THE REFUGE by Patagonia

THE REFUGE - Directed by Alex Jablonski for Patagonia

I just worked on this impactful documentary that is likely to bring tears to your eyes. As the sound editor and re-recording mixer I watched it numerous times, and choked up during multiple listening passes. For hundreds of generations, the Gwich’in people of Alaska and northern Canada have depended on the caribou that migrate through the Arctic Refuge. With their traditional culture now threatened by oil extraction and climate change, two Gwich’in women are continuing a decades-long fight to protect their land and future. 

Patagonia and the Alaska Wilderness League are standing in solidarity with the Gwich’in people to protect the Arctic Refuge from drilling. Please take a moment to sign the Care2 petition asking Congress to designate the coastal plain of the refuge as Wilderness:


The past 6 months have been filled with incredibly moving and engaging videos, installations, and music scores. The greatest pleasure of working independently is being able to accept projects with a wide range of content that I deeply believe in, that are aimed at creating positive change in the world. A few clients I've recently worked for are MAC AIDS Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Citizen Film, Ecodeo, and Al'Myra Communications, and I've had the honor of working for a talented pool of artists and filmmakers such as Silas Howard, Cassils, and Lark Buckingham. I hope you enjoy the links below, and take a moment to dig into the messages these admirably bold media projects have captured. Audible Shift did the sound design and mixing on all of these projects, plus the music composing and video editing for Nucleus, and the music producing for the two videos by Ecodeo.


MORE THAN T - Directed by Silas Howard, produced by MAC AIDS Fund

The M·A·C AIDS Fund is a passionate advocate of equal rights, as well as combatting stigma and HIV/AIDS among the transgender community, and is proud to have produced the new film More Than T, directed by Silas Howard (Transparent, By Hook or By Crook, The Fosters) alongside writer Jen Richards, co-writer/star/producer of the show Her Story, which was recently nominated for an Emmy. The film follows the lives of six transgender individuals and the unique experiences that challenge and enrich their lives and gender identity, told through the lens of Silas and Jen, both of whom are revered members of the trans community.

TATTLE TALE HEART - Directed by Lark Buckingham

Tattle-Tale Heart is a queer fictional short film about authenticity, privacy and connection in social media, all seen through the lens of the human heart. A dystopian portrait of blurring boundaries between body and machine, it's based on an app that reads heart rate through your web cam, calculates your *true* mood, and posts it directly to your feed.

THE HUMAN COST OF CONFLICT PALM OIL - Produced by Ecodeo for Rainforest Action Network

20 YEARS OF DEFENDING THE AMAZON - Produced by Ecodeo for Amazon Watch


Documentation of a powerful performance in which Cassils collaborates with fight choreographer Mark Steger to stage a brutal two-person fight. Illuminated by car headlights in the depths of a parking garage, Cassils is the sole figure, sparring with an invisible force. The stereos of the surrounding cars broadcast a multi-channel score of static noise and radio samples designed by Kadet Kuhne. By amplifying the sociopolitical conflicts at each performance location with sound, The Powers That Be explores the radical unrepresentability of certain forms of trauma and violence.  Here the radio signal is a transmission of site-specific issues, both proximate and distant. Designed to be viewed and recorded on mobile phones, The Powers That Be further addresses the mediation of violence by calling into question the roles of witness and aggressor on the part of the spectator.

NUCLEUS - directed by Nathalie Brilliant and Al'Myra Communications

Nucleus was created for a project My Home My Mission which explores the meaning of 'home' related to the surging evictions in San Francisco, and the traumatizing psychological impact on those displaced.

Plantronics for Gamers

Check out this fresh trailer for the recently released Plantronic Rig Gaming Headset. Our Audible Shift team had a blast creating the electronic music score and cyber-tech-happy SFX! The creative direction to "make the headset sound like a spaceship but also feel lightweight" was the jumping off point. We love a good design challenge.

Plantronics Rig Gaming Headset video



I am excited to announce a recent Audible Shift award! Voices from Kaw Thoo Lei, directed by Martha Gorzycki, won Best Sound Design Award at the 2016 World Premiere Film Awards in Ottawa, Canada. It was also nominated for Best Sound Design at the Portsmouth International Film Fest in the UK. It's heartening that sound design so nuanced, textured and subtle as the design I crafted alongside Martha is noticed and celebrated. I spent hours manipulating traditional songs from the Karen region in Burma into nearly unrecognizable tones, and dissected organic elements recorded from the land around their villages into sinewy textures, which we then wove into an undulating mix intended to compliment the survivors' stirring stories of years of war. Voices From Kaw Thoo Lei is a beautifully animated film comprised of hundreds of photographs that lends a poetically effective voice to a devastating issue that needs to be heard.

Hajwalah at Dubai Int'l Film Festival

Audible Shift did the sound editing and mix on Hajwalah, an award-winning documentary that recently screened at that Dubai International Festival. Rana Jarbou's documentary on Joyriding in Riyadh reveals nuances of Saudi society, and the greater social, economic, spatial implications surrounding it. 

Read more about it!


"One of the most pivotal moments in the twenty-minute film is when Jarbou asks Rakan, through her cameraman of course, about the (lack of) public space in Riyadh, and how this restricts people’s access to the city and to one another. The question hangs in the air, setting the subtext for the film. Rakan responds that social media fills this void, providing the closest thing young Saudis have to a public marketplace for the free expression of ideas and opinions. Indeed, Saudi Arabia has the most Twitter users of any country in the world, as well as the highest per capita consumption of YouTube videos.

YouTube’s popularity has made it a primary medium for joyriders to promote themselves, with hundreds of thousands of devoted fans and viewers subscribing to channels like Rakan’s to watch adrenaline-packed videos of screeching tires and spinning cars set against a desert landscape. These videos actually served as inspiration for a music video by British recording artist M.I.A for her song “Bad Girls,”  which features a gender role reversal with female joyriders and male spectators cheering from the sidelines." - Sarah Moawad


If you haven't heard of NYLAS you will soon. They have just launched their "next generation email platform" and are already running hundreds of servers! Audible Shift had the honor of designing their user interface SFX. Designing app sounds is incredibly challenging and rewarding in that you know users will hear the sounds repeatedly. The audible cues will not only serve as indicators of actions and expected outcomes, but as part of the desire to interact over and over again.

Download the app for free and check out the most important sound of all: NEW MAIL!

The Queensway

Audible Shift recently completed the post audio for Ecodeo's incredibly impressive video that was produced for the Trust for Public Land in a partnership with The Friends of the QueensWay. The QueensWay is a Queens NY community led effort to transform a blighted, 3.5 mile stretch of abandoned railway in Central Queens, NYC into a family-friendly linear park and cultural greenway. The plan to reuse this property as an iconic park will spark economic and cultural development and improve the quality of life and environment of the adjacent communities. Ecodeo

Nao Bustamante: Soldadera

I just completed the sound design for two videos, Soldadera and Chacmool, showing as part of Nao Bustamante's solo show at the Vincent Price Museum, on view through August 16, 2015. Soldadera, the Spanish term for female soldier, is the title of this exhibition in which Bustamante creates a variety of projects that re-imagine and re-enact The Mexican Revolution (1910-20) in order to offer rarely considered perspectives of women soldiers.

The sound design for Nao's video Soldadera involved the process of researching sound effects applicable to the time period and region such as pistol shots, steam engines, train whistles and battlefield ambiences, with the additional layering of horse neighs and galloping, cooking foley, chicken clucks, wind and countryside atmospheres. Complementing these diegetic sounds are the abstract sounds based on Nao's conceptual direction - sad bugle calls, raging fire ambs, snare drums, screams, steam release effects, and dizzying tones. The compelling rhythmic section at the end is intensified by added shakers, conch shell trumpeting and additional drum samples and brought to a close with escalating effects applied to the clapping sound. My aim with sound was to represent the grief of the wounded, war torn strife, invigorated glory and collective triumph, all with the goal of bringing to life the video's impressive archival collection of stills and staged moving images. Digging into this history via the sound design was an informative and inspiring undertaking.

Installation view, Nao Bustamante, "Soldadera" at the Vincent Price Art Museum (photos by; Monica Orozco):

One personal piece of trivia is - the cry used for the baby in this scene pictured below is none other than my son Haven's cry as an infant. It's his first official voice debut in film history!

Working on Nao's video Chacmool was an exceptionally engaging and satisfying process, one of those creative endeavors that is filled with lovely surprises. Chacmool features Leandra Becerra Lumbreras – known to be the oldest survivor of the mexican Revolution, who died this past March at the age of 127 – lying in bed hand drumming and occasionally conversing with offscreen onlookers. An OMF was sent to me with Leandra's production sound soaked in a heavy reverb along with a dreamy sine tone ambient track, slightly arpeggiated. I was a little thrown off by the reverb until I learned that Nao was presenting the video in a custom built viewing device in which the viewer looks through two eye holes, simulating a stereoscopic effect, complete with headphones and a stool with an internal speaker for bass response. I immediately landed in the "world" of this mesmerizing and historic woman and set out to fulfill Nao's direction of composing instrumental accompaniment to the hand drumming patterns, which translated to me as Leandra conducting a band in her imagination. The instruments added are marching bass, shakers, deep tympani samples, cymbal, an electronic bass hit for intermittent accents and emotional grounding, processed guitar ambience, a vocal-simulated ambient pad, two layers of Leandra's original drumming with delay and EQ, two printed layers of just the reverb through the send tracks from this drumming production sound, and a processed electronic rain stick sample occasionally embedded within. The BPM of Leandra's drumming naturally didn't have the quantized accuracy of the accompanying midi-programmed recordings, so much of the editing time was spent splicing individual percussion hits to line up with her beautifully drifting rhythms. For mastering, I used Sound Toys' Pan Mistress plugin to sonically spread some of these samples and emphasize the installation's constructed listening environment, and then applied reverb to the entire mix to unify the spatial signature.

Here is a short audio sample...

Installation stills from Nao's opening night (photos by; Monica Orozco)

It was truly an honor to work with Nao Bustamante, a longtime friend and artist whose work I have admired since first moving to San Francisco in the 90s. I recall randomly coming across one of her public performance pieces in Duboce Park in which she tied water-filled balloons around her head and moved about in an abandoned, trance-like state. I was instantly in love with the fierceness, boldness and emotionally raw and nuanced depth of her work, which has never ceased to impress me until this day. I can't wait to visit LA and experience firsthand her Soldadera exhibition this Summer.

Article featuring Chacmool - How Women were the unsung heroes of the Mexican Revolution

Press about the Soldadera Exhibition - Searching for Soldaderas: The Women of the Mexican Revolution in Photographs

Press about exhibition in LA Times - Femininity in Kevlar: Nao Bustamante's women of the Mexican Revolution

Final Sound Mix with Cassils

Cassils flew from LA to the mix stage in SF to finish the sound mix on Inextinguishable Fire after 3 months of remote reviews and numerous conversations. We recorded breaths, tweaked EQs on multiple studio-tracked fire ambiences, sculpted subjective perspectives, and deliberated over foot falls, heart beats, low drones, room tones and every sound effect I meticulously laid into the design. 15 hours of mixing later, the sound score is complete. I can't express enough how enjoyable it is to work for Cassils - so investigative, thorough and clearly directive yet open in the process, and deeply appreciative of the craft that sound design truly is. Cassils' new video premieres May 22 at the Museum of Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Check out the trailer for Inextinguishable Fire

The Lexington Archival Project

Finishing the sound mix today on a documentary about the Lexington Club. A works-in-progress version is screening at the SFIFF April 30th. Tickets are available here:

BRICK Academy

Just finished the music producing, sound design and final mix for Ecodeo's latest project for BRICK, a non-profit school management project that turns around high poverty schools to put all children on a positive trajectory. 

Brick Academy video