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Posted by on Sep 28, 2007 | 0 comments

Exclusive Interview with Gregory King, Supervising Sound Editor on “The Kingdom”

“The Kingdom” explodes into theaters September 28th. Sound supervisors Gregory and Darren King rallied their troops including sound designer Yann Delpuech, for an all-out editorial assault. A part of “Sounddogs,” they have currently been working on the next season of “Friday Night Lights” after tackling sound for the feature film that goes by the same name. Mixing for “The Kingdom” took place at Sony’s Burt Landcaster Theater. Re-recording mixer Rick Kline mowed down the dialog and music while Greg King hurled himself from sound editorial into the effects mixing chair. Kline, an established sound mixer, finished this summer’s “Hairspray” earlier in the year. Willie D. Burton handled production sound for the film. A busy sound mixer in his own right, Burton wrapped on Denzel Washington’s next directorial effort, “The Great Debater’s” earlier in the summer. Danny Elfman composed for the film, tracking the score at Warner Bros. Eastwood scoring stage. There is a great little photo essay on the sessions HERE. Elfman will lend his talents to next year’s “Hell Boy 2: The Golden Army”.

I found the opening title sequence for “The Kingdom” HERE today. I don’t think I have ever seen a production tease it’s release with a credit sequence but, I was very intrigued with what I saw. Either way, if the reviews contain valid descriptions of what the third act has in store for audiences this weekend, there must have been a big bucket of earplugs on the final stage. Thanks to sound supervisor and re-recording mixer Gregory King for taking time out to do this Q and A!

DS: How important was realism to director Peter Berg (or yourselves) in terms of the weapon effects?

GK: For myself, sounding real and using the real sounds are two different things. I like things to sound real in the context of what I’m seeing on screen. I work from an emotional perspective, not from an authentic one. It’s my job to add to the director’s story telling, and unless the director is making a documentary, I will use the sounds that best convey what is happening on-screen. For “The Kingdom,” the weapons at the climax of the film had to be intense and claustrophobic. I made my sound and mix choices based on those emotions; whether or not we used an AK-47 sound for an AK-47 on-screen was of secondary importance.

FSD: Assuming you guys had some field session time during post, what were some of your favorite recordings for the film?

GK: Yann Delpuech who has been designing effects with me forever, flew to the Middle East to record Arabic crowds, voices and calls to prayer. The tracks he recorded are beautiful. The characters in the film find themselves in a strange and foreign land, so it was very important to convey that uneasiness through sound. Darren King did a great job of getting an awesome sounding Arabic loop group, but the more environmental and gritty voices that you hear are from Yann’s recordings. This is an example where “authentic” really works well. The sounds of the Arabic voices and environments are so foreign to us as Westerners that they hit that “uneasy” emotional chord really well. We couldn’t have created anything better than the real thing.

FSD: With the tag line “trust no one”, were there opportunities to convey, even subconsciously, a lack of integrity among the characters?

GK: In this film, the lack of trust is more between two cultures than it is between characters. So it kind of hearkens back to the last question a bit. And that is in creating a foreign and uneasy environment. It also has to do with how the dialogue and music are mixed. My mixing partner Rick Kline has a fantastic sense on how to play dialogue and music within a scene; he understands how to draw an audience in, when to distract them and how to keep them off balance. And keeping an audience off balance is one of the techniques you use to help keep the anxiety level up a bit, which is what this film is about.

FSD: Michael Mann produced the film; did he have input on the sound? What has he been like to work with in the past?

GK: Michael did have input on the sound. He came to playbacks for the temp dubs, and we played back the final mix for him. I love Michael’s sound notes – he really understands and respects what sound can bring to a movie, and he knows how to use it to its full advantage as a filmmaker. I did “The Insider” and “Ali” for him. Working for Michael Mann is very intense; his demands and expectations are very high. My experience working so closely with Michael on “The Insider” made me at least twice the sound designer and re-recording mixer that I was before. I learned a lot from him. “The Insider” did not have a single gunshot, explosion or spaceship and it still received an Oscar nomination for best sound. The credit for that goes to Michael and his willingness to try things with sound that other filmmakers might shy away from.

FSD: A recent review described the action set pieces in the film as “a loud and violent catharsis!’” What makes the “loud parts” in action films satisfying and entertaining on an aural level without overwhelming and/or confusing the audience?

