Asbjoern Andersen


If you're running a smaller audio post production company, how do you thrive and grow when you're in an industry with many, much-larger players?

That's what Doug Siebum set out to find out with this interview, centered around the topic of 'subversion': Here, he speaks with William McGuigan who has been doing post sound for over 12 years and is the proud owner of Gypsy Sound in Los Angeles. His credits include Chef's Table, The Kings of Summer, You're the Worst, Stan Against Evil, and, through Skywalker Sound, Kong: Skull Island.


Written by Doug Siebum, photo by Johnny McPheeters
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Doug Siebum (DS): Hi William, thanks for making the time to join us today. Can you tell us about your history? What first got you interested in sound for television and film?

William McGuigan (WM): My start in post sound is much like most people, through music. I went to audio school with the hope that I could combine my music background with my aptitude for tech. I thought I could live the life of a rock star — without having to actually be one. I worked at a few music studios, getting to work on a good balance between large format, orchestral, and big band work, and then smaller hip hop and rock sessions. As the financial realities of life were catching up with me, I started looking beyond. Luckily I got hooked up with a commercial post house in Venice, California called Ravenswork. It was a small boutique, commercial mix post house. It was a very small tight knit company, that showed me that there was room in the post production world for something smaller, unique, and personable.

I knew that I wanted to find a balance between the lifestyle and vibe of music studios with the professionalism and stability of a post studio

I was lucky to get that opportunity and really enjoyed my time there. After I moved on from Ravenswork, I freelanced and worked at a few different places. I knew that I wanted to find a balance between the lifestyle and vibe of music studios with the professionalism and stability of a post studio. I think partially to my benefit and partially to my detriment, I wound up starting my own place early on, before I was able to learn the systems and workflows of one of the major studios. So I had to develop my own techniques and workflows, which seems to be the way a lot of people have to do it these days.
 

DS: Why did you decide to start your own business?

WM: I guess because I didn’t find another small boutique company that fit my pace right away. I don’t know why. [laughs] A couple of friends and I had been working some freelance gigs together. It was sort of an attempt to combine forces. That’s kind of where the name Gypsy Sound came from. We were a bunch of people that would band together for bigger projects, while simultaneously handling all of our own little things. We pooled our skills and resources to make Gypsy Sound.
 

DS: Can you talk a little about the early years of your business? Did it take you a little while to find your place in the world?

The biggest difficulty is that in order to do a mix properly, there’s no way around really having the room, the gear, and the space to do it.

WM: We had a couple of clients that gave us a bit of a launching pad. It was definitely difficult. I started out on a Mac Mini and an M Box. That obviously has it’s own challenges. By no means was it easy, but I think we got lucky, because we found a really good, loyal network early on. When we started, I was working on one of the first shorts of a director that I still work with today. A few of the people that came to us when we first got started, have been loyal throughout and have kept us fairly busy. The biggest difficulty is that in order to do a mix properly, there’s no way around really having the room, the gear, and the space to do it.
 

Video Thumbnail

Chef’s Table is one of the shows that Gypsy Sound has worked on

DS: At the time of inception and up to now, how has your business model differed from the larger post houses?

WM: It mainly differs in that we sort of operate both as freelance mixers and engineers as well as an independent post house, so there are other studios that we each work with. We don’t view other studios as competition so much as partners in trying to get a project done. I’ll four wall at another studio for some projects, or work with other designers or editors.

We don’t view other studios as competition so much as partners in trying to get a project done

It’s also different because we can be slightly more selective about our work. Maintaining a smaller business allows us to not necessarily have to take on every project that comes to us.
 

DS: Right, because you have a lower overhead.

WM: Yeah, there’s the lower overhead factor and then there’s the capacity factor. With 5 or 6 people, we’re maxed out on space here. If we have to, we can expand out to other editors working offsite, but at a certain point, you don’t want to sacrifice the time put into each project just to be able to say that you did more. So there’s definitely some projects that we are able to pass on and instead are able to do the ones that we’re excited to work on.
 

