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Artist Profile: Clay Duncan

Published: Tue August 28, 2007  News Feed

One of the most in demand programmers and composers, Clay Duncan has recently contributed his signature sound to crafting edge of your seat moments in such movies such as Déjà vu and The Number 23. But make no mistake, the biggest movie of the summer and possibly the year is finally here, and while Transformers is an amazing visual experience, the music and sound design is just as impressive.

So Clay, can we get a little history on your career?

Well I didn’t really get into this business till much later than most. I grew up playing in bands and went to college, and eventually found myself out here in LA doing odd jobs and some occasional live sound. Then one day I saw an ad in the paper for “assistant/driver for composer”. I never imagined it would be Hans Zimmer. During graduate school for non-music related degrees, I made some short films that I ended up composing music for them so I figured why not? You can’t really ask for any better training that working in the same room and looking over the shoulder of one of the great modern composers.

How was it like working for Hans Zimmer as your first high level job in the post production world?

It was both amazing and stressful at the same time. With Hans Zimmer, you better make sure your question have been thoroughly exhausted from other sources. I wasn’t the only assistant and I definitely didn’t want to just get replaced so I would try and learn as much as I could from observing his workflow and also by trying to learn from mistakes that were made by other assistants. Sometimes it’s more valuable to learn what not to do on top of what’s correct. I remember the very first day, they weren’t sure what to make me do so I was given a stack of manuals and told to learn the gear.

Wow that’s an amazing series of events! Having come so far, I’m sure your studio has gone through many changes. What is the current setup looking like these days?

My current setup revolves around a Cubase rig running on a custom-built rack mounted computer system. This machine was possible thanks to my friend Ryan Ochida who worked with me over the course of 3 years trying out various motherboard, CPU, and hardware combinations and finally settling on a system that met my workflow and was stable for me to use in the studio. Generally speaking, Audio is captured into Cubase, then goes out via MADI, converted to ADAT, and then into whatever is the preferred delivery format.

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