Pole Position Roundup 2020
Closing the books on 2020, it’s safe to say the past year has been remarkable in quite a few ways. It’s been horrific, of course, but also fantastic and as always, a constant reminder for us at Pole of how privileged and happy we are to be working in an industry so full of energy, innovation and truly amazing people. Happy holidays and best wishes for the coming year! Here’s a list of the highs and lows of 2020 from a Pole perspective.
…launch: 2020 serves as the year when we released our first software plugin, GRIP. As you may know it is a software that will help sound editors make vehicle wheel interaction sounds directly to picture and was developed in collaboration with our friends at BOOM in Germany. Watch the plugin walkthrough here.
…launch II: Our ambience library, delivered in 7.1.4 and aimed for Atmos users, is a very exciting launch, and also something we invested a lot of time into. We realize the market for such a product is very niche, on the other hand, we mostly do very niche libraries with a high quality. We hope this will be no exception, and we believe we are among the first in the world with a product like this. Read the blogpost about it here.
…grasped opportunity I: The pandemic that struck the world brought much trouble to a lot of people, but one of the side effects were that the airports during the spring had almost no traffic. That gave us the opportunity to record a Robinson R44 Helicopter at a rather big airport south of Stockholm. Normally that kind of environment would have been too noisy to do a recording like that, now we could operate almost all on our own.
…grasped opportunity II: We are getting more and more requests from game developers to come in and own the full audio production for their games. We have been very determined to get to that place, and we are happy to see that it’s now paying off.
…grasped opportunity III: Generally, we don’t miss opportunities, but one special opportunity was when the whole Pole team went to Boden and recorded military vehicles for 3 days straight.
…missed opportunity: We were looking forward to going to GDC and had many exciting meetings planned, but for obvious reasons GDC was cancelled.
…encounter: A lot of mice on the attic of a team member’s home studio. For 2 months he unfortunately and successfully ended 40+ little lives.
…innovation I: Using the metadata app Soundminer’s Workflows to automatically interpret and transform existing metadata to even better text!
…innovation II: Robin has evolved our methods of loop-based engine playback for games to a whole new level.
…weirdest request: We do have one client in particular that urges us to push the limits in every aspect when it comes to field recordings. Can’t go into details, but it’s great fun and the most unexpected session! In the distant future we’ll make sure to get back on this issue.
…trickiest request: We teamed up with Cloud Imperium Games with the mission to try to record high frequency vibrations that will be used in their spaceships in game. We didn’t pull it off fully but got some very nice sounds out of it.
…surprise I: We have some very interesting research results from our two years with Volvo Cars and RISE to present. Stay tuned!
…surprise II: One of our handheld setups, a Sound Devices 702, a Sennheiser MKH 8060 and a pair of headphones, ended up being buried in a huge wheel loader bucket under 11 tons of rocks and survived the whole ordeal without even a scratch. Headphones where a bit sad but with some handy man repairs, they’re now good as new.
…best equipment I: iZotope RX 8. Indispensable for fixing bird chirps, random wind buffets, distant dog barks, and many more on-location issues.
…best equipment II: Sound Devices 32-bit field recorder. Truly new horizons for field recording. Or any recording really.
…best equipment III: The combo of the Ehrlund microphones and the Sonosax R4+ recorder is hard to beat!
…best equipment IV: Still deeply in love with our Sennheiser MKH 8020 AB stereo setup.
…faithful old servant (in terms of equipment) I: Pro Tools. It’s easily overlooked amongst more recent, glamorous software, but Pro Tools has always been a reliable editing app for over two decades.
…faithful old servant (in terms of equipment) II: This year is the first in many that we haven’t used the Zaxcom Fusion that for a long time was the center in our field recordings. Rest well dear old friend!
…faithful old servant (in terms of equipment) III: The SD702 must be mentioned.
…faithful old servant (in terms of crew member): Max Lachmann, the reason why Pole even exists and a man who can run thousands of tasks per week and still get time over to cheer up people around him and make sure everyone has the time and mood to keep on delivering the best sounds in the world today.
