When I first started demonstrating Varantic within the movie industry, I got to demo the product to one of my heroes: an Academy Award nominee for sound editing.
I showed him how, with Varantic, he could drag in a few sound effects in, and generate a ton of similar high quality sound effects.
And he said: “No.”
I was like, “What do you mean, no?”
And he said: “There’s no way I’m going to have anything to do with Varantic. Because this tool does in a few seconds what it normally takes a sound designer days or weeks to do. It’ll require fewer people to do foley work, and I can’t support any software that reduces the number of jobs in the industry.”
And the conversation ended.
I was heartbroken.
Here I had created this cool toy to help him save a lot of time and effort making sound effects, and my hero was only afraid of it taking his job.
All this has happened before, of course. In the 1940s, every orchestra had a horn section. A saxophone always stepped forward to take the solo. The horns fattened up the mix, giving weight underneath the string section. Then, in the 1952 came the Gibson Les Paul, and then the Stratocaster in 1954. Suddenly, you could electronically produce a fat horn-section like harmony, by simply plugging in an amplifier into the wall, and playing one of these newfangled electric guitars.
Horn players weren’t happy about this. Why would anyone ever need a horn player again, if all you had to do was plug this fancy electric voodoo machine into a wall and make loud noises with it?
In 1983, Dave Smith wrote up a specification for connecting synthesizers and sequencers together. He called it the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI. For the first time, in software, you could orchestrate multiple synthesizers into a tempo-matched virtual orchestra.
Session musicians were upset. Why would anyone ever need a keyboard player again, or a drummer again, if all you had to do was to connect a bunch of synthesizers together with cables and sequence them with software?
In the past ten years, it’s been all about synthestration. One composer with a fat orchestral library, can pump out a really nice orchestral mix, almost as quickly as they can imagine it.
Everything old is new again. Whenever someone creates a bit of tech that changes the landscape of music, the technology is scary at first. But then, the tech creates a bunch of new jobs that didn’t previously exist.
I believe that any repetitive work that I can save you as a sound designer, is time and effort that you can use, to apply your creativity and intelligence to more important things.
And let’s face it. Your creativity and your intelligence is something that can never be replaced by a piece of software.