Audio Engineer Delvinder Singh talks Audio production for Film, Games, and chatting with Michael Bay

Transcripts May 13, 2020

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Delvinder Singh.

Del is the resident audio engineer at Maveriq studios with a wide variety of experiences under his belt. He assisted in the recording of different projects and films from Transformers: The Last Knight, Folklore by HBO, to The Ghost Bride on Netflix.

Music-wise he’s experienced as well, assisting in the recording of Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 collaborations project during his tour in KL. I was interested in Del’s story because I wanted to know more about the principles of audio engineering, especially as someone who is doing podcasts right now.

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Transcript

Norman Chella: [00:00:00] Delvinder Singh is the Maverick, the audio engineer, and the designer of atmospheric sounds. He is the AntiFool.

Welcome to the AntiFool podcast. This is where we deconstruct the wisdom of people from all fields, backgrounds, and walks of life. My role is simple. I play the fool, I ask the questions and you get the answers.

Our guest is the AntiFool, the source of wisdom, who we will learn from today. I’m on a mission to create the antidote to foolishness so we can understand the world and ourselves better. Wonderful stuff, right? So shall we.

Hello there, King fool Norm here, welcome to the show. I want to talk to you about the exact thing that you are listening to right now, not just this podcast or this episode or the sound of my voice, but audio in general.

Throughout our times living through society and living our lives, we can’t help but listen to a wide variety of things from the subtle creaking of doors to explosions from film and even small pieces of glass crushing or the sounds of wild animals, but there is a profession that focuses on creating a narrative using these very sounds, and they are called audio engineers.

We have one right here right now. Delvinder Singh is the resident audio engineer at Maverick studios with a wide variety of experiences under his belt. He has recorded many different kinds of projects and films. Let’s list some of them Transformers, The Last Knight. Folklore by HBO. The Ghost Bride on Netflix.

And even music albums such as Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 collaborations project during his tour in KL and even recording songs for 88 with notable Asian American artists. I was interested in Del’s story because I wanted to know more about the principles of audio engineering, especially as someone who is doing podcasts right now. Dell shares much more on this on a deeper level.

In this episode we talked about his origin story. How did he dive into the world of audio engineering, his favorite sounds, his favorite types of mediums, the principles of audio engineering. How do you design sounds or commercials, films, TV series, and the differences between them.

What sounds we take for granted, how he got into a call with Michael Bay for Transformers and much more. We went through the broad spectrum of audio engineering in this talk. So I hope that you will enjoy the wonders of the audio world. So let’s play the fool and learn from the wise by diving into my chat with Delvinder Singh of Maveriq studios.

Mr Delvinder Singh, how are you? Welcome to the show.

Delvinder Singh: [00:02:59] Hey, Norm thanks. I’m good. Thank you. Yeah, I really liked the show. I listened to a few episodes before.

Norman Chella: [00:03:08] Thank you and thank you for listening. That’s pretty awesome.

Delvinder Singh: [00:03:10] Cause one of my friends. She brought up your show and she told me about your show.

That’s how I got to know your podcast.

Norman Chella: [00:03:21] Awesome. Awesome. Hey, we’re talking about Podlovers, right?

Delvinder Singh: [00:03:24] Yeah. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:03:24] Okay. Awesome. Okay, so for our listeners here, I do another show called Podlovers Asia. I talk about Asian podcasting there, so shout out to your friend for sharing that with you.

We can get you right onto Antifool because I do want to focus on the fact that you are an experienced audio engineer, but before we dive into that, there is a Delvinder, audio engineer, and there is a Delvinder before audio engineer. Could you share a little bit about your origin story? How did you dive into the world of audio engineering? Designing sounds for movies, film, and much more.

Delvinder Singh: [00:04:06] I started actually when I was about 16 because I moved to high school.

When I was 15 then I moved to another high school at 16 and most of my classmates when they were 16. Uh, they really liked a lot of local bands, and then they always play, play the songs in class, or we’ll start singing. Then I always felt, uh, left out sometimes because I don’t know what they were singing.

So I started to ask a lot of my friends like, Hey man, what’s this band? What did they do? Who are they from? You know? Then from there, I sort of picked up all the local, a lot of local bands. I actually bought a lot of CDs when I was young from all the local artists here, like Bittersweet and everyone, and then, yeah, that’s how it started.

Then. As soon as I finished high school, I enrolled in a SAE, school of audio engineering. Actually, they have a campus here, in KL. They have a campus as well, almost in every country. So after I did my diploma locally, I went to SAE in Perth and I finished my degree there and I graduated in 2015.

Norman Chella: [00:05:12] Nice.

Nice. And wait, let’s, let’s, let’s dive into that for a bit. So you, well, you discovered more local bands around you. You bought their CDs, you were listening to them, and you well, you connected more with your friends about these bands. Yeah. There’s different ways to, shall we say, appreciate these bands, right?

So some would actually try to do covers of them on guitar, et cetera, et cetera. But. You specifically chose, I don’t want to say the back end, but you want to focus on the engineering of these bands, like the mastering. So why, why did you choose that instead of like being a guitarist or something?

Delvinder Singh: [00:05:46] Oh, I forgot to mention one key part, yeah, when I bought the, uh.

The CDs, they always come with a booklet, which always has like a story to it in us. So I used to flip the booklet around and uh, when I, when I saw all the credits I saw like mixing engineer, recording engineer mastered by, I was quite curious what that all meant cause I didn’t know there was a career behind like engineering and stuff for music.

So I went to the local library in my school and they have a section, a small section, like three books literally, about audio engineering. When I started reading about it in the school library actually, and then that’s how I knew. Since at that time I couldn’t play any instrument. Now I can a bit, but yeah, it was more into engineering, like a lot of things clicked.

