Michael James Moeding: Graduate Success Story

Michael James Moeding is an IPR graduate from December of 2008 (Cum Laude). At the time Michael was the only audio engineering student to become both Pro Tools Expert Certified, and ICON  Expert Certified. In 2008, he was one of 10 Pro Tools experts, worldwide, to earn both. Upon graduation Michael took a volunteer position working for Rick Rubin’s studio in LA. Close by he found Gurney Productions, a neighborhood TV station. Michael was hired as an engineer at Gurney because of his dual Pro Tools certifications.

In his new role, Michael worked in sound design and mixing, but he also had the opportunity to learn video editing on lots of Animal Planet and Discovery shows including “I’m Alive”, “Wild Recon”, and the infamous “Shark Week”. Though Michael’s focus wasn’t post-production at IPR, he picked up post skills out of necessity.

In March 2010 Michael left the US to go work at Bigfoot studios in Cebu, Philippines. He ultimately served as the head of audio post-production, but also served as Music Coordinator. At Bigfoot, Michael produced music with singers from all over the world, mixed sound for feature films, composed many TV theme songs, mixed full TV shows, theatrical trailers, and he served as a mentor teaching Pro Tools to interns.

(Check out a listing of Michael’s filmography and TV credits.)

Recently I was able to ask Michael a few questions about life at IPR and life since; here’s what he had to say:

What would IPR students and instructors say they remember about you?

I know Jay Flemming and Eric Olsen would say they remember me for climbing the ladder in the Pro Tools classes.  I was really close with Mary Anne O’Dougherty, RIP.  Her world views and outlooks inspired me greatly to get outta town, go explore and squeeze every drop out of life. All of the inspiration she gave me stays with me and drives me constantly.  I was friends with many students but I didn’t participate in a whole lot of extra-curricular activity with many of them. Maybe some of the songs I did with Joe Weber and Peter Durrance that I put in the producers review.

Were there any big projects you undertook in your production or engineering capstone that laid the ground work for some of the things you’re doing now?

Well, I took the engineering capstone and I’m now mostly in post. The music I do is mainly electronic and vocal so it doesn’t directly correlate.  That being said, I learned so much about engineering that did translate from Dik Shopteau and Tom Garneau. That really still helps me as far as thinking about audio intuitively, being able to come up with outside the box solutions to difficult situations and being creative with what you have.  The mixing class with Steve Hodge was HUGE for me.  I use all kinds of tips and tricks I learned from him while mixing for TV/Film or music.

Out of all your instructors who would you say worked most closely with you and had a special interest in your success?

For sure, Steve Hodge and Jay Flemming.  Jay really challenged me when going for the (Pro Tools) expert certification.  He didn’t let me slip at all, and he made sure that I was pushing it to the limit in every aspect of the courses and exams.  Steve was awesome!  He really helped me out.  He would listen to my productions and mixes outside of class times and give me priceless advice on his own time.  He got me together with James Harley and the band Attention to assist for them in Master Mix after I graduated, and he gave me connections that led me into going in to assist at Rick Rubin’s studio in LA.  Although I ultimately decided to go into post as a career, and stick to my passion for music as side work that I cared about, it really gave me a good view of the environment of Hollywood and made it a lot easier getting into the swing of things out here.

Do you feel your IPR education prepared you for the industry?

Absolutely, everything I learned at IPR has helped me out.  From the mixing, signal flow, and engineering, to getting to know some of the personalities in the industry and learning the importance of networking, it all was priceless for me.  I would be lying if I said My PT certifications didn’t play a big role in the jobs I’ve gotten.

What types of things did you have to wait for industry experience to learn?

Dealing with crazy people (Hollywood is full of them) Haha.  Really though, the client and/or workplace politics are something that you just have to get into and try to navigate in your own way.  There is a fine line between standing up for your own opinions and relying on your creative ideas to try to bring a directors vision to reality and deeply offending and pissing them off!  You also have to know when to stop trying to explain what you’re doing and really read others around you and try to get in the heads of the producers/directors and just deliver good stuff.  Kind of off topic, but dealing with producers and directors can be very difficult because the directors and producers will fight over what they want and you will often get different instructions from both of them.  Keep in mind that directors are great connections and can help you out greatly, but usually at the end of the day the producer is the one cutting your check.

What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to be successful in this industry?

I would tell them to actively seek out what they want to get into and use the greatest resource available to them: THE FACULTY.  There are so many brilliant instructors at IPR that are treasure troves of networking potential.  Talk to them personally and tell them what you’re doing and what you want to do.  Be completely passionate about it and don’t be afraid to get your butt up and FIND the work.  This stuff is so pro-active, nothing is going to fall in your lap but there are soooooo many creative people doing amazing things that are looking for other creative individuals to work with (and this happens all over the world, so get out and see it).  Get out there and show them what you do.  Knock on their doors like a witness and spread your word HAHA!  Go to local film schools and get some projects to work on.  Stay open minded, diversify your abilities, and take opportunities.

What types of engineering work have you done?

Sound design, mixing stereo and 5.1 for film and television. I’ve done design and installation for studios, setting up custom monitoring environments…  loaaaaaaads of troubleshooting and media management, VO and ADR sessions with actors, and lots of music production and vocal work.

Do you have experience with audio and video editing?

Both. I’ve been doing loads of sound editing and mixing, and even some Foley with the great Greg Curda.  Lately I’ve been video editing promos for some pretty big budget shows and companies to try to promote and sell their shows and content.  When I started working at Gurney there wasn’t always audio work to be done on the shows so I was forced to learn Avid to make myself constantly valuable to the company.  And I happened to really enjoy it and its constantly growing on me.

You moved to LA right after graduation, then you landed in the Philippines… What has made you willing to travel so far?

It’s always been in my soul to travel; Mary Anne really talked to me a lot about it and pushed me to go, go, go.  Shortly after graduating and moving to LA I visited Japan and fell in love with the Asian culture. So, when the opportunity came up to head to the Philippines, it seemed like a no brainer.  The work and life experience was absolutely priceless, and I got to work in Hong Kong as an audio consultant. I also did a lot of traveling in SE Asia.  I’m currently looking into opportunities in Singapore as well.

How important do you think attitude is when it comes to success in the audio world?

It’s everything.  I’ve always strived to give my all in the projects I work on and try to keep everyone I work with in a positive creative attitude.  It can be a really tough business with a lot of tough personalities and you’re attitude will keep you and the people around you sane.  People will remember that almost as much, if not more than, the work you did, and that always comes back around.  Don’t ever lose it and flip out and don’t burn bridges (unless absolutely necessary).  Cool heads always win. When others are running around freaking out about deadlines and such, acting like they are on fire, you can stay cool and keep being productive.  You will have a bunch of stuff done to be proud of at the end of the day. Meanwhile the” freak outers” are too stressed and behind on work to enjoy their REAL life.

What one trait/ability/skill do you feel has helped you more than any other to be successful in this industry so far?

Confidence! Whether you’re really feeling it or not, projecting a vibe of confidence towards whatever is on the plate will shove you up the ladder faster than you can sometimes climb. So you have to be careful with it.  But, if you’ve got the skills to back it up, then make sure the people around you feel like they can trust you to do what you do best.

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