The New York Times has published an article featuring Ren Klyce, who shares how was his approach on mixing an important scene of “The Social Network”.
As part of our continuing quest to help you win your Oscar pool – and again, not at all as part of an end-of-season notebook dump – the Bagger returns to the hard-to-predict sound design category.
When we spoke with Ren Klyce, an Oscar-nominated sound guy behind “The Social Network” we asked about a scene that has been drawing an unusual amount of attention for its mix; even The New Yorker commented on it.
The scene is a pivotal moment in which Justin Timberlake, as Sean Parker, and Jesse Eisenberg, as Mark Zuckerberg, are talking in a loud club, and – in perhaps the movie’s gravest departure from reality – you can nonetheless hear everything they’re saying.
“That was a very difficult scene for us to mix and create,” Mr. Klyce told us.
(Warning: audio nerding ahead.)
“When we mix films, we know as part of our job, that we have to make sure that no matter what happens, that we have to have the audience hear everything that’ s being said,” he explained. “There’s nothing worse than missing a word in a film and being frustrated by that, particularly if it’s very important to the plot or what’s happening in the scene. So when we first mixed the scene, we did what one would expect. We had the music very loud at the beginning before people spoke, and as the camera cranes across the room, we pulled the music down to hear the dialogue. We had the music playing very low under the dialogue and it worked and it was fine.”
Mr. Klyce and his colleagues – David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten – invited the movie’s director, David Fincher, in to see their work.
“We called him in and he was very unhappy with the scene,” Mr. Klyce said. “He said it doesn’t feel realistic to me, it doesn’t feel like I’m in a club; I just feel like I’m watching a movie.”
This meant: back to the drawing board.
[During this month, I'll be doing weekly reports about “Secrets for Great Film Sound“, a new webinar series hosted by David Sonnenschein and Ric Viers.]
Last week’s webinar was fantastic. Lots of theory and techniques from Ric Viers about the roles in post-production audio and also talked a lot about foley, including history, tips and techniques. Then he shared a lot of stuff about sound effects recording and design, including several tips and ideas for conceptualizing sound effects and designing a wholes soundscape for a project.
Welcome to the third part of this series of articles dedicated to explore the sound design suite of Waves. Today the turn is for five powerful modulation-featured plugins included in the bundle:
“These plug-ins make up what I like to call my “Audio Mangler Gang of Toys.” I use all of them because of their ability to modulate an element or sound. For me, they really are the heart of any Sound Design.” – Scott Martin Gershin
This plugin really lives up to his name, an “enigmatic” processor loaded with lots of cool features for creating all kind of unique effects.Enigma was created as a special and complex processor. I can’t specify what kind of effects you can get from this big guy, since it combines different types of audio effects such as filters, reverb, flanger/ phaser, plus modulation thru a LFO.
Enigma’s signal flow structure is internally complex but the plugin is not very complicated to use. However it has some delicate parameters to care about. There’s a section for controlling the filters and notches (the heart of Enigma) along with a really nice graphical representation of the process, which also offers control features. There’s also a section with reverb controls, but approached in a very unique way allowing it to making echos and all kind of crazy effects. Don’t think about a reverberation effect. Think about a reverb algorithm used for creating modulated echoes and crazy reflections, not smooth and real spaces.
I personally love Enigma for a lot of taks, specially experimentation. For me there’s always a surprise and magical factor obtained with it. It offers several parameters that you can twist easily and get subtle changes, as well as some crazy controls such as Depth or Decay Time, that can make drastic changes by just changing the value a little. It can be useful for creating crazy sounds but it can also be useful to modulate and mix just a bit inside the audio content, adding a very special flavor to it.
As the same as H-Comp, H-Delay was developed as an hybrid processor featuring several vintage modeled units, but this time several types of delay and time modulation effects. This plugin can do a lot of echo tricks, including some classic effects with an old school feeling on it. Its modulation and filter parameters allow you to do a lot of things more, and it can even reduce the sample rate of the resulting sound, by turning on the LoFi function included.
Apart of being a very solid delay unit, I think its modulation/filtering capabilities are my favorite features. This machine can be used as a conventional/classic delay, but also as a very special signal generator toy for creating some cool tones, sweeps, beeps, and even some cool old school sci-fi sounds. I remember me playing this to simulate those classic theremin modulations. That”s pretty fun to do. Here is the trick for getting cool signals to work with:
- Loop a sound and record the looping in real time in your audio application
- Add H-Delay and go to Load – Full Reset
- Turn off the filters. You shouldn’t hear anything (since all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz are cut), but ñeep looping
- Then set the Feedback to extreme parameters. Above 130 or so should be fine but I like to go to the extreme when making this kind of material.
