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Jobs: Dmitry Novozhilov, sound designer and founder of Daruma Audio studio
Jobs: Dmitry Novozhilov, sound designer and founder of Daruma Audio studio

About hunting for sounds, a small team and working with big brands.

Jobs: Dmitry Novozhilov, sound designer and founder of Daruma Audio studio
Jobs: Dmitry Novozhilov, sound designer and founder of Daruma Audio studio

"I had to write to everyone and offer my services": about the first steps in recording and working with provincial rappers

You have been working with sound for more than 10 years: for eight years you have been mixing music for Togliatti rappers, and now you are doing sound design for the largest Russian and foreign brands - Google, Snapchat, Yandex, Pornhub. How did you get noticed?

- At the university, I liked the profession of a graphic designer. I wanted to work with big brands, form an identity, study naming and corporate identity elements. About six years ago, when I got serious about sound design, I realized that I could do it all with sound.

At first, I had to write to everyone and offer my services in order to develop a portfolio. And then word of mouth played a role: when you perform well on tasks, they start recommending you. This is how I got to the point of collaborating with major brands. We wrote music for the screensavers of the Super TV channel, as well as voiced advertising for Alice from Yandex and masks for Snapchat.

What was the most memorable and important project for you?

- During the year we carry out about 200 projects, so it is difficult to single out one. I remember that it was interesting to cooperate with Yandex, because the company employs guys with their own vision of the final work. They want the result to be original, so they often call and say directly that they want to change.

We dubbed videos about the virtual assistant "Alice": we added sound effects to the video and wrote music. Yandex did not accept the job for a long time, because it wanted more, but we still achieved the result. And it was worth it.

In addition, we voiced the logo of the London Orchestra, which plays live during film screenings, and also made music and sound design for a show dedicated to Pushkin's fairy tales.

3D animation was projected onto the Moscow Manege. The last project is especially significant for me, because thanks to it, I first began to delegate responsibilities and manage the team. I served as art director, overseeing the work of the sound designer and composer. Before that, I had not had anything like this, so this task raised me to a new level.

When did you first realize that working with sound is yours?

- The period of my growing up is somehow connected with sound: at the age of 5 I realized that it was possible to record a voice on a tape recorder, at 13 I began to conduct home broadcasts for personal listening, and at 15 I began to read rap. In the future, I decided to apply for a sound engineer. But in Togliatti there was no such specialty, and I did not want to leave for another city. As a result, I went to a psychologist and now I have no regrets.

Of course, working with sound requires highly specialized knowledge, but it's easier for me to get it in battle - while working on real projects - and dry theory is more difficult to assimilate. In addition, each teacher talks about his own experience, which means that in the process of studying you involuntarily become like him, and not like yourself.

I managed to avoid this, but I had to suffer a lot. I remember how I stood at the bus stop and thought: “Lord, when will I become a sound engineer? When will everything work out for me? " With each new project, the experience became more, so now I can say with confidence that I learned everything on my own.

How did your first recording studio come about?

- In 2004 I had a musical group "Nebro". Before the famous RAP MUSIC festival, we decided to record one of the songs in the studio. When I came to pick up the result, the sound engineer was just finalizing our track. I watched the process, caught fire and decided to do the same. I was simply amazed that he was sitting at the computer, doing something and earning money on it. Plus I loved the sound, so mixing music was perfect for me.

I bought a cheap sound card, a microphone and started practicing at home - I just poked at everything I see, because no lessons existed then. After a while, I decided that I wanted to make money with sound. I borrowed 10,000 rubles, bought a better sound card, headphones for 500 rubles, and organized a studio with a separate entrance in one of the rooms in my parents' private house. I made a mailing list on VKontakte, and Togliatti rappers began to come to me. As a result, the studio paid off almost immediately, because I invested quite a bit in it - about 30,000 rubles.

Probably, if I had kept this studio, now I would make a lot of money, but at that time rap was unprofitable. The performers already existed and wanted to record, and the direction had not yet become as popular as it is now.

As a result, after four years, I realized that I could no longer work in the studio, because I spend a lot of time there, but I get too little in return. Plus, rappers are flying teenagers who don't value your time. And I have long wanted to work with large clients who have a well-functioning structure of interaction and money.

And then you started doing sound design?

- Just at that moment, an acquaintance who became interested in motion graphics came to me and asked me to help him with sound. He came to me with a visual, and I had to voice him. I agreed and started earning twice as much for one commercial as for mixing a music track. Then I decided to solidify myself in the field of sound design.

"The rain reminds of the sound of frying bacon in a pan": about large projects

What is sound design?

- Sound design combines several areas of work at once. One of them is creating an atmosphere. It helps you understand what surrounds you and immerse yourself in space: in the forest we always hear the rustling of foliage and birdsong, and in the city - the noise of cars and the voices of people.

The second direction is synchronous noise. In films, we hear footsteps, rustling clothes, slamming doors. But in reality, these sounds are not recorded on the set - the sound designer is working on them.

