After meeting at an impromptu jam session in 2010, Ken Cain and Brett Bach both realized that they had a new ally in the world of post-production. The duo, who says the only difference between them is that "Brett wears Vans and Ken wears Converse," began hiring each other for different freelance jobs until finally joining forces and founding Sound Brigade in 2013.
Since going full-time with Sound Brigade, the duo has built an incredible track record for sound supervision, sound mixing, sound design, sound editorial and ADR/VO recording. In 2016, Bach and Cain teamed up with Vintage King's Alex Oana to upgrade their control surface and bring an Avid ICON into their studio space. We caught up with the duo and talked about the difference the ICON has made, how they pick gear for their studio and what they love about working in the world of post-production.
Describe your studio space and talk a little bit about the aesthetic behind the gear you choose to use.
The way we choose our gear is simple, whatever is best suited for the job that is within our budget. We buy a lot of used gear because it is a great value. We do our research, and once we have decided on what we want, we call on Vintage King to find us great used stuff. This allows us to function on the same level as the top-tier post-production studios, but on a realistic budget, which allows us to pass this value on to our clients.
Compatibility is important, so we choose Pro Tools because it’s the industry standard and can be found in most professional post production studios. We also believe that Pro Tools offers the best workflow and flexibility for post-production sound. We have both been using Pro Tools for so long, that it really feels like an extension of us. Of course, we also use an endless list of plugins from Waves, iZotope, McDSP etc. In our sound design room, we also use Kontakt, Sound Miner and other sound design tools. We monitor through JBL LSR series speakers because we have found there are no surprises in translation to dub stages and theaters. To record ADR, we use a Sound Devices 442 with a Sennheiser 416 and Sanken Cos-11. This is the same (or very close) chain that many production sound mixers use. We have found by mimicking this recording chain our ADR needs less tweaking to get it to sit in the mix.
What type of console/controller were using prior to the Avid ICON in your studio?
Before Vintage King found our ICON D-Control, we were mixing on an Avid Artist Series and before that a Command-8. These both worked great for us for a time, but as our sessions grew in track count and became more complicated, we wanted to have more tactile control, and a deeper integration with Pro Tools software.
After mixing a dozen films on the Avid Artist Series and Command-8 we became frustrated by their limitations. It was time for us to make an upgrade, so we began our search to find an ICON D-Control, the most perfectly integrated controller for Pro Tools.
What led to you guys choosing the Avid ICON?
We knew from the start that we wanted the ICON D-Control as both of us had worked on them on various stages around town. We knew it would offer the best control of our mixes and the best Pro Tools integration. We began our search right when the S6 came out. Many other studios were so excited to get the latest and greatest S6, that they began dumping their ICON D-Controls, which worked out perfectly for us. Since the D-Controls had been discontinued at the time, we had to find a suitable used one and determined that the 16-fader version with the surround panner was perfect for our room and workflow.
How has the Avid ICON fit into your studio space? What makes it ideal in pfor what you guys do?
The ICON D-control is a beautiful controller and it really looks amazing in the mix room. Having the ICON D-Control has definitely increased our speed and creativity. It’s just more fun to mix on. With the tactile control, it really is possible to mix as fast as you can think, which has been an incredible eye-opening journey. Others may disagree, but based on value and functionality, we couldn’t imagine a better controller.
Talk a little about what life is like in the post production world.
Post-production sound is a demanding, competitive world with crazy deadlines and, many times, seemingly unrealistic demands. Some would think we’re crazy, but we enjoy the challenge. It’s constantly evolving, and moving in the direction that we choose. Since we both come from music backgrounds it is fun and freeing to be able to use some of those skills when creating sound fx, performing foley movements or mixing. The ability to be in tune with the rhythm of every project is important.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite. We love them all the same and for different reasons. We recently did sound design for the gaze-activated VR experience for MTV’s Teen Wolf, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. It was so cool to put on the head-gear and look around and have the sounds follow that motion. We also recently just finished up a horror-comedy film starring Dolph Lundgren. We both grew up in the era of incredible 80’s and 90’s action movies, so it was neat to record ADR with such an icon, I mean, come on, he was He-Man. There are so many awesome projects we’ve worked on, so these are just a couple of the great recent experiences we have the opportunity of having every week.
What makes you come to the studio and want to work in post-production
Every day we get to walk into a studio that we built with our own blood, sweat and tears and hang out together, be creative and collaborate with other creative people. We also get to drink coffee, lots of it.