- Now is just about playing with the filters. For example, if you want to create some high sweeps, you could start activating and tweaking the high pass filter. Also then you could modulate the signal for adding some movement, etc. If you want to obtain some sub-harmonic and low end signals, then is just to start from step 4 and then move the low pass filter and the letting the feedback evolves. Then is up to you.
“My favorite use of H-Delay is to generate sub-harmonics. I use it inline with LoAir to create mega “sustained” sub bass.” - Charles Deenen
BOOM Library has announced the release of Wildcats – Tigers & Lions, a new sound effects library packed with 3.4GB of great source sounds from lions and tigers.
Get one of the most extensive collections of big wildcat recordings. This library ships on 1 DVD with a full 3.4 GB set of great source sounds. All of the recordings on this disc were recorded in 192 kHz, 24-bit. The collection also contains a 48 kHz, 24-bit version for your convenience. To provide you with the fastest and easiest workflow possible all files contain extensive metadata. You can use this library as a fully grown animal library for all sounds related to big wildcats or as a source for designing incredible creature sounds. The high audio quality provided gives you all possibilities to pitch, fx process and edit the sounds while keeping the a top notch level of clarity and precision. Make your mixing room shake with these huge sounds!
Wildcats – Tigers & Lions – €149 | 192kHz/24-Bit | 3,4GB | Well-grounded Soundminer Metadata
The video does not contain the sound quality of the library.
Music is sound and sound is music.
That’s how it is for me. I’m a big fan of all kinds of music and music really influences all aspects of my work. I wanted to share with you some different songs and talk about how they’ve inspired my work. It’s by no means a list with all the artists I love – there’s no Kraftwerk, no Fela Kuti, no Miles Davis, no Slayer, no Philip Glass, no Nina Simone, no Boards of Canada, and, shame on me, no Radiohead. But nevertheless, here are 10 tracks (well, the last five) that have meant a lot for my work with sound:
I love manipulating with the human voice. It’s such an awesome instrument in itself and you can make the most amazing textures with it without losing emotional impact. I’ve been listening to a lot of the early voice experiments by Steve Reich and Alvin Lucier and I’m also a big fan of the unique way the voice is used and manipulated by very different artists like Juana Molina, Mike Patton, Burial, The Knife and even Michael Jackson, who was a true master of advanced vocal arrangements.
This track has a special place in my heart. Underworld has worked on several soundtracks and for good reason – there’s something very cinematic about their atmospheric soundscapes, even when the duo is riding high on a beat. This track, “Skym”, is very low key, though, with no drums at all. Instead it’s based on a few tones and, first and foremost, the way singer Karl Hyde’s vocals is manipulated and echoed. Often the reverb comes in before the actual voice and at times just one word is cut out of a sentence he’s singing and repeated in extremely musical ways.
I was listening a lot to this track when I worked on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. There’s a very intense POV scene towards the end where the main character is drugged and he wakes up while the murderer is speaking to him. For this scene, all the sound elements you hear on the soundtrack were created from the villain’s voice using a lot of weird processing, reverb and reverse effects. It was my salute to Underworld.
The Books: The Story of Hip-Hop
Old sounds become new sounds in the hands of The Books. This New York-duo has a truly unique vision: Their songs usually consists of folky, acoustic instrumentation – guitar, cello, banjo and more – combined with a diverse range of found sounds and samples obtained from cassettes and other recordings found in thrift stores. If that description sounds a tad boring, it’s very misleading, ‘cause The Books’ collage songs are usually wonderfully playful, humorous and groovy in a charming, laidback way.
All of The Books’ albums are great but I picked this song because it just cracks me up each time I hear it. Besides that, it’s also just a brilliant example of The Books’ sound and how elegantly they weave different sound bites in and out of their tasteful instrumentation. The way they work with textures, sounds and weird voices is really something to behold. The Books’ sound has segued quite a bit into the way I deal with flashbacks and other sequences where time dissolves. I love it.