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

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    ONLINE FOOTSTEPS GENERATOR

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Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

DS: What did you want to try differently from the traditional business model?

WM: It’s not my favorite word, but the idea of being a boutique and approaching a project as a partner or team member. It’s a lot easier to feel like a team with the production and the director when it’s a smaller crew. The angle that I lean into with this place, is that you know everybody working on the project; we all work on it with the director and producers as a complete team. I think that builds a stronger relationship.
 

DS: Can you tell us about your workflow?

WM: Typically there’s a core team of 4 or 5 of us here. Then depending on the schedule there are several other editors or and designers that we sub out to. Nikola Simikic or I supervise projects that come in, and walk it through the process from creative through delivery. Our ability to expand and contract allows us to create a different workflow for each project.
 

DS: What are some of the shows that you’ve worked on?

WM: You’re the Worst for FX was a really fun one that just ended. Chef’s Table and Street Food Asia are currently on Netflix. I’ve done a lot of docuseries including not only the two I just mentioned, but also 7 Days Out, and Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy. I also worked on Stan Against Evil on IFC and lots of cool Indie films.
 

DS: Do you have a favorite show or a biggest show that you worked on?

WM: Chef’s Table is probably the one that I get recognized for the most. We worked on You’re the Worst for 5 seasons. All of us really enjoyed working on it a lot; it was really special to us. The biggest feature that I worked on was Kong, but that was through Skywalker Sound, not Gypsy Sound. We get such a good balance of different things, it’s kind of hard to pick a favorite. Kings of Summer is a feature that holds a special place in my heart, because I was getting the facility and building out my rig. Band of Robbers was another movie that we had fun with, A Thousand Junkies was also a lot of fun… It’s really tough to pick just one favorite! Each project holds a little special place in our hearts.
 

Video Thumbnail

Through Skywalker Sound, William McGuigan worked on Kong: Skull Island

DS: How big is the typical crew size on one of your shows?

WM: We’re typical a crew of 4. I’ve had it expand to anywhere between 7 and 9 people. That’s usually when we have several different projects at the same time. On a single project, I think the largest we’ve gone is 5 or 6 people.
 

DS: Can you talk about building relationships with clients?

WM: I think it goes back to not being too big of a place. I think one thing that our clients appreciate is coming in and knowing everyone in the facility. I think that gives us a lot of returning client value. The majority of my clients have become my friends. We’re all part of a similar network of people, so it seems like most of my clients know each other as well.
 

DS: How did you get plugged into that network?

WM: Its all word of mouth and via relationships with other Editors, Composers, Producers, or Directors. As I do a project for one person they might recommend me to somebody else they work with. As each of those clients grow, so does their network etc.
 

DS: What was the hardest thing about starting a business?

The biggest thing right now that independent houses are dealing with is upgrading their security. Especially if you want to work on bigger budget projects, you really need to have network security down.

WM: The hardest thing I think, was finagling lower budgets, hustling favors, and just trying to make things work in the early stages. Having the confidence to do it really. It’s tough to start your own thing, when you barely know what you’re doing. Trying to learn how to do the whole business thing, while, at the same time, mastering a craft – that’s pretty tough. You’re learning a lot of it by yourself, through trial and error. Making big leaps like investing in a facility or gear, having the confidence that you’re going to have the work to keep everything going. Taking that risk is pretty tough. The biggest thing right now that independent houses are dealing with is upgrading their security. Especially if you want to work on bigger budget projects, you really need to have network security down. That’s a whole other investment. It’s one thing to learn the gear and tech for the craft. It’s another thing to also have to learn the gear and tech for the networking and security authorization that a lot of clients are starting to expect.
 

DS: Yeah, it’s like you need to bring in an IT guy to do it or learn it all yourself.

WM: Right, I wish it was one or the other. But even if you bring in an IT guy, you should know the basics of what’s going on.
 