When I read the book, it talked a lot about like post production for movies, for games, for everything, but it focused on music a lot and yeah, my mindset taking when I, when I read that book, this is a simple book, like I think it was only 20 pages or something, but has a lot of good info in it. Yeah,

Norman Chella: [00:06:48] I liked that.

How it’s only 20 pages, but it was enough to make you start a career. Right? Like just, can you imagine like 20 pages of words was enough to tell someone, Hey, I’m going to do this as soon as I graduated from high school. So did you have a favorite band, like a favorite local band at the time?

Delvinder Singh: [00:07:03] Yeah, I had to. I really liked to Bungface and yeah.

Going

Norman Chella: [00:07:08] to have to write this down. I don’t know. Local bands, so it is already quite well. Can you spell Bunkface for me

Delvinder Singh: [00:07:14] and K? K FEC is one word.

Norman Chella: [00:07:18] Bunk face.

Delvinder Singh: [00:07:19] Okay. And my favorite is actually bittersweet. All right.

Norman Chella: [00:07:22] Okay. Of course, links to these bands will be in the show notes for this episode. So for whoever, whoever’s listening across the world, who wants to listen to some amazing Malaysian music, what genres are these, by the way?

Delvinder Singh: [00:07:36] indie rock.

Norman Chella: [00:07:37] Awesome. So local Malaysian, indie rock bands, given to you by Del of course. And you went through to SAE, a school of audio engineering. You graduated in 2015 congrats, by the way, although it’s two years ago. Congrats. And now you’re diving into the world of designing sounds for all kinds of mediums.

We can, we can dive a little bit into the graduation part of it, cause there’s something I want to ask, but do you have a favorite sound?

Delvinder Singh: [00:08:04] Favorite sound? Yes, definitely. Yeah. Top three would be Megatron’s gun. Yeah, that’s a really cool sound. Second would be, cause I like to play games sometimes. So I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars Battlefront lately, and there’s one character in it called Phasma.

If you watch star Wars, the shiny Chrome looking Startrooper, Stormtrooper, sorry, her gun sound is really cool. Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. So yeah, this top two, I would say not top three. That two sounds. I really like scifi sounds a lot now than organic sounds.

Norman Chella: [00:08:44] Interesting. Interesting. Why?

Delvinder Singh: [00:08:45] Because with Scifi sounds, you can make it sound however you want.

Organic, it’s kind of like what’s in the picture already. So you can’t run away much.

Norman Chella: [00:08:56] Okay. So much more freedom to design, especially because, well, it’s half of it is fiction. Right? And the second is science. So you can interpret science in many different ways. Oh, okay. That’s, that’s a really interesting way of looking at it.

So what’s the first ever scifi sound you ever. Produced like created?

Delvinder Singh: [00:09:14] We had one assignment where we had to go out in the streets and record as much sound as we can and we only had one hour, like our lectures showed us a clip was actually from Prometheus. Was this 30 second clip, and then we had to watch that clip and then quickly go out and record sounds in the city and then come back with those sounds and then process it any way we can.

So I use like a lot of sounds to make like, uh, one of the carrier troop carrier vehicles. Like a car or something. Yeah. I use like a bike sound. The chain sound. So many other sounds.  I really liked it even though it took me like three days to do it, but it came out really, really good at it. Took a long time.

Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:09:56] I would actually want to hear it. Later on. That would be pretty cool because I think it’d be pretty awesome to design sounds for like a fictional vehicle. I’m sort of like a scifi nerd myself, so I’m like, ooh, that’s pretty interesting.

And great segway, since you were talking about the process and trying to engineer audio for like a piece or a film.

So let’s dive into the topic of engineering audio because it’s quite broad, at least from what I’ve read. Uh, so I would love for you to talk more about it. So I’m going to play the fool and ask so you have to talk to me like I’m an idiot. What does an audio engineer actually do?

Delvinder Singh: [00:10:32] There’s three aspects to engineering for me.

There’s the recording side, which is in the studio for music. And then the second one, which is postproduction, like when you work on something, anything to do with visuals. And then the third one is broadcasting. Engineering, I mean audio engineering for broadcasting where you broadcast live events like concerts or sports events.

Yeah. Those, those three events, I mean, each field is something different. The studio I’m working at, which is a Maveriq studios, we do mostly everything, recording and post production.

Norman Chella: [00:11:05] And let’s, let’s focus on those two then. What are the different aspects of recording, and maybe the best way to do this is probably to use an example.

Say I am a singer and I want to record an album. I mean, I, I guess, I guess that’s how you say it, and I got to Maveriq and I’m like, Hey Del, I want to record an album. What’s the process? Can you talk me through it?

Delvinder Singh: [00:11:25] Yeah. Okay. So the first process is if you skip all the paperwork and all straight to it, it’s like we’ll meet up, we have. For sure, we’ll meet up with a producer first, he’ll help you talk to you and discuss the video. What’s your idea for the album? Or maybe you play a few reference tracks of how you want your album to sound like. And then from there you work on one song with the producer really, really closely, and then maybe the producer will do like a melody guide of how the song should go.

It’s like a vocal melody, and then you sit down with the producer and then you come up with the words and blah, blah, blah. And then finally you come into the studio where you’ll meet an engineer where you’ll actually record a song with the producer beside you, and then you’re basically just assisting the producer to capture the performance of the singer.

Norman Chella: [00:12:14] I see. I see. Yeah, you work with the producer to try to help capture what’s articulated by the decisions made between the producer and artist.

Delvinder Singh: [00:12:25] But sometimes, right now there’s so much of a crosstalk, meaning the producer is the engineer sometime and sometime the engineer is the producer.

