Toivo Kallio interview

Find Toivo @
Toivo @ Vimeo

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I am Toivo Kallio, a 27-year-old sound designer and audio professional from Finland. My work consists of recording sound for TV, web and motion pictures, editing sound, creating Foley effects and creating sound design as a whole.

2. What is your niche or speciality that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I’m an enthusiast of detail and richness in sound design. I’m also a quality Foley artist and editor. Mixing is also one of my virtues, both live and in post-production.

3. Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I own an Edirol R-44 field recorder but I’m also quite familiar with more expensive recorders such as Aaton Cantar-X and Sound Devices 788T. I’ve also mastered various portable mixers in TV location sound. I also have a lightweight boompole, and AKG shotgun mic and a Zoom H2. My upcoming mic purchases will be Rode NTG-3 and Rode NT4.

4. What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
My own audio workstation is PC-based Nuendo 5 software with M-Audio ProFire 2626. My favourite plug-ins are definitely Waves C1 Comp-gate, Waves Q10 EQ, Steinberg Reverence, Steinberg PostFilter and I’m eagerly expecting to buy iZotope RX 2 this year.

5. When do you find you are most creative?
My creativity is usually at its peak in the following situations:
1. When I’m making sound design plans and lists of sound effects in pre-production
2. When I succeed in making a few right choices in sound editing
3. When I find just the right objects for the right Foley effects
4. When I’m looking for perfect harmony in mixing.

6. What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
It all begins with ideas and discussions with other creative people. I need some ideas on style, what type of audience is the product intended for and so on. Then I’ll head to planning and research. I’ll start making lists of sound objects and categories. After the planning stage the process goes on to searching sound archives and recording stuff. Then I usually work with a video file and start to construct the project. It all comes together on the tracks.

7. Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
That’s a tough one. Maybe it’s a will to learn. Will to produce quality stuff for people. One thing that’s always been my guideline is that equipment and technical aspects don’t have any significance if you’re not motivated. Even cheap and low-quality hardware can produce good results if they’re utilized with passion.

8. Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I think that the most interesting sound effects that I’ve created are partially accidents. Once I was looking for a high-pitched sound for a scary atmosphere. While racketing through a Foley storage I came across with a broken hi-hat pole. I slide the cymbal through along the hi-hats mid bar and the cymbal made this really eerie, high-frequency metal screech. I got excited and recorded a few different screeches. Then I filtered out everything else but 2000-4000 KHz frequencies and added in a long plate reverb. The result: an eerie, distant whine that could be the howling of a ghost or a car breaking across town. I felt like Mario after rescuing the princess.

9. Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
When I was doing my first serious dialogue editing during my studies, I was way too eager to over-equalize everything. After a week of editing I had lost quite a lot of the natural sound of the characters’ voices. I had to backtrack quite a bit to find the human voice again. I do have the tendency to over-tune sound. I’ve begun to learn that in film sound design it’s mainly the source audio that counts, not how well you manipulate it afterwards.

10. Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Always have the courage to try things out. We’re living an age that brings media creation really close to the average consumer. What you need to stand out from the mass is a unique feel to the material you produce. Because of the digital era, you can learn so much by just checking guidance videos out and applying those advices to your own circumstances. But don’t forget to have respect for pioneers that have lived through a longer period of the evolution of media. Their wisdom in attitudes and focus is priceless.