Spring 2015

[Alumni News]

Tim O’Malley

Good Sound is Music to His Ears

NEXT TIME YOU’RE watching a movie, really listen—to the sound effects, the background music and the dialogue. What you’re listening to is the work of a sound mixer.

Tim O’Malley (’11, Film) is one of the people responsible for ensuring that the sound you hear on screen is crisp, audible, and evokes the right emotion. Whether it’s capturing flawless audio, ambient noise, or perfect dialogue, O’Malley’s job is to create a great experience for your ears.

And like bad acting, or directing, bad sound can mean the difference between a movie or television show that’s critically praised or criticized. “You have to know which mic to use and how to position it to get the best result,” he says. “Otherwise, it can be really distracting.”

Through his work with Impact Productions, a sound production company he founded in 2010, O’Malley has travelled around the world recording sound for film and television. He’s done volunteer audio work for the 2014 comedy movie “Neighbors” with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches commercial campaign, which went viral. Along the way, he’s met a host of celebrities, including Michael J. Fox, Jane Fonda, Vivica Fox, and Greg Kinnear.

Working in Hollywood means working with a lot of big names—and personalities, he says. “The best and worst part by far is the people. Every time you’re on a new gig, you have to prove yourself,” O’Malley says. “But once you make a name for yourself, the gigs start coming in.”

O’Malley’s client list has been growing and recently, he returned to Humboldt to record audio at the Kinetic Grand Championship for Discovery Channel Canada.

Although he was back in town for work, O’Malley still made time to visit friends and his favorite spots. “Arcata is where I go to get away from L.A.,” he says. “After five to six months, L.A. gets to be too much. I’ll go to Om Shala Yoga, North Coast Self-Defense Academy, eat at Wildberries, and go running in Redwood Park.”