Sometimes, like I’ve recorded songs where the artist is the producer as well.

Norman Chella: [00:12:37] Will that lead to conflict in any way? Because is it like, I’m assuming though, the roles overlap, right? If you have like one person is wearing two hats at the same time, but you yourself are the engineer, and if someone is holding the position of say, producer and

Delvinder Singh: [00:12:52] engineer

Norman Chella: [00:12:53] engineer at the same time, does that lead to any like clashes?

Delvinder Singh: [00:12:56] Actually, no, because the less people you have. The more better it is. Because with more people you have, it’s going to be a lot more ideas and sometimes the artist doesn’t feel comfortable. So it’s better to have like two, three people in a room rather than 15 people, you know? So sometimes if like most instances where I have where the artist is, the producer also, so, and then I’m, I’m engineering the session, meaning I’m recording the session, they would rely on you to make the decision as well.

So you develop that relationship with the artist. So there is a few people in the studio, which only, I, I not say I have special powers, but they only, some guys request for me. Like if I work with this guy, then they will request, I want to have Del helped me record. And that’s, that’s how the relationship starts between you and the artists.

So every time when they want to come in, then you’re expected that you’re going to record. They feel more comfortable. I’ve seen this and it is true because it’d be really weird if like you’re working with someone you don’t know. And then you step in. It kind of makes it really awkward. Unfortunately, I experienced this before, but it’s okay.

I try to always make them feel comfortable and make jokes and get, get to know them really better.

Norman Chella: [00:14:10] Maybe we’re not going to name anyone, but do you have any experiences of first time artists or debuting artists recording something for the first time? Yeah. Do they get like overwhelmed by the process or when you are trying to explain what you’re going to do, I’m assuming that you do like, okay, well let’s, let’s master this, let’s add this kind of sound effect, et cetera.

Does it just go over their heads? Is there a lot of that happening?

Delvinder Singh: [00:14:32] The studio I’m working at cause it’s quite well known and the people work there is quite well-known also, actually it did happen to me recently actually like somewhere in February where a guy came in, he wanted to record a song and then he was a beat maker, but he could rap really, really well.

And he did struggle with some terms as well. I didn’t know what he meant because my first time working with him and he wasn’t really so deep into engineering. He knew, he knew some basic stuff, but it was hard, like the first session, I think I struggled a bit because to get the idea across, I didn’t know what he meant, but as soon as I, I sort of told him like, Hey man, can you just show me a reference track of a song of your vocal, sort of effect you’re going for and then he showed me, he showed it to me and I immediately knew.

Knew what he wanted, so I immediately did it and then he was so happy, and then from there just took off. So I immediately understand what our sound is going for, like he wants to, reverb through at the end of his line, like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, no, no, no. So I understood. I understood all of that as soon as he showed me reference tracks, yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:15:33] I like how there had to be an audio example for two minds to agree like, Oh, that’s what you’re talking about. I really like that because I think, I think maybe you might agree with this. I think it’s quite hard to articulate sound into description, especially like verbal description

Delvinder Singh: [00:15:52] cause there’s no word for it.

Yeah. It’s always like I want it brighter. I want it to have more bite, I want it to have more low end, like those really aren’t words to describe it, but

Norman Chella: [00:16:02] Like I want it to be more manly or crunchy or whatever, and your definition could be different from mine and you’re going to be like, what the hell are you talking about?

So I can see how that can pop up. Does this happen as well for other mediums, not just music, but say commercial or film or?

Delvinder Singh: [00:16:18] Commercial as well. Even movies like I worked on recently, I worked on the new McDonald’s ad, which just came out, I think last week, which came out with the new burger called the Macho Burger.

So how it works in a studio is that the producer or. Or someone from the agency would contact our studio and say, Hey man, I want to work with you guys, blah, blah, blah. So the producer then from the agency briefs, like, uh, our audio producer, production producers, like when they play the video to them, they’ll have a brief to it.

Normally, like every video we get. Usually a brief would come from their director or the post house who’s doing the video, or maybe the agency as well, or sometimes can be a combination of all of them. So the brief was to make the ad sound very manly in terms of sound effects, because the music was done about one week before they even started shooting the ad.

So they could edit the ad better with the music. And what they basically said is they want the ad to sound manly. So you have to think of a way how to make it sound manly.

Norman Chella: [00:17:23] So, wait, so let’s, let’s break that down. Like, I’m interested in that, cause I want to know about, I want to know about your process, right?

The Del process for designing sounds for this. So we have, what should we say? 30 seconds? Is it 30 seconds? 30 seconds? McDonald’s commercial. About the Macho Burger, and they say, make it manly. First thing: what goes through your mind when you think of manly? And secondly, how do you choose the right sound effects to fit that?

Delvinder Singh: [00:17:49] Because the ad was the a montage ad. Had a lot of slow-mos. If you watch it, it’s a lot of good edits, which is punctuated to the music. So I didn’t want to make the sound design or sound effects stand out from the music. I still want the music to carry the whole way through. So what I did was there was a lot of big drops and big hits in the music, and so because they edited the video to the song, which is really, really rare.

So what I did was. Where were the big hit was I put a, a big impact just underneath that, where the music hit is to push that cut really more. And what I did was I laid a lot of, uh, animal sounds, here and there, like a lion growl, tiger girl, like a scream. Just underneath all those impacts to make it sound different, a bit and unique.

You can hear it with headphones, but. It’s buried under there, but it does give a really good bite to it. Like add some distortion to it.

Norman Chella: [00:18:46] So it’s more subtle, right. Complementary to the song as opposed to the main primary…

Delvinder Singh: [00:18:51] Because the song was a orchestration by one of the composers, so it really had a lot of big impacts.

