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Ulf Ololfsson Interview With IAFT Hong Kong PART 1

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Ulf Olofsson, sound engineer, music producer and IAFT Mentor. Ulf has been working in the industry for 25 years, and has an overwhelming amount of experience and expertise in his field, having worked on projects from the likes of ‘Mission Impossible III’ to independent films such as ‘Shades of Rogue‘ that was featured at the recent HK ‘Freshwave Film Festival‘.

Here’s the first part of our interview, the rest will follow later this week so watch this space!

KR: You recently partook in a project ‘Shades of Rogue’ that was entered into ‘The Freshwave Film Festival’, could you tell us a little about your experience working on that project? 

UO: Yes, I partook in the Freshwave short film ‘Shades of Rogue’ as the Director and Script Writer of that film is one of my good friends here in Hong Kong, Thomas Lo, and he asked me to help with the audio and music post production for the film.

I wasn’t able to put in much time on this project and the audio post production work such as sound design and mixing was really “bare minimum” because I tried to fit it in between other music projects I was working on, while also having a scheduled leave to my home country Sweden.

I mainly focused on providing a music score befitting to the unique mood Thomas was envisioning for this film. I took traditional instruments, such as the violin and cello, and put them through guitar amplifier equipment to alter their sound while playing more “traditional” parts. This juxtaposition of “disturbing” sound design, but non-disturbing melodies created the exact mood for this film that I wanted to accomplish. It is quite unconventional and those who have seen/heard the film can be the judge if I pulled it off or not.

One production experience worth mentioning was on the last shooting day. Thomas had asked me to come to the set (location shoot in this case) to help out with the sound recording as it was a fairly intricate shooting set-up and he didn’t have an experienced sound mixer on his shoot crew.

We had one location in Jordan and then the last scene in an underpass at TST which incidentally was the exact place the original shoot-out with the “devil cop” Tsui Bo-go took place. It just so happened that on that exact date there was a Typhoon number 10 hitting Hong Kong. Due to actor scheduling there was pretty much no option in re-scheduling so we proceeded despite the rest of Hong Kong was pretty much hunkering safely indoors. Typhoon signal #10 capacity wind and rain aren’t exactly friends to a sound guy so the recording conditions were of the most extreme nature. You can both see and hear the windy conditions in the final film but it actually added to the mood of that scene and the sound was in the end useable, but it was ironic that the one day I acted as a location sound mixer was the first time in years and years Hong Kong experienced a typhoon signal #10…

KR: To date what has been your favorite project to work on? (I know it must be a tough question!)

UO: There have been many but one of my favorite projects was in 2005 and 2006 when I was assigned as the sound producer for a campaign to promote the 30 universal Human Rights (as laid out in the UN 1947 declaration of Human Rights.) This campaign had a very good cause as most people are not even aware of what the human rights are. We also had a very creative Director putting together the 30 resultant public service announcements. I was responsible for the full audio/music production which included sound design, mixing, narration, music production, etc. Each public service announcement was either 30 or 60 seconds long and each one was a little master-piece in itself. You can see copies of them on my YouTube account. It was 10 months in the making – not full time, but hundreds of working hours to put these together. Not only was the purpose behind them important and beneficial, but it was also a very creative experience working with creative people in harmony – ideal working project!

KR: Were you always interested in the sound side of post-production or was that the direction you ‘fell into’ as you progressed early in your career?

UO: No, I was always a “sound geek”. When I was 10 or so I picked cucumbers all summer long in a field out in the boonies in Sweden to make enough money to buy my first synthesizer. At the end of the summer I bought it and bought another one pretty much yearly from that point on. I put together my own little home studio and started making electronic music. I already had been classically schooled in playing the violin but wasn’t as fascinated with the sound of the violin as I was with the almost endless potential of electronic sound design. Around age 15 I became a DJ in my local town right around the time when “House Music” was born. Through house music and what followed with acid house, rave, techno, etc. as a DJ I started to combine the playing of vinyl records while playing synthesizers, samplers and sequencers. It was a pioneering practice back in the mid and late 80’s and I’m glad I was part of it.

I later enrolled at college and studied science civil engineering. As part of the curriculum we had in Sweden I was able to pick one subject of my own choosing which I would study and had to present a final work on at the end of the college terms. I chose the subject of film making. Due to the local A/V facilities being affiliated with our University campus, I had full access to cameras, sound and editing equipment which I could sign out and I spent almost every week ending out shooting.

Towards the end of the final term I produced a 1-hour video presentation on the subject of How to Make Video Productions, covering all aspects of film/video making. I was a bit lucky as during the time I was using equipment at the local A/V center, they got brand new editing equipment in which I helped set up. Most permanent staff there were middle-aged and not too hip on modern computerized equipment, so, delightfully for them, I was the first one to learn the operation of the equipment. Due to this I was able to work out a fair exchange with those boys that I had unlimited access to their equipment, for free, if I also taught them how to use it and in the interim also help them editing projects which came through their facility. This gave me tons of hands-on experience with many genres and categories of film/video and was an essential experience leading to my future full-time career in that same area.

After I graduated university I worked for less than a year in Gothenburg Sweden trying to make a living, which was hard, but kept up my DJ job as well as working for a radio station. Less than a year after I graduated I had secured a job at an LA studio which sponsored my visa and I left for the US and worked in studios there until 2010, when I moved to Hong Kong.

– Katie Riley, Marketing Coordinator

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Ulf Olofsson, sound engineer, music producer and IAFT Mentor. Ulf has been working in the industry for 25 years, and has an overwhelming amount of experience and expertise in his field, having worked on projects from the likes of ‘Mission Impossible III’ to independent films such as ‘Shades of Rogue‘ that was featured at the recent HK ‘Freshwave Film Festival‘.

Here’s the first part of our interview, the rest will follow later this week so watch this space!

 

KR: You recently partook in a project ‘Shades of Rogue’ that was entered into ‘The Freshwave Film Festival’, could you tell us a little about your experience working on that project?

UO: Yes, I partook in the Freshwave short film ‘Shades of Rogue’ as the Director and Script Writer of that film is one of my good friends here in Hong Kong, Thomas Lo, and he asked me to help with the audio and music post production for the film.

I wasn’t able to put in much time on this project and the audio post production work such as sound design and mixing was really “bare minimum” because I tried to fit it in between other music projects I was working on, while also having a scheduled leave to my home country Sweden.

I mainly focused on providing a music score befitting to the unique mood Thomas was envisioning for this film. I took traditional instruments, such as the violin and cello, and put them through guitar amplifier equipment to alter their sound while playing more “traditional” parts. This juxtaposition of “disturbing” sound design, but non-disturbing melodies created the exact mood for this film that I wanted to accomplish. It is quite unconventional and those who have seen/heard the film can be the judge if I pulled it off or not.

One production experience worth mentioning was on the last shooting day. Thomas had asked me to come to the set (location shoot in this case) to help out with the sound recording as it was a fairly intricate shooting set-up and he didn’t have an experienced sound mixer on his shoot crew.

We had one location in Jordan and then the last scene in an underpass at TST which incidentally was the exact place the original shoot-out with the “devil cop” Tsui Bo-go took place. It just so happened that on that exact date there was a Typhoon number 10 hitting Hong Kong. Due to actor scheduling there was pretty much no option in re-scheduling so we proceeded despite the rest of Hong Kong was pretty much hunkering safely indoors. Typhoon signal #10 capacity wind and rain aren’t exactly friends to a sound guy so the recording conditions were of the most extreme nature. You can both see and hear the windy conditions in the final film but it actually added to the mood of that scene and the sound was in the end useable, but it was ironic that the one day I acted as a location sound mixer was the first time in years and years Hong Kong experienced a typhoon signal #10…

 

KR: To date what has been your favorite project to work on? (I know it must be a tough question!)

UO: There have been many but one of my favorite projects was in 2005 and 2006 when I was assigned as the sound producer for a campaign to promote the 30 universal Human Rights (as laid out in the UN 1947declaration of Human Rights.) This campaign had a very good cause as most people are not even aware of what the human rights are. We also had a very creative Director putting together the 30 resultant public service announcements. I was responsible for the full audio/music production which included sound design, mixing, narration, music production, etc. Each public service announcement was either 30 or 60 seconds long and each one was a little master-piece in itself. You can see copies of them on my YouTube account. It was 10 months in the making – not full time, but hundreds of working hours to put these together. Not only was the purpose behind them important and beneficial, but it was also a very creative experience working with creative people in harmony – ideal working project!

 

KR: Were you always interested in the sound side of post-production or was that the direction you ‘fell into’ as you progressed early in your career?

UO: No, I was always a “sound geek”. When I was 10 or so I picked cucumbers all summer long in a field out in the boonies in Sweden to make enough money to buy my first synthesizer. At the end of the summer I bought it and bought another one pretty much yearly from that point on. I put together my own little home studio and started making electronic music. I already had been classically schooled in playing the violin but wasn’t as fascinated with the sound of the violin as I was with the almost endless potential of electronic sound design. Around age 15 I became a DJ in my local town right around the time when “House Music” was born. Through house music and what followed with acid house, rave, techno, etc. as a DJ I started to combine the playing of vinyl records while playing synthesizers, samplers and sequencers. It was a pioneering practice back in the mid and late 80’s and I’m glad I was part of it.

I later enrolled at college and studied science civil engineering. As part of the curriculum we had in Sweden I was able to pick one subject of my own choosing which I would study and had to present a final work on at the end of the college terms. I chose the subject of film making. Due to the local A/V facilities being affiliated with our University campus, I had full access to cameras, sound and editing equipment which I could sign out and I spent almost every week ending out shooting.

Towards the end of the final term I produced a 1-hour video presentation on the subject of How to Make Video Productions, covering all aspects of film/video making. I was a bit lucky as during the time I was using equipment at the local A/V center, they got brand new editing equipment in which I helped set up. Most permanent staff there were middle-aged and not too hip on modern computerized equipment, so, delightfully for them, I was the first one to learn the operation of the equipment. Due to this I was able to work out a fair exchange with those boys that I had unlimited access to their equipment, for free, if I also taught them how to use it and in the interim also help them editing projects which came through their facility. This gave me tons of hands-on experience with many genres and categories of film/video and was an essential experience leading to my future full-time career in that same area.

After I graduated university I worked for less than a year in Gothenburg Sweden trying to make a living, which was hard, but kept up my DJ job as well as working for a radio station. Less than a year after I graduated I had secured a job at an LA studio which sponsored my visa and I left for the US and worked in studios there until 2010, when I moved to Hong Kong.

 

– Katie Riley, Marketing Coordinator

IAFT Cebu

IAFT Cebu

IAFT Cebu, Philippines is a film school that delivers an educational experience that reflects Hollywood roots and traditions. Founded in 2004, IAFT Cebu offers Certificate and Diploma programs in film , acting and 3D animation. Located in: One Hollywood Blvd
, Bigfoot I.T. and Media Park, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu, Philippines. Email: cebu-admissions@iaft.net, Contact Numbers: Globe/Viber: +63-917-314-3456 Smart: +63-947-991-9659 Phone: +63-32-495-2111