GK: Hopefully, in the same way a single punch between the eyes would have. In and out quick, shockingly sudden, and don’t dwell on it. From a technical point of view “The Kingdom” is not mixed loud; Rick and I are very conscious of that. It is however, mixed very dynamically, which gives the impression of being loud where you want it to be without it being loud in pure volume. I try to dish out intensity, or anxiety, or chaos. I try to do this with dynamics, rhythms and frequencies. But I never want an audience to wince or be uncomfortable by sound levels.

DS: What was your first gig like?

GK: Great. It was in Toronto in 1985 and I was hired by Alban Streeter and Nolan Roberts, two Brits who had immigrated to Canada several years earlier. They had worked on films by such directors as Polanski and Kubrick while in England. They worked on mag (film with sprockets for you young ones), but I was into samplers and sequencers. I brought them into the digital age while they taught me film editing.

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Posted by on Sep 21, 2007 | 0 comments

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Pt.1) – Exclusive Interview with Scoring Mixer Jake Jackson

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” drifts into theaters September 21st. Sound supervisor Richard King and additional sound supervisor Hamilton Sterling wrangled up their sound posse and staked their claim on the editorial. King and Sterling completed Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The 11th Hour,” earlier this year and King recently started work on the film I am most excited for, next July’s “The Dark Knight”. Mixing for “Jesse” took place on Warner Bros Stage 9 with re-recording mixers Ron Bartlett and Doug Hemphill. The two, a fixture on the stage, are currently dubbing “Alien vs. Predator 2: Requiem.” Bartlett helped mix effects on one of my favorite films: 1995′s “Heat”. There is a great bit about the craziness of that film’s post sound HERE(03:56 on). The Production sound was mixed by Bruce Carwardine. “Jesse” was shot in mostly Alberta and Carwardine, a recipient of a few Genie Awards already, works on many Canadian films each year. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis composed the score for the film. This marks their second collaborative effort on a western after 2005′s “The Proposition”. The score was recorded and mixed at Studio 1, Air Studios in London.

<a href=”http://jessejamesmovie.warnerbros.com/”><img style=”margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer; width: 200px;” src=”http://image.hotdog.hu/_data/members2/482/131482/images/The%20Assassination%20of%20Jesse%20James.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”” /></a><span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”</span> drifts into theaters September 21st. Sound supervisor <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0455185/”>Richard King</a> and additional sound supervisor <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0827515/”>Hamilton Sterling</a> wrangled up their sound posse and staked their claim on the editorial. King and Sterling completed  <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0000138/”>Leonardo DiCaprio’s</a> <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”The 11th Hour,”</span> earlier this year and King recently started work on the film I am most excited for, next July’s <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”The Dark Knight”. </span>Mixing for <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”Jesse”</span> took place on Warner Bros Stage 9 with re-recording mixers <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0058897/”>Ron Bartlett</a> and <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0376153/”>Doug Hemphill</a>. The two, a fixture on the stage, are currently dubbing <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”Alien vs. Predator 2: Requiem.”</span> Bartlett helped mix effects on one of my favorite films: 1995′s <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”Heat”</span>. There is a great bit about the craziness of that film’s post sound <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-3Z8Ildsno”>HERE(03:56 on)</a>.  The Production sound was mixed by <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0142606/”>Bruce Carwardine</a>.  <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”Jesse”</span> was shot in mostly Alberta and Carwardine, a recipient of a few Genie Awards already, works on many Canadian films each year. <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0147022/”>Nick Cave</a> and <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0255145/”>Warren Ellis</a> composed the score for the film. This marks their second collaborative effort on a western after 2005′s <span style=”font-style: italic;font-weight: bold”>”The Proposition”</span>.  The score was recorded and mixed at Studio 1, Air Studios in London.

I am glad to have this Q and A with scoring mixer Jake Jackson. Music is a part of a film’s soundtrack that I don’t touch upon enough here. In all honesty, my only direct experience with the music department is when the music editor appears on a re-recording stage with the mixed MX Stems. I would like each discipline to have equal footing here so I hope this can be the first steps in the right direction. We’ll get a peak into score tracking and mixing here and in the next few months get into music editorial and re-recording mixing.

DS: Admittedly, I am not very knowledgeable about the scoring process. As a scoring mixer, what do your duties entail?

JJ: Firstly, I am approached by the composer, and we discuss elements of the score, i.e., style of score, instrumentation, any special requirements, recording venue, players, etc. Then close to the scoring session, we finalize those details, and organize technical requirements with the recording studio and music editor. Then, during the scoring process it is my job to record the music to the highest quality, get the best performance from the musicians, and to make the process run as smoothly as possible (as it is expensive!). Once we move onto the mix down, it is my job to, obviously, balance all the elements internally, making sure the composer is happy that their music has been realized properly, but also I must reference the temp dx/fx so that the music sits nicely for the re-recording mixer. We then separate some elements of the mix so that the re-recording mixer can re-balance if absolutely necessary. For example, rather than turn the whole music track down if it is getting in the way of dialogue, they can just turn down the offending element.

