Michael Coleman The Soundworks Collection Asbjoern Andersen

Few sites have done so much for the sound community as The Soundworks Collection. With their fantastic sound profiles, they've taken the art and craft of film sound and game audio creation, and made it accessible to a much larger audience.

So it's a huge pleasure to feature Michael Coleman, founder of The Soundworks Collection, in this special community highlight. Get the story behind The Soundworks Collection, hear about Michael Coleman's favorite moments running it - and watch some of the (many!) excellent Soundworks Collection features:

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Hi Michael, how did you come up with the idea for The Soundworks Collection, how did you get it off the ground – and who’s the team behind it today?

In September of 2009, myself and my high school filmmaking friend Michael Tucker were discussing our interest to produce short behind-the-scenes videos about sound in Hollywood films. We wanted to create videos about the individuals and sound teams who were working on inspiring projects and discuss their creative process.

I had also been working with Tom Kenny at Mix Magazine for many years producing web videos mainly covering projects in the Bay Area and expressed my interest to cover other sound studios. Tom put me in touch with many of the sound studios in LA that had exciting projects coming out that year including Watchmen, Star Trek, 2012, Inglorious Basterds and Terminator Salvation.

My team today is the same team I have had since starting the series

I created a very basic website and started posting these videos online and shared them with the online sound community. It was exciting because the videos were getting a lot of attention and featured on websites like Wired, Gizmodo, Boing Boing, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

My team today is the same team I have had since starting the series, which includes myself and a handful of friends who help me out on various video shoots and a very talented web design and coding team.

What’s been one of the most exciting moments running The Soundworks Collection?

I feel very fortunate to have met so many incredible people all over the world who have seen my work through the series.

Getting an email from Hans Zimmer never gets old

It has been a lot of fun to meet and work with some of my heroes, including Ben Burtt, Hans Zimmer, Darren Aronofsky, Trent Reznor, Metallica and J.J. Abrams. Also getting an email from Hans Zimmer never gets old.

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The Soundworks Collection feature on the sound for Interstellar

How do you decide what projects to feature, and what’s the typical workflow behind the making of a sound profile?

I tend to profile projects that I’m personally inspired by, which could because of the subject matter or the people working on the project. I think that it’s easier for me to feel like I’m representing the project in my videos or audio podcasts when I’m excited about the projects and people behind them.

I usually shoot interviews with the sound and music teams a few weeks before a film might be coming, while they are finishing up their mixes on the sound stage.

I usually shoot interviews with the sound and music teams a few weeks before a film might be coming, while they are finishing up their mixes on the sound stage. I find that they have a better perspective on the project and their work when they are in the final stages of the mix. I typically spend approx. 3-5 days to edit and produce a 10-minute video profile which I also color correct and mix in my home studio.

If a video is going to be featured on a home blu-ray release I will have it mixed in a studio by a friend to make sure it translates on a home system. I feel fortunate to have several of my videos included on such releases as director Brett Morgen’s, The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane, director Cameron Crowe and Producer Morgan Neville’s, Pearl Jam Twenty, director John M. Chu’s, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Director J.C. Chandor’s, All is Lost, director Michael Bay’s, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, director Nimrod Antal’s, Metallica: Through the Never

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The Soundworks Collection feature on foley artist Gary Hecker – the most popular video on the site

What’s one of your favorite profiles you’ve done so far? And what’s been the most successful one in terms of reach and general interest?

The most popular video on the website is about foley artist Gary Hecker which has 615K plays and all of my videos about the sound of Christopher Nolan or Michael Bay films do incredibly well.

I had a lot of fun creating videos with Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryan for the Transformers movies including a gun record trip. Also the Dark Knight videos with Richard King have been exciting to produce including the extensive sound libraries they build for each film.

I also really enjoy covering the music focused docs like PJ20 with Pearl Jam, Metallica: Through the Never and Montage of Heck about Curt Cobain and Nirvana.

The team has also branched out into podcasts – here’s an audio feature on the sound for Spider-Man: Homecoming

Any particularly interesting experiences you’ve had making of one of the profiles?

It was incredibly fun to spend a week with the sound team and Peter Jackson as they dialed in their mix

For my video profile on the sound/music of The Hobbit, I worked with Dolby to feature the early Atmos mix work the sound team was doing in Wellington, New Zealand at Park Road Post. It was incredibly fun to spend a week with the sound team and Peter Jackson and many late nights as they dialed in their mix before the world premiere.

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The Soundworks Collection feature on the sound for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

You’ve been paying attention to the film and game sound industries for quite a while now. What trends are you noticing? And what really excites you within the world of sound at the moment?

It is exciting to see more people and studios embrace immersive sound formats that are making their way into VR, video games, films and music. I think there will be a lot of opportunities and growth when it comes to immersive formats and unique listening spaces.

I think there will be a lot of opportunities and growth when it comes to immersive formats and unique listening spaces

My hope is that speaker technology and theater playback quality will get better as the audience seeks out better movie watching experiences that reflect what is happening on the mix stages.

Translation is always going to be challenging when you have so many various deliverables and mobile devices that people are now consuming content.

How can readers support The Soundworks Collection?

Spread the word and tell your friends! My goal from the beginning is to make all of the content free, so the website is supported through advertisers and content sponsors.

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The SoundWorks Collection feature on the sound and music of Resident Evil 7

What’s next for you and the site?

I’m working on a complete website redesign that will help readers explore more of the video and audio content that has been produced over the years. There is a huge archive of videos that I hope will become a resource for students and professionals. I’m currently completing a video profile on the sound of Blade Runner 2049 and gearing up for the upcoming awards season which is always fun to cover.

A big thanks to Michael Coleman and team for creating The Soundworks Collection and sharing the story behind it – be sure to check out the site here!


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