After incredible success in the competitive world of professional sound recording, including work in 2017 on the motion picture, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” David Fienup decided to crank up the volume in his life and open a new sound studio. And while his skills in recording are mixed in a variety of styles, formats and creativity, there was only one place he wanted to open up shop.
“Ann Arbor has been my hometown since I was born at U-M Hospital in 1980,” Fienup says. “I’ve been in love with this city since I was just a kid going to school a couple blocks from Zingerman’s Deli, before they had all of their other great businesses.
“I spent a few years living in other Michigan cities, but Ann Arbor was always in my heart. The people, the places, the trees, the architecture, the music, the arts, the food, the University – it’s a part of my very being.”
Sound also is a part of his very being so Fienup started his own company, Soundopolis Studio, a multi-faceted sound-for-picture business. Soundopolis is a 950-square foot facility located in Fienup’s walk-out basement on the south side of Ann Arbor. This comfortable studio features a large 5.1 surround mixing and sound design space, a 168-square foot Voice Over and Foley room, a lounge, and a half bath.
And Fienup was very hands-on and specific when it came to creating his four walls of sound. While contractors handled the main construction, Fienup designed the studio layout and the editing and mixing setup, ran his own audio cabling, decorated the studio, and acoustically treated the space.
The acoustic treatments include his own hand-built acoustic panels and diffusors, in addition to traditional acoustical foam.
But before we get into the present and future for Fienup, let’s rewind the tape back to the beginning.
Fienup, who was born and raised in Ann Arbor, received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Albion College in 2003 where he focused on classical guitar performance and musical composition. In 2009, he earned a Master of Arts in Media Arts from The University of Michigan where he studied electronic music composition, music recording and production, and began his journey into the world of Motion Picture Sound.
Fienup has worked as a Production Sound Mixer, Boom-operator, Sound Designer, Foley Artist, Dialogue Editor, and sells sound effects libraries through multiple online vendors.
“I have worked on all ranges of films from local, small-budget independent films to blockbuster features like ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ on which I recorded some orangutans for their sound effects team,” Fienup says. “I’ve worked on all ranges of commercials and corporate videos from small, local businesses up to national spots.
“But I do just about everything. I recently altered some music for a Pilates instructor so it would fit her program. She just needed the tempo slowed down, and the song lengthened. I love small, quick projects like this that help local business owners fine-tune their product. It helps the whole community.”
Fienup says the short-term goal of Soundopolis is to grow the business by building stronger relationships in the community, and continue to do what he loves on a more local level.
“This includes educating the community about what someone like me even does,” he says. “Most ‘sound engineers’ are involved in music production, but my focus is on creative and commercial ‘non-musical’ audio.”
The long-term goal of Soundopolis is to become the go-to company for sound design, voice over recording, and general sound editing in the region. Services include sound design, mixing, voice over recording, Foley, ADR, and dialogue editing.
“I once helped a former landlord of mine, when I lived on Water Hill, digitize audio from 1/4” tape, and then cleaned up the audio using noise reduction software,” he says. “I’ve also done some forensic audio cleanup for court cases, including noise reducing the audio from a camcorder and transcribing the off-screen conversation.”
And he gets to do it right here in his hometown.
“Ann Arbor deserves to have their stories and voices heard clearly and creatively,” he says. “I want the great businesses, organizations, and filmmakers in Ann Arbor who are making films, commercials, web videos and radio spots to have exceptional sound design and voice overs.”
Sound Designer, Owner