example of that different approach that you were finding so fascinating Rick?

Rick Morris: Actually, in one of our projects in Hulk Circumotion we did 24.4 surround, which is the biggest soundscape we've ever done.

Abhinav Narain: Real quick Rick, when we say 24.4, 24 is the number of speakers, what is the .4?

Rick Morris: .4 is the subwoofers, and when you have a 5.1 or a 7.1, the .1 is the subwoofer, the low frequency that just gives you that rumble.

Abhinav Narain: Okay.

Rick Morris: So but now when you start thinking about the way game sound is done, traditionally a lot of things are designed for headphones, but they, without using all those speakers, can get that same kind of feel where you have things going above your head and all around you, without having 24 speakers, it's in your headphones. Now we're starting to see where some of that is becoming possible without headphones, without using all these speakers. So that's what's getting fascinating to me, is being able to do 3D sound without having to have discrete speakers all around you. It takes a lot of time to pan and a lot of time to really design correctly, but having focused sound without all that, it basically fools your mind into thinking something's actually there, but it's the way the phasing works with the sound and that kind of thing.

Jesse Allen: Just to add on to that, in game sound you have emitters and listeners. You can tag an object that's moving around an environment with an emitter and it can circle the listener and you can have a real-time mix of that circling the room or whatever. So you don't have to manually do all your panning and mixing in the traditional fashion, a lot of that happens, my friend used to call it automagically.

Jesse Allen: Extra benefits of that are you get things like real-time doppler, and occlusion if it goes behind different objects, and you can have the reverb channels act that way. So that's getting into some of the really cool stuff. And also, just the future of how we go about mixing a production, like a 24.4 surround sound environment. You used to sit in there with a mixing console and try to visualize it all in 3D while looking at 2D reference. Now you're talking about there's mixing tools out there you can literally take a set of HTC Vive controllers and move them around in space and say that sound goes here and this sound goes here. That's a creative freedom that we couldn't have even imagined ten years ago.

Rick Morris: Yeah and what makes that exciting too, just going off of that, is because in my world when I have to spend so much time with one element that just pans all around and up above you, being able to attach sounds to an object and have it just move with it, without me having to do anything? That's an exciting idea, that even if we did have 24.4 with discrete speakers, it's attached, it just goes. When it goes farther away from you, the sound goes farther away-

Jesse Allen: It's built into it.

Rick Morris: When it comes toward you into your face it's right there too because that sound automatically changes with it. And so the concept of going into that kind of game sound philosophy is really exciting to me.

Abhinav Narain: What is the biggest challenge of sound in a themed environment?

Jesse Allen: I would say getting people to understand its value when you're pitching it. Sound is a really difficult thing to sell people on because it's not a visual thing. And when people lay out budgets for a project they try to think about what's the eye candy, what's the thing that visually appeals to somebody.

Rick Morris: It's easy to take the sound for granted.

Jesse Allen: Sound is enigmatic, it's a sense, but it's not something you can make look sexy on paper, it's something you have to experience and that's hard both on the trying to get the client to really buy into what a great sound design vision would be. Also, when you're talking themed environment, the acoustics that are required to make it sound really fantastic as well, and isolate it from other environments and deal with reflections and that kind of thing.

Rick Morris: Yeah, I would agree. Acoustics is one of the biggest challenges. When you're first building the building, it can be really inexpensive to add acoustics. Just the spray foam on the ceiling that can be done way ahead of time, very inexpensive. Then even what we've done recently is hang very inexpensive foam panels, like clouds, from the ceiling and that's worked really well. If you take care of the ceiling that takes care of probably at least 50% of your problem. So that has been probably the biggest challenge.

Rick Morris: And then you have noise floor. When you're in a studio or in a theater or when you're doing feature films or whatever, you're working in pristine environments. In theme park entertainment, you walk in and you have noise from mechanics, you have noise from HVAC, you have noise from the guests, then you have the bleed of sound from scene to scene that you have to deal with. Which I have found if you're just walking through and you're listening to the sound you really notice the bleed, but once you're actually on the ride, and I try to let the client know this, you're not going to notice it. Once you're in that scene and you're focused on that, it has to be a pretty big thing happening in another scene for it to really bleed across and make a big difference.

