Read the best of interviews with some of the top Sound Designers in the movies today:
You spend so much time with every film that they are so much a part of you. There is moments in every film that challenge you, and you have to creatively find a way to overcome them. So there is moments that make you proud to have worked on. But as an entire package my personal favorite sound job is The Passion of the Christ. We spent almost nine months working on creating that world through sound.
Normally its between 2-3 months for a feature. The last couple of movies have been a lot shorter than that. The usual process is that I’ll receive a cut of the movie (normally as its still being edited) and there will be a temp track to give an idea of what the film maker’s want. I’d also spot the film, which is the process of really nailing down where music is needed and what the specific tone and feel should be.
There’s some directors that go by the theory that less is more, which is nice sometimes because it’s not only a little easier on us, but depending on the film, usually works really well to make the film better. It’s not getting overblown with sound design in every spot that there’s silence. And then there’s other directors that are totally into designing cool tones and sounds and come in with a theme of how they want things to sound. That’s generally the side we love to work with since it allows us to get creative and have fun with the film once they give us their ideas. Then we just get to dive in for a few weeks to try things and come back to them to see what works.
There is a spotting session – normally with the editor and director somewhere near the final cut which involves understanding the intentions of the material. Any narrative information that the sound can bring to the final process and the setting. There is generally a lot of discussion about dialogue – quality and intelligibility and whether to ADR or not. Some directors prefer original performance. So, capturing the dialogue places a lot of pressure on the production sound mixer. For me, what we do in sound is generally a collaborative process and as technicians we all try to get the best from the material.
Working on a musical is the best. “Black Nativity” was a film that almost no one saw, but I was on the set every day during the shoot, and I was involved in the entire post-production. Nothing is better than having Jennifer Hudson in a church singing her heart out, capturing her live performance and using that in the final mix. There were a lot of technical challenges involving playback, using earwigs (tiny radio controlled ear pieces), microphones hidden in her hair. Then there was the tap dancing, the modern dance, choirs, the works! “The Producers” was also fun, especially when we could use the singing recorded on set and not the pre-records.
There are many great foley artist out there. I have worked with truly talented individuals that have amazed me with their abilities. To be a great foley artist I believe one must have relatively good reflexes. Eye-hand coordination is key to making a sound believable. Many times a sound can be perceived as correct if the sync is perfect.
SOUND EFFECTS IN SOUND DESIGN
The first thing in approaching a new project for the DIRECTOR is to make a list of sounds which they think might be effective. Thinking about the characters in the film and the environment in which they move.