I can work on your project.

Find me! Call DAP at 214.350.7678 or email rene@dallasaudiopost.com. Also check out echocollectivefx.com for custom sfx, and tonebenders.net for my podcast.

Tuesday, August 30

The Kickstarter Experience Pt 2 - Research and Setup

kickstarter part 2 - research and setup

Once I had made up my mind that I wanted to do the trolley thing as a kickstarter project, I knew I had to do my homework.

First on the list was to head back out to the trolleys and ride some more. I brought the trusty ole PCM D50 and made some test runs, and jumped on several of the different cars. After a few rides I had my favorites and I looked up the MATA contact info.

I needed to get pricing and permission from MATA, the trolley transit authority. I contacted their business department and after a few rounds of email and phone tag we were able to discuss and negotiate the whole deal.

MATA actually does trolley charters as a primary business function and they were more than happy to give me a good rate on the cars and to agree to my ideas of mic placement. After some discussion we decided on Rosie and on Matilda as my target cars. Those two were some of the most distinctive sounding, and had the added benefit of being the smallest and largest cars in the fleet respectively, so I knew I could get a very different set of sounds from each. I set a tentative date with them and began my kickstarter research in earnest.

Obviously anyone considering a kickstarter project should spend some time in the FAQs and Kickstarter School sections of the website.

Kickstarter really does have a great reserve of getting started info and tips that will lead to success. Kickstarter’s resources (and in fact all of their communications) are very clear and well-written. At no point did I ever feel like i was reading legalese in the process, which is a heck of an achievement IMO.

An example is the language in the guidelines page:

Project Guidelines
Kickstarter is a funding platform focused on a broad spectrum of creative projects. The guidelines below articulate our mission and focus. Please note that any project that violates these guidelines will be declined or removed. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Projects. Projects. Projects. Kickstarter is for the funding of projects – albums, films, specific works – that have clearly defined goals and expectations.

Projects with a creative purpose. Kickstarter can be used to fund projects from the creative fields of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. We currently only support projects from these categories.

No charity or cause funding. Examples of prohibited use include raising money for the Red Cross, funding an awareness campaign, funding a scholarship, or donating a portion of funds raised on Kickstarter to a charity or cause.
No "fund my life" projects. Examples include projects to pay tuition or bills, go on vacation, or buy a new camera.

Rewards, not financial incentives. The Kickstarter economy is based on the offering of rewards – copies of the work, limited editions, fun experiences. Offering financial incentives, such as ownership, financial returns (for example, a share of profits), or repayment (loans) is prohibited.

Community Guidelines

We rely on respectful interactions to ensure that Kickstarter is a friendly place. Please follow the rules below.
Spread the word but don't spam. Spam includes sending unsolicited @ messages to people on Twitter. This makes everyone on Kickstarter look bad. Don't do it.

Don't promote a project on other projects' pages. Your comments will be deleted and your account may be suspended.
Be courteous and respectful. Don't harass or abuse other members.

Don't post obscene, hateful, or objectionable content. If you do we will remove it and suspend you.

Don't post copyrighted content without permission. Only post content that you have the rights to.
If you don't like a project, don't back it. No need to be a jerk.

Actions that violate these rules or our Terms of Use may lead to an account being suspended or deleted. We'd prefer not to do that, so be cool, okay? Okay.

I really love the “be cool” part.

The Kickstarter mechanism works as follows:

Step 1 is to define and submit your project to the KS staff. Projects must be closed-ended, meaning that there has to be a specific finishing point. You do this by filling out a form on the website. I received approval about one day after submitting my project. Here’s an excerpt from the email I received:

Congratulations -- you’re in! In just a moment, you’ll be able to start getting your project ready.

Take as much time as you need to prepare. There’s no deadline to launch. Check out some of our Recommended projects, browse the FAQs, and read the project guidelines. They'll give you a feel for what works and help you shape your project into a great one.


If you have questions, we’re here for you. Drop us a line at support@kickstarter.com.

Ready? Let’s get started!


Step 2 is to set up an Amazon business account. This required making up a business name and giving tying the AB account into my regular bank account. The process was relatively straightforward.

Step 3 was to tie the Kickstarter account to the Amazon Business account. The KS page makes that process pretty straightforward as well, and in fact won’t let you proceed to the next steps until your business account is set up and confirmed, which is a good failsafe.