…newbie: Daniel Wallén. Started as an intern in spring and after that Daniel has been involved in several recordings, made some very nice sounding sound design and has been a great mood lifter with his great enthusiasm and spirit.
…sacrificed equipment: A mic stand got totally smashed by a 200-kilo rock that came flying through the air. Mics stayed unharmed.
…accomplishment: Working as a team to craft a new metadata standard for our customers.
…collaboration I: Working with Hollywood sound designers and librarians to learn their favorite ways of using sound libraries.
…collaboration II: It’s always a joy to work with Aleksander Karshikoff at Unity. This year we had tons of fun working on a short movie together.
…top ten library releases:
10 – Patria 6×6 – a modern-era Swedish APC recorded from every angle.
9 – Ambiences for Atmos Volume 1 – Cities – our first offering in the Ambiences for Atmos series.
8 – Zivko Edge 540 – an acrobatic plane recorded with a lot of detail.
7 – Vought Corsair – a classic US WWII fighter plane.
6 – M10 Tank Destroyer – old military vehicles always have a lot of character to them, from the engines to the instruments used to operate them. The M10 is no exception.
5 – Ferrari Testarossa – a tight, clean recording of a rare recording of a classic sports car.
4 – Mitsubishi Zero – possibly the only professional recording of this WWII-era legendary Japanese fighter airplane.
3 – Chevrolet Camaro SS Transformer Edition – an almost feral kind of sound from the powerful engine in this vehicle.
2 – Porsche 911ST 1972 – Bernard’s 1972 Porsche provided amazing character and texture. Lots of great outtakes to supplement the main recordings. Bernard’s driving provides some outstanding performances.
1 – Robinson R44 Helicopter – one of our largest, most authoritative libraries, very cleanly recorded with takes from every conceivable perspective.
…weirdest recording location I: Always inside a tank.
…weirdest recording location II: A gravel pit.
…coolest recording location II: A gravel pit.
…eureka moment: Understanding the big advantage with 32-bit float recordings
…best composition I: There’s been quite some composing done this year, most of it we can’t speak of. But we are very proud of the two Hunter reserves that we did music for, one that is based in the Rocky Mountains in the US, and the other one that is being released just now, which centers on New Zealand. You can watch the trailers here:
…best composition II: Mats’ composition of the main theme of a TV-series. Some of us have worked with Mats for 25 years, yet he surprises us with his talent and his ability to work in different contexts and genres.
…most challenging sound design: You might think the icy, magical crystal plasma beams we did for a game would be a candidate, but they were nothing compared to coming up with just the right, super rubbery tire screeches for another game.
…most memorable moment I: We did a session recording some military vehicles up in the far north of Sweden early this summer. A lot of fun stuff happened during those days, but especially memorable was the session we did with the Swedish Armored Vehicle 90. It is a machine that can do crazy maneuvers and we got to see that firsthand in the beautiful northern Swedish summer light. Quite memorable. It was also one of the very few trips we got to do this year because of the pandemic.
…most memorable moment II: When it turned out that the sounds we designed to reduce motion sickness in cars showed results beyond every expectation.
…best music production: Both the music productions for the Hunter reserves were very successful, a lot due to the excellent musicians that we were able to hire for each of them. For the Silver Ridge Peaks we worked with Anna Rubinsztein who is an excellent violinist, and for Te Awaroa National Park we worked with Jonas Wall who created magic with his flute.
…most complicated project: Robinson R44 Helicopter sound library. With dozens of perspectives, long takes, and 40 channels of audio, this vehicle required care to cut, sort, and organize.
…technological progress I: Dolby have been refining their tools for Atmos production and this year it was just right to dive in. Both on the recording and mixing side. Great times ahead for sure!
…technological progress II: We have finally employed an audio programmer to make us an even better partner for our customers, but also to start developing the many plugin ideas that we have.
…loudest recording: A tough race between when we were recording cannons at a weapon factory test center and when we were recording explosives.