So I could really layer my impact. Underneath the big hits, uh, which, uh, which the composer did. But if I mute my impacts, mute my sound effects, you can feel the difference. Like it is a lot of difference. So I just layered all those big impacts, did a lot of big transition songs, and then just mix it in with the music.

Norman Chella: [00:19:16] I like how we’re deep diving into this complicated process to show 30 seconds of a burger, like the power of audio engineering, at least. I mean, to my limited knowledge, I mean, I don’t have a background in it, but the power of the craft is that you have even subtle sound effects can add so much impact in their own way or add so much emotion.

There’s something, there’s a question I want to ask you actually.

Delvinder Singh: [00:19:41] sure, yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:19:42] So I’m a non audio engineer. I’m a general listener of everything, just like everyone else. Yep. Are there some sounds and maybe film or a commercial that I take for granted, like subtle sound effects. Say that I’m watching a movie and you know, there’s like natural sound effects or small ones.

Do you have any examples or can you think of any that are subtle and small but have a huge impact on what I’m watching in front of me?

Delvinder Singh: [00:20:10] Give me one second. It’s a good question. Take your time. It depends on the movie actually, because if you’re doing like a horror film, let’s just say Conjuring. Like Conjuring uses a lot of natural wood sounds a lot.

Like wooden footsteps. Cause normally Conjuring, the second one where they went to UK, I think it was the one, the second one where they went to UK. That because the house setting was in like a, I mean it’s referencing like a old period? The house had a lot of wood. And because it was built out of wood, there’s a lot of creaking, footsteps sounds and a lot of creaking door sounds.

So even like a normal door creak, which sound really interesting in that sort of movie. So it actually depends on the genre of the movie. The organic sound would actually play into it a lot more. Like what you say take for granted? Like a door creak, if you open your door right now. Take it like, just a door creak, but a door creak in a horror movie sounds really different.

Norman Chella: [00:21:10] Yeah, that’s, that’s actually a good point. If I, if I hear a door creak in real life, yeah. You know, like me on the way to the fridge getting snacks and. It’s the intent or the meaning is like almost negligible because it’s just a door creak. But I guess in the world of film, as an example, a door creak has narrative embedded inside it, right?

Like in that one moment, there’s a main character. You can see this main character doing something. You can hear a door creak. It’s this loud, it’s this hole right, the base is larger or something like that. And it does tell you a different story or add depth to the story much beyond the script or anything like that, or much more than the characters themselves.

So that’s pretty fascinating. Is that the same for when you were working on some of your projects. So I’ve got a few names coming up. Yeah. Especially the ones that you’ve sent it to me. So one that stands out to me definitely is Transformers the Last Knight to you, how are you involved in that? Is it the trailer or like the entire movie?

Delvinder Singh: [00:22:10] No no, there was a, I wish it was the trailer.

That was a collaborative effort between, uh, three of the engineers, uh, me and Lee and my boss, Paul. So how that happened was Gemma Chan, who acted in what’d you call it? Crazy Rich Asians. She was actually down in KL. I didn’t know that most of the Crazy Rich Asian was actually shot in KL. I didn’t know that.

So she, she was in a KL for a bit. One of the producers in office told me like, Del you got to prepare the studio for recording tomorrow for like a VO. I kept asking, well, who is it? But no one told me anything. So I just, I just set it up a day before and the next day we had like a lot of Skype calls and a lot of setup tests and all of that.

So I was quite curious. I still don’t know who was coming in or what was going on. So the next day we had a lot of like. Uh, phone calls and test calls to make sure everything’s okay. Yep. And then what? She was supposed to come in at that day, but I think she canceled because she said that she’s feeling, cause she just landed like a few days ago or something like that, or she was sick.

So she canceled and then only the next day I knew who was coming in and what was it for. Because we got a list from the, from the studio in LA, I think. Or Hollywood or somewhere. I don’t know where the studio was of the list of lines that she was going to say. She’s actually a character in Transformers.

Yeah, she was a Quintessa in the last, yeah. Yeah,

Norman Chella: [00:23:42] She’s the villain. Oh, okay. Interesting. I mean, not, not Gemma. I mean, she’s playing the villain, but, okay.

Delvinder Singh: [00:23:48] So we got the cue sheet, meaning a cue sheet is a list of lines of the character or whoever’s going to read the script, and it was like three pages long or four pages long.

So I was like oh man. So many lines. I thought I didn’t see the movie. Obviously they didn’t, didn’t, didn’t send us any video. It was just audio. Then the next day we. I think it was a Wednesday, Wednesday, she came in and then when the producer passed me the script and I freaked out because the AutoMark behind the script said Transformers you know, so I was like, damn.

Yeah, because I was not, I was not recording the session. I was just mainly assisting the session. Like I edit the files maybe later and rename and pass it on or whatever. But yeah, I was not recording it. So she came in and then she just talked for a while and then she went into the booth. You wouldn’t guess who called it was Michael Bay.

He called on our direct phone line, and then he was talking and it was great, I get to say hello to Michael Bay and just talk for just a few seconds and then, yeah. Then we just got into it. She went in the booth and then she just did all her lines and then he just directed it through the phone and then she’s really good.

I think it was done only in an hour. It was a lot of lines, but she did it really well in an hour.

Norman Chella: [00:25:02] I guess that’s, that’s considered fast, right? Like if we’re talking two to four pages. Okay. Right. So there are other times when you have sessions that lasts like three hours?

Delvinder Singh: [00:25:11] Maybe? Yeah. Depends sometimes. But she did really, really fast.

