The Faith in Ailao Mountain – Finding Faith

The Faith in Ailao Mountain is the first documentary I’ve written music for. It examines the cost of China’s one-child policy on the caregivers whose job it was to carry out the policy. It is a personal story between the filmmaker, Zhang Ci, and her mother, who was one such caregiver. The documentary is set in the Ailao Mountains in Yunnan Province where many …

NickThe Faith in Ailao Mountain – Finding Faith

Ex Machina: How Sound Links A.I. to Atomic Weapons

Have you ever wondered how sound influences your experience of a film? Beyond dialog, loud sound effects, or prominent music, people often don’t pay much attention to sound when watching a film. Instead, they tend to focus on the visual dimension of film: acting, set design, lighting, photography, and so on. But sound is a vitally important tool for the …

NickEx Machina: How Sound Links A.I. to Atomic Weapons

18 Birds in a Winter Sky

This song was inspired by a dream I had in which I was walking through a snowy landscape, alone beneath a dark, foreboding sky. I caught a glimpse of a flock of black feathered birds high above the clouds. As I watched them glide silently through the winter sky, I heard music. At that moment, I woke up with the …

Nick18 Birds in a Winter Sky

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

One evening early in 2009 my wife played me a podcast of the actor John Lithgow recorded on the PBS show Bill Moyers Journal. During the show he recited several poems, but I was struck by one in particular – “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The poem resonated with me, particularly …

NickDo Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Soundtrack 2011.11.a

Ableton Live’s capability to treat audio like elastic and sync up sets of tracks together, or allow real-time improvisation using clips of music make it an incredibly popular tool for DJs and remix producers. Although I have used Live in that way, what I love most about Live is its sound design capabilities. Often I’ll just dive in, create rich …

NickSoundtrack 2011.11.a

It’s Real (Intro Cue)

The owner of a coffee shop is quietly serving a line of customers eagerly awaiting their morning cup. Suddenly two menacing figures materialize at the register. The look on their faces means only one thing: something terrible is about to happen. And then one draws a gun. They demand all the money from the register. But there’s something amiss here. …

NickIt’s Real (Intro Cue)

Panic Attack

One night several years ago I woke up with a pounding heart, a dizzy head, and I was having trouble breathing. I was admitted to the ICU at Stanford Medical Center, where after a stay of several hours, and many tests, I was diagnosed with a type of arrhythmia called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). Needless to say this was a shock, …

NickPanic Attack

Casino Royale Student Sound Project

A few years ago, I took a course in sound for film. I signed up looking forward to getting to know the more esoteric preferences and dialog boxes in Pro Tools. But what I encountered on day one was something far more interesting, and far more valuable. We embarked on nothing less than a study of the history of sound …

NickCasino Royale Student Sound Project