Sound Designer and Sound Supervisor David Farmer has worked on many of the biggest block-busters and video games in the past couple of decades. His credits include Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong” films, “Red Riding Hood” (2011), “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010), “Underworld:Rise of the Lycans” (2009), and “The Incredible Hulk” (2008). Other film projects include “Armageddon”, “Mortal Kombat”, and “The Mask”. Farmer’s Video game credits include God of War II (VG), God of War III (VG) and Dante’s Inferno (VG). During the course of his career, Farmer has made McDSP plug-ins an integral part of his work flow.
“When I’m designing new sounds, I build in premix tracks that get bussed down to auxes, and those auxes then get bussed down to a composite. I almost always have an instance of Analog Channel on those premix auxes, and often an ML4000 too.”
“It’s hard to put into words why McDSP products sound so good to me. When I listen through a McDSP plug-in, it sounds like the plug-in has been listening. So many plug-ins just sound like they’re crunching numbers, but McDSP sounds like they’re actually listening to the audio.”
Analog Channel has been a long time favorite of many sound designers, and Farmer is no exception. “Before I discovered Analog Channel, I struggled to get my sound effects to have that round sweetness I was aiming for. I came into the industry when DAT was replacing the Nagra for field recording. All my field recording was done digitally, and I was also working on a Synclavier and laying the sounds down to a Sony 3324. There was nothing in the chain to help add an analog character. I put together a rack of gear that had compressors and tube saturators, and the like. I even had a pro cassette deck I used as an insert, and I’d saturate the cassette and record the output. This helped a lot, but was pretty cumbersome to tote around. When I started working in Pro Tools and discovered Analog Channel, I was impressed straight away. I could get that analog character without having to go to an external rack AND have multiple instances. I did extensive tests with Analog Channel, and my rack (which we had dubbed ‘The Bigulator’). For a while there, I processed everything both ways, and saved both copies in my library. I had spent a lot of time tweaking ‘The Bigulator’ rack, and had done many films using it. It was a critical part of the sound I was getting, that people were calling me for. Naturally I was hesitant to switch away from using it. However, I found I preferred the Analog Channel processed files, over the files processed using my external gear. They had more punch and clarity, and had the analog character I wanted. I’ve tried other analog emulator plug-ins, but most emulate pre-amps, where Analog Channel sounds like tape saturation. I just love it!”
Farmer continues to put the McDSP Analog Channel plug-in to work every day. “Analog Channel has been a major part of my processing chain for many years now. I’ve used it to “dirty-up” (and I mean that in a good way!) everything from explosions to creature vocals. On “The Incredible Hulk” I used Analog Channel to give the vocals a much larger than life sound. It maintained the dynamics, but increased the projection of the voice in a really nice way. Getting those vocals to be aggressive enough was a tough challenge and Analog Channel was a major part of that process.”
The first McDSP plug-in ever released, FilterBank, a collection of EQ and filter configurations, has also found its way into Farmer’s audio toolbox. “Filterbank has fixed more problems than I can possibly recount. But one of the first and most obvious “saves” was I had taken a trip to rural Virginia and recorded hours of night-time ambiences. They were wonderful sounds but, even though very rural, were always haunted by a distant highway drone. The crickets and night insects were in a higher range than the traffic and I was able to clean that traffic sound out of the recordings very easily and cleanly. First, I did a test roll off by cranking down a low-pass filter until I found that the remaining audio contained none of the insect sounds I wanted to keep. Then I switched to a high-pass filter and used the same frequency I found before, and was able to take out all the traffic sounds. I A/B’d the EQ many times and was astounded by how clean the EQ was. FilterBank really saved those recordings. If it hadn’t been for FilterBank, I could have only used those recordings in projects set in modern-day, because of those traffic/machine tones. But instead they’ve been used many times now, even in machine-less environments like Middle Earth.”
The TEC Award nominated ML4000 mastering limiter and dynamics processor is another Farmer favorite. “I’ve come to love is the ML4000. Honestly, I wasn’t in the market for another limiter, but since this was McDSP thought I would give it a demo. I was immediately impressed. After just a few hours of using it, bought it that very day. It’s a really amazing plug-in. It does a fantastic job of digging out low level material, without squashing the hotter stuff. It does this so naturally, sometimes I forget I have instantiated. There’s a heck of a lot going on under the hood, but the interface on ML4000 makes it really easy to get great sounding results!”
David Farmer’s successful and long career is the result of hard work, a bit of luck, and the use of good tools to get the job done, including plug-ins from McDSP.