Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach traveled a winding road from classical clarinetist, to touring guitar player, to location sound mixer and finally to composer and sound supervisor. He owns and operates his post house, IMRSV Sound, and works on roughly 100 projects per year. Most recently he was the sound supervisor on Crip Camp (released by the Obama's production company through Netflix), and scored The Long Shadow and Decade of Fire, both currently on PBS.
Here's our chat with Jacob:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
Crip Camp was an incredible experience. I had the privilege of seeing it premiere opening night at Sundance and I've never felt anything like it. We all get stuck in the weeds when working hard on a project, but I've rarely enjoyed the rewards at that level. The film was simulcast in 2 theaters, both of which ended in standing ovations. It made me realize that there is so much more to the work we do as engineers, that we hold so much more power than we realize. If a song or a film is mixed badly, it won't carry across the message in its full potential. But if we make something sound exciting and compelling, we can actually change the world a tiny little bit..... and that's amazing.
What's the best place for those new to your work to become familiar with what you do?
My sound house, IMRSV Sound has an incredible roster of clients. We're so lucky that one week we might be mixing a documentary, and the next week we are running an ADR session for a Marvel film. It's what keeps the job interesting!
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
I'm a sound supervisor and a composer. My first love is music, so I'll always take on a scoring job if I have the time. But I also have an incredible team of engineers and sound designers who work for me, and being a team captain for them is just so damn fun. I'm a lucky guy to split my time between those two roles.
How did you get started in music?
My dad taught me guitar and piano when I was a kid. After a few months he ran out of stuff to teach me so he asked a musician friend for advice. There is a small music school in Berkeley called The Crowden School. At the time there were only 8 kids in my class, and we started every morning by playing 2 hours of chamber music. For a 10 year old that is a profound way to start the day! And then I was hooked. Nothing over the last 30 years has ever caught my interest in the same way.... except for my wife and my 2 year old. :)
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
Wow. That's an amazing question. Yes! I had a client in New York that would send me fashion projects to mix. He was sooooo picky that it would drive me nuts. I would do 3 or 4 rounds of revisions just to get a single Lav rustle taken out from a sentence, otherwise he wasn't happy. This was early in my career so I was a bit impatient, but it was one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned. He was essentially training me to be a better dialogue editor. And in fact, every client I work with is training me to be a bit better at my job. These days I LOVE it when a client is picky. Honestly the more critical they are, the better. My entire goal in life is to be as skilled at my craft as is humanly possible. The clients with a sharp ear are the ones who will help us achieve that. Everyone hears things differently, so simply being open to different opinions on how a mix should sound, will ultimately make us more nimble, more surgical and more exceptional at what we do.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project?What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
Speakers! I have to be confident in what I’m listening to! Studio monitors and headphones are the most valuable tool an engineer has, simply because all of our decisions are based on them. I recently upgraded my scoring studio to Dutch and Dutch 8Cs. I shot out EVERYTHING before landing on those. I couldn’t be happier.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
Work hard and be nice to people. That’s it. My dad has that poster in his art studio. He and I both live by it. Be self motivated. If you know that you don’t know something, teach yourself. YouTube has most of the answers you’re looking for. Go hunting for information. And be kind, grateful and humble, especially to your clients. A good mix is half the job. The other half is being a decent human being to work with.
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
Day 1! I had headphones before I had speakers. I don’t leave home without ‘em.
Wow. It's so rare to get an immediate wow moment with a piece of equipment. The LCD-X are awesome. The frequency response is so smooth. The highs are clear and the lows are well defined. I love these. And the sound stage isn't blurred at all, like it was on my previous pair of dynamic headphones.