Yuri Arcurs is a renowned creator of all things stock with an extensive breadth of work that is prominent in media and advertisements all over the globe. While a relatively fresh face to the industry, Arcurs has quickly climbed his way to become the world’s top selling stock photographer for four years in a row. Arcurs’ abilities aren’t limited to photography though – his passion for audio resounds righteously in his iStock portfolio.
You have done well by bringing people together with specialized skills to produce photo imagery. Did you take the same approach with audio? If so who else is apart of your team and how did you choose them?
I definitively overspent on our audio department. Our team is composed of senior sound engineers students, freelance artists and a small but very high quality studio in the basement of our headquarters in Denmark. I am responsible for the production plan in the format of a long lineup of ideas for music, Foley, effects, etc. I get inspiration from movies, YouTube, commercials, video games – even my old compositions and notes when I played the guitar as a teenager are revisited. I am also responsible for the final edit and "OK." I often reject tracks 2-3 times. My primary sound engineer Nicholas Vetterli is such a multi-talent. With a background in designing sounds for cartoons and commercials, he is simply perfect for stock audio. Vetterli has this funny DIY attitude about everything he does. The last assignment I gave him had this title: Space emptiness, being in outer space, space shuttle engine room, space doors closing, plants exploding, spaceship collision. I still today believe that our finals where better than 90% of full-scale Hollywood space movies.
"Make it pop in the start and then do slower versions, alternations later down the track and always make your tracks be able to loop nicely."
Being a highly experienced photo contributor what are the biggest differences you have found between producing photo and audio?
Audio is slower to produce. A lot! However, audio engineering when surrounded by the best of the best is an awesome experience. A page of 100 photos takes 20sec to browse, but 100 tracks will take a listener perhaps 10min to review. The most important part of a track is the start. If it is not catchy within the first 10 sec, your buyer just left your track. Make it pop in the start and then do slower versions, alternations later down the track and always make your tracks be able to loop nicely.
What gear, plugs or software is a must have in your audio process?
(Answers given by Nicolas Vetterli - Senior Audio Engineer at Yuri's Studio)
A portable recorder
A portable recorder is a must when it comes to designing sound. It gives you so much freedom and allows you to record things that you normally wouldn't be able to bring into your studio – such as an airplane. Being able to bring the studio to the thing you want to record makes it all so much easier for you. We use the SoundDevices 788T recorder, but for safety reasons I always carry my portable recorder (Edirol-R09) around in case I walk by something that sounds ridiculously awesome.
"Sound is very much a subconscious thing and its primary function is to emerge you - not to pull you out of the experience."
Space Designer (Logic's built-in convolution reverb effect)
This thing is a lifesaver on so many levels. First of all, the hundreds of presets that are included sound fantastic. Whenever we're looking for a very specific acoustic to apply to our sound effects and/or instruments we turn to this plugin. It just sounds right - which of course is the most important thing when it comes to sound, because if you apply a reverb effect to your Foley that sounds just a tiny bit fake your audience will notice it immediately. Sound is very much a subconscious thing and its primary function is to emerge you - not to pull you out of the experience. Second of all, if we're looking for an extremely specific kind of reverb/acoustic, Space Designer allows us to load in our own impulse responses with ease. This function also allows us to create some otherworldly sounds, by loading in sounds that aren't meant as impulse responses. Loading in a lion's roar instead of an impulse response can lead to some pretty interesting sounds/noises. That's the great thing about making sound effects: it requires you to use your tools in untraditional ways, and make as much noise as you possibly can.
TAL Elec7ro (free plugin)
TAL Elec7ro is a free virtual analog synth that is so easy to use. You often come by plugins that are jam packed with knobs, sliders, tons of effects, which, of course, is great, but at the end of the end of the day, it can also be extremely confusing. That's why TAL Elec7ro is so wonderful. It has a great and simple interface with very few buttons compared to most other synths. The knobs make sense, and because of this automating is so very easy. But the best part is that it can produce some truly earth shattering sub basses that go well with intense sound effects such as explosions, sci-fi SFX, and so on. You won't find a sci-fi SFX in our sound collection where this bad boy hasn't been used.
If you could put a dream band together who would be in it?
Good question. Well we actually have something like this in the plans. There are a few fantastic singers that I am working on getting on board for a few tracks.
If you could have a conversation with one person dead or alive who would you choose?
I would raise Aristotle from the dead and have him explain the conclusions he came to in his book on "humor." From history records, we know that it existed. There are quotes from it in several other writings, but it was never found. It got lost. I would really liked to have heard what he had to say on the matter of humor!