Nice read on Variety about the importance given today to the soundtrack’s volume and density when voting for the Academy Awards, with some thoughts of sound guys such as Tom Myers, Cameron Frankley and Michael Keller. The conclusion: Times has changed and louder isn’t always better.
Once it was a given that a soundtrack’s volume and density wowed Academy voters. But no longer.
Indeed, in recent years, voters have turned away from loud, obtrusive efforts to honor soundtracks that blend nuance and emotion.
Just last winter, Academy voters turned to “Slumdog Millionaire” over “The Dark Knight.” “The Bourne Ultimatum” earned the honor rather than “Transformers” in 2007, and in 2006 the musical “Dreamgirls” trumped four more action-flavored offerings.
Sound mixers and designers like the shift. “It’s great to see perception (of award-winning sound) being broadened,” says “Up” sound effects re-recording mixer Tom Myers. “Just because something is loud doesn’t necessarily make it a good soundtrack. It can be, but there are shades and subtleties that I think people are starting to recognize.”
Cameron Frankley, who most recently served as the supervising sound editor on “Terminator Salvation,” believes the Academy’s general membership is awarding the entire experience of a film. “When they think about a musical, they say, ‘That sounded good, that was good music,’ as opposed to the nuance or detail that goes into another picture,” he says. “So, they are not necessarily judging (a film’s sound) on its complexities, but on the overall feel of the sound.”
Of course, beauty is in the ear of the beholder, but that doesn’t take into account the work that sound designers put into a film like “Terminator Salvation” or “2012,” each of which features approximately 1,300 visual effects shots that needed matching sounds.
On the original “Transformers,” the team created and mixed more than 1,000 sound effects for the film. An average drama uses about 100 tracks of sound.