Now that I had all of the structures in place beneath me, the next step was to research and think about the critical steps involved in launching the project in a way that would be successful.

Saturday, August 27

The Kickstarter Experience Pt 1 - Overview

Earlier this summer I stepped onto a trolley near my house and was sonically transfixed. I absolutely loved how rattley and creaky everything sounded, and I made up my mind that I was going to record this thing properly.

The trolley is free to ride, so I jumped onboard with my PCM D50 and recorded a quick walkthrough. The next day I contacted the McKinney Ave Transit Authority to inquire about chartering a car for the purposes of recording it. After being quoted a decent price I decided on kickstarter as opposed to self-funding in order to make this happen.

This series of blog posts will be about my Kickstarter experience.


I’ll begin here with the main lessons I learned and in the next parts I’ll get further into the details of each step.

I think that kickstarter IS:

an excellent way to raise funds for specific projects

I wanted to record the trolley and I didn’t want to pay for it personally. Kickstarter got that done and then some. I was truly humbled by the fact that my project fully backed in under 5 hours and funded over 500% of the initial goal.

an excellent way to collaborate on projects

I was amazed and the quantity and quality of people that took on the highest level of backing. Getting feedback and advice in a public forum made this an interesting and collaborative project. Getting further feedback in the future will only make this experience that much better.

very well designed and professional looking and feeling

There aren’t any font or formatting options on any of the communications or on the page because the KS website really just takes control of all of that and dictates the look. In the end that works out well, as the kickstarter communications all conform to a clean and consistent look that identifies with the KS brand and tends to lend credibility. All movies, photos and sounds uploaded as parts of updates or the main page are re-encoded and formatted by the KS website and embedded into its own proprietary player. Fortunately that player is very functional and works well on mobile devices.

an interesting and strange social experiement

It is the strangest thing ever to have that goal and that money line up there as the primary visual on the home page. Once you cross that goal line everyone and their dog starts spending the money you’re raising with no knowledge of ongoing expenses needed to execute the project. There are other social strangenesses that happen, but that big number is the primary driver.

relatively time-intensive, even for smaller projects

The amount of time it takes to execute a successful kickstarter is not trivial. I spent many hours scouting and prepping for the record, booking the trolleys and gear, creating the kickstarter website content, answering emails and following up on questions, doing KS updates to keep the backers in the loop, coordinating help, recording the trolleys, dumping and consolidating the data, editing the audio, metadata tagging, creating and testing the different versions of deliverables for the different backer levels, and posting and testing all of the final deliverables to the different levels with different logins.

This was a pretty straightforward recording session, but the time investment was pretty thick when all is considered.

I think that kickstarter IS NOT:

a way to make a living

As noted above the time investment is not insignificant and if I divided the “profit” taken from the final number delivered by the number of hours spent doing the work it wouldn’t add up to a very good rate.

cheap money

Kickstarter takes 5% off the top of all money earned. Then amazon takes another 5% for payment processing. This means that all backer funds come into your operations account at a 10% premium. This is a pretty significant chunk.


The caveats I’d offer to anyone planning on doing a sfx recording kickstarter are to recognize that the term “Kickstarter” is kind of a misnomer. This service is really more for dragging you across the finish line than it is for putting an idea in motion.

You have to have done your homework, prep work, and all due dilligence before launching your kickstarter if you hope to be successful.

Fundamentally, this means that you have to be able to deliver before asking backers for money. There is a lot of front end work involved in getting a project to that state. In my case that meant making sure I had clearance from the MATA people to charter a trolley for the specific purpose of mounting a bunch of mics to it and recording it, making sure that I had the equipment available, and getting reasonable assurances from the people who would help me that they were available.

It also meant that I had to have my backer levels, fundraising target, timeline and rewards all planned out and ready to go before making the pitch. Once those specific things are set and you launch the project, you can’t take it back so each is a big decision worthy of spending a little time getting right.


I greatly appreciate everyone who backed this project and I hope to hear the sounds we caught in some interesting places. If you backed this project and would like to talk about some interesting uses you’ve had for the sounds, please comment on this post. I’d love to hear it!

Thursday, August 18

truck record - this time not rained out!

First a little backstory: I needed to find a 50s model Ford F150 to match what we see on screen in the film we're working on, so my brother in law suggest a car show north of town to scout. It was a pretty small show, but lo and behold I ran into a really cool guy named Doug who just happened to be driving the exact car I needed to record. We exchanged info and two weeks later we set the date for a Saturday morning.