DS: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

WM: The idea is to not view anyone as competition as much as resources to learn with and grow with. There’s enough work to go around.
 

A big thanks to William McGuigan for sharing some of his experience with us and giving us all a little bit of advice on getting a post house up and running – and to Doug Siebum for the interview! You can learn more about Gypsy Sound here , find William McGuigan on IMDb here , and follow him on Twitter here

 

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Succeed in sound:

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• Rebuilding your studio: Goals, tips and lessons learned

• Creating audio for games – with Martin Stig Andersen

• A life in sound: How to foster creativity and protect yourself from burning out – with Chance Thomas

• Tips and thoughts on running your own audio post production house – with William McGuigan

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How to succeed in Field Recording, Foley, and Teaching Sound

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Networking:
 
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• Read the 100s of sound stories and guides on the A Sound Effect blog (search for stories here)

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A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
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    Featuring diverse props ranging from large metal storage containers, diesel tanks, shopping carts, and tractor buckets to to smaller propane tanks, crates, shopping carts, and bolts, nails, and ammunition, the collection provides multiple performances in each clip.

    The sounds were performed from light to heavy intensities and captured at 192 kHz, 24-bit resolution with Sanken, Sennheiser, Neumann, and Schoeps microphones.

    The bundle is delivered with Pro Tools and Reaper mixing sessions, full professional embedded metadata, and metadata keyword import files in 7 languages.

    50 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
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    The Gut-Wrenching Gore Library gathers 712 clips in 26.96 gigabytes. Recorded from 6 synchronized perspectives in 192 kHz, it shares horror sound design elements in two themes: male and female vocalizations and fruit destruction.

    The vocalization showcase screams, choking, gurgling, gobbling, teeth and biting, and breathing, each with a variety of takes and performances. Body blows, stabs, hits, and gore were provided by tearing, breaking, and squeezing fruit, vegetables, and other food such as watermelons, leeks, porridge, yogurt, tomatoes and others.

    The package includes Pro Tools and Reaper mixing sessions, and embedded metadata in every clip.

    50 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Materials & Texture Car Destruction Play Track 703 sounds included $249 $124.50

    The Car Destruction sound effects collection contains chassis scrapes, dragging, flipping, road rail scratching, multiple car chassis dropping takes include rolling down a slope, falling onto the ground, and impacting other cars.damaged engine idling and slow to fast driving with gearshifts, ramps, and steady RPMs from both onboard and exterior perspectives both on two cylinders and without oil and more.

    50 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
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    Ambisonic – Transportation is a great collection of ambisonic ambiences recordings performed at various transportation scenarios.
    It is aimed to provide you with great spherical content to wrap your dialogue or main focus content, allowing you to create a conniving and immersing soundtrack.
    You will find recordings such as a Train car interior, Jumbo jet interior, multiple cars interior under different driving conditions,
    Bus interior, public transportation stations and much more.

    This collection is great for post-production, VR/AR interactive sound-design, game developers and any real-time 3D audio engine.
    All files are tagged and categorized for your convenience – supporting multiple tag filtering browsing applications.

    A Sennheiser Ambeo microphone paired with Zoom H8 was used to create this product.

    This package includes 68 Samples – 136 Files.
    A total 2h 37m of content.
    First Order AmbiX B-Format and Stereo @ 96Khz / 24bit.

    Download a Demo here:
    Want to hear an example of the included recordings? Download the B-format Demo Here

    27 %
    OFF
    Ends 1574204399
  • Foley Footstep Loops II Play Track 663 sounds included $75 $49

    Editing footsteps in audio post-production can be time-consuming. Footstep Loops II is a sound library that delivers a comprehensive kit of footstep sound effects made to ease your daily work.

    The collection contains footstep sounds of various shoes and surfaces, recorded in different paces and edited to continuous but lively 30-second sound loops.