And then because of the time difference, it was 10:00 AM here, and I think it was almost midnight or something in LA. So the engineers were waiting for the files. So as soon as we were done, we quickly edited all the files and they had a specific naming of how to name, the files. So we had, we had to quickly put in all the names and then just send it through.

Yeah. It was cool to work with those guys.

Norman Chella: [00:25:40] Is your name or like is there a name or a name on the credits?

Delvinder Singh: [00:25:43] Unfortunately, not. It’s a good story. It’s not like it happens every day and then Michael Bay calls the studio and

Norman Chella: [00:25:56] that’s pretty awesome. I bet you when you were watching the movie, it’s like, Oh, I did the audio.

Delvinder Singh: [00:26:03] I did point out which lines. Cause as soon as it came out, I think the next weekend me and some of my friends from work, yeah we went to watch it and then we could hear like the difference they did really.

Of course they did a good job, but it was cool.

Norman Chella: [00:26:16] So you said there were engineers in LA, right? So does that mean that that you did initial, I guess. Leveling, mastering, editing, and then you sent it and you name it and then you send it to them and then they do further.

Delvinder Singh: [00:26:28] Unfortunately, they did all the final treatment.

Only like if she will do three takes, for example, we would just comp maybe the last take is normally how it works, if they do three in a row and most likely the third one, which is the last one, is always the good take. So we will quickly like what, like what we’re doing now, we just hit record for an hour.

And then we would stop and then quickly edit all those bits out and then give them only the main parts, we only edit and, but uh, it’s still really raw. What they get is still like a hundred percent raw. So they did all the treatment and everything. It was cool to see what they did at the end. It’s really nice texture they added in,

Norman Chella: [00:27:09] yeah, I remember watching it and I remember the robotic interpretation after added, I take it, you could probably do it yourself, right?

Delvinder Singh: [00:27:17] I tried it actually. Yeah. Yeah. It sounded pretty close actually. I did a lot, actually. I did try Kylo Ren and, and all that. Cause I think Kylo Ren has a really good voice texture that they made when he wears the helmet. Yeah. And I did try to process all that. Yeah. I did get close to it though. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:27:35] Wouldn’t that be so cool if you just have like, like an effect like application or something where you could just sound like Kylo Ren?

I would totally use that. Maybe not for a podcast, maybe for like a narrative or something like that. Now we’re going to backtrack a bit because I’m going to pause on that right. I’m going to take you through a little bit of time travel. Can you tell me about Anomaly?

Delvinder Singh: [00:27:58] Anomaly is the game that I worked on which is good. A message popped out saying it had one view and I was wondering who the heck. Anomaly was the game that I worked on as my final year project. I mean, I did the sounds for it. It was actually quite nice actually. I was quite lucky when I went to SAE Perth, because as soon as I joined they restructured their whole course.

So they eliminated all the exams and they came up with a new system where for me, I think it works really well because they had seven weeks of classes and then you have a one week break and then you have seven weeks of no class where you just work on your final project. So during the last two semesters, semesters five and six, we have one class where all the courses merge from games to web to sound, to video.

All of us have our own groups and only one course can represent one guy in the group. So we’ll have one guy from video and guy from web animation, one from sound. So with this group, you make a project. Where you use everyone’s skillset. So our was to make a game, and that game was what I worked on for like five months, I think.

Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:29:15] Oh, wow. Yeah. I saw the, uh, the screenshots, the front cover for Anomaly. So, yeah, a little bit about it is that it’s a horror game. Uh, it’s probably not the genre of game that I would play. I’m not a horror person. Um, I’ve also, I think I backed out of Conjuring, like watching the Conjuring, like halfway through anyway.

Uh, not, maybe not my kind of, uh, a game to play, but, but I do want to know about the process behind making the sounds for it. Can you tell me, tell me some examples of what kind of sounds or what kind of sound effects you specifically made for the game.

Delvinder Singh: [00:29:52] Yeah. Um, it was cool because that game where I made the sounds I didn’t use.

I think I only use like five samples sounds from a library. Everything else. I recorded it because I had a lot of time on my hands and I recorded every sounds. So how it works for games for audio is when they come up with a concept, like they told me it’s going to be a horror game, and then they drew storyboards for me.

The game designers, which were two of them in the group, they came up with an asset list of sounds. So they would say they need a footstep sound footstep on wood footstep on concrete. Then there’s one sound where the player grabs a glass jar. So they will list all of those sounds. But that list is very basic to them because they are not audio guys.

So it will be like really basic. But as soon as I saw the, the alpha where you get into the whole development, you can play the game. I saw like damn. I see there’s more sounds, which I need to do. So I, when I played it, I wrote down more sounds on a piece of paper and then I recorded that. More and more and kept building on it.

And then I had my own library, which I can use at the end as well. Like first you start off the game, like you’re in a forest, and then you go into a house with concrete floor, and then you go upstairs, it’s wood, and then it changes to marble surfaces. Yeah. It changes a lot of surfaces like walking.

And then obviously there’s monster growl as well because the monster came to speak some some stuff. It was cool cause I can can make up my own monste sound. I had just recorded that and put in a lot of effects. I actually learned quite a lot by doing that monster sound taught me how to make, like I did a lot of research, like went online, uh, gathered a lot of information and then just recreated it myself.

Norman Chella: [00:31:41] Was that the hardest sound you had to make it again?

Delvinder Singh: [00:31:43] Actually, it was quite hard, but the hardest one was the one where I had to record my own reverb. Yeah, that was hard. Yeah. Yeah. You can record your own reverb actually, I mean the space of where you’re in. So there was a scene in the game where you’re actually in a cave.