DS: You stated that recording the score for “Jesse James” was a different experience than on most films. How did it differ?

JJ: It was different because the music editor Gerard McCann and myself, were involved in the composing process. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis write ideas before they get to the stage, but actually put ideas down in the recording process. They play most of the instruments themselves (with a few extras). They go and play, I record it and we listen, then add more passes or replace bits. I do a live mix every time, which goes to the music editor, who then refines it to picture some more, then we go back and complete the recording process to the picture. This is different because often the music is completely written before we get to the scoring stage, and the recording process is realizing the Composer’s samples by real musicians and instruments.

What was nice on “Jesse,” was that we also got Matt Dunkley involved to orchestrate some of Nick and Warren’s music so that we could have a small string section to support their music and also give alternate versions for different sections of the movie.

DS: How much experimental time on the stage do the composers and you get to during recording?

JJ: Following on from your last question, obviously, there was a lot of experimentation on “Jesse,” Another reason for this was the picture cut changed a lot, so we tried different versions of cues. We would also watch the movie down once in a while, and if the music felt wrong, then we would change it. During a more normal scoring session, the experimental side of things is more to do with a musician’s interpretation of the composer’s music. For example, the way a Piano solo is performed, or which is the best ethnic instrument to use for the color or mood of the music/film at that point. It also depends massively on the budget. On a larger movie, there is time to get alternate performances from musicians, perhaps trying different instrumentation or style, but on a smaller budget movie, because recording an orchestra is a vastly expensive thing to do, there is often only enough time to record something twice, so you might have to live with an interpretation that is very good, but not perfect.

DS: How involved are directors normally in the scoring process?

JJ: In the actual scoring process it really depends on the director. On “Jesse,” Andrew left Nick and Warren to it, and we sent over versions that they listened to, and commented on. On other movies, the director works more closely with the composer prior to the recording process. Firstly, they go through the movie without music, and the director will say where he wants music, and what he wants it to achieve. Then the composer will send the director demos, and they will work on the music until they are happy. At the scoring stage, there are little surprises these days. A few years ago before samples became so good, the director would often only hear a piano style mock-up of the music, but now they hear a refined version. So the scoring process is more to do with getting the right feeling from the musicians and making a few tweaks here and there.

DS: How do you prepare tracks for the final stage; do the music editor or you rap with the re-recording mixer during this process?

JJ: This is primarily done by the music editor. Often, I might speak with the re-recording mixer if there are elements of the music that are unusual and need to be treated in a certain way. But since the music editor is going to be at the dub, then what they need is important. Whether it is what to have on separate stems, or what comes out of what outputs, is decided in discussion with myself, composer and the music editor. I have to remember that they are at the dub representing the composer, and the music in the film. What we deliver is generally a full 5.1 mix of the music, but then anything from 2-10 stems of what constitutes the full mix. Sometimes, i.e., when recording an orchestra, there is no separation, because I record them as one, so the mix is the mix, but if the score for example, has solo instruments, and/or vocals, then we will give them separately to the re-recording mixer, so that they can blend them better if they need to. In theory, there should be nothing for them to change, but if the director wasn’t at the mix down, or the scene needs to change, then having separate stems is better than losing the entire cue. On “The Proposition,” I was fortunate enough to be at the Dub for the entire process as Gerard was busy, so I became the music editor. This gave me a very interesting insight into the process, and since then I have been able to put into practice the things I learned about how the music translates from the one environment (scoring stage) to the other (dubbing stage).

DS: What was your first gig like?

JJ: My very first gig was “City of Angels.” I turned up not really knowing about film scoring, and made the tea for two weeks and watched in awe at the process, budget and skill of those involved! I have been very fortunate to be the Recordist on many huge films including, “Gladiator,” “LOTR,” the Bond movies, and “Harry Potter.” Now that I am a Mixer, I am working on films like “Jesse James,” with amazing musicians such as Nick and Warren. Life doesn’t get any better!

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Posted by on Sep 17, 2007 | 0 comments

Exclusive Interview with Michael O’Farrell, Supervising Sound Editor on “Eastern Promises”

“Eastern Promises” hits theaters September 14th. Supervising Sound editors Wayne Griffin and Michael O’Farrell helped mark the soundtrack with dialog, ADR, effects, and Foley. O’Farrell, whom supervised director David Cronenberg’s last, “A History of Violence, is currently mixing one of Judd Apatow’s next projects, the David Gordan Green directed “Pineapple Express”. While Griffin has been in cahoots with the director since 1986′s remake of “The Fly.” Mixing for “Promises” took place at Deluxe’s Toronto based sound facility, with re-recording mixers Christian T. Cooke and Orest Sushko at the helm. Also sound thugs in the Cronenberg ranks, the team has mixed four of the director’s films. Hot off this summer’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Stuart Wilson mixed production dialog on the film. Continuing his working relationship with director Michael Winterbottom, Wilson just mixed the director’s current film “Genova” as well his last seven other efforts. Beating all the musical notes into submission, Howard Shore scored the film at London’s Abbey Road studio. Shore looks to be attached to Martin Scorsese’s next two narrative ventures, “Silence” and “The Rise of Theodor Roosevelt”.

I wanted to thank Michael O’Farrell for doing this Q and A. I saw the film last night and I got to say the bathhouse house scene that Mike teases in his answers is definitely as intense as he claims…

DS: While “A History of Violence” is 100% Cronenberg, he was still at his tamest by keeping the sound very naturalistic. What was the approach on “Promises’” soundtrack?

MO: It’s interesting to hear you say that, thanks! Actually, the sound on “History of Violence” and again on “Eastern Promises” is anything but naturalistic but it’s great that you remember it that way.

Usually the films themselves determine what the feel of the soundtrack will be. Both of these films are really character driven and heavily claustrophobic. They are essentially quiet complex films about interpersonal relationships, secrets hidden and occasionally revealed. I think sound editors by nature are terrified by quiet. They often try to fill the glass to the overflowing point, stretching to fill every blank aural space. Noise is, after all, why people primarily hire us. Knowing when to back off and stay quiet is just as important.

In these pieces, as the tenor of the film changes, as the drama builds, so does the force and nature of the sound effects. I think if you went back and looked at a few of the set pieces in “History” or “Eastern Promises” you’d be surprised at how outlandish some of the sounds are. In a straight run however, the viewer is hopefully caught up in the tension of the situations and brought to that emotional point where more surreal sounds are accepted as part of the dramatic landscape.

I think when you are starting a film you should remember the music you love, and that most great compositions have a broad arc. Beauty, in this case at least, lies in the dynamics: The interplay of hard and soft, loud and quiet, knife and flesh.

DS: I read in a recent interview that what makes working on a thriller so much fun is the opportunity the genre allows for playing with the audience. Given that David likes to use that device on his audience, did you guys get any time to play?

MO: Well, some time [to play]. For me, Foley and effects recording are definitely my personal play time.

I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a great collaborator in my co-supervisor Wayne Griffin who handles the dialogue department, as well as our foley artist Andy Malcolm and a great production recordist in Stuart Wilson. Along with our great crew, Tony Currie on Dialogue and Rob Bertola on FX, we did manage to get in a fair bit of play time sonically and otherwise.

David Cronenberg is quite remarkable in the fact that he usually only does one or two recruited audience screenings. He’s that confident and that sure footed.
That’s quite unusual in this age of multiple previews and short schedules. I’ve gotten used to laying down my preliminary version of the FX tracks in the first couple of weeks that I’m on a film. And while it’s amazing how much of that version is what takes hold and becomes the basis of the final track, I do love to get other people’s perspective on a particular sound; hearing things that are 180 degrees opposite from what I was thinking of, something that I never would have come up with. This film is full of these kind of happy accidents and plain hard work. From Tony’s great crowd ADR work in England to Rob’s peculiar take on a tattoo needle, this project was a definite group project. Collaboration, interaction and play are what make this job worthwhile.

DS: The word “visceral” is often used to describe his films, yet, to me that word always seems like a nod to sound. What are some of your favorite visceral sound moments in this film?

MO: Hmm…that would be telling. Let’s just say that there is a very intense scene set in a bath house and a very unfortunate incident involving an eye. Oh and a throat… actually a couple of throats. David C’s new pet name for me is “O’Feral” if that gives you any clues.

David did a study of street fighting techniques when he was prepping “History of Violence.” The primary rule for survival, for coming out on top in life threatening situations, was to get in very close to your opponent when fighting. I think we’ve all taken that to heart in both of these films. We get in close, really close. It’s all about small perfect sounds… listen for the fingertips hitting the metal tabletop…(Andy Malcolm our Foley artist can take credit for that one..)

