If you’ve listened to a radio station, turned on a television, or visited a movie theater in the last decade, you’ve heard the work of Robert Dudzic.
Drummer, producer, and sound designer extraordinaire, through years of hard work he has become the industry’s “go-to guy”, and with good reason.
Not only has Dudzic authored 3 highly prized sound libraries that have helped define the modern cinematic sound - Cinema Sound Tools, Trynity HDFX, and RAID - he also specializes in creating the sounds for movie trailers. Designing the sound for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘The Equalizer 2’, ‘Ready Player One’, ‘Death Wish’, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’, ‘The Dark Tower’, ‘Life’, ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’, and many other cinematic adverts, it’s safe to say that Robert knows what it takes to create captivating, dramatic sounds.
The sound inventor
We were lucky enough to get the chance to pick his brain and chat about his work, where he finds inspiration, and how he uses some unlikely “instruments” to design the sonic future.
It’s kind of hard to explain, but I get inspired by random things I find at a flea market, or by pictures or videos that I see. One of the things I do is record the sounds of doors. They all sound different, and the sound of the locks and handles have so much character. This is one of the ways how I create big cinematic hits. I mix my recordings of slamming doors with kick drums to add punch.
The DrumBrute is great to add body to a sound, its subby kicks are great!
Recording ambience is also great for inspiration, whether it’s the sound of rain in nature, or recording a busy city or airport. Sometimes all I need to get inspired is to look at the movie poster.
Making your mark
When your services are for hire, you don’t always free rein in your projects.
We spoke with Robert about how he responds to specific briefs from his clients, and how he can find hidden depth in seemingly simple instructions.
Every request is different, and often the briefs don’t tell you a whole lot. For ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ all I knew was that it was a sci-fi movie, and that they wanted very unique sounding gun shot sounds.
It would be easy to recreate the gun sounds from ‘Star Wars’, but everyone already knows these sounds.
So what I did was listen to my recordings of real guns, and use them as a reference for my sound design. Then I recorded a ton of mechanical sounds, old VHS recorders, random sounds on a junkyard, heavy machinery, rubber tire hits, and even the sound of popping paper bags.
I started adding these sounds under the reference track, to make it more interesting. To add extra punch, I added a kick drum underneath it. I finished it off with some compression and reverb, I ended up with a gunshot that was big and very in-your-face sounding.
Finally, I removed the original reference gunshot, leaving just the recordings and the processing. This was the finale gun sound that they used.
Analog tone in the digital age
Dudzic’s studio is a veritable treasure trove of quirky, inspiring, and creative instruments and sound tools, both hardware and software. Among them, Arturia’s family of analog synthesizers, including MatrixBrute, DrumBrute, and MiniBrute 2, take pride of place.
I love how the MiniBrute 2 can sound warm with creamy low end, and with the twist of a few knobs go to aggressive and brutal. The way the synth is layed out is similar to how I work with Eurorack. It’s a compact instrument that has lots of possibilities. The patchbay is great, it allows me to experiment with sound, and connect it with the rest of modular system.
Whenever we meet an industry legend, we can’t help but ask how they use our instruments to create their iconic sounds.
I start with transposing the keyboard down to -2, and creating warm basic tones. I should not only hear the bass, but also feel it. I then play with the Filter Cutoff and start adding the second oscillator and play with the tuning. There are no rules, and this is a lot of fun, mixing different wave shapes, and playing with the filter. When I have something I like, I start patching and rerouting things to get even wilder sounds. I keep finding new sounds every time!
MiniBrute 2 is a hands-on, real analog instrument with every knob and fader directly controlling the parameters of its sound. As a result, the only way to make “presets” is the old-school way, by writing it down your settings, or taking a photo.
The lack of presets is my favorite thing. Every time when I turn it on there is this element of surprise, I can spend hours playing with sounds and never repeat myself. From deep drones, to aggressive brass, to high pitched emergency room sounds. I keep hearing sound I have never heard before, the only limitation is your imagination.
Breaking the modular mold
MiniBrute 2 features Arturia Link compatibility, making it the perfect partner for the RackBrute Eurorack system. As part of his creative setup, Robert Dudzic uses the RackBrute 6U to keep his analog synth and modular systems close at hand.
Being able to expand the MiniBrute 2 by adding additional modules to generate more complex sounds by adding reverb, delay or even adding additional oscillators and mixing it all together is great. I was actually able to get rid of a ton of modules, because their functionality can be found in the MiniBrute 2.
The design is very smart! I don’t need additional cases any more, everything is right in front of me.
Combining the two together gives me all the hands on control I need, and makes for a very powerful workstation.