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Posted by on Jul 30, 2010 | 2 comments

More About the Sound of "SALT"

The August Issue of Mix Magazine is available for download. It contains a detailed article on the sound of SALT, which you can see online in Mix Online:

There’s been no shortage of action movies over the past couple of decades, with dozens of subgenres proliferating to satisfy the audience’s appetite for war, worldwide destruction, comic books, videogames, legal procedure, historical epic, serial killers, mistaken identity or underdogs fighting the good fight against all odds. But it’s a relatively short list when looking through the legacy of intelligent, character-driven action-thrillers, in the vein of Three Days of the Condor, The French Connection, The Fugitive and the Bourne franchise.

Australian director Phillip Noyce entered the club with his smart, story-driven Jack Ryan films, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger from the early ’90s. Now he’s back, and he’s hurtling through modern-day spy territory—practically ripped from today’s Soviet spy exchange headlines—with Angelina Jolie on the run in Sony Pictures’ summer blockbuster Salt.

“My first reaction, on seeing an early cut, was, ‘Wow!’” recalls Greg P. Russell, effects re-recording mixer from the Kim Novak Theatre on the Sony lot in mid-July. “It’s exciting, well-paced, authentic and realistic. The action is believable, and it’s a solid story, really solid, with twists and turns that kept me guessing through to the end. And I loved the Salt character. Unique and clever, smart and bold. Angelina Jolie does such a great job with this role, and the film is filled front to back with incredible sound opportunities.”

From left: Igor Nikolic, first sound assistant; Scott Millan music mixer; Philip Stockton, supervising sound editor; Jeffrey J. Haboush, dialog mixer; Deborah Wallach, ADR supervisor; Phillip Noyce, Director; Greg P. Russell, effects mixer, Paul Hsu, supervising sound Editor; Joe E. Rand, music editor Photo: Tom Burns
Russell was joined at the Harrison MPC by Jeff Haboush on dialog, a mixer he’s teamed with on and off for nearly 27 years, and Scott Millan, a veteran of the Bourne films and a hit man brought in to handle music. In essence, it was a return to the three-person crew that was the norm not so long ago in Hollywood. Noyce called the track the most complex in his career, and his vision was established clearly from the beginning.

“On day one, Phillip laid out the game plan,” Russell recalls. “Story and character were key, and everything we did in the soundtrack had to support her story. She is a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy, and she’s on the run trying to clear her name. So all the tension that we feel, whether it’s coming from effects and high-octane car chases and bullet whiz-bys, or the group dialog with its precise, story-specific lines, or the music with its big brass and intense rhythms—we need to feel that threat she is experiencing throughout the film. He laid it out in a way that we were on the same page from the first temp dub.”

Continue reading…

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2010 | 1 comment

Seal Creature #3: Zip, a Fearful Alien

And here is the last creature I made from Seal Vocals library. The experience was a lot of fun. I totally recommend you this kind of limitation challenges. If I had the opportunity of use more sounds and my own recordings, perhaps the result could be better, but this activity is a fantastic way to improve your skills.

I think I’ll make a dedicated post talking about limitations and its great potential for our craft.

The Story

Zip is a small extraterrestrial being from an unknown planet. Was found by a group of travelers who explored the North Pole. Since then, Zip lives in a private retreat where NASA is studying their behavior, which is friendly but crazy, although no clear language of communication, and doesn’t have a kind of mouth, just make weird movements with his throat.

A special feature of Zip are his eyes, which are always alert to any movement that takes place around him. Zip is usually quiet but is upset and gets scared very easily, a little fearful, and also tends to get desperate when he feels in a strange place. In that moments, Zip start to run and gives big jumps all over the place, mumbling and moaning in their language.

Zip constantly tries to communicate with his family. For this, he uses a supersonic kinda communication, with a green beam pointed to the sky.

Sound Interpretation

Well, this is the weird creature of the project. I decided to make it desperate, with crazy and fast movements. His communication had to be weird and also I had to achieve a nice throat feeling, keeping in mind that he doesn’t have a specific way to talk, such as a mouth, so I think I had to treat the Hi frequencies in a special way.

