Mike Russell: Hi, I'm Mike Russell from Music Radio Creative. Welcome to the Adobe Audition Podcast were I'm interviewing power users of Adobe Audition. We'll reminisce back to Cool Edit Pro and take you right up to date with Adobe Audition CC. If you'd like to learn about audio production – everything from vocal effects to radio imaging, commercial production to music mixing – join my next audio production course at mrc dot fm slash learn. That's mrc dot fm slash l e a r n, learn.
Mike Russell: My guest on this show is Jessie Holt. Now Jessie is an audio designer and composer. He's got over 18 years of video game audio content creation experience under his belt working in genre such as video games, spatial audio, casino audio as well. He's also the senior audio designer at Presence Labs that's a virtual reality startup. Can't wait to chat with Jesse about virtual reality, augmented reality, and I understand the new thing is real reality which is really scaring me. He's located in the wonderful Seattle, Washington, USA. Jesse, it's fantastic to have you on the show. So Jessie, tell me how are you using Adobe Audition in your work.
Jesse Holt: I use it in a wide variety of ways primarily. I mean it really depends on what facet or what stage of audio creation I'm in. And if it's, if if it's like I'm in the beginning stages of like working on ambient sounds I'll go through sound effects libraries and I'll use you know I'll browse through audio files and then I will start piecing together a large you know nice collection of you know things that I think would be the basis for a good audio suite of sounds. And then I start going through and I started manipulating and editing and using all the really cool features inside of Audition and then you know there are other times where I really have used it since it was Cool Edit and I actually bought it when it was Cool Edit. I've used it to take off vocals out of, out of I've worked on music games where you know I'm trying to take out the vocals of, of, of karaoke mixes and Adobe Audition does a really great job of pulling out the vocals of tracks and then I would just kind of like sweeten some of the musical tracks and do stuff like that, so it's good for that. It's you know it's really great for batching I use it. Yeah basically batch everything in and markers are really great. Yeah I mean I really do, I use it everyday. My audio you know of an audio day.
Mike Russell: So it sounds like you have a lot of experience under your belt with not only Adobe Audition going back to CS6, CS5.5, Adobe Audition 3.0, Adobe Audition 1.5, Cool Edit Pro 2, Cool Edit Pro. And wasn't it amazing when multi-track editing was a thing?
Jesse Holt: Yes it was. It's it's pretty it's pretty great for creating sound effects because you know like if you go into your DAW and you're using you know you know synth plugins and you're just you know just basically you know in the process of creating sound effects say specifically for casino audio. I'm just I'm just really you know like focused and I just start you know working in a certain key and you know working with you know different voicings and things like that, different sounds from you know software synthesizers and I'll just start exporting just hundreds of hundreds of sounds and then I take a lot of those sound effects and I will take them into the multi-tracking portion of Audition. And that's where things really start getting interesting so that you can like you know create various multiple iterations of you know something that you like say you know like a like a success sound. You know it needs to have some it needs to have some bottom and it needs to have some middle, it needs some sheen and maybe it needs to have some surround depth and that sort of thing. So in the multi-tracking section of, of Audition, it's really easy and effortless to do those things.
Mike Russell: No absolutely it is. Yeah to analyze the different frequencies. Even I guess a little bit of tone generation and things like that. Are there certain frequencies or notes you can play that bring a feeling of feeling good or you know evoke different emotions in people?
Jesse Holt: Well certainly if we're talking about casino audio like everything is basically in the key of C. It's really interesting because a lot of the you know the people that are in charge of some of the casino games that I've work and you're making the decisions they don't want to steer away from from that norm. Also as in casino games you never want to underscore or bring attention to a loss. And so even even when someone loses money it's a happy sound.
Mike Russell: Oh
Jesse Holt: I know, I know.
Mike Russell: Really really cool stuff and it seems like your portfolio of work is so varied. Like for instance virtual reality and spatial audio. Just before I get onto the next questions about projects you've been working on, I'm just curious what what kind of best practices were there when working say for instance with VR? The audio that's going to be around your head right, 360 degrees?
Jesse Holt: You know it's it's it's interesting because it's I really as soon as I got a taste for of VR and back in 2015 like I was really I was really sunk and like it it hit me really really hard and I was like I gotta get into this. And so I started a an audio meetup group here in Seattle. And and on Facebook and you know really got into it and it was almost kind of kind of saddening that you know what the app that I was currently that was working on back then in 2015 was an app called Groover which was a music visualizer. Basically you you you. You're able to play SoundCloud and Spotify music streaming into our musical you know your music visualizer and you're able to fly over you know purple liquid you know Martian mountains and go through molten lava you know canyons and all sorts of really really cool stuff. And I was because because it was so intense on the processor we couldn't really do too much specializing of audio. It was really a disappointment. But over the course of the last year we've kind of switched and we still have GrooVR but we're also doing. Some VR casino work. And that's where I started been able to get into spatializing audio and that's been just just about the last year and a half or so and it's been super duper fun. It totally has changed the way that I design audio because all of a sudden you can have that connection with the visual and the connection with the with the aural you know moving around in 3D and you're looking around from left to right and up and down and whatnot. It changed the way that I do audio and I forget your question but I love it.
Mike Russell: Yeah no definitely. I'm loving it too. I'm just I'm eating up everything you're saying. So related to working with virtual reality audio so GrooVR the app Groove with Us. That's your gig that's your creation?
Jesse Holt: That's that's what Presence Labs, that was our first virtual reality app, yeah.
Mike Russell: Because I have used that app. I just wanted to double check. I had a quick Google of it while you were talking and I've used that on my Samsung Galaxy Gear VR headset and it is mind-blowing. So I remember going into the electric world and the transcendence world and you can you can integrate it with Spotify and it kind of pulses and moves to the beat of the music. It's amazing.
Jesse Holt: It's insane. It's still it's still one of the most downloaded apps from the Oculus store at this still at this point
Mike Russell: I love that. I just find that if you get into it you can actually spend too much time listening to music in that way and think oh where is reality.
Jesse Holt: That was that was that was a really really fun gig too because not only did I get to create sounds you know sounds for you know some of the drones that are flying around then and there's we have this other scene called dancer and I you know put sounds on her feet and there is another one called Nightrider which which was sort of like trani comic book kind of thing. It was it was really great to to be able to create all the audio content for that. But it was also really cool. I also put together all of the playlists for for for those so as soon as you went in there if you didn't want to you know hook up your own music or you didn't want to go to Spotify they would just automatically play the the the playlist that I had created in Soundcloud. So that was that was fun too fun to do as well.
Mike Russell: Yeah Groover which you can access at G-R-O-O-V-R dot com. It is a free app to download. I believe you if you pay a small fee you can you unlock some new wells and after talking to you I think I'm going to do that.
Jesse Holt: Thank you. Well I
Mike Russell: It's
Jesse Holt: Will.
Mike Russell: Really
Jesse Holt: I love
Mike Russell: Really
Jesse Holt: That
Mike Russell: Good.
Jesse Holt: App.
Mike Russell: So let's let's talk a bit more about the audio experience and advice you've received over the years over the years you know gaining knowledge in so many different fields. What would you say is the best advice you ever got?
Jesse Holt: I think the best audio advice that I that I ever got was probably from my mentor a guy named Glenn Lorbecki who he was used to because I went to the University of Washington, at an audio production course back in the late 90s. He would always tell us to trust your ears and use your eyes. I think that's what it was. You trust your ears and use your eyes, use your meters like watch your meters. I think that's probably the reason you like some of the best soft, you know some of the best advice that I've that I've gotten but I've I've also you know had some really great discussions with some really really smart people and like I'm always trying to absorb as much as much as I possibly can because you can never learn too much. You know as as as an audio designer or composer. You just can't
Mike Russell: Very good advice. So trust your ears and also yeah keep on learning, keep on listening, and learning from those who are I guess either have more more knowledge in certain areas or a way you want to be in the same place. I absolutely love it. So you have. We've already covered some of the what you've done with casino audio virtual reality. I'm really curious out of all the projects you've worked on. What would be the most challenging one for you and why would that be?
Jesse Holt: Yeah I would say that probably one of the most challenging was not related to games and not related to VR. It was a, it was a short film that I scored and the director really loved the piece of music that he heard that I had composed as this piece of music called Slow and he wanted me to actually score the whole movie based on the 10 minutes of this short. He wanted me to score based off of this music that I wrote which was basically this really slow dreamy dream pop pop kind of kind of track and, and I didn't know what I was doing but I like really dove in headfirst. I had basically about three weeks to you know get up to speed and go OK well I know how to do this in games and I know how to do this in you know you know on these devices and I know how to work this software but I've never done anything like like scoring a short film before. And so it was a lot of woodshedding and a lot of trial and error and trusting my my my instincts on that to try and you know to try and make it happen. When you're trying something new and you're not sure about it especially you know like if if it's sort of like something that you do like film composing and game composing they have common threads but they're definitely different beasts. And so I at least to me. And so I really had to. That was a big challenge for me. But other than that starting out in the casino industry was really really a big challenge for me as well because there are so many moving components for in casino games and they all need sounds and they all need to be unique to some extent. They all have to give information they all have to work together and sometimes not work together and you have to know the difference and when it's appropriate for something not to work for something to be you know dissonant. But but but these days you know things seem to be pretty good.
Mike Russell: So yeah listening to you talking about getting outside of your bubble working on a film scoring which was something you weren't so familiar with to gosh the intricacies of creating audio for casinos and casino games online. I mean that sounds amazing. Can you just expand a little bit on what it is where when you say everything needs a sound? What do you mean by that do you mean when I know I'm just putting an example from my head like you're playing a slot machine, every single part of that machine needs some kind of sound? How would that work?
Mike Russell: Back to the interview in a moment but if you want to win my perfect audio creator set up head over to MRC dot FM slash win.
Jesse Holt: To my mind yes everything everything really needs a sound because there are a lot of there are a lot of moving parts there are a lot of visuals going on and you know a lot of a lot of a lot of game developers you know they're taking something that like an IP that exists on the floor and you know they're trying to create a casino experience they want you know they want all the bells and whistles and I mean that you know seriously anticipation sounds are like those are money. Like people really get into those anticipation sounds because they know they're going to get a prize at the end of it. So you have to put a lot of you know you have to put a lot of thought into to making that exciting. And yet working with you know the audio theme, the aural theme of the game, working with the music, working with slots stop sounds, working with real spins sounds, not necessarily working with the buttons and all the UI stuff and those sorts of things but all that stuff has a sound, the slot stops, the real the real spins. The special bonus cymbals you know the majors and they all have sounds and so they all have to they all have to work together and this is actually going back to multi-tracking on Audition.
Jesse Holt: One of the things that I that I have done in casual games and I have used this technique in casino games as well is I will take like the three aspects of game audio and I will you know kind of like you know section them off like well have three tracks, three stereo tracks in Audition. The top track is all my UI stuff and then I could have more but typically I would do it three tracks. Top track is all UI sound so I know that the UI sounds are going to stand out and you know some some sound effects go between UI and in-game. So then the second layer is in-game and then the third layer is music and there could be a fourth layer which could be ambient which could be you know just like a wind or could be you know some sort of casino ambient. But I will I will use I will use Audition to go through and make sure that all those different layers are def, have discrete sound levels, like and I really don't mean this as a level as in like you know 2 dB or 3 dB like but just sort of like here's the bass and here's the next one and here's the next one so so that when I export all that audio once it's once once it's done that I throw it in it's implemented and it all just I do the balancing there in multi-track as opposed to testing, playing you know playing an audio file, going playing the game, saying ah still haven't. I do it, I do it all in an Audition.
Mike Russell: So yeah a lot of moving parts there but it sounds like a really exciting project to be working on. So let's look toward the future. What are those cool projects or cool ideas you'd like to get involved? Perhaps something you haven't even told anyone about yet?
Jesse Holt: I was thinking about this question I really like to do remixes a lot. So I would like to do a remix like I've done quite a few bootlegs probably 30 or 40 bootlegs and I'd like to bootleg for someone really really famous like. And not just find their vocal and do a remix of it and then release it on my surname my secret secret username but I actually do a proper remix. I like to do a proper remix for somebody.
Mike Russell: Obviously we've looked to the challenging projects you've worked so we've looked at your future hopes as well and got a really good insight into what you've been working on, casino audio,the VR projects, the GrooVR which is amazing. But tell me now because I think for most people this fascination with audio starts somewhere in your childhood. What is that one memory around audio for you that makes you smile and possibly started you on this path, Jesse?
Jesse Holt: I totally know exactly what it was. My grandparents had a reel to reel player and they got a new one and they gave my dad the old one and he didn't want it so I started messing around with it and it had this thing called Sound on Sound and basically you could overdub with this sound on sound feature and it also had this other this other feature where I think it probably wasn't necessarily a feature of the of the reel to reel but it was it was probably just FUBAR or something and it made delay like tape delay. And so like I was like 14 and my brother had just started playing drums and I had just started playing guitar and I bought a mic and I would use that reel to reel to sit there and overdub. It was pretty bad. Like the generation started getting really bad after 2. But I would sit there and you know like start making.
Jesse Holt: I would start writing songs back then and just I used to, I don't know what whatever happened to those tapes but I made a lot of them and I would just sit there and like try and figure out OK like how do I I need to get a bass, where am I gonna get bass like how do I trick my parents into buying me a bass. How do I get like a keyboard. How do I get you know how do I get a better amp. So it was it was really it was that reel to reel that my grandparents gave my dad who I inherited that really changed everything that I was like wow you do this with sound. And I wasn't a particularly outgoing kid by any stretch of the imagination. So this was perfect for me to you know dive into you know messing around with audio that way. And it's interesting too because I know a lot of I have friends now who are very anti digital and they only listen to music on cassettes and vinyl or reel to reel. It's really it's really strange because the they're really really into it and they're very serious about it. I have one friend who's got a big huge wall of cassette tapes and he just text me a photo last night of a residence CD cassette that he just got. He's like so excited for this residence tape that I'm just like how do you know what this all this about. But yeah that's that's the answer to the question this is is that the first Reel to reel.
Mike Russell: That makes perfect sense and I bet the moment you were recording yourself and able to play yourself back was a mind-blowing moment for you. And it's always those yeah those analog pieces of kit like you say and also it is true that you know there are those who will argue forever that nothing will ever replace analog. And I guess it's possibly true in some cases right. And I'm really interested to get your take and and also find out what gear what resources you are using to create audio. But before we do that let's let's get stuck into maybe a few features and workflows that you like and you use regularly inside Adobe Audition as we, we celebrate the 25th birthday of this software so I know it's really difficult. There are so many good parts of Adobe Audition but if you had to pick one favorite feature for you Jesse what would it be?
Jesse Holt: My favorite feature quite honestly is is that squiggly pitch bender.
Mike Russell: Oh yeah. Wow.
Jesse Holt: I know. I really like that thing. There's so many things you can do with it. And when it comes to like taking I mean you know when you're when you when you making sound effects like you know there are a lot of things that you can do in terms of synthesis. And there are a lot of things that you can do with oscillators and LFOs and you know and you know all that stuff and really getting in and programming stuff but sometimes sometimes it's just about like experimenting with with freaky stuff. And I would say I would say another, another one of my favorite features is probably the convolution reverb. I really, I mean that thing is really important in terms of of you know going in and combining harmonics one sound with the with another sound and just really getting in and experimenting and seeing what you get because you just never know when it could be really cool and sometimes it's really great. And then other times it's like okay I'll just put that over to the side. But then you know you find a use for it a lot of times if I'm recording if I'm actually making music with friends or for myself I will I've set up I've set up shortcuts for myself instead of letting compressors do all the stuff or a noise you know a noise gate to do all the work. Sometimes I will go in and I've created, I've created my own curve so I will go in and sometimes clean up vocals and I will I will take the breaths down using this special I call it a spacer which I just go in and I manually go in and I take take out some of the breaths and just do it that way. So I mean I do weird things like that.
Mike Russell: So some really really good features and use cases there inside Audition. I'm curious to get your take on obviously amazing work flows and timesaving shortcuts. But in particular how would one go about editing virtual reality audio or is it even possible in Audition? What's your take on that?
Jesse Holt: I do know it's possible I haven't messed around with it all that much. I usually do all my stuff in, I use, I use a program called Unity. So I do all of my specializing using plugins within Unity and you know just sometimes messing around with mono files you know taking mono files or take stereo files and creating a mono file solution out of them and then putting them in Unity. But most of the most of the spatializing is that I've done is using Unity 3D.
Mike Russell: Well that's brilliant. So we've had a really good insight into your use of Adobe Audition and some of your favorite features. What about when you're creating audio what are your go to resources and, and pieces of gear in particular if you have any favorite mics or in particular I don't know do you use Ambisonic mics in your work? What would you recommend?
Jesse Holt: I do. I do have I do have a binaural mic which is like basically these two ears and I messed around with it quite a bit but I haven't really had much really much of a use for it at this at this point. As far as gear goes like I haven't I have a Moog Sub 37 which I basically use for a lot of things I use that thing, just about on every everything that I that I create because it's really flexible, it's really really fun to twist twist knobs again. I also use there's this other there's this other app that I just discovered about 4 months ago. It's a plugin and it's called MIDI guitar 2 and you plug it into an audio track and you mute the audio track and then underneath that you put you create a you create a you know software track and then you plug this mini guitar 2 into it and basically turn your guitar into a mini synthesizer and the tracking is pretty good. I use that quite a bit too because sometimes the way that I compose on a on a guitar is much different than how I compose on a on a piano or a synthesizer.
Mike Russell: So a mix there of yeah apps and Sub 37 which I'm looking at now that that's one piece of kit. It looks looks really good.
Jesse Holt: Yeah it's super amazing.
Mike Russell: So well this has been a fantastic chat and it's been great to get an insight into your world Jesse in particular. You know the Virtual Reality Creation, the casino audio which is amazing and I'm sure many are listening to the show right now and they're probably at the very start of their path they're thinking this is an industry that they want to get into. Perhaps they're interested in pursuing a career in audio in some way whether that's working for a company maybe setting up their own company or just going out and being an online creator creating audio using Audition. So they're they're young they're aspiring they want to get into the industry. I'm curious what your advice would be to someone like that listening right now.
Jesse Holt: My advice to that person who is listening right now who wants to get into either the games industry or postproduction or or you know V.R. or A.R., spatialized audio whatever whatever the case may be is to network. To discover the ability that each of us has to go out and network and find like-minded people and start communicating with them and and start building relationships because this business is you know it's a lot about it really is about about who you know it's about your abilities of course but it's also about who you know and and and your ability to communicate with them. I mean one of the things that that's really important about the games industry is that especially when you when you're working in a startup you're working with a wide variety of people. You're working with developers working with animators and working with artists you're working with program managers you could be even working closely with the CEO. You could be working with the CFO you could be working with you know backend developers. I mean there's a wide variety of people that you have to talk to. And so communication is really really really super important. And then the other portion of that which is not about communication and networking. I would say would be to pick apart and pull apart every piece of music and audio that you find intriguing or compelling or even something that you dislike. Figure out why you why you don't like it. Forget why you don't like it and how you could probably possibly improve it but definitely pull apart. Listen to as much music as possible try and figure out how it was composed, how it was put together, how it was produced, how it was mastered. Try to figure these things out and ask questions all the time and trust your instincts and be vulnerable.
Mike Russell: Wow powerful I like that. So networking. Pulling apart audio and understanding how it's created. Always learning, asking questions and you have very powerful one to finish with. Be vulnerable. I love it. Jessie this is this has been an amazing chat and I'm sure lots of people listening will want to check you out online maybe download the GrooVR app if they've got a Gear VR or I believe is also on Daydream and Rift, is it available anywhere else?
Jesse Holt: It is. You're very correct.
Mike Russell: All over the place I am reading it from your website. But yeah no I absolutely I cannot recommend that app enough particularly if you have a fascination with listening to music and being able to see visualizations along with it that sort of sync up to the beat of the track or whatever kind of magic you've done to make that app is is amazing but maybe people want to find you online in particular. Where's the place you direct them to for that?
Jesse Holt: I I I sort of got rid of my social media stuff earlier this year. So the only place to find me is on Twitter which my Twitter handle is Je55ieH0lt and the s's are fives and the O is a zero so it's Jessie Holt it's J E 5 5 e h 0 LT.
Mike Russell: Nice very very hackaresque. Je55eH0lt with the s's fives and the O is a zero correct?
Jesse Holt: That's correct.
Mike Russell: Brilliant. Jessie really appreciate it. Thank you for coming on the show.
Jesse Holt: Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it. I had a really great time.
Mike Russell: That concludes this episode. Would you like an extra chance to win the Awesome Audio Gear Giveaway? Hit subscribe and review this podcast. Then email the details to podcast at MRC dot fm for an extra entry into the Awesome Audio Gear Giveaway. Good luck.
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