So my lecture was like, he challenged me to like not use any reverb. Record your own reverb. So I went down. Took like a two hour or an hour and a half train ride to one of my friend’s house in Perth. I can’t remember where, what place, I mean when he said, so we then from there we took like a 30 minute drive to like this abandoned huge building where it was mostly concrete and then there’s a way you can capture reverb where.

You just take a balloon or something and then you put two mikes spaced out quite far between each other evenly, and then you pop the balloon. And then the way it works is when the reverb, I mean when you pop the balloon, it kind of resonates the whole factory or wherever we were in, and you will capture that and then that you could put into a software and it’ll analyze the space that you’re in.

So it kinds of gives you, like, if you put like a gun sound, it’ll give you that fake reverb of that place. Oh, okay. So you, yeah,

Norman Chella: [00:33:06] You can emulate the reverb. Oh my God, I didn’t know you could. I didn’t know that’s a thing cause I thought you had to do a raw recording at a location and then that’s your only copy or that’s your only way to get that kind of environment.

Delvinder Singh: [00:33:22] That’s a good word you said. Emulate. It’s actually reverb emulation, so you can capture the space.

I mean there’s other ways you can do it. Like you can take a speaker and then play like a certain frequency all the way through, but your outdoors. I thought of a way to power up a speaker. Those are so difficult. So the easiest way for me to do it is just to take a balloon and then just pop it and then the microphone capture that space and then you put it into a software and it’ll give you a rough estimation of how the space is.

Norman Chella: [00:33:51] I really want to try that I would love to emulate like different buildings, locations, environments, like maybe a field and then a forest, and then a abandoned, what was that? Abandoned factory.

Delvinder Singh: [00:34:02] Yeah, it was scary, man. We went there because by the time we reached there, it was like almost six and it was winter, so it got dark really quickly and we had no lights.

And then after, like say we need balloons and we just called it too late already.

Norman Chella: [00:34:20] Anomaly, you have to live the game, right, to play the game and get the sound for the game. Yeah. It was really, it was just curious about that because yeah, it’s a really fascinating project to work on.

Delvinder Singh: [00:34:30] This one I always want to work on, now that I’ve worked on, like I’m lucky that I worked on movies and albums.

The next thing is all these games.

Norman Chella: [00:34:38] So is that a, is that a dream project? Yes,

Delvinder Singh: [00:34:41] definitely. I want to work on something.

Norman Chella: [00:34:44] Is there a specific genre or a specific kind of game that you’re thinking?

Delvinder Singh: [00:34:48] Right now? No, because I just really want to work on any game and I’m just willing to do it now.

Anything. It could be scifi or just like a adventure game every day. Anything. That’s the next thing I want to work on.

Norman Chella: [00:35:03] That will definitely be one. There would definitely be a chance for that. In the future. I’m sure independent game design studios are. Yes. Across Malaysia or across Asia maybe looking for,

Delvinder Singh: [00:35:15] yes, because what I heard is like, I think PS PlayStation is going to set up a store here in Malaysia soon.

I think it’s coming out in a few months. I mean, obviously I know it’s going on right now. I’m sure there’s a delay, but hopefully in a few months they actually set up a PlayStation development store or something like that to help the local gamers here get their games out on a. PlayStation, so I’m really happy that they’re doing that, actually.

Norman Chella: [00:35:40] Yeah. I should probably just do an in, just walk around and be like, Hey, I can do that.

Oh, that’s cool. I’ll probably check out that if they, once they finished setting up, they’ve see if we can find a link for that later on. Now I’ve got a hypothetical situation for you, so I know that your experiences in commercials, TVs, films, movies, uh, music and games, right.

But right now we are in the medium of podcasts. So I’m sure that with your wide variety of experiences, you can probably navigate through this. So let’s play a game. Say that there is a, an imaginary narrative show. There’s characters, there’s a story, there’s a beginning, middle end. There are voice actors of different kinds.

Let’s go a little bit fantasy, right? So we’re going a little bit magical and mystical in that way. Now, podcasts do not have the complimentary visual medium, and I was curious, are there any advantages or disadvantages for you as an audio engineer to design sounds in an audio only format to tell the story?

Delvinder Singh: [00:36:52] That’s a good question. I think definitely it’s harder like what you said, but you can apply the same techniques like when you work on a commercial. You really have to use a lot of your imagination. Unfortunately, like if I work on a commercial, I can click to the end and then I know, what visual is going to play there.

But for podcasts, if it’s like a audio book, let’s say it’s like a 10 page audio book. It’s hard to navigate. I mean, you can do it per chapter, but you can do it. Yeah, definitely you can because. You can put more sound effects and make it more interesting. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Something can be achieved definitely.

Cause I’ve listened to some good examples on like what you mentioned on podcast, where detailed storytelling, what with sound effects. Definitely. It sounds really good. Actually.

Norman Chella: [00:37:46] Yeah.

I guess one way to look at it is that since we are not using our eyes to consume something, we are using only our ears.

We are much more sensitive to subtle sounds or like more complex layers, I guess. If you like, for example, if you do like. There’s a narration and then there’s like glass break at panned, 20% left, and then a door creak on the right, which is slowed down by a certain percentage. It tells you something, just like you did with a door creaking and in Conjuring, I think would be pretty fascinating too to play with.

Delvinder Singh: [00:38:19] Because with headphones now is getting way, way better, like you have Atmos and speakers and binaural and all sorts of formats. If you cater to those formats, definitely be really cool and definitely there’d be more guys reviewing it as well because the main letdown, I see.

Not letdown, maybe just too sensitive. Whenever I see like a movie review or something, no one talks about the sound. Everyone’s like story visual CGI. Hmm. No one wants to talk to for the sound of music, you know, it’s, I feel a bit let down. I feel if you do that for podcasting, definitely it’ll entirely be about sound.

