Connect with the amazing community surrounding the Omni Group’s award-winning products.

Oct. 9, 2023, 7 a.m.
How Erik Hedin Uses OmniGraffle

Today we chat with Erik Hedin, a seasoned sound designer and composer from Sweden, now residing in Norway. We delve into Erik's fascinating journey from a curious child enchanted by sounds to a respected theater sound designer for over 100 shows. Erik elaborates on how the visual mapping features of OmniGraffle have become an indispensable part of his toolkit, allowing him to graphically orchestrate the auditory scenery of theatrical performances.

Show Notes:

Erik also spotlights the importance of an iterative process, showcasing work-in-progress to collaborators for valuable feedback.

Some other people, places, and things mentioned in this episode:


Andrew J. Mason You're listening to The Omni Show, where we connect with the amazing community surrounding The Omni Group's award-winning products. My name is Andrew J. Mason, and today we learn how Eric Hedin uses OmniGroundful. Hello, and welcome to this episode of The Omni Show. My name is Andrew J. Mason, and excited today to talk to Eric Hedin. Eric is a sound designer and composer that's been using Omni Graphol for theater for many years to visually map out a performance, sounds, and emotional flow. Eric's done many, many shows and it's really cool to get to talk to him today about how he uses Omni Graphol. Eric, welcome to The Omni Show.

Erik Hedin Thank you. I'm really happy to be a part of The Omni Show.

Andrew J. Mason Well, the honor is ours. Thank you also for doing this interview in English. I know that you're from Europe and English probably is not your first language, but really excited to be able to share this story about how you like to use Omni Graffel internationally. It's just such a cool story.

Erik Hedin Wow! Thank you. Yeah, I'm from Sweden, but I live in Norway, so it's like maybe my third language, English.

Andrew J. Mason Well, I barely have the English language mastered. It's my first language, and so third language, that's saying something. Thank you again for joining us. I know the reason we're here is for OmniGraftful, but before we get into that, Sound Designer and Composer, I would love for you to share with all of us what your career track looks like. How did you end up in this space? And what do you find yourself doing day-to-day?

Erik Hedin I'm happy to tell you about it. I've always been interested in sound and sound effects. I think I'm a listener. I relate to the world through my ears. As a child, I couldn't really ignore sounds around me. Even if I was supposed to read a book or something, I were always listening to what's happening around me. When I was seven years old, I got a computer, Commodore 64, and I started to make sound effects on that computer. Later on in my teens, I started with the theater and acting. After a while, I got the idea I could combine my interest for theater and my interest for sound. Now I'm a sound designer for theater.

Andrew J. Mason That's fantastic, Eric. I have to say too, Commodore 64 was my first computer as well. If you know about the blue loading screen and just the nostalgia attached to all of that, it's amazing.

Erik Hedin Yeah, it's really like a really significant sound effects and the music on that computer, it's a strong esthetic expression, I think.

Andrew J. Mason Eric, talk to me more about how you came across Omni Graphol and the Omni Group. Was it a very specific memory where you're like, Oh, that's the first time I saw them? Or did it just show up over the years and you just had this awareness of, Hey, this software eventually becomes something that I use a lot?

Erik Hedin No, I have a specific memory that I was studying at the university studying sound design for theater, and my teacher were trying out different programs to draw a map of the stage and place out the speakers. We were trying out different programs and I had demo or something I think of Omni Graffel number two on my computer that came. I think the computer was shipped with that, the license, the light version of Omni Graffel. I started to use that program, just checking out the programs on the computer. I noticed it was great to draw maps over the stage and place out the icons of the speakers. It was probably 20 years ago and I've been keeping using the program and I bought the upgrade license for new versions and the bigger the full program. I kept it as a part of my software portfolio, and now it takes care of all the graphical needs. I'm a sound designer, so I have most programs on sound design and music composition, but on the graphical side, Omni Graphil takes care of most of the work that I need to do.

Andrew J. Mason It's so funny, for something like sound design, Omni Graphil, which is such a visual program, do you end up getting a lot of raised eyebrows? Are people asking questions about why you're using it?

Erik Hedin Actually, I use a lot of software programs, but when I show my sound map, people ask like, That's the number one question I get is, What program did you use to make this sound map? I don't know, say it's on the graph, Okay, what's that? I get more question about that program than my sound programs normally.

Andrew J. Mason I knew that those of us that are listening that happen to be sound inclined as well would probably love to know what sound software do you use when you're designing sound or laying it out? What else shows up for you?

Erik Hedin Ableton is my creative platform and I also have their hardware products, the Push. I work really quick in Ableton and with high quality. I really like it for sketching and to use it together with actors. When they are rehearsing with the director, I can really jam with them when I use Ableton. I program the show. It's a program called Q-Lab that really dominate all over the world, I think, in stage production. It's also like a part of that portfolio. I guess that's the centerpiece. Omnigraftle is also part of those programs that I've been using. I've been using both Q-Lab and Ableton and maybe OmniGraftle, all of those programs when I was studying at the university, I started to use those programs and keeping them like a centerpiece for my career as a sound designer.

Andrew J. Mason You had sent us an example, and I'd love to include it in the show notes too, for anybody that's interested in seeing what you designed, but an example of a map of all the sound data and what channels they go to. And it's a really interesting way to visually show not only the progression of emotion in a show, but also where there might be gaps. What led you to think about presenting the information in that visual way?

Erik Hedin Yeah, I work normally with set designers. They are designing the set for the actors to act in. And when the set designers start to work with the play, with the director, they make a small model. What you see on stage could be huge, but they make it maybe in scale like 1:100, like a small house or something, and they make a presentation for the theater and for the director like, This is what I plan to build. I also wanted to make a model of the sound design. How could I possibly make something that I could, before I produce it, I can make a plan that people can understand? I call it a sound map, and it's a timeline from the start of the play to the end of the play. I put out visual icons for all the sound effects and all the music, and if you have a special effect on the microphones or something, and then I can present to the director or the actors and we can talk about specific parts of the play, what happens when the house burn. Yeah, we want fire, stuff like that. I also used it like sometimes I work with sign language theater groups and it can also be directors that are deaf themselves, so they can't really hear my sounds that I make for the show.

Erik Hedin But they can really enjoy those sound maps where they wish they can see all the sound effects and all the music and they can say, I like some more music here, or I don't like that sound effect, and I can take it away.

Andrew J. Mason It really is brilliant to be able to see this sound journey mapped out. You get an idea as to what sounds are happening at what points during the production. You see animal for animal sounds. You see skull and cross bones for somebody that probably didn't make it to the next scene. But also another layer here that shows all of the different sounds that are mapped. You get an idea for how full of sound a certain section is and also a map of emotions for the play as well. There's a lot showing up right here.

Erik Hedin Yeah, thank you.

Andrew J. Mason Of course, yeah, it really is brilliant. For somebody that's interested in sound design or even mapping out information visually, I know those are two different directions you could take this question, what great first tips might you have for somebody that's looking to head in those spots?

Erik Hedin Yeah, if you would like to visually map out, I think it's a great way to start that you make a plan, a visual plan before you do the big investment in producing the content. You could use a program like Excel, I think, with just do different boxes for the different scenes if you work with a Play-Doh in my case. But I work with Omni Graph, your program. I think it's much more flexible and it fits me good because I think I can be in the creative zone and it allows me to drag pictures in and out and change the size and the colors. I think the color sheams are really great. Just to get an overview, it's really good.

Andrew J. Mason Eric, as advice for somebody behind you in their career, they see what you're doing and they think, Man, this is really cool. Do you have anything that you would recommend people avoid? I hate using the term mistake because we are where we are. We're talking right now, so it's hard to say a mistake or regret, but something that when you were in your journey of your career, look back and say, I don't think I would have done that again if I had the opportunity to do it today and just something that you could advise somebody behind you in their career with. Yeah, I'm.

Erik Hedin Not sure it's a mistake, but yeah, in the beginning of my career when I was working with directors and I were sketching some soundscape or sound effects or music, I was really scared to show it because maybe it's not good enough or maybe it's the wrong feeling or maybe... I thought this was a really hard step to take the first time that you show your work to the world or to your collaborators. But now I'm not so where I am now, I'm not so worried about that. I try to just produce something and I try to put it in context and to get it with the director and the actors. I think it's very seldom that I know what is going to work before I test it together with my collaborators. I have tried to produce it and get it out there and show it to someone, get some feedback. It don't have to be perfect. My advice is to just to be brave and to show it to your collaborators and to get feedback and it will take you further and try to put your own feelings aside and try to work in an iterative way.

Erik Hedin You show it and you make the first version and the second. Now, normally when I'm ready with something, when it's ready for the opening night, it's maybe version number nine or 20. I do many versions that I show. It's never the first version.

Andrew J. Mason Man, Eric, if that isn't the truth. I had a mentor who used to always say build in public and the idea of iterating and then showing those iterations actually helps you get to the right result faster. But it would terrify me because my current process was to go into the cave and then once you're done going into the cave and editing or getting something done, you'd hold it out on a silver platter and say, Tadah, and here it is.

Erik Hedin I.

Andrew J. Mason Do love that advice about iteration allows you to get to that right result faster. That's what we all want.

Erik Hedin Yeah. And just showing your own work to your collaborators when you're in process, it will also change their path and maybe change their expression. So you make it like...

Andrew J. Mason Yeah. Man, yeah, you're right. I mean, the overall result is a better result because the direction changes faster because of the tighter feedback loops.

Erik Hedin Exactly, yeah.

Andrew J. Mason Eric, what happened? We asked you or additional context would you like the world to know about you?

Erik Hedin Yeah, that's a great question to just fill in. I can say I worked a lot together with my wife. We met at theater school and now we are producing a lot of theater performances. Since I started school, today I've been doing more than 100 shows. I feel I've done many different things when it comes to stage art.

Andrew J. Mason That's a great point. You mentioned the 100 shows or so many different experiences that you've had. The very feedback loops that I'm or we're terrified of is the very thing that gives us that confidence as we continue to do it over and over again and that expertise. I love this conversation. Eric, how can folks find out more about you and what you're up to with theater and sound design?

Erik Hedin They can check out my website. It's just you. Com. It's in Swedish, but it's spelled like L-Y-U-D-E-T. Com. You can also find me at Spotify, Eric Heidin, search for me there. Or sometimes I put up something at Twitter or X, it's called now I think. It's Eric Heidi, without the N in the or LinkedIn or something like that.

Andrew J. Mason This is so cool. Eric, thank you so much for sharing how you use Omni Graphol to get stuff done and your work. One of the reasons I feel like I say I'm honored is because getting to do this show and talking to some of the most interesting people who just happen to be using Omni software to get it done, it's really cool to talk to you.

Erik Hedin Thanks a lot. It was a great, great honor to be a part of the show.

Andrew J. Mason Hey, and thank all of you for listening today too. You can find us on Master Done at the Omni show at omnigroup. Com. You can also find out everything that's happening with the Omni group at omnigroup. Com/blog.