The third is sound effects that cannot be recorded in reality. For example, the noise of a spaceship or the voice of Valli the robot. Any sound that we cannot find in nature is created from scratch.

Dmitry Novozhilov: any sound that we cannot find in nature is created from scratch
Dmitry Novozhilov: any sound that we cannot find in nature is created from scratch

How did you improve your skill to become one of the best sound designers in Russia?

- I don't consider myself one of the best sound designers in Russia. However, if you want to master this profession, then first you need to accumulate a library of sounds so that you have plenty to choose from while working on a video. The slamming of the door can be recorded on the microphone without leaving the house, but with the roar of a lion it is already more difficult.

There are dedicated resources for such cases. One of them is Freesound. Here you can add your own sound or pick up someone to use in the future. Some large companies create paid thematic libraries and sell them, for example, for $ 300. You buy the rights to use them so that you can safely use these sounds in your work in the future.

My personal library was formed for a very long time: I recorded some sounds myself, while others I looked for in the public domain or bought. In addition, I constantly studied popular brand videos to understand how they are made. I was drawn to their sound and focused on Western specialists, because then there were no sound designers in Russia to be equal to. It was difficult, because interesting solutions appeared in my head, but there was no skill to implement my plans. Over time, the library and skill have grown, so now there are practically no difficulties.

How difficult is it to find the right sound for a moving picture?

- When you see an image on the screen, you almost immediately understand how it should sound. Then you just have to find suitable sounds in the library or record them. We once made a video for Pornhub about lazy pandas who don't want to breed. It was necessary to figure out how their steps would sound. As a result, we inflated the balloon, hit it and crumpled it in every possible way. Then we selected fragments of these recordings and mixed them together to get a cool result.

Were there cases when a suitable sound was simply not found?

- If you turn on your imagination, you can always find the right option. After all, it can even be created from improvised means. Let's say the propellers of a submarine can be voiced by pressing the toilet flush button, and then lowering the resulting track by several tonalities. Rain, for example, is reminiscent of the sound of frying bacon, and the sound of a half of a coconut on the table is the clatter of hooves. You can always find the right sound. Another question is whether it will be possible to find a non-trivial solution that will be interesting for the customer and the audience.

When you come up with a sound, then most often you use several layers at once to get a rich texture that will not violate anyone's rights. This is how we created Roshan's growl from the famous game Dota 2. First, we shouted into the microphone through the ball, and then we lowered the resulting sound a few tones to make it more languid. Then they mixed in the roar of a bear and a lion, and finally added the sounds of a synthesizer. This is how an interesting, original element of the character's image turned out.

Don't you feel like a crazy person who only does what he hunts for sounds?

- No, I don't go with the recorder all the time, because I'm too lazy for that and don't like the sound so much. However, I constantly fantasize about how this or that image might sound, and then look for an association with this sound in reality in order to record it.

Most often you work with foreign customers. Does anyone really need sound design in Russia?

- In America, every day there are many services that need voice acting for videos - there such projects are put on stream, so we can cooperate at least every day. In Russia, people are also thinking about the importance of sound and motion graphics, and we have already worked with some companies.

The only problem is that you cannot economize on sound: it greatly affects the perception of video. In Russia, there are very small budgets for commercials for small businesses, so only a few can afford to order a good production.

In addition, domestic customers like to do everything in a hurry, but I don't like working in such conditions. Americans are more sensitive to time management, and this is close to me. There are large Russian companies with whom it is pleasant to cooperate, but this is rather rare.

I also do not like to call up - I like to discuss work in text format. Americans are so clear on the task that you can start right away. And Russian customers love to call and reflect on the phone. The only problem is that it doesn't affect my work in any way. You need to set the task accurately, and we will complete it - everything is simple.

It turns out that there are almost no orders in Russia, which means there are no sound designers?

- There are quite a few of them, but they are concentrated in the film and gaming industry, and I most often make explanatory videos that explain how a service or product works. In 2012, when I first entered the market, there were only four sound designers of this type in Russia, but the number of specialists is gradually growing.

"I hired the first employee only because he was born in January": about recruiting a team and the principles of organizing space

Now you run your own studio Daruma Audio. How did it come about?

- To be honest, I've always dreamed of a big team. But she needs to be motivated and supported, so over time the ambitions subsided. Now in Togliatti, only three people are engaged in sound design, and they all work in my studio.

This is not a physical studio. When I was engaged in sound engineering, it pissed me off that I was tied to the workplace. I have always wanted to work as designers who can fulfill orders anywhere, taking only a tablet or laptop with them.

Sound design allows me to lead a similar lifestyle: I can only take headphones and a laptop to be able to work from anywhere in the world. All my employees carry out orders from home, because it is very convenient: you can not waste time on the road and choose any location that allows you to be productive.

How did you assemble the team?

- The first recruitment experience was pretty funny. I got carried away with astrology and decided to choose employees according to the signs of the zodiac: I invited only Capricorns, because they are reasonable and work for the result. It seemed to me that if you put together a team like me, then we will be simply invincible.