Norman Chella: [00:38:58] What can we do to help with that? To increase, like more talks and discussion about the sound aspect of a medium?

Delvinder Singh: [00:39:04] There actually are a few platforms already, like another channel called. I mean they’re quite well known is from Dolby itself. It’s on subbed under Dolby sound. It’s called Sound Works Collection is really interesting.

If you’re an engineer, I just want to know. They actually interview the engineers of the show. Like every, every talk show like Stranger Things too. Uh, Justice League to Avengers where they actually interview the engineers and ask them, what was the process? How did you achieve the sound? They talk about it really really well.

So it is starting to come up, especially now also with, uh, soundbars at home, like soundbars for, I mean, the most basic one you can get is like now atmos soundbar. I think the price is dropping right now. I think maybe for like 1500 ringgit and you can get a good atmos soundbar before, this I know is quite expensive.

Like 3000 bucks. 3000 ringgit we can get for a soundbar right now is getting cheaper and cheaper. And because it’s getting cheaper, people are more prone to buying it. So they do understand the format. But, uh, I don’t know. Coming from an engineering background, I have to ask like a, like a guy who’s not from audio and how he sees what sound is.

Yeah. It’s difficult because when I watched a movie, I really listened like really, really well. Then I will, sometimes I will not pay attention to what’s going on screen. Then rewind that part and see how did he get that sound?

Norman Chella: [00:40:39] Can rewind that in a theater. It’d be like, Hey, how did you make that?

How do you make a topic that comes out?

Delvinder Singh: [00:40:43] I need to listen to it again. Yeah, definitely. I’ll always do that. It’s a bad habit I have. Well, we just do it.

Norman Chella: [00:40:52] Yeah. Is there any way to train your ears to listen more to sound effects like these? Maybe when you’re watching

Delvinder Singh: [00:41:01] something

Can. I guess I can split it down to two if I can, the first one would be engineering standpoint.

I mean, the other day someone did ask me, how do you tell if something is good? If you’re an engineer. And maybe you have like two years of experience play the first project that you worked on. I’m sure it will sound really, really bad and then play something that you just worked on and then definitely you understand what I mean?

The non engineering background, how you see it is okay let’s say you watch like Vimeo. Vimeo has already really good indie filmmakers and low sort of low budget films and sorry to say that, but they have really, really good story. But yeah. The sound isn’t that good, unfortunately, but the story is good and it won a lot of awards and then immediately after you watch that, watch a movie from Netflix and then definitely is a big difference in sound.

Yeah. That’s the common way to detect if something is sounds good or not. Unfortunately, you have to look, uh, look at it that way.

Norman Chella: [00:42:04] I guess listening to a variety of sources of sound, right? To understand from the point of say, an Indie what limited budget they have for sound equipment and Netflix, which is like, you know, this big company making all kinds of things.

I’m sure that if you take the time to listen to both sides, then you can probably train your ear. And be more obsessed about the subtle things, but I mean, I like as well. I also maybe not to the point that you would, but I do appreciate when there are small door creaks or like small, what do you call it? Foley? Foley of a small sound effects that really add to the scene.

Delvinder Singh: [00:42:44] Unfortunately, you have to know what something bad is to know what something good is. Unfortunately.

Norman Chella: [00:42:49] But that helps us appreciate it more. Right.

Delvinder Singh: [00:42:51] Yeah. Cause I played, I found a project of mine where I worked on in my college when I was cleaning my hard drives the day and it sounded really bad.

So I’m happy where I am now definitely.

Norman Chella: [00:43:05] And that’s great. Now we are coming up on time, but I’ve got a few segments for you to to ponder on. So one is called the Mementos. Do you have a memento or an object that represents you?

Delvinder Singh: [00:43:21] Could be anything?

Norman Chella: [00:43:22] It could be anything. Anything specific you can think of?

Delvinder Singh: [00:43:26] On right now? No, unfortunately.

Yeah. Maybe if it was engineering, I would say a microphone. This microphone that we have in the studio is a really old microphone. And we did have that microphone. I mean, uh, Paul, actually, my boss, he actually found it after 10 years is actually in someone’s drawer. So we found it after like. 10 years and it’s the best mic that we have now.

And I really rely on the mic a lot because I know how to process it. If I record and then mic the post part of it, I’m really confident when I do my processing or effects or whatever for that mic, I really know how to do it well. And if I use another mic, not to say I’m not so confident, but I have to figure it out stuff, but, which is okay for me, but I really have, I mean, if I can.

I would have that mic always with me no matter what.

Norman Chella: [00:44:24] Just curious. What model is it?

Delvinder Singh: [00:44:26] It’s a Neumann U87.

It’s a legendary mic, it costs, I don’t, I don’t know how much it costs. I think about 2000 us or 1,500 US.

Norman Chella: [00:44:39] Oh my.

Delvinder Singh: [00:44:39] Really, really good mic because it’s, um, it has a dark sound to it. Not, not so bright.

That’s why I really like it a lot.

Norman Chella: [00:44:48] Nice. So that can be your memento, cause you have 10 years of memories in there. Fantastic. And the second segment is walk away wisdom. So say we walk away from this conversation right now. And I meet someone and connect with them, they become my friend. And I become very close and vulnerable and intimate with them.

And I share with them a part of my life and part of my life is this conversation, you know me and you right now, is there a piece of wisdom. I can share with them that represents who you are.

Delvinder Singh: [00:45:20] Damn, this is a hard question.