Abhinav Narain: So you've talked about feel, you talk about the emotion that sound can evoke, how does music play into that factor?

Rick Morris: Music is, I think, the most powerful thing to draw out emotion in people. If you look at a film, and when I look back at when I did a lot of sound design for feature film, the picture that I would get would only have dialogue. So the film was so dry, you get the story and everything, you get the potential of what it's going to be, and you start adding sound design to it, it's like yeah. But until you actually put the music on it, and the music changes everything.

Jesse Allen: Everything.

Rick Morris: You can turn an emotion around just with a really great composer, it's all about the power of the frequencies and what that does to you, mixed with the visuals. To me it's the most important part, even though I'm a sound designer, music is the most important part to any kind of film or any kind of theme park attraction. Music is going to drive what people feel.

Abhinav Narain: Absolutely.

Abhinav Narain: Jesse?

Jesse Allen: 100% what he said.

Abhinav Narain: At this point in the conversation we have the great opportunity to speak to one of the composers that we've worked with on Heroes and Legends at Kennedy Space Center. This is Penka Kouneva, Penka thanks so much for joining us.

Penka Kouneva: Hi, so very nice to meet you.

Abhinav Narain: First, let's go ahead and listen to a quick snippet of your work, Penka. This is music composed for the Heroes and Legends experience at the Kennedy Space Center right here in Florida.

Abhinav Narain: (plays music clip ~40 seconds)

Abhinav Narain: So to start, your work on the album The Woman Astronaut, led you to score Heroes and Legends at Kennedy Space Center. Can you tell us briefly about that journey?

Penka Kouneva: I group in Bulgaria, at the time it was a communist country behind the Iron Curtain and I always dreamed of leaving the country and emigrating. Space was always really special, so I created The Woman Astronaut as a very personal project to find my voice as a composer and also to flex my muscles in a genre which I hadn't done a job, which is kind of a sci-fi drama. It was purely a growth project for me to learn new skills, but because it's my own project it was going to be about something I felt really passionate, and that's what I came up with the idea of creating this fictitious narrative about The Woman Astronaut.

Abhinav Narain: Penka, Jesse once told me that while you two were working together you told him that more women have been in space than worked in your field. Is that true?

Penka Kouneva: It's about 1% of women who work as composers at the studio level for film, for video games, for commissions, for these big orchestras, it really is 1%. And at that point, I decided to write The Woman Astronaut. Besides my passions for the cosmos and technology and astronauts, and besides my passion for identifying with women who have these very unusual professions, I thought to myself I simply have to create this and shine light on the fact that 1% of women are composers at that high level, I'm talking about studio level. And 11% of the people who have flown in space are women, and that is a fact, it's statistics.

Abhinav Narain: Penka, we're talking about themed entertainment but you have been successful, both as a video game and a film composer. When you think about the nature of themed exhibits and environments, which skill set out of those two do you feel is more relevant?

Penka Kouneva: As a composer, my biggest challenge is to create music which is so emotionally riveting that it becomes part of the memory. It becomes part of the memory of watching a film or playing a game and certainly visiting a theme park. So the music not only creates the emotional backdrop but also makes us remember. And I so distinctly remember that one day visiting the Kennedy Space Center with my family and one thing that struck me is how musical that theme park is, in a sense that there's always music. On the bus tour, in the different exhibits, it's an amazing honor for my music to be part of that entire musical atmosphere.

Penka Kouneva: I would say being a cinematic composer, creating themes for characters, is what helped me. But also imagining myself in that situation and helping the audience be transported and feel the challenges and experience how it feels for your rocket to malfunction, or to lose power, or to lose control. Again, my job is to create that emotional backdrop so that people feel what they're watching.

Abhinav Narain: In this podcast that we just did we talk a little bit about kind of the future of audio technology and some of the stuff that came up there is we're talking about 360-degree positional sound, which kind of goes far beyond surround sound. As a composer, what would you like to see happen in the future with sound? What would be the thing that you would be like, "I can't wait 'til we're able to do this thing?"

Penka Kouneva: This is a really good question. As a composer my priorities are always to first, to write emotional, memorable music and second, to think about how this music can work together with the technology so that the experience is maximally powerful.

