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Frank Serafine, Sound Designer, Dead at 65

By Steve Harvey. Nominated for Academy Awards for both Tron films, Serafine won for his sound design work on The Hunt for Red October.

Palmdale, CA (September 18, 2018)—Award-winning sound designer, editor, mixer, composer and digital audio pioneer Frank Serafine died in Palmdale, in California’s Antelope Valley, on September 12, 2018, after being struck by a passing motorist. Serafine, aged 65, was reportedly standing on the driver’s side of his parked car when he was hit. He died at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Coroner.

Serafine, whose address was in Lake Hughes, CA, about 15 miles west of Palmdale, worked on feature films such as 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture­ (his first major Hollywood film) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Tron and Tron: Legacy, Virtuosity and Field of Dreams. He won an Emmy Award as a member of the sound team on The Day After in 1983 and was a sound designer on The Hunt for Red October, which won the Oscar for Sound Editing in 1990. Both Tron films were nominated for Academy Awards for sound editing.

A self-described “multi-mediaist,” Serafine’s services encompassed not just sound design but also sound supervision, music composition, surround sound production, Foley recording, location recording, dialog replacement and editing, and mixing. In addition to motion pictures, his work included television, video games, commercials and themed entertainment, including Disneyland’s Space Mountain and Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. traveling exhibition.

Avengers Assembled

Commenting on, colleague and family friend Brandon Schultz wrote, “Enthusiastic, explorer, a teacher, lover of sound, Frank was all these things. Frank brought sound and joy and laughter into our world … His curiosity and innovative approaches never waned.”

Serafine, who grew up in Colorado, began his audio career as a performer, composer and producer with Robben Ford, Don Cherry, Ravi Shankar, George Harrison, Andy Summers and Supertramp, and provided live sound design for Peter Gabriel’s 1993 Secret World Live Tour.

He also had a handful of music scoring credits for TV series, documentaries and video shorts.

Serafine was known as an early champion of digital audio products and, according to reports, was among the first in the Hollywood sound community to use Apple Computers and Digidesign Pro Tools. In published interviews, he talked about using Fairlight’s CMI digital sampling system alongside analog synths such as the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and the Minimoog for his early sound design work. He was one of the first major sound designers to make a sound effects library commercially available. The Serafine Collection comprises 60 CDs.

For many years, Serafine worked out of a three-story building in Venice, CA, that he designed with acoustician Carl Yanchar and architect Madjid Farzanifar. According to his website, the construction project, described as “the first artist in residence live/work mixed use studio/office building in the City of Los Angeles,” was funded by the Hollywood Local Musicians Union and was completed in 1991. The building was acquired by Snapchat in 2016.

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As an educator, Serafine offered training and tuition on all aspects of the audio post production process for multimedia. His 2015 MZed Sound Advice Tour with Frank Serafine produced workshops in cities across the United States.