Um, I will say, um, if you starting out and just try, um, everything. If you can, I mean, even though if, if you get a internship at a studio or whatever, this, take it and really work hard on your internship if you get one and another way to go about. Uh, getting an internship in a studio is if you show up at the studio instead of like sending 10 emails and then let someone replied to your email, it’s really difficult because, uh, studios are really busy and then not many people will check.

I mean, we, we check our emails cause we have a few interns coming in every now and then, but they’re really quite busy. So to get a chance to get hired. At a studio is better if you go to the studio itself and introduce yourself and then show your work and you’ll get hired. I mean, hopefully you can get hired there too if you do that.

I mean, that’s how I got in actually at the studio and working on, I went in and I just showed my work and then I came back for a few interviews and yeah, I started working at in 2016.

Norman Chella: [00:46:36] So show up in person,

Delvinder Singh: [00:46:38] show your work.

Oh yeah. Obviously try, try a lot of work. Yeah. Try a lot. And the next thing is, uh, sorry. There’s a long answer. The next thing is, unfortunately, we have to learn software really well. I mean, get to know the software that you’re using really, really well. Because when I joined, I knew how to do certain things, but the software was standing in my way.

Hmm. So it will take me like maybe three times as long as what I’m doing right now. Like five years ago, I can do it, but it’ll take me like 20 minutes. Whereas now I can do it in like five minutes. So don’t let the software, I mean master the software, so that doesn’t stop you. That’s really big because I struggle a lot with software when I joined because I was using something else, but I knew I knew how to use the current software we are using, but not that well.

But yeah, just spend a lot of time on software. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:47:40] Mastery of the tool. Extremely important. Yeah. But also in pretty much every field. Yeah. Well you are living proof of that. So yes, having great mastery of a tool would be fantastic.

Delvinder Singh: [00:47:55] Cause when you have like 10 people behind you telling you to hurry up, you don’t want to take, take, take a long time, you know, to dispute.

I’ve been in that situation a long time ago, so yeah. Learn, learn software. Yeah. Definitely.

Norman Chella: [00:48:09] And also the final segment. Now, have you heard, do you know what’s an epitaph? An epitaph? It is, uh, if you have a tombstone, sometimes they have a phrase or a string of words written in memory of a person who has passed away.

Like an inscription on a tombstone. If you go through all these years, right? You live your entire career as an audio engineer and you, we’re going to get deep here. We’re going to go away from planet earth into audio heaven. We have to leave behind a tombstone with an epitaph. Yep. But if your epitaph wasn’t a phrase, but a sound effect?

Delvinder Singh: [00:48:53] That’s a good question. Yeah. I thought you were gonna say it like this, like a slogan or something like that. Sound effect. Sound effect. Yep.

Maybe, uh, have you gotten weird answers before?

Norman Chella: [00:49:09] No, that was my first time asking this question and I want to ask you specifically.

Delvinder Singh: [00:49:14] For sound. I mean, last sound effect. I really like if I can use one. Uh, I will say coming back to animal sounds, it would be a tiger, a lion roar. Cause I use it, I use it all the time.

It’s never failed me. I really like that sound. It does add a lot of dirt to whatever I’m doing here. We’ll see a lion sound, lion roar for sure.

Norman Chella: [00:49:38] All right Del, with a lion’s roar going through this entire conversation, working on games, music, and film and commercials and talking with Michael Bay. I’m sure that you’ll have a lot more in your audio engineering career.

Where can we find you if we want to reach out to you and how can we get in contact?

Delvinder Singh: [00:50:00] You can just contact, I mean, if you have a really a good, really good project, you can contact the studio. If you want to work with me, a Maveriq studios, they have a Instagram page. And Facebook page and also a website obviously.

And then if you want to contact me personally, can just message me on my Instagram. You can just find me. @Delvinders on Instagram. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:50:26] Awesome. And of course, links to all of these, the website and the social medias for yourself and for Maveriq will be in the show notes for this episode.

So for whoever is interested in something, audio engineering related or. You know, wants to produce their next album can go straight to Maveriq. Del, thank you for coming on the show and I will chat with you soon.

Delvinder Singh: [00:50:48] Thank you.

Norman Chella: [00:50:50] And that is it. My chat with Delvinder Singh of Maveriq studios. He’s a great guy to talk to about anything audio engineering related.

Right? Going from music to film to TV series to game design. Dell is probably the one guy that you would want to go to for anything audio related. I learned a lot actually. I don’t even know about the backend part of trying to produce sounds for a project. Right? The fact that he talked with Michael Bay about this and the fact that how musicians differ and their experiences being in a studio and having that kind of special relationship with the producer and the engineer, or even one in the same, if they’re the same person.

It’s interesting to hear his side of the story. You can always check out more of his work as well as all the work that Maveriq studios has done for anything audio related. All of them will be in the show notes. And I like what he said at the end, mastery of a tool. Show up in person and show your work.

Those are key pieces of wisdom that I’m sure anyone can apply to in their field. And if you are, I’m sure all as well. Stay warm, stay lovely. Keep listening and I will see you in the next episode. Your foolish friend, Norm.

Thank you for listening to the show. AntiFool is hosted, produced, and edited by me, Norman Chella.

You can find out more about the show at thatsthenorm.com/antifool. It’s where I host all my other podcasts shows and more live music and sound effects come from zapsplat.com if you have any questions, recommendations for guests and more, hit me up on Twitter at @normanchella or on LinkedIn as well.

There is only one of me in the world. I’m sure you can find me there. I love connecting with people and having warm, meaningful conversations. Don’t be foolish. Alright, cheers.

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Norm

Norman Chella is the Podcast Rainmaker, Polymath in Progress and a very strange writer. His creative pen name is N.T. Cloever. You can find his words right here.

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