Leo Chaloukian

Sound Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly four-hour Archive interview, Leo Chaloukian discusses his childhood and service in the Navy before detailing his long and decorated career in the sound industry. Chaloukian explains various elements of sound design, including Foley, ADR, and mixing, and describes his work on television shows such as Gunsmoke, Lassie, Route 66, Highway Patrol, Maverick, Have Gun Will Travel, Sea Hunt, and the pilot episode of Star Trek. He recounts his rise up the ranks from janitor to owner of Ryder Sound Services and shares tales of Ryder's founder, Loren Ryder -- a pioneer in the field of sound for film and television. Chaloukian also comments on his Oscar win for the feature film "Platoon," his involvement with the Motion Picture Academy, and his time as President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on March 28, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA.

"The corporate mentality is to get the best equipment in there and they completely ignore the fact that it's a people to people business. You build up relationships."

Highlights
Leo Chaloukian on unknowingly supplying Nixon with the equipment for all of his infamous Watergate recordings
03:16
Leo Chaloukian on the difficulties of doing sound for Sea Hunt and the creative way he protected microphones underwater
01:13
Leo Chaloukian on identifying 4 gunshots in an audio recording of President Kennedy's assassination
02:15
On sound effects for snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark
00:23
Leo Chaloukian on the feeling he gets from perfect sound - on "Platoon"
00:26
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on moving from Chicago to Los Angeles; on serving as a mine sweeper in the Navy during World War II
11:27
On attending American Television Laboratories; on his earliest memories of television
03:47
On wanting to work in sound/electronics at Ryder Sound Services; on working nights at Ryder and then getting the day shift and transferring soundtracks
06:28
On impressing Loren Ryder, founder of Ryder Services 
06:44

Chapter 2

On his family; on Loren Ryder and his partnership with Nagra Recorders
10:33
On sound production in the 1950s and working with Ziv Television Productions; on Foley sound
10:41
On challenges of sound building for television in the 1950s
02:54
On creating the sound effects on Lassie and Sea Hunt; on production mixing
04:50

Chapter 3

On ambient noise, wild tracks, signal to noise ratios, and other sound terms
07:46
On companies with which Ryder Sound had contracts; on his promotions at Ryder Sound Services and becoming an executive; on buying Loren Ryder out of the company
15:09
On shows his company worked on: LassieDeath Valley Days, Annette Funicello movies, and Maverick
05:21

Chapter 4

On doing sound for Highway Patrol, Route 66, Star Trek,  and Gunsmoke
07:25
On mixing sound for National Geographic specials and working with Jacques Cousteau; on mixing for David Wolper's documentaries; on sound for Hanna-Barbera shows
13:10
On taking full ownership of Ryder Sound Systems in 1976; on client relations
08:46

Chapter 5

On films Ryder Sound provided sound for: "Two Mules for Sister Sara," "Bullitt," "The Graduate," "Easy Rider," "The Godfather," "Saturday Night Fever," "Smokey and the Bandit," and "Star Trek"
07:51
On Ryder Sound being nominated for 6 Emmys in 1977, and for 14 in 1981; on Ryder Sound winning and Oscar and Emmy in 1986; on the shows for which he personally won Emmys - Stalin and Journey to the Outer Limits
03:37
On generation loss; on sound challenges on the film "Phoenix City" and being followed by the FBI
07:16
On unknowingly supplying Nixon with the equipment for all of his infamous Watergate recordings; on identifying the number of shots heard on an audio tape that recorded President Kennedy's assassination
07:03
On doing sound for "Platoon," for which he won an Oscar
03:26

Chapter 6

On working with Oliver Stone on Platoon and Wall Street; on sound for Raiders of the Lost Ark
06:24
On his work for the Federal Aviation Administration and deciphering information from black boxes
02:37
On his involvement with the Moon Landing in 1969; on JFK's assassination
05:06
On going digital and selling Ryder Sound to Sound Deluxe; on electronic editing
11:46
On some of the films Sound Deluxe edits sound for: Gladiator, Perfect Storm, and several television shows including Angel, Sopranos, and C.S.I.
01:13
On his involvement with The Television Academy
01:35

Chapter 7

On becoming a Governor of the Sound branch of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS); on the separation of ATAS and NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences); on becoming President of ATAS
04:37
On the state of ATAS when he became President; on acquiring headquarters for ATAS
14:04
On suffering a silent heart attack in 1991; on current projects 
03:31
On his love of sound mixing; on advice to young sound professionals
06:41

Chapter 8

On genres that are difficult to design sound for - science ficition and action
02:14
On his proudest achievement; on the key to his success
05:27
On demonstrations of sound equipment developed by Ryder Sound
06:45
Shows

Death Valley Days

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Leo Chaloukian on problems dealing with clients producing Death Valley Days
01:01
Leo Chaloukian on sound for Death Valley Days
02:16
Leo Chaloukian on the challenges of doing sound for Death Valley Days
01:43

Gunsmoke

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Leo Chaloukian on the challenges of doing sound for Gunsmoke
02:28

Highway Patrol

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for Highway Patrol
01:35

Lassie

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Leo Chaloukian on creating the sound effects on Lassie and Sea Hunt
00:57
Leo Chaloukian on sound for Lassie
00:56

Maverick

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Leo Chaloukian on sound for Maverick
00:33

