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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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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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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    49 %
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    With a selection of 141 designed sci-fi loops, you’ll be able to create new worlds effortlessly. Dramatic room tones, custom sci-fi interior and exterior scenes, ambient sounds like; alien cave, energy lab, transport hangar, termite mounds, and Queen’s chambers are all ready to mix, match, stack and layer for the perfect vibe in your production.

    Loops are approximately one minute in length and the ambience loop files include one or two minimal or alt mix versions. Also, sounds are pre-mixed and mastered to high volume so you can mix your tracks for optimal immersion and sonic dynamics without losing fidelity.

    Product details:

    • Sci-fi Ambience Loop Library
    • Includes a variety of locations, tones, and ambiences
    • 24 ambiences loops like alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 49 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
    • 68 loop-able layer loops like Queens Chamber, Termite Mounds, Insect Engines & more!
    • All royalty free SFX

    Of course, it’s ready to use in any multi-media production. All of the recordings are royalty-free and RTU-OTB. Need more ambience loops? Be sure to check out Swarm sister sound libraries – Sci-fi World Colony and Sci-fi World Guardians Ambience Loop Libraries.

    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580511599
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    Sci-fi World Guardian is a library geared towards multiplayer games, space, dystopias, utopias, fantasy, magical places, serene game moments, RPG, MMO, and sci-fi games all alike and showcases sounds like automated shipyard, electron flow, data mining, engines, mothership hums, conversions, moons of Venus, deserted area, bioengineering lab, desolate space, holy house, a variety of pulses, tech-based loops, winds, & more.

    Each loop is game ready, seamlessly loopable and around 1 minute in length. Each main ambience includes 1-2 alt mix versions + you get a variety of layers to accent your scene and games ambience. Having both full ambiences, alt mixes and layers allows you to truly orchestrate your game’s background sound how you want it. If the full loop has too much going on, then try using the minimal version without the sound you don’t like or by stacking a layer loop to boost the dynamic of the atmosphere.

    Product Details

    • Sci-fi Ambience Loop Library
    • Save time, energy and get quality game audio assets!
    • Includes a variety of locations, tones, and ambiences
    • 25 ambiences loops like an alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 50 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
    • 66 loop-able layer loops like Queens Chamber, Termite Mounds, Insect Engines & more!
    • All royalty free
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    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580511599
  • AUDIO LAYERING WIZARD


    SoundWeaver helps you design new sounds from existing audio material in less time.

    CREATE MORESKIP THE BUSYWORK

    USE CASES

    • Produce more assets and increase productivity on tight schedules
    • Set up your sound design session with ready-to-use sound combinations
    • Generate variations with ease instead of manually tweaking everything
    • Find new combinations, discover and create new flavors and variety within your library

    WHAT DOES SOUNDWEAVER DO?

    • SoundWeaver automates and randomizes certain parts of your sound design workflow.
    • SoundWeaver searches your sound library with the help of keywords or folder paths and picks matching sounds for your project.
    • Sounds are automatically sorted, grouped, layered, aligned and split into regions (if files contain multiple variations).
    • Now you can pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and randomize individual sounds, groups or the whole project. The possibilities are endless.
    • Take snapshots of your favorite combinations and settings. Create as many variants as you like and return to them later in the process.
    • Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW for further editing or export the final mix.
    • SoundWeaver can generate countless variations from your project during export via pitch, offset and take randomization.


    HOW SOUNDWEAVER HELPS YOUR WORKFLOW

    MORE VARIETY ON TIGHT SCHEDULES
    We all know the situation: A client has asked for 100 new sound assets, 10 variations each, delivered as soon as possible.
    Creating variations in particular requires a lot of meticulous pitching, shifting and switching out elements within your original design.
    With just a few commands, SoundWeaver will automate all of those time-consuming steps for you and generate as many suggestions as you like – so all that’s left for you to do is have a quick listen and keep the ones you like best.
    Focus on your creative process while SoundWeaver takes care of the rest.

    INSPIRATION THROUGH NEW COMBINATIONS
    Speaking of creative process: Once your library has grown beyond a certain point, there is only so much experimenting you can do manually. SoundWeaver’s powerful Randomize feature often generates combinations we’d never think of trying in the first place.
    This opens up a world of new possibilities and is a great way of starting a project.
    Already have an idea? Tell SoundWeaver to build on it and create different flavors.
    Starting empty-handed? Let SoundWeaver set up your session by putting all layers in place.
    Done, but missing that special something? Try out more unlikely sounds with just a few clicks.


    SOUNDWEAVER At A Glance

    KEY FEATURES

    • SoundWeaver automatically picks, slices, aligns and layers sounds
    • Search by keywords, folders or drag’n’drop
    • Pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and switch out individual sounds, groups or the whole project
    • Each of the previous parameters can be randomized.
    • Export: Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW
    • Export as: Individual layers, groups or mixdown
    • Export features: Generate variations using pitch, offset or random takes
    • Take snapshots and return to your favorite combinations, parameter settings and sounds at will

    TECH SPECS

    Format: Standalone Application for Windows & Mac
    Required Hard Disk Space: 30 MB
    Manual: PDF
    License Agreement: PDF
    Available As: Download

    REQUIREMENTS

    SOFTWARE
    SoundWeaver is a standalone application and works without any host audio software.

    SYSTEM
    Windows 7 (64-bit), 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5
    Mac OS X 10.9, 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5

    ILOK
    SoundWeaver requires a free iLok account

    Available licensing options:
    Machine License activation and USB Dongle (iLok 2 or higher)

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1581116399
  • City Life Buenos Aires Ambiences Play Track 71 sounds included, 200 mins total $39.99

    Buenos Aires Ambiences features 71 beautifully and professionally recorded ambient sounds of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, with their rich and unique Spanish dialect, a variety of perspectives, locations, and times of day, everything is categorized with metadata input via Basehead Ultra, and mastered in Protools HD.  We originally recorded over 80gb of data which translated to 42 hours and meticulously cut it down to 6.5gb/3 hours and 20 min of the best and most useful ambiences.

    Included is: City airs, botanical gardens, parks, markets, cemetery, city plazas and squares, nature reserve, busy and quiet streets, traffic, crowds, early morning bird chorus, evening airs, construction, airport, department stores, cafes, restaurants, library, church and cathedral, train station, public transit, museum, roomtones, rain.  And a variety of each, with different perspectives and amounts of walla and voices.

    Thank you and we hope you enjoy our recordings

    Buenos Aires Ambiences includes 3 hours of beautiful ambiences of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a massive variety of locations and times of day, this album will not dissapoint!

  • The Siemens Valero is a high-speed train that is an engineering marvel and a staple of modern high-grade national and transcontinental rail transport, with various versions zipping across the UK, the EU, Russia, and the far reaches of Asia including China. This is a train capable of 290 kilometres per hour (180 mph), it is the high-speed joiner of distant cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. For our recording project, we captured it across a comprehensive range of its speeds. Sennheiser Ambeo microphones were used throughout.

    Recordings were made inside carriages, inside a compartment, down gangways, across the ever-dramatic space connecting railcar vestibules, and also less glorified but vital locations, e.g., the loo. All relevant background sounds are there, including door movements, passenger chatter, objects in motion, and the sounds of the restaurant car. For the characteristic sounds of a great ‘iron horse’, inside and out, this is it. Flysound… Putting the ‘track’ into soundtrack!

 
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