Vanity Fair has published an article featuring Mark Stoeckinger, who gives an overview of the sound editing process, step-by-step, by showcasing several clips (Full mix, dialogue only, and sfx only).
If you’ve ever lost money in an Oscar pool, at some point you’ve had to ask, “What exactly is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing?” Although that probably means you’re not winning the pool, a film’s sound design is just as crucial as good lighting or smart editing in creating the movie magic that your recreational Flipcam videos lack. Ever in the service of making you a better Oscar gambler, Little Gold Men asked Unstoppable’s supervising sound editor, Mark Stoeckinger—nominated this year for an Oscar—to break down editing for us. “The sound editor is like the art director, and the sound mixer is like the cinematographer: the art director comes up with everything that’s filmed, and the cinematographer decides how to photograph it,” Stoeckinger says. Specifically, a sound editor assembles all the sound you hear in the final picture, which is gathered from both production sound captured the day of shooting (usually, though not exclusively, dialogue) and Foley/effects captured later (usually including dialogue recorded later to match the picture). A sound editor then selects the right pieces of sound to accompany the picture and manipulates them as needed, a process Stoeckinger compares to sculpting clay: “You start off with one thing, but you can always mold it to something else. You listen to a lion growl and think, If I slow it down, add a lot of reverb and reverse, I can make it this alien thing.” In fact, as sound tools have become more sophisticated, the the desire to enrich a film through its sound has grown exponentially; these days, even a typical romantic comedy has more sound work than an action movie from 30 years ago did.
The New York Times has published an interview with Supervising Sound Editor/Sound Designer Richard King and Re-Recording Mixer Gary Ryzzo and Sound Mixer Ed Novick, talking about their work on “Inception”.
As the Bagger discovered last season, it’s almost impossible for even the Academy’s experts to predict who will win the Oscars for sound design and mixing. But over the weekend, the sound team from “Inception” won Baftas from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts , and the group — sound designer Richard King, recording mixer Ed Novick and re-recording mixer Gary Rizzo, along with his partner Lora Hirschberg — have been talked up all season long for their work on Christopher Nolan’s film, for which they are all nominated for Oscars. Creating a soundtrack for his multilevel dreamscape thriller involved technical and creative challenges born of multiple locations and complicated storytelling.
“A notion that Chris had was the idea that a sound occurring in reality, for instance a gunshot, in the next level down might be a peal of thunder, and in the next level down, might be an earthquake,” Mr. King explained. “He wanted there to be some kind of connection, and sound seemed to be the way to do it.”
The Bagger spoke to the group by phone recently. Mr. Rizzo told us to identify him by his “helium-oriented voice” – “as a dialogue mixer.” He added: “I tend to pay attention to the different timbers of voices, it’s one of the things I enjoy about the job.” And Mr. Novick volunteered that he can diagnose an actor’s head cold before anyone else via his trusty microphone. Mr. King revealed that he views sound as a sort of trademark; when he creates identifiable noises for a particular movie, he doesn’t reuse them. We spoke about Mr. Nolan’s emotional approach to his work, his unique resistance to looping dialogue and his Oscar snub.
As usual, Shaun Farley has announced a new sound design challenge at Dynamic Interference.
Welcome to February’s Challenge. This month, we’ve gained permission to use a special video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS was founded in 1959 to sponsor and encourage programs aimed at the preservation of life and property from the dangers of automobile accidents. In 2009, to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IIHS, a special crash test was conducted to compare the relative safety levels of two vehicles at either end of the IIHS’s lifespan…a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. There’s a huge difference in the features and protection offered by the two cars; which is a testament to the efforts of the IIHS. To get a better understanding of the results, you should visit this page. It might help your design.
Read all the details at the official site.
[Behind the Art is a special section of Designing Sound created with the goal of studying the artistic and creative aspects of sound design, featuring several interviews dedicated to explore the minds and creative approaches of professional sound designers from all sides of the world, with the goal of expand our creative worlds and learn what others do in order to tell great stories with sound.]
(Field recording - Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand)
Many of you may know Tim Prebble, sound designer based on Wellington, New Zealand. Maybe you’ve heard about him by reading one of his great advices on a forum or social network; maybe you’ve been inspired because of something he shared on his fantastic blog; maybe you know him for his great sound effects libraries, or his music/netlabel, and, of course for any of the +30 films that he has been part of, as sound recordist, editor and/or designer. As his website (and that great Beatles song) states: