S.O.N.G.S. Episode 2 – Dave Allen at Undertone Music

S.O.N.G.S. (Stories Of New Graduate Success) is a spotlight on the paths IPR students pursue after graduation and the success they find along the way…

While Dave Allen was enrolled at IPR he consistently impressed students and teachers alike with the quality of his projects, particularly those involving sound for picture.  After graduating as Valedictorian from the Audio Production and Engineering program, Dave found precisely the type of employment opportunity that his training had prepared him for and joined the team at Undertone Music, a local audio post production house.

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Since beginning work there a little over two years ago, Allen has already contributed his skills to an impressive array of projects.

According to his company web bio “More than nine feature films, at least a dozen shorts, and over sixty episodes of The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” have benefited from Dave’s deft editing and sound design.

Trailer to the Digital 3D and Giant Screen film 3D Sun which gives audiences a chance to see the Sun up close in startling 3D.

In response to my curiosity as to what a typical day might involve for him, Dave replied,

“My job description can be quite vast. Most of my time is spent recording and editing sound effects for TV & film (live action & animation), recording voice overs for training videos or other corporate projects, and doing routine maintenance and upgrades on all our systems. I’ve also done a fair share of music supervision, foley recording / editing, and sound for interactive media. Now don’t forget sweeping & mopping floors, lots of dishes, running errands, plugging clients meters, and all the fun stuff that is an inherent part of working in a small business.”

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These duties are often performed at a rapid fire pace, as necessitated by the tight deadlines commonplace in the industry, particularly for weekly television programs.  Allen and his co-workers may easily put in sixty hours of work within a three day time span to meet these turnaround times.

During the tour of the various studios and edit suites on site, I marveled at the highly efficient use of available space; multiple small rooms had been transformed into minimal yet effective work areas for Undertone’s growing staff.

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Further contributing to the goal of a streamlined and focused work flow was the decision to network each of the studios together.  This allows facility owner Tom Hambleton to simply import the audio and automation data from any of the workstations for quick assembly into a master session file.

The Undertone dub stage

My tour culminated in the viewing of a jaw dropping demo presented in Undertone’s theatrical dub stage.  Built in 2007, this room features JBL 3-way 5.1 theatrical monitoring, full 1080p HD projection, and a gorgeous 12.5 x 7 screen.  The room was designed, analyzed, and then treated for accuracy,  and is in fact the first and only Dolby calibrated room of it’s kind in Minnesota.

Trailer for “Dawning”, a local independent feature film

For Dave, some favorite aspects of the job include going out to do field recordings  (such as the upcoming mission to capture the sounds of vintage automobiles from the 1940’s or the chilly day last winter spent motorcycling with a recording device strapped to his back) and then returning to the studio to play back the material on a proper sound system in order to hear what did or did not work well.  From time to time this effort can even yield the surprise of unintended mystery sounds which end up providing a perfect fit to the accompanying imagery he is working with.

Regarding his days spent at The Institute of Production and Recording Dave reminisced,

“I really enjoyed my time at IPR; I can’t recall ever waking up and thinking I don’t want to go to school today.  I also value the connections and relationships formed while I was there, that to me was the most beneficial aspect…”

When asked if he might offer any advice or words of wisdom to currently enrolled students Dave offered,

“I think it is most important to remain determined; hang in there and don’t give up!”

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to both Tom and Dave for taking a moment out of their busy day to allow this glimpse inside such a successful operation.  Hopefully it will serve as inspiration to those readers considering a career path in the exciting world of audio post production!