Soundriven Pictures


Don Barto Sr

Don Barto Jr

Our History


Soundriven Pictures is a small family owned and operated sound and video production company.  Located near to Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, Soundriven provides  a convenient and affordable solution for increasing your video presence; either on-line, on air, or on demand.  We can crew and equip many production needs and also assist you with the pre-production.





Don Barto, Sr. started Soundriven in 1998 after 27-years with Maryland Public Television and a year with Big Shot, Baltimore.  “It took me 27 years to really learn my craft, and then a 1 year crash course to learn what I thought I needed to know about money, competition and risk-taking—I guess Big Shot was my half-way house between the ivory tower world of state-owned Public Television, and the real world of entrepreneurship and the Baltimore production community”. From early childhood on, Don has always been a musician and tinkerer, with firm footings in both the aesthetic and technical worlds, and a knack for instinctively drawing from either (or from both) to find solutions and create. Armed with the rudiments of photography—passed on to him from his father, a very accomplished amatuer photographer—and a classical musician’s training from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, studying  the trumpet and music theory, Don found great opportunity and success at the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting—first as a studio camera operator and Studio Supervisor, before finding his mentor, Don Swartz, in the music and Effects department. It was in that music and sound roll that Don Sr. would go on for more than two decades to follow his passion and distinguish himself as a composer, recording engineer, location mixer, and pioneer in the field of post production audio for video—as well as serve as an on-going confidante and consult to his colleagues, a distinguished group of music and audio professionals, editors, DPs, directors and producers. Soundriven, Inc. began in 1998 as a family-owned business through which Don Sr. would continue to work as an audio post mixer, composer and location mixer after MPT and Bigshot.  Joined soon thereafter  by his son, Don Jr., Soundriven has evolved into Soundriven Pictures, a small, full-service video production with some tremendous accomplishments, and even greater accomplishments yet before it. Don is a devoted husband and father and lives in Timonium, MD. 

(410) 258-1401

(410) 258-5077

There are few things that mean more to me than Soundriven.  My wife and Son, and the rest of our family and friends would be at the top of this very short list.  But Soundriven has been a part of me, and I of it, Since it's inception by my father, Don Barto Sr, in 1998.  Not only has Soundriven been an important part of my professional life, it has also allowed me to explore my creativity and passion for knowing.


I graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland in 1992 with a BA in Psychology... a pool of knowledge I've drawn on every day of my life since.  After working in the Human Services Field for several years, I was presented with an amazing opportunity:  I could continue to work as I was, but add to that the chance to learn from a true master in the art of recording sciences.  It was in the form of an apprenticeship with my father, Don Sr.  From day one, I was shown the ins and outs of sound for picture, both on location and in post-production mixing.  I was given the chance to assist on several high-profile productions, and just absorbed everything I could through these experiences.


It wasn't long until I became comfortable with the tools on the sound recordist's trade, and began looking toward other departments to see what I could pick up there.  Lighting, camera work, how to rig and set effects, as well as how to produce and direct in the production environment.  I learned by watching, and was fortunate to be witness to some very gifted individuals practicing their respective crafts.


After a couple years of this apprenticeship, I secured a job in a local Voiceover Recording Studio, Speakeasy Productions in Hamden, MD.  It was there that I really learned to fly around an edit system.  It wasn't long before I had designs on learning to edit not just sounds, but images as well.  Soundriven and Speakeasy were, and continue to be, allies in the field, but our visions were different.  As work began to pick up for Soundriven, I was able to work full time in growing this family business.


Today, we are still growing the business.  Proud of our successes, hopeful of the future, and still thriving to absorb and learn all that I can.


In 2014, Soundriven began work on our first (but not last) independent production. And, we have several other projects in the wings.


I am excited about the future of Soundriven Pictures.  I feel we are composed of a good combination of knowledge, skill, perseverance, and luck.  All of which will help us grow and realize our full potential.

George Darby MCPB's Spectra Sonics Console.  Photo by Richard Goodman, CAS

If there was a discernible beginning to Soundriven Pictures, it would have to be at the Maryland Center for Pubic Television back in the 1970's, in the Music and Effects Department with my earliest teacher, sound engineer George Darby...and with my boss and mentor for all things musical or aesthetic or having to do with film or television production, Music and Effects Supervisor Don Swartz. And with George Darby's very brilliant friend and former classmate at Johns Hopkins University, George Massenburg, who was, and still is, a world class music recording engineer and producer—and an early pioneer of parametric equalization and what would become the modern digital recording console. Before we had our own music recording capability at the Maryland center, Don Swartz, George Darby and I would record with George Massenburg at his nearby studio, using his legendary prototype ITI recording console. It was time very well spent for each one of us—for me, the opportunity to study expert mic placement, recording and mixing techniques from a true master. Our jobs there in that studio were to write and produce and record music for the Maryland Center's television programs, on what was then, state-of-the-art 16-track music recording equipment. And to provide basic film mixing capability, with the Maryland Center's 3-transport film dubber system— despite the severe limitation of only having 3 tracks to work with. By the 1980's we were actually becoming active participants in the evolution of Audio Post, by way of inventing ways to to use our multitrack music recording gear to to do the job of the dubbers —with 16 tracks rather than just 3. And with the arrival of SMPTE timecode, establish a method of synchronizing the multitrack music recording gear to video tape — something that had never been done.

Don Swartz, George Massenburg and Don Barto, Sr. at the ITI concole.

Jimmy Wells on Vibes, Donald Bailey on  bass, George Darby at the console in the far background.

Into the 80's and 90's, 16 tracks became 24, and 24-track tape machines and recording consoles were replaced with computers and virtual mix consoles. The disciplines of Don Swartz's film production and Geoge Darby and George Massenburg's music recording had converged into a new field, Audio Post. It was digital and fast and able to do amazing things. The work and the opportunities were also amazing—providing music recording and post production mixing for nationally televised performance and documentary series.

Don Sr. with guitarist David Rona in the MPT Music and Effects Department's redesigned studio, at the SSL 600 E series console.

Then in the late 1980's, there was an opportunity to go on international documentary shoots as a sound assistant to veteran location mixer Michael Boyle, and learn that side of the sound business from an experienced pro.  After a few extended shoots under my belt, I was  going out for other international series as the Primary Location Sound mixer...Pierre Franey's Cooking in France and Mini Dragons...while still having the opportunity to mix and sound design and write music for those shows in post production.

It was these cooking shows and documentaries that became our first projects in 1998, when I retired from Maryland Public Television after 27 years to form Soundriven, Incorporated with my son, Don Jr. The virtual mixing consoles and and recorders were by then just a software application that could run on an off-the-shelf Macintosh.


Soundriven then...

And Soundriven Pictures now...