Use of Seal Vocals and Processing

Zip was the funniest character to make. It’s freer than the other creatures and gives me the opportunity of experiment with the sci-fi context.

For the common sounds of Zip I used a combination of all kind of seal sounds, including growls, breaths, calls, and weird stuff. I processed them in several ways, including some pitch variation, time compression, and also more crazy stuff such as ring modulation and granular processes.

Playing with pitch and time stuff gives me different kind of performances and new sounds for Zip, the ring mod processing is great to change radically the feeling of Zip’s vocalizations giving a better throat design without loosing the original performances, and the granular proceses help me to stretch and fragment the sound of Zip even more, to get a crazy and more complicated language.

For the communication sound I wanted to do a classic and hypnotic UFO sounds. I have a nice chain that I often use for generating laser blasts, communication sounds, spaceships sounds, etc. It works with almost anything you want, and also worked for me on Zip’s sound design process.

The chain is based on tape delaying and modulation. I used H-Delay there, playing with the feedback control to deliver an “infinite” signal. Then is just about tweaking the modulation parameters and filters of the plugin. The modulation controles the speed and repetition of the effect, while the filters modify the color and tone of the obtained sound.


[Notes: Played in no particular order. Each one is a different example of how Zip's vocalizations could sound like]

[Notes: Played in no particular order. Each one is a different example of how Zip's communication could sound like]

Image: A cool UFO Lamp

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2010 | 2 comments

"Predators" – Exclusive Interview with Paula Fairfield & Carla Murray

Sound designers Paula Fairfield and Carla Murray took time out to answer few questions about their work on “Predators”. They have been featured a few interviews already HERE and HERE. Stay tuned for a companinion interview with one of the sound supervisor David Stone from the original 1987 Predator  next week.

PF = Sound Designer Paula Fairfield
CM = Sound Designer Carla Murray

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2010 | 13 comments

Bruce Tanis Special: Reader Questions

Sadly, the Bruce Tanis special has come to its end. This month was amazing, with a really great amount of sound effects editing master classes given by Bruce. Here are the answers to the questions made by the readers during this month. Hope you like them!

Designing Sound Reader: As a student/future sound editor, I’ve been anxious about the fact that there is no prescribed method to getting one’s foot in the door in the business. For a major studio like Warner Bros., and with many sound folk competing to enter the field, how does one land an internship or entry level position there?

Bruce Tanis: The major Hollywood studios, including Warner Brothers, are union facilities and while there is an apprentice classification, almost no one uses it anymore. The problem here is that you have to be in the union as an assistant or as an editor to work there. The good news is, however, that there are a lot of non-union companies around town and even some union houses outside of the studios which do use runners and interns so at least you can get your foot in the door that way. It has always been a good bit of “who you know” as much as (or more than) “what you know” that gets you a job so it would be a good idea, if you’re in Los Angeles, to go to a few facilities and introduce yourself, staying in contact with them, so that they get a chance to know you in hopes that when an opportunity does come up, they’ll think of you.

DSR: Is there any kind of non-audio related art, literature, or experience that has influenced the way that you sculpt sounds or which sounds to add so the story is enhanced the best way possible?

BT: Actually, literature is a really good source for inspiration because it can paint such detailed pictures in your mind of a particular time or place. The novels of Pat Conroy, James lee Burke, or John Berendt, for example, have beautifully descriptive passages in them that make you think about what sounds are appropriate to the stories they’re writing about. I think it’s a great idea to listen whenever you go someplace new or to an event of some type. In the sense that you can’t successfully break the rules if you don’t know what they are, knowing what something should sound like helps me go beyond that in creating a sound scape.

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Posted by on Jul 29, 2010 | 7 comments

Ben Burtt Showing His Source Material for Star Wars

(Warning! High level of nostalgic content) In the 6:05 mark of this video, you can see three great minutes of sound designer master Ben Burtt showcasing some of the source material he used for the layering of a sound for Star Wars.

The video is a part of a rare documentary about John Williams and the music of Star Wars published between 1989-1990. You can see the rest of the parts on YouTube.

Via The Sonic Spread

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