I've had a lot to do with SpongeBob!
My very first contact with the now-famous aquatic invertibrate was when I worked for Horta Editorial.
I stopped in to sound designer Tom Syslo's room to see the new pilot he was working on ... it was called 'Sponge Boy.'
My first thought was: 'Oh ... a kitchen sponge and his buddies in the ocean. Cute.' I had no clue that this show
would become a juggernaut ... perhaps the most successful cartoon of all time!
My next brush with the great spongiform came when Nickelodeon and SB creator Steve Hillenburg
arranged to have sound designer Jeff Hutchins set up camp at Horta, specifically to do the sound effects for SpongeBob Squarepants
(the name now changed, perhaps due to copyright issues with the Chore Boy kitchen sponge). Jeff seemed to be somewhat
of an 'outcast' at first ... as though he were isolated and perhaps even resented because he was treated specially (after
a while, Jeff became part of the family and we all lived happily ever after). Well ... as is usually the case ... I
was glad to be helpful. While everyone else seemed inaccessible, I would often help Jeff with his equipment, with searching
for sound effects, and in fact sometimes giving him some of my sounds (he has always gracefully returned the favor).
Because of this, my somewhat classic sound effect "Roy's FishFace" became the sound of Gary the Snail's movement!
|Click to hear
Next ... When Tim Borquez left Horta Editorial to form Hacienda Post, SpongeBob and Jeff Hutchins
went along for the ride. As part of this transition, Eric Freeman was placed in the mixer's position for a wild baptism
by fire! In the early phase, Tim asked me to do 2-man mixes with Eric ... to make the mixes easier and to show him a
few tricks. We mixed quite a few SpongeBob episodes together ... I'm going to guess maybe 30 or so. I handled
the music and foley, Eric handled the dialog, and we shared the effects. I won 3 MPSE Golden Reel Awards during this
Here's a little inside 'joke' about my mixing SpongeBob:
mixing, I would often do considerable music editing on the stage. Music editor Nick Carr had done a great job ... most
of the cues were more like 'needle drops' ... they played well with little editing gymnastics required. Meanwhile, I
was editing music for other shows ... some of which was surgical in detail and quite intensive. For quite a few years,
SpongeBob and Nick would beat me to win MPSE Golden Reel Awards for music editing ... a couple times I even had two nominations
in the same year. Dang!!
Ah ... there's
One day I heard some vociferous
discussion in the hallway outside my editing room. Always willing to but in ... I mean ... help out ... I asked what
was up. Apparently, Jeff was displeased with several aspects of the Foley being done for SpongeBob. Part of it
was about scheduling. Part was about communication issues. Part was about certain Foley mixers who were dropping
the ball regarding quality. I offered to 'fix everything' ... and vollunteered to record the Foley. While I had
done a couple of Foley sessions before, this was really the start of my career as a Foley mixer.
Everything smoothed out immediately. Monette Holderer was absolutely stellar in her Foley performance, and it
quickly became clear that some of the mixers assigned to her had not been quite up to the task ... merely monkeys hitting
the record button! Ha ha ... OK ... Here's another funny SpongeBob story: Monette was pregnant during the
time we did SpongeBob Foley. Every show started with her doing an 'underwater movement' pass ... rustling her hands
around in tubs of water to create a subtle underwater feel. As she neared her due date, I often said: 'So, if I hear
a splash that doesn't seem to match the picture ... should I get ready to rush you in to the hospital?' Ha!!
As I understand it, Nickelodeon built a dialog recording stage and began recording
all their dialog in-house. At some point, someone apparently made the executive decision that they could dismiss their
recording engineer and have an assistant handle the sessions. Hey ... it looks easy! Well ... Steve Hillenburg
called for someone with experience to be sent over to pilot the sessions ... and that was me. I had the pleasure of
recording many episodes of SpongeBob and a few other Nik shows. I was allowed to joke around with the actors through
the talkback system ... what fun! Great folks with great talent! My favorite session: Recording Mr. Krabs'
cursing rampage (which was bleeped with dolphin sounds for broadcast).
And lastly ... The SpongeBob Movie:
This is all rather interesting. By the time we got to this movie, I
had confronted my 'bosses' regarding certain treatment of my coworkers that I found objectionable. This created a lot
of friction between us and eventually led to our parting ways. I mention this because: I was assigned to take
over the dialog editing (from one bosses' stepson) ... and it was in terrible condition. I worked on it for 2-3 weeks
and had headaches from it. After straightening it all out perfectly, I was shocked to go to the screening and find that
I had been screwed out of my dialog editing credit. That really was nasty. Instead, I was credited as 'Foley Editor'
... a function I did perform as part of my all-around editing support on the mix stage.
On a happier note:
I was thrilled to reconnect with my long-time friend and colleague Pat Cyccone who mixed the SpongeBob
Movie. Pat and I were on staff a long time ago at a music studio called Salty Dog. True story: Pat was offered
a job mixing film at Cannon Films, but he didn't want to do it because he feared he'd never get back to recording music.
I told him to try it for a year, bank some moolah, then jump back to music if he wanted. We both knew he'd never look
Whew! Lots to say about the Spongemeister!
to Steve, Jeff, Eric, Monette and to so many who have had great success with SpongeBob Squarepants!!