Sound Supervisor Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach talks about his career in sound and how iZotope tools helped him with his latest Netflix documentary Crip Camp.
How long have you been in the Sound & Post industry and how did you get into the profession?
Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach: I’ve been in the sound and post industry for a while. Sound, particularly, I have been doing since I was a kid. I went to a music conservatory when I was 10 and was pretty obsessed with all sound-related things, which continued through high school and college. I later fell into post production sound while selling guitars in Brooklyn. While I wasn’t really living my dream, I had a drummer friend that offered me a chance to be a boom operator and a location sound mixer and fell into it from there. It came naturally, I worked hard and taught myself everything I know about post production sound. I just love the excitement of it. In all, I’ve been studying and working at it for 28 years and doing it professionally for over 10 years.
What separates the pros from the almost-pros in this industry?
JBM: I would say two things. First, your general attitude. You have to have a gracious and positive attitude even when things are tough. Some of the best feedback I received when I started in location production sound was to be calm, even in a hurricane. When you’re on set things always go wrong, it’s unavoidable, but, if you keep your stress level low and find ways to problem solve, clients appreciate that. The same applies for post production.
The other thing that is critical to becoming a professional and many others is to be self-motivated. There is always going to be something new to learn, new technologies—iZotope products are a great example. So, you can’t wait for someone to come to you [and say], "Hey, I need you to learn this thing." You have to want to learn it before anyone else brings it to you. My staff is always doing research on a regular basis to find out what the latest cutting-edge technology is. You have to want to push yourself and want to learn.
What was your biggest audio challenge in this project?
JBM: One of the biggest challenges was trying to figure out how to handle the archival audio in the film. It’s a really unique film because so much of the footage is 50 years old and recorded by a 15-year-old kid with a hand-held mic at camp. So there so much charm and inherent character had to be maintained from that footage, but the flip side is that it’s pretty rough audio. So our biggest challenge was we had to figure out how to balance that.
I feel we did a good job at figuring out what sounds added to the character of the film to leave in and then figure out which sounds were distracting. We spent a lot of time figuring out, frame by frame, what we needed to be surgical about. Thank goodness for Spectral Repair in iZotope RX as it was the best way to go in, isolate very specific sounds and decide if they need to be removed or replaced. That was the biggest challenge, but iZotope made it fun to take on that challenge.
What features did you find most beneficial from iZotope’s RX?
JBM: Dialogue Isolate is incredible. Spectral Repair is unlike anything else available. We used Mouth De-click quite a bit. In general, the entire Suite made it possible for us to mix the film with the quality we were able to achieve. Without it, it would’ve sounded like an entirely different film.
What does the future of Sound Design look like?
JBM: I think there’s a human element [that] will always be needed because sound design is such a series of artistic and aesthetic decisions. I’m glad that we still [use] Foley so much by hand because a lot of times it just makes sense to get these sounds. I think the future of dialogue editing is greatly in the hands of companies like iZotope because it is becoming easier and easier and requiring less work because of how intelligent the software is becoming. Sound design and mixing is still a craft because it’s an emotional process. Mixing is just not about finding the right level of something, it’s finding the right feeling of something. What I love about my job is always finding the right feeling.