In general, I hired the first employee only because he was born in January. It's funny, but now this guy is my right hand, so I did not lose it. The second Capricorn was a great specialist, but we didn't work well with him. From that moment on, I ditched the idea of zodiac signs and started choosing people with whom I was comfortable.

Many employees simply could not cope: it is important for me that the result meets the client's expectations. And if something goes wrong, I can react harshly. Now there are only three sound designers in the company, including me, and we feel that we are on the same wavelength with each other. As a rule, I manage the work, and the guys are engaged in the selection of sounds. Some projects require writing orchestral music - for such cases we have a composer from Moscow.

You are a demanded specialist, and such guys usually quickly move to Moscow. Why are you still staying in Togliatti?

- I work with Europe and America, so I don't care where to be. With my earnings, I would feel comfortable in Moscow, but in Togliatti, of course, I feel even better. Besides, I have a family, so getting somewhere is doubly difficult.

I had the opportunity to leave for Europe, but I refused, because I would have worked for another company, and not for myself. I don't want to move anywhere - I feel very good in Togliatti. I wake up in the morning, see a new project from the Americans and do it while they sleep, and by the evening of the next day I send the result. It is convenient for everyone, because they do not bother me, and I do everything for them rather quickly and efficiently.

What does your workplace look like?

- There is a laptop on the table, which I connect to the monitor, a pair of speakers, headphones, a sound card, a MIDI keyboard and a microphone if I need to do a podcast. I also have a recorder that I use to record new sounds. This is enough for me to work.

Recently I caught myself thinking that I buy too many gadgets that I don't use - it's just a fetish. I am amazed by people who do not pursue new products and make projects no worse than the guys with a huge number of items at hand. Now I have stopped spending money and try to achieve results with what I have. Minimalism is very cool, so I strive for it.

I often move things around in my makeshift home studio because it pisses me off to be in the same space. I can move the sound card to a different location or remove the keyboard to change the atmosphere. For me, this is almost the same as airing the room - in a different environment it is easier to work and come up with something new.

Dmitry Novozhilov: the workplace of a sound designer
Dmitry Novozhilov: the workplace of a sound designer

How do you organize yourself: do you use applications or time management techniques?

- For me, sound design is my whole life, but it's very bad. There is no separation between work and play, so I do business almost always. I want to structure my activities, but it doesn't work out well. The problem is that I don't write anything down: all project tasks are stored in my head. I have a good memory, but it puts a lot of stress on my brain.

Sometimes I write tasks into the Things app, but then I still forget to look there, because I remember everything myself. I also use the Bear app, which is a text editor that I use for podcast themes or links to interesting resources. I use Slack to communicate with the team. As soon as a task appears, I immediately write it there to fix it. This is the guarantee that it will be fulfilled.

As a rule, I start working right from bed: I immediately pick up the phone, study customer requests and distribute tasks to the team. Then I take the children to school, have breakfast with my wife and continue to work. There is no structure here: I just do the things that came up in the morning.

In addition to working in the studio, you record two podcasts - "Pies" and "Noise". How did they come about?

- "Pies" appeared quite spontaneously. My friend and I were sitting in a cafe and decided to launch a conversational podcast. When I was thinking about the name, I turned my head to the window and saw the pies - and so they chose. This is a rather personal podcast in which we discuss TV shows, parenting, and our personal experiences at home.

Shum has a different focus. In it, we talk about important issues and problems, trying to find out if they are really important. So far, only one episode has been recorded - about the Internet. We considered all the pros and cons of this phenomenon, structured the information and expressed our opinion on whether it is needed at all.

To be honest, I want to connect my life with podcasts: I like to record them. I want to earn as much on this business as in the sound studio.

What else do you do in your free time?

- If I have free time, I spend it on my family - I spend time with my wife and children. We can go for a walk or plan a joint trip to the sea. Four years ago we got a dog, and everyone unanimously decided that I should be the one to deal with it. So on top of that, I try to live up to expectations and regularly walk with her.

Life hacking from Dmitry Novozhilov


"", Victor Frankl

The real story of a man who went through a concentration camp. From this book I made the thesis that life needs meaning. If a person has something to live for, then everything else plays a small role.

"", Hermann Hesse

This book is about a man who, in search of himself, went from a tough ascetic to a rich man. I liked the idea that if you are trying to be someone, then at this moment you are not yourself.

"", Victor Pelevin

From this book I got the idea that a person is happy when he makes another happy. And only so.

Videos and podcasts

Leonid Balanev

Leonid very interesting and accessible tells stories about himself, about his family and everything that surrounds him. High-quality video filming and editing. In general, Leonid's channel is a great example of how to tell stories in video format.


This is a podcast by Ekaterina Krongauz and Andrey Babitsky. They look at various topics from an ethical point of view. It is very interesting to watch their discussion.


The only interesting technology podcast in Russia. Cool presenters and themes. Other projects of these guys are just as good.

Busy Podcast and Showroom

These are two separate podcasts from two designers - Sasha Bizikov and Den Talala. But they are not only about design. These are such personal audio diaries with interesting hosts, guests and stories. Both podcasts sound great.

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