DS: One of the first and simplest “tips” I got for BGs (backgrounds) coverage was to use wet car-bys to convey night. Since I have read most of this film takes place in the evening hours, what ways did you convey nighttime while keeping it interesting and obviously menacing?

MO: Actually, it rains a lot in this nightmarish version of London. The nights are about rain and unseen trucks rumbling by. We recorded a lot of new rain for this film, hopefully enough to keep it interesting, at the very least really damp

DS: I am a big fan of David Gordon Green. How is he to work with on “Pineapple Express”?

MO: Just great so far. He’s got a very funny film on his hands. If he magically turns into an jerk during the mix you’ll be the first to know!

DS: What was your first gig like?

MO: Some poor, put upon, commercial editor in Toronto with a very tight deadline (And obviously no viable options…) hired me fresh out of film school to cut negative for his series of spots. Strangely enough, I didn’t get a call back for a return engagement. Shame really, I probably could have had a very hot neg cutting career by now!

My first real sound editing gig was for the late, great Canadian sound editor Ken Heeley-Ray on an epic high school football film called “Crunch” back in 1981 or so. If you can’t find it at Netflix, they subsequently changed the name to the much classier “The Kinky Coaches and the Pom Pom Pussycats”.

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Posted by on Sep 12, 2007 | 0 comments

The Music Soundtrack

I am glad to see the academy rolling out more of these events!

“This three-evening seminar series offers a detailed look at the music scoring process from the perspective of motion picture composers themselves. Each week’s topic will be illuminated by film clips, on-stage discussions with guests (subject to availability) and questions from the audience. Each session will begin with a film clip illustrating two different scores for the same scene.”

Sept. 20 – Traditional Scores
Moderated by Charles Bernstein (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, Cujo), with Lalo Schifrin (Rush Hour, Cool Hand Luke), and Jan Kaczmarek (Finding Neverland, Unfaithful)

Sept. 27 – Alternative Scores
Moderated by Bruce Broughton (Lost in Space, Silverado), with Mychael Danna (Little Miss Sunshine, Capote), Mark Isham (Crash, A River Runs through It) and Rolfe Kent (Sideways, Election)

Oct. 4 – The Music Team
With George S. Clinton (The Santa Clause 2, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), Michael Giacchino (Mission: Impossible III, The Incredibles), John Powell (Happy Feet, United 93) and Mike Flicker (music editor, The Santa Clause 2, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)

…On the topic of great events, all you fans of “The Transformers” sound editorial will be excited to hear I caught wind of an event that may be coming to the Los Angeles area this November. I’ll post more info when I get the official word!

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Posted by on Sep 6, 2007 | 0 comments

Exclusive Interview with Rob Nokes, Sound Effect Recordist on “3:10 To Yuma”

“3:10 to Yuma” saunters into theaters September 7th. Donald Sylvester, who supervised director James Mangold’s last effort “Walk the Line,” dueled with the sound editorial. Sylvester, a sound editing renaissance man has cut everything from foley to ADR to dialog to effects during his career. Re-recording mixers Paul Massey and David Giammarco came out, faders blazing on FOX’s John Ford dubbing stage. Another “Walk the Line” alum, Massey is fresh off this May’s “Pirates of the Caribean” sequel while Giammarco mixed New Line’s “The Last Mimzy” earlier this year.Jim Stuebe was deputized to mix the production sound. Stuebe has production mixed Wes Craven’s last few films and shot sound on Ben Affleck’s directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone.” ComposerMarco Beltram, another Wes Craven frequenter, scored “3:10 to Yuma” at Abbey Road in London. Beltram has already had a big summer composing for June’s “Live Free or Die Hard.”

Introducing the most fun part of sound effects editorial, field recording! Sound supervisors always seek out new sounds, I think if they had it their way, they would record all new effects for every show. While some projects might not warrant sessions out in the field, films like “3:10 to Yuma” cry out for them. So, when sound soup Donald Sylvester needed fresh sounds to blanket the Arizona desert, he sent up smoke signals for sound effect recordist, Rob Nokes. Nokes is among the few sound effects recordists that work almost exclusively in the craft (Mix Magazine covered a few more HERE), and without their heart, adventurous attitude, and health insurance, we as an film audience would never be treated to all of those cool new sounds.

Designing Sound: Did you get to record any production effects during principle photography on “3:10″? How often does that happen?