    VARIETY

    The Footstep Loops II Sound Library covers a wide range of different footsteps:

    Barefoot, Socks, Slippers, Flip-Flops, Sneakers on Wood, Sneakers on Concrete, Boots on Wood, Boots on Concrete, Heels on Wood, Heels on Stone;
    Grass, Gravel, Forest, Foliage, Dry Foliage, Stones, Puddle, Mud, Snow;
    Stairs up + down: Wooden Stairs, Metal Stairs, Stone Stairs



    PACE

    Each type of footsteps is available as a set of 13 sound files that represent a range from walking very slowly up to very speedy. Paces are sorted by Footsteps per Minute (FPM):

    Ground Footsteps: from 40 FPM to 160 FPM
    Stairs Footsteps: from 60 FPM to 180 FPM (up) / from 80 FPM to 200 FPM (down)



    LAYERS

    Since all (ground) footstep loops have the same FPM paces, they can be layered easily. E.g. you can add a puddle sound element to sneakers walking on concrete etc.



    CLOTHING

    You can add clothing as a layer to make the movements sound more natural. The sounds of jeans & jacket fit to all ground footsteps. Furthermore, versions with well-balanced clothing sounds of all main footstep loops are already included as ready-to-use files!



    ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS

    Some experimental elements are also included in the library:
    2 layers of floor creaks and one layer that adds the sound of keys in the pocket while walking.



    TIME-COMPRESS

    Paces of the sound loops included in the Footstep Loops II sound library increase in steps of 10 FPM each. If you need a value in between, time-compress the file just a tiny bit – the quality loss is almost inaudible in modern digital audio workstations.



    ONLINE FOOTSTEPS GENERATOR

    To get an impression of what you get with the Footstep Loops II sound library, go HERE and play around with footsteps online.


    • 663 audio files
    • 331 minutes total runtime
    • all files contain meta-data / keywords for easy search


    All sounds from this library are included in:
    Diversity

    35 %
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  • Environments Stream River & Waterfall vol.2 Play Track 88 sounds included $59 $46.20

    43 locations from various perspectives.

    STREAM / RIVER & WATERFALL features WATER MOVEMENT from JAPAN and NEW ZEALAND.
    Each STREAM and RIVER have their unique flows, and varieties of topographies gives each its characteristic sound – and WATERFALLS from small to medium adds nature feeling to it.
    In addition, the library also features places where SPRING WATER GUSHES in Japan, and huge ELECTRIC WATER PUMP from New Zealand and more.

    Recorded @ 24 Bit / 96 kHz with ortf, spaced omni, XY and carefully edited.

    22 %
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    Ends 1574204399
  • Cars Renault Master IV 2.3 DCI 165 Play Track 80+ sounds included, 88 mins total $130 $117

    The Renault Master IV 2.3 DCI 165 sound library features 76 high-quality files recorded with a multi-mic setup. The engine was recorded in sync with cabin interior ambients, and you can expect different styles of driving, from casual city driving, through accelerations on a highway up to rpm ramps and constant rpm loops for game audio.

    In addition to engine recordings, this sound effects library features exterior passes, whooshes and other road-related sounds recorded in mono and stereo. Last but not least, different foley recordings covering exterior and interior sound effects.

    10 %
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    Ends 1574204399
  • Destruction & Impact Rock Brick and Dirt 3 Play Track 500+ sounds included, 17 mins total $27

    Rock, Brick and Dirt 3 is the third of the series! This bundle includes all remastered sounds from RBD 1 and 2. With more than 100 new files recorded and designed. It’s a package of impact, Smash, Crumbling, Scratching, Landfall and more rock debris sounds. The library contains 333 files of various recording texture and perspective.

    A good package to add a dirty texture to your production.

    Each sound has been meticulously edited individually, All files were recorded and are delivered in 24bit 96kHz Broadcast Wave files, all embedded with metadata information for easy import and ensure fast and easy workflow.

 
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