Route 66

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Leo Chaloukian on the challenges of doing sound for Route 66
01:23

Sea Hunt

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Leo Chaloukian on creating the underwater sound effects on Sea Hunt
02:02

Star Trek

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for the Star Trek pilot
01:59
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Leo Chaloukian on Ryder Sound being nominated for 6 Emmys in 1977, and for 14 in 1981 and on winning and Oscar and Emmy in 1986
02:14

Historic Events and Social Change

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Leo Chaloukian on hearing 4 gunshots in the recording from the motorcycle policeman at JFK's Assassination - indicating at least 2 gunmen
04:16

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Leo Chaloukian on hearing 4 gunshots in the recording from the motorcycle policeman at JFK's Assassination - indicating at least 2 gunmen
04:16
Leo Chaloukian on JFK's assassination
00:46

Media Consolidation

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Leo Chaloukian on his thoughts on media consolidation
02:07

Richard M. Nixon

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Leo Chaloukian on unknowingly supplying Nixon with the equipment for all of his infamous Watergate recordings
03:16
Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the Nagra Recorder that Ryder Sound gave to President Nixon
01:30

Technological Innovation

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Leo Chaloukian on Ryder Sound Services working in television with magnetic sound
00:58
Leo Chaloukian on sound pioneer Loren Ryder's inventions and innovations
08:50
Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the original Nagra Recorder given to him by Loren Ryder; on the 6 microphone input recorder invented by Ryder
02:42
Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the original magnetic tape manufactured in the 1940s by Ryder Sound
01:05
Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the ribbon microphone
01:11

Television and the Presidency

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Leo Chaloukian on unknowingly supplying Nixon with the equipment for all of his infamous Watergate recordings
03:16
Professions

Sound Editor

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Leo Chaloukian on advancements in electronic editing; on his dislike of digital editing
07:02

Sound Engineer

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Leo Chaloukian on working for Ryder Sound Services
07:49

Sound Executive

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Leo Chaloukian on the difference between sound technology in the '50s and more recently and on creating the sound effects on Lassie and Sea Hunt
15:37
Leo Chaloukian on starting in sound mixing and becoming an executive
09:19
Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for Oliver Stone's "Platoon" - for which he won an Oscar
02:03

Sound Mixer

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Leo Chaloukian on sound mixing for animation
Leo Chaloukian on how sound mixing for animation differs from live action
01:09
Leo Chaloukian on his love of sound mixing
00:46

Sound Professionals

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Leo Chaloukian on working for Ryder Sound Services
07:49
Leo Chaloukian on sound pioneer Loren Ryder's inventions and innovations
08:50
Leo Chaloukian on sound production
07:18
Leo Chaloukian on Foley sound
03:23
Leo Chaloukian on the difference between sound technology in the '50s and more recently and on creating the sound effects on Lassie and Sea Hunt
15:37
Leo Chaloukian on starting in sound mixing and becoming an executive
09:19
On sound mixing for animation
On how sound mixing for animation differs from live action
01:09
Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for Oliver Stone's "Platoon" - for which he won an Oscar
02:03
Genres

Western Series

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Leo Chaloukian on the challenges of doing sound for Gunsmoke
02:28
People

Frankie Avalon

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Leo Chaloukian on challenges of doing playback sound for Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon beach movies
01:10

Joseph Barbera

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Leo Chaloukian on Joseph Barbera of Hanna-Barbera
01:29

Francis Ford Coppola

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for several of Francis Ford Coppola's films
01:35

Roger Corman

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Leo Chaloukian on Loren Ryder convincing Roger Corman to use the new Perfectone Recorder
00:32

Broderick Crawford

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Leo Chaloukian on the difficulties of shooting Highway Patrol with star Broderick Crawford
00:53

Annette Funicello

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Leo Chaloukian on challenges of doing playback sound for Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon beach movies
01:10

William Hanna

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Leo Chaloukian on William Hanna of Hanna-Barbera
00:56

Steve McQueen

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for Steve McQueen's "Bullitt"
02:18

John Mitchell

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Leo Chaloukian on Television Academy President John Mitchell and acquiring headquarters for ATAS
05:41

Richard M. Nixon

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Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the Nagra Recorder that Ryder Sound gave to President Nixon
01:30

Gene Roddenberry

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for the Star Trek pilot and his relationship with show creator Gene Roddenberry
01:59

Loren Ryder

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Leo Chaloukian on Loren Ryder, head of sound at Paramount, founder of Ryder Sound Systems and creator of magnetic sound film
06:44
Leo Chaloukian on sound pioneer Loren Ryder's inventions
10:03
Leo Chaloukian on inventing a type of fish pole microphone while walking with Loren Ryder and how Ryder never patented his inventions except for work he did for the government 
02:40
Leo Chaloukian on his promotions at Ryder Sound Services and becoming an executive and on buying Loren Ryder out of the company
11:13
Leo Chaloukian on demonstrating the original Nagra Recorder given to him by Loren Ryder; on the 6 microphone input recorder invented by Ryder
02:42

Everett Sloane

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Leo Chaloukian on actor Everett Sloane in a recording session
01:27

Oliver Stone

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for Oliver Stone's "Platoon"
02:03
Leo Chaloukian on working with Oliver Stone 
03:31

David L. Wolper

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Leo Chaloukian on doing sound for David Wolper
01:41

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