Of course, it rained and we moved the date to Monday after work.

By moving to a weekday we heavily compressed my recording schedule though, so I was sure to be as prepared as I could get before heading out there. Prep included:

- putting every frame of the film that included the truck on a quicktime that could be played on my ipad on location
- pre-wrapping my onboard mics with terrycloth towel for wind protection
- testing and setting up media, batteries, recorder settings, etc.

I showed up at Doug's house at around 6:30, and sunset was going to hit hard at about 8:30, so I had to work fast. I mounted the undercarriage mics with bungee cords and gaff tape, secured the boom from the back of the tailgate, and mounted the engine mic. A quick level test and we were off to find a suitable street to roll with.

No I had not scouted a street in that part of the world, but Doug knew exactly where to take us: a little gravel road with a short turn around where he could do bys and stops with little traffic intervention.

We covered the basic things we needed (mostly slow bys on gravel, slow bys on clean pavement, and some gravely tire work) and we were already starting to lose light. We did some stop n go driving so that I could catch interiors with the VP-88, and headed back.

When we arrived back at the house I pulled and re-set all of the mics for foley. The bungee cords really made that work go quickly though, because a couple of yanks and all of my mics were loose and free.

Door foley setup was VP-88 inside, Schoeps outside near, and mkh60 outside far.

We also did some glove compartment moves, and by that time we were completely dark outside and working by flashlight. Also, in summertime in Texas the cicadas come out around dusk. Out in the country the coyotes decided to announce their presence as well. I pressed on, getting what I could get and knowing that I'd have to edit a fair amount later on.

When I got back into the studio on Tuesday I opened it all up and found myself very happy with the results. The truck got just over 3 minutes of total screen time in the film and I had the entire thing cut in and sounding good by the end of the day, which was just a joy to get done.

Here's what I learned:

--Proper drafing makes all the difference in the world--

Each time I record a vehicle I get better at finding good drafting spots quickly, and this record really worked out well with regards to wind noise. Axels are great spots for mounting and drafting, but just hanging the blimp from the tailgate in the jetstream really worked out well too. I'm sure it didn't hurt that we really didn't get above 40mph, but this was truly my first vehicle record where wind noise was a complete nonfactor in all mics.

--put your best mic on the exhaust--

I made a conscious decision to get that schoeps mic in the best spot I could find for the exhaust note and it paid off in spades. I took a risk by using an unknown miking technique (at least to me) by hanging it in the blimp, but in my mixed onboard sound that mic is almost all of what I went with. man that thing sounds good.

--brighter and less true mics work well as detail spots for engine and tires--

NT5 on the tire for the gravel sound worked out really well. I wasn't relying on that mic for my exhaust note, so I was free to put it in a spot where I could get some nice crispyness from the gravel with that spot. Ditto the SM81 in the engine. While the engine does have some interesting midrange stuff going on, its mostly a much brighter sound than the exhaust and the 81 choice and placement ended up working out very well in that application.

--it doesn't take 100 mics to get a good sound--

I knew that I'd be running this record solo, so instead of bringing the 788t and a giant collection of mics to mount onto the truck, I ran the 744t and just the 4 mics. in the end, I'm more happy with the sound I got from this setup than from some others where I put much more effort and many more mics onboard. Each record teaches me more and more, and the biggest thing I learned in this one is that I really need to have those "money" mics locked down and rocking, then I'm good.

So, without further adieu here are some results and samples. enjoy!

truck onboard mix sample by Rcoronado
truck doors by Rcoronado

Sunday, August 14

truck record, rained out

I was scheduled to record a truck for a film I'm working on yesterday, but somehow the universe decided that yesterday morning would be the first time in months that the DFW metroplex needed a little rain.

That of course derailed my truck record, but I had all of these mics prepped and ready and this beautiful warm rain falling down, so I decided to make lemonade from the lemons and record the rain.

The sound here is a composite of all of the mics in these shots. I initially comped them down into an LCR mix, but had to fold that to stereo for the soundcloud version.

Each of the mics and positions drew a very different picture, and it was cool to play with all of the perspectives to come up with the most interesting mix. I close my eyes and think of rain in the forest, even though this was recorded in the middle of a concrete jungle.