Rob Nokes: I did not record production effects on this movie. Anytime a movie has a unique situation involving crowds or machines it makes sense to capture the original on location as the costs to re-stage unique events are usually cost prohibitive. A couple of examples of this would be recording the production crowds’ performance on “Walk Hard” a new movie by Jake Kasdan; the real authentic crowds sit more naturally than library crowds. Sometimes stock library crowds and clapping jump off the screen or are too close -According to Bob Grieve and Joel Shryack (Sound Supervisors) the production crowds sat perfectly in the mix and everyone was very happy. Another example would be recording the final ten-second countdown and the “USA! USA!” chant in the movie “Miracle.” The director gave us 4,000 extras to perform these critical story elements on location. Typically we get the location or machines after the principle photography, such as destruction of the house wood set on “The Spiderwick Chronicles” (Mark Mangini, Sound Supervisor), or the original beat-up Volvo used in the movie “Blue State,” (Jake Eberle, Sound Supevisor).

DS: What was the bulk of the coverage that Donald Sylvester needed for editorial? What were your favorite sessions on the film?

RN: Don Sylvester (Sound Supervisor) wanted a great collection of new gun recordings that did not sound like Howitzers and many gun libraries are over processed and lack natural dynamics. Don’s friend and collaborator Doug Hemphill, the Re-Recording Mixer on “3:10” and “Walk The Line,” was an exceptional sound effects recordist early in his career and had pioneered and recorded some of the best guns in the 1980′s. Based on my experience with Doug, I learned that a lot of his efforts have been passed on to subsequent generations of sound effects recordists. Our goal at Doug’s neighborhood of Missoula Montana was to capture a clear, crisp, natural gun library for the movie. My only objective on the shoot and subsequent mastering of the ten channels recorded, was deliver Don and Ted Caplan (Sound Designer) a great gun library.

DS: What does your main rig comprise of these days?

RN: Deva 5, three Neumann 190i stereo microphones, Sanken CUB-01 boundary mics, several PZM mics, Sennheiser 815T, Countryman lavs, four Sennheiser E835s dynamic mics, seven Hydrophones, Fostex Fr-2, and M-Audio Micro Trak. I am not crazy about the latter two recorders; I plan on buying two new small two-channel recorders.

DS: Does being an active supervising sound editor help in prep for the field sessions?

RN: While mixing with Re-Recording Mixers good recordings are appreciated and the Mixers generally know good unique libraries from stock CD libraries or poorly recorded libraries. On several movies the Mixers have complimented me on my recordings which is greatly appreciated, however, that thanks is due, in part, to the Supervisor or Sound Editor that used the right sound in the right place in the movie being mixed. With that being said, all experience is beneficial; sometimes I may not get what I want exactly, however, another opportunity may present itself where I can provide another series of sounds for the Supervisor.

DS: How much time do you normally get for experimentation during the effects shoots?

RN: With the Deva 5 on all effects shoots, I can experiment with a couple of channels and try different mic techniques or microphones. Most sound effects shoots are partly experimental because I am dealing with situational factors such as the target to be recorded, background noises, wind, temperature, time, security, safety, acoustic reflections, speed of a moving target, and the people that are helping or hindering the shoot. The more recording experience a person has the better they can resolve these factors. I strongly recommend that recordists listen to test recordings during the shoot to ensure that these factors are properly observed and adequately adjusted for.

DS: You shot effects on “Walk Hard”; What was it like working on a musical? Did your focus differ from a large-scale action film?

RN: On some movies less is more – my goal on “Walk Hard” was to provide broad crowd coverage of the crowds without having the mics seen on camera or having my presence be an intrusion to the Director or the 1st AD. As a result of directorial overlaps talking to the crowd and music playback, I hid small microphones behind the seats so that the density of the immediate crowd would obliterate the overlapping voice or music and in many cases this helped. On a musical the setup is very important and patience is critical – doing less is more. Action films usually have greater speeds and decibels, which results in more setups and movement.

DS: What was your first gig like?

RN: I had some awareness of sound effects recording at Master’s Workshop in Toronto. They had a really good recordist named Terry ‘Turk” McCarthy. My first recording gig was as an Assistant for Peter Thillaye on IMAX Mountain Gorillas. We drove outside of rural Toronto and pretended to be Gorillas rummaging in an African forest. After that I borrowed microphones all the time and recorded as much as possible; fortunately for me Greg King, whom I started working for
, preferred to have a unique sound library so original recordings were encouraged and preferred. It was a great environment for a young sound effects recordist.

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