Penka Kouneva: I'm right now actually studying 3D audio because I do a lot of VR projects. Actually right now I'm in the middle of scoring a 360 video, as in VR, experiences and I think I'm really fascinated by height, how the music can be spatialized, and how the musical stems can be spatialized. Actually, I have another passion project I'm working on which is purely for my own growth and really understanding and wrapping my mind around the VR, it's essentially library music for VR potential future projects. But my goal would be to really compose with 3D sound in mind and positional sound in mind, which basically means I have to imagine how each instrument, or each vocal line, or each element of the music is going to be placed in terms of 360 and 3D space.

Penka Kouneva: So this is just something I'm thinking so I would say as a composer there's always two trains of thought. One is how to make the music emotional and immersive, and also stylistically truthful to the story. And also, in terms of technology, how it's going to be implemented, which stem is going to go up or down or behind you or left or right. So that's how I approach my composing, always keeping these two things in mind, the emotions and the technology.

Abhinav Narain: That's actually very fascinating, it's very exciting to think about how much more immersive music can be when it's fully 360 degrees around you. Penka, for the next generation of composers, especially women, what advice could you offer for getting into working in the themed entertainment industry?

Penka Kouneva: My advice always is follow your passion, try it out. If you have a real passion for composing, absolutely go for it. Be prepared to learn a lot, cultivate a lot of relationships because our whole career is based on so many circles of relationships.

Penka Kouneva: You need to have mentors, you need to have people who listen to your music and give you constructive criticism to grow as an artist, you need to have people that open the door for you and give you jobs. And they're not necessarily the same people. Sometimes one person's going to teach you, another person gives you a job, a third person opens a door for you and we have to have all these circles.

Penka Kouneva: Obviously our friends who help us with technology and learning, it's a very communal progress and the most important thing for an artist is to have all these communities. And that takes a lot of time to build and cultivate. So I would say communities, learning, passion, technological savvy- we have to be really technologically savvy, and then live life. Go see, go attend theme parks, go see movies, talk to people, experience life because from all these experiences comes a depth of passion and depth of knowledge that we, as artists, need so much in our work.

Abhinav Narain: Thank you so much, Penka. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Penka Kouneva: Thank you for the honor, it's a huge, great honor. You guys are awesome and I'm really happy that we did this.

Abhinav Narain: Our second special guest is Mike Brassell, he's worked with Falcon's on composing music for several different attractions. Mike, thanks so much for joining us today.

Mike Bissell: Hey, thanks so much for having me on, I really appreciate it.

Abhinav Narain: First, let's listen to a portion of your work, Mike. This is music composed for the 4D dark ride Avengers, Battle of Ultron at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai.

Abhinav Narain: (plays music clip ~40 seconds)

Abhinav Narain: So we have been talking about the power of music and its ability to draw out the emotion in an audience. When you begin a project, Mike, that needs to have an emotional effect, where do you even begin in the creation of this type of score?

Mike Bissell: For me, what's most important is to talk first, of course, with the director or the producer of the project to understand what the story is that's being told. That's very, very important, that way everyone gets grounded and directed and focused in the right direction.

Mike Bissell: Once you guys discuss the emotional weight and depth of what's supposed to be there or what the audience is supposed to feel, then you go away with that particular understanding, and you go and get your template ready. And your template from that point will be whatever it is your experience toolbox tells you to answer the call of whatever the emotion is for the scene or the scenes or the entire score.

Rick Morris: Just a side note, I remember working with you one time and before we even finished the meeting you said, "I already have a theme in my head for this." Is that the way things normally work with you?

Mike Bissell: Yes, actually. Music is always turned on, the recorder is always turned on in my head all the time. Rick, that's a great point that you make.

Mike Bissell: Yes, whenever I get the idea and I know that the idea is solid from the director in terms of the direction of the piece. Because to me, that's very important to understand because I want to be able to bring out the director's vision or the producer's vision or get the right musical idea for the project. And immediately my mind starts to think about where it's supposed to go, what it's supposed to do, and how it's supposed to sound.

Mike Bissell: So yes, that does happen quite a bit.

Abhinav Narain: When did you first realize that you had such a talent at composing music? And from there, what were your next steps, what did you do to advance?

