Yuri is a perfect blend of a classy and classical sort of sound artist. We were fortunate to have him as our Post Production Sound Supervisor (which for our project encompassed creating all the sound for the film, including foley and voice over, as well as mixing it). I was inspired by his passion to “get it right”, as well as his creative spirit and thought process. Meticulous, yet playful, he helped orchestrate the character of our cart, as well, as provide an interesting take on the characters, backgrounds, and eventually led us through the final mix which combined all of our efforts. He and his team of assistants did an amazing job. His story is both interesting and inspiring, and I am glad he took some time to answer a few questions for us.
Tell us a little something about yourself (where you grew up, what you were interested in as a kid):
I was born in Minsk, Belarus and spent my first eight years in the Soviet Union. My family immigrated in 1991 to Chicago. My older sister was a competitive piano player and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I was also one of those weird kids that actually enjoyed doing math. As I got older, I played keyboards in some high school bands and started taking the idea of studying music and sound seriously. I also developed an unhealthy obsession with the music of Beethoven.
What led you to want to be a sound designer/mixer? Influences?
My high school experience was highly influenced by the electronica wave and I bought a Yamaha CS1x synthesizer at the age of 14. I became obsessed wth the idea of creating sounds and musical sequences that have never existed before.I made a mission to recreate the sounds I heard on records by the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and the Crystal Method with the little equipment that I had. I didn’t always succeed but the process helped me develop a very critical ear to the characteristics of different sounds.
Lately, I’ve been trying to pay more and more attention to Ben Burtt and his work. He has a degree in physics and he takes this unique, analytical approach to sound design. He first wants to understand how something works – and then through that process, he comes up with a set of sounds to represent that thing. It’s very practical yet some of the stuff he comes up with is extremely creative.
What inspires you to create?
I simply just love the feeling I get when I know I’m doing something that no one has ever done before.
What drew you to The Go Cart (artistically and maybe, personally)?
I liked that the cart and some other characters had their own personalities and stories. Since there was no dialogue, their sound palette became one of the most important factors in telling the story. I enjoyed knowing that the sound was just as relevant as the animation in defining those characters.
What was your process like for creating the sound for The Go Cart?
The first thing I did was develop the ambiances (background sounds) for the each scene to set the mood.
Then I immediately focused on the main character. I knew that I would need dozens of unique sounds for the shopping cart. I went with my wife to our local grocery store with a Zoom Recorder and a shotgun microphone and asked their manager if I could record one of their carts for an hour or two. I ended up recording the sound of the cart from every conceivable angle. She and I took the cart outside and I recorded her pushing it at various different speeds. Then we crashed the cart into other carts and then struck it a couple of times with a broomstick to get some good impact sounds.
I ended up with almost two hundred different shopping cart sounds and I’m sure there is cell phone video somewhere of this girl pushing a cart at full speed with this weirdo running right next to her pointing a microphone!
Was there a time you ever felt like the cart, either in production or at any point in your life? If so, tell us a little more about it.
Oh man, all the time! The big secret about me is that I’m never secure about the quality of my work, which I also think is one of my biggest strengths. I always ask myself, “Do I have the ability to successfully contribute to this project?”. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, it’s a permanent part of my psyche.
As a result, there’s no destination and everything is a permanent learning process for me. I don’t even know if there is such a thing as a “purpose” but like with the cart, the journey has introduced me to the little spots in other people’s lives where I have been useful and have provided value. I hope that journey never ends.
What did you major in and/or where did you learn your skill set?
I majored in Music Synthesis (now called Electronic Production and Design) at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. After graduating, I worked in the advertising industry where I learned a lot of my studio skills.
I still think I’m learning. I hope that feeling never goes away. I’m constantly looking at new methods, tools and technologies and experimenting with creating unique sounds.
What are you working on now?
I’m the full-time chair of the Recording Arts department at Tribeca Flashpoint College and have been part of the Tribeca family here since 2009.
I’ve been doing a lot of classical music recording lately. I love the challenge of walking into new acoustic environments and trying to understand them. There’s still no better feeling than hearing a group of great musicians in a good room and being able to capture it all.
I’m also teaching piano lessons, writing an original score for a short film and am recording with a few local artists in studio. It’s going to be a great year!
Anything else you want to add?
Sound for animation is so much fun! I hope all the work that we put into to it shows through the character of the cart.