Audio: <I>Eye of the Beholder</I>
Issue: January/February 2019

Audio: Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons ( is a new documentary from Cavegirl Productions and X-Ray Films that explores the history, influence and stories behind the artwork that helped create one of the world’s most popular role-playing games. Eye of the Beholder features more than 40 interviews with legends in the world of D&D and modern fantasy illustration, including Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Tony DiTerlizzi, Todd Lockwood, Erol Otus, and many more. 

The three producers behind the project are husband-and-wife team Seth Polansky and Kelley Slagle of Cavegirl Productions (, and Brian Stillman of X-Ray Films ( In addition to self-funding the project (in conjunction with a 60K Kickstarter), Slagle was the editor, Stillman was director of photography, and Polansky handled the vast majority of the audio work – both on-location and in post. The documentary was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Kelley Slagle, Brian Stillman and Seth Polansky

The most challenging issue the team faced was blending together audio from over 40 different interviews. Every location was unique – from hotel rooms, to bars to private homes. The goal wasn’t to make them all pristine, but to ensure that the transitions between shots weren’t jarring and thereby take people out of the film.

The audio was recorded with a mix of Countryman lavaliers, Schoeps hypercardoids, and Sennheiser and Rode shotgun microphones. Some sound was recorded directly to the camera, but most was recorded to a laptop using Adobe Audition or Reaper, through an RME Babyface. 

Due to time and location constraints, the team ended up with some audio “featuring” chainsaws, restaurant ice machines and air conditioners. Someone even thought it was a great idea to tear sheets of tin foil in the background during an interview. 

Polansky spent a good deal of time using the noise reduction baked into Adobe’s CC suite, and Izotope’s plug-ins. CC’s ability to capture the noise from some room tone, and subsequently remove that noise, was incredibly useful. The team also made great use of Izotope’s Dereverb plug-in to remove some of the unwanted reverb from certain tracks.  

Adobe CC’s ability to roundtrip from one machine to another made things orders of magnitude easier than they might have been otherwise. Roundtripping even worked flawlessly cross platform. The crew was initially concerned since the video was edited on a Mac and the audio on a PC, but were happy to report that those fears were unfounded.

Stillman interviews Jon Schindehette

Another major chunk of audio work consisted of working with composer, Noah Potter (  The production team went back and forth with Potter many times as they tried to ferret out the right feel for the film, and what sort of emotional cues were appropriate for which section. This process went particularly well since Potter is also an unabashed D&D geek. 

While many of Potter’s mixes were used as-is, they did need some of the tracks as fairly discrete stems; particularly when the picture called for a very light touch or just some ambience. In those instances they pulled the stems into Audition and remixed them as necessary – using CC’s compressors, reverb and delays as appropriate to the action on-screen.

The film is being distributed by The Nacelle Company, which develops, produces and distributes feature and documentary films and TV shows — both scripted and unscripted.