Mike Bissell: Okay, for this question I want to answer it this way. I know how many, many people around the world when they grow up they have influences of this and that and some know what they want to do, and a lot don't. Well for me it happened when I was seven years old. To be very specific, I was being watched by my grandmother at her house. Just being a latchkey kid, I had four other brothers, we were all together. During the summers my parents worked 20 miles away from where we lived so we were watched by our grandmother. A great environment but it gave me a lot of time with her piano.

Mike Bissell: I was seven years old just playing the keyboard, really just tooling around, I didn't have much knowledge about anything except that I enjoyed spending time on the piano. And just a bolt of electricity hit me. I think at that point that music and I got hitched. I don't know how else to say that, but I knew that this thing was going to be in my life forever, in some form or another.

Mike Bissell: To answer your question, it was a long way around, but when someone would ask me if I could do something musically, the answer would always be yes. And philosophically I was never afraid to try my hand at it because it was something that I loved to do. As long as I kept getting, "Hey Mike, this is great," or "hey, let’s change this a bit," or "you know what, you're on the right track,' I felt like I could continue to do it. It gave me strength, it emboldened me, even from my very basic and humble beginnings, I should say. Not that I'm anything else besides that now.

Mike Bissell: I learned a whole lot in that process and I just never felt like I couldn't try something, even if I wasn't successful I was going to try to do it, including scoring films.

Rick Morris: Wow, that's really cool Mike because when you said that, whenever somebody asked you if you could do something you'd say yes, I was brought up the exact same way and with those exact words.

Mike Bissell: Oh yeah?

Rick Morris: If somebody asks you, "can you do this?" You say yes. And then you work out how to do it.

Rick Morris: So that's wild that you said that exact same thing, that's crazy.

Mike Bissell: It's true. And it doesn't mean that you're not panicked when you walk away going, "how do I do this?" Because you are all kinds of panicked, but you're going to try.

Rick Morris: Absolutely, but that's what advances you on into the next project because you end up succeeding.

Mike Bissell: Yes, and that's the hope. You make sure you have your toolbox at the ready, you know your tips and tricks and all the things you learned and you try to apply that to the next project and get even better.

Abhinav Narain: We've all had those moments where music can suddenly give us goosebumps. In your craft, in your experience have you found that there are certain instruments, or combinations of instruments, or frequencies that you find really create that feeling?

Mike Bissell: That's a great question, and yes, immediately. My influence was John Williams or is John Williams. He is absolutely tremendous, he's awesome. And not just at his skill and mastery of all the instruments, just with his phrasing, his melodic structure, his themes, they're absolutely beautiful to me and they've had the biggest impact on the way I do things as well.

Mike Bissell: And to that end, his use of French horns and cello have just been absolutely mind-blowing for me and have brought that emotional quality out to where that actually sits there for me as well when I use or hear French horns and a beautiful line written that's lyrical, expressive, I get those same goosebumps. Not only that but the way he writes his cello lines, just unbelievable. And of course his soaring violins. Honestly, this guy is a master, to me, at all sections of the orchestra. He can make them all do exactly what he wants to bring the emotion out. So he's a great example of how to do that, but for me, it's French horn, it's cello lines and I got to add in a children's choir. Alan Silvestri does that very well, the use of children's choir.

Mike Bissell: Some of these lines that these guys write are just absolutely astounding and breathtaking and gives me goosebumps all over the place.

Abhinav Narain: What has been your favorite or most satisfying score to work on?

Mike Bissell: The right answer is always the one that you just completed. That should be the right answer. But I got to be honest with you, I love IMG Worlds of Adventure Battle of Ultron. That is one of my favorites to have worked on. I'm a fantasy guy, I love Star Wars and all of that type of storytelling. And because of that, and because of John William's influence, I love that kind of score. So for me to touch all those worlds at once was just amazing. I just loved it, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Abhinav Narain: Last question I have for the next generation of composers, what advice would you offer for getting into working in the themed entertainment industry?

Mike Bissell: Okay, so for me my philosophy is very, very short, quick and to the point, I think. First of all, be bold. I think that's very, very important. They say fortune favors the bold but it's just like what Rick was talking about, to say yes is to open opportunities and doors that might have otherwise remained closed. Honestly, just be bold and take continuous action.

Mike Bissell: Another very important item for me for people- to encourage folks moving forward into this industry is to understand how to cultivate and maintain great relationships, that to me is key. As good as someone might be, or the opposite, vice versa, even if you're not that great, if someone really likes to work with you, you can always get better. But if they like to work with you, that will continue to help you out in the future.

Mike Bissell: And of course, the last thing for me is to never give up, never ever ever give up. You just got to continue persevering, I think that's very important also.

Abhinav Narain: Mike, thank you so much for joining us today.

Mike Bissell: Hey, I really appreciate being a guest on your show. Really, thank you guys so much, I always love talking about music, it's great, I'll do it anytime.

Abhinav Narain: Well we want to thank our two panelists today who also help us a lot with the podcast, Rick and Jesse. We also want to thank our two composer guests, Penka and Mike, great conversation with all four of them.

Cecil Magpuri: Unbelievable, inspiring.

Abhinav Narain: Yeah, absolutely.

Abhinav Narain: It really is true that sound is that thing that you really notice it when it's not there, or when it's done wrong.

Cecil Magpuri: Yeah, it was nice to hear Jesse kind of talk about you only get pinged if it's incorrect.

Abhinav Narain: Correct.

Cecil Magpuri: Talking about an environment like Arabian, visually, and if the sound isn't Arabic there's something wrong and that's when it's most obvious, something that you take for granted, I think.

Abhinav Narain: And to Rick's point about how it's the tiniest inconsistency that your ears are able to detect.

Cecil Magpuri: Yeah, that was unique information for me. I didn't realize- obviously I have two ears and I probably know the distance between my ears, but the fact that the milliseconds of delay helps inform you on what direction sound is coming from. You don't think about those metrics when you think about sound, it's just part of our every day, it's like breathing. Listening is part of what we do.

Abhinav Narain: It starts to become a conversation about the power of the human brain. All the geometry that you're doing in your mind when you're just trying to catch a football in the air. The same level of insane calculations are going on when you're listening to sound.

Cecil Magpuri: Exactly, and even that takes sound and visuals combined.

Abhinav Narain: Yeah, if they're slightly off in some way-

Cecil Magpuri: You get hit by a football and you break your nose.

Abhinav Narain: All immersion is shattered.

Cecil Magpuri: I don't know how I got to the Brady Bunch.

Cecil Magpuri: So one of the things that as I was listening to our panelists talk, the profound nature of what you do to do the sound properly, there's this traditional layers of design processes that are involved to create good sound and music and composition. Then there's the challenge of the physical venue that you have to deal with that's part of our wheelhouse.

Cecil Magpuri: But then in addition to that it's the dynamics of the mass groups that we're dealing with and the profound nature of the interactivity that comes into play and how do you introduce emotion when you're participating individually in certain things. There's so much happening now and maturing from what we had done in the past when things were baked. And now we have this other layer of interactivity.

Cecil Magpuri: The fact that our team has continued to look at new technologies from splicing with tape to using the newest tools. But to me it's like artist, you have to know the raw essence of what it is intended to use these tools. These tools are just tools, but the creative processes happen in the individual.

Abhinav Narain: Absolutely.

Abhinav Narain: To your point there's so many new things evolving in any given experience and in the industry as a whole, and with each new element- interactivity, VR, touch screen, new ride systems, new media technology, whatever- sound always has to be there and always is there and it needs to somehow seamlessly integrate into a completely new language and a completely new way of thinking without you knowing.

Cecil Magpuri: Exactly. All behind the scenes.

Abhinav Narain: All behind the scenes.

Cecil Magpuri: But the amount of effort and intelligence that's involved to introduce that in the proper way, it's profound.

Cecil Magpuri: So very exciting times.

Abhinav Narain: Absolutely.

Abhinav Narain: Alright, well we'll see you next episode.

Cecil Magpuri: Sounds good.

Cecil Magpuri: This has been experienced imagination. For more information about this episode's discussion, be sure to visit our blog at FalconsCreativeGroup.com. And don't forget to follow Falcon's Creative Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cecil Magpuri: We'll see you next time, thanks.

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