An Interview with Antonio Blanca

On December 16, 2014, in Artists, by Josh
Antonio Blanca

Antonio Blanca – Sound Designer/Lemur Template Developer at Twisted Tools

Antonio Blanca has been working full-time as a sound designer at Twisted Tools for several years and is one of the leading Lemur template developers worldwide. He has worked with companies such as Native Instruments, Apple, Camel Audio, Sugar Bytes, Biolabs Audio, FAW and more. For the last several years, Antonio has been quite busy behind the scenes here at Twisted Tools, developing sound content for products such as Binary Windows, Metamorph and Native Instruments Polyplex and Lemur templates for most Twisted Tools products. Most recently, his latest Lemur template, SQU4R-3 has been featured as premium content by Liine and so we thought it would be fun to have a chat with Antonio about his background and experience.

1.Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and where you’re from. 

Hi! I’m from Jaen, Spain. I started playing guitar a long time ago, playing in various bands and decided to study sound engineering at the age of 16. I’ve worked as a mix engineer for several bands, at a post-production studio and as a sound designer for various software companies. I’ve given workshops about Reaktor and Lemur and have been working exclusively for Twisted Tools since 2013.

2 – How did you get started doing sound design and programming Lemur Templates?

My interest in sound design comes from my deep appreciation of sound for movies and games. In particular, I always liked the atmospheric and subtle sounds used to build tension with dynamic range and I also love sci-fi SFX. So, I started practicing and learning to create such sounds by reading and listening as much as possible. Certainly one never knows enough! One day, looking on the Internet, I saw a controller called the Jazzmutant Lemur. It was like seeing a device from the future. What I liked was that it was not a basic controller, but rather something more creative that could be used as a tool to manipulate sound parameters in ways that are not possible with traditional faders or knobs.

3 – Do you consider yourself more of a sound designer, programmer or musician?

When I started sound design and programming, I put aside the music entirely, because I wanted to focus on one thing and devote all my time to that. So, I like to think of myself as a sound lover who creates my own tools to manipulate sounds.

4 – How are you using Lemur in your sound design work?

My main use of Lemur is based on having small tools that allow me to create variations of the same sound quickly, controlling and modifying different parameters of a sound at once, while trying to maintain a consistent sound that stays in context. One of my favorite workflows is to assign controls to various parameters of an FX chain in my DAW – for example, Volume, Sends, Pan, Pitch and FX modulation. Then, I like to move all of them at once, as a control group and save different presets in Lemur. Once I have those presets ready, I can morph or modify them by auto generating new values with a little derivation from the original values, or totally generate new values that can often offer interesting starting points for new material. I do this a lot with S-Layer too.

S-LAYER Lemur Template

5 – What’s a typical day like for you working for Twisted Tools?

Working at Twisted Tools is fun and you’re never bored. Most of the time my work is related to sound design or Lemur, but I try to help where needed with everything from GUI, instrument testing, development and support. There is always something to do in different areas.  I remember when Josh and Igor showed me the prototype of Polyplex, I was able to watch and participate in the evolution of the project until was completed, which was a good feeling. You are creating something that can help other producers from all over the world with their compositional workflow. I like that.

6 – What have been some particular challenges you’ve faced developing Lemur templates for Twisted Tools products? 

Each project is a challenge, because it requires different things, but certainly “lemurizing” Twisted Tools ensembles is a big challenge. The size of the screens of tablets imposes a limitation when recreating the GUI of an instrument, so you have to find new ways to fit everything, yet without dramatically altering the workflow of the instrument. This takes some time, but eventually we try to get a good balance for the user.

7 – What do you think is the most important difference between Lemur and other controllers?

In my case, what I like is not being limited to using it just as a control surface, but you can also use it as if it were an instrument to add more expressiveness to your work, create fast workflows, generative stuff, sequencers, etc. The objects included are dynamic and programmable and can be modified in real-time to adjust to what you need. The new Canvas object is incredible and gives you even more flexibility to create own objects. For me, Lemur is a creative tool not only a controller.

SQU4R – Free premium template for Liine.

8 – Do you have any conceptual or technical tips for people designing their own interfaces?

This may seem obvious, but reading the manual several times will give you a better view of what you can do with Lemur. Lemur is much deeper than what meets the eye. Creating templates in Lemur is also a very personal thing, because you do it for yourself. You are free to put things wherever you like and use what works best for you. That’s the strength Lemur gives you, customization.

I am particularly a bit minimalist. I do not put too many things in my own templates. That does not mean it’s simple, but I focus on the workflow that is fastest and most flexible for the job I want to do. It’s easy sometimes to get lost with so many options and pages, which take you away from achieving the initial purpose. Instead of working with large templates, I work with small modules (jzlib) that I can then combine with each other to make something big or complex. Working with small modules gives you the advantage of being able to change them in the future without the need of navigating a entire project, full of scripts, variables, layered objects, etc. Some tips that have helped me are:

  • Keep memory usage as low as possible (you may later want to add something new to your project).
  • Keep the design consistent.
  • Export yours / other favorite works as modules (.jzlib).
  • Create a custom library of modules to speed up the building process.
  • Disable variables / scripts that are un-mapped.
  • Keep your scripts/code clean and descriptive.
  • Use Object Target for controls mapping.
  • Explore the user library to learn more from others work.

9 – When you work with Twisted Tools on a new instrument, which comes first between the Reaktor UI and the Lemur interface? Does one influence the other?

Normally, instrument GUI comes first, then I get to work on some sketches and send them to Josh and Igor to complete the idea. The template needs to keep the workflow, but the design can vary a bit if needed.

10 – What do you think is (or should) be coming in the future for music touch control?

It is amazing to see how far things have already come on iPad and Android tablets. It has changed how people make music, sound or video. The only thing that I miss sometimes is a larger screen, because sometimes you need to put things in different tabs, which makes everything a little slower. I would love some kind of tablet with two screens that can open and close like a book 🙂

11 – Gracias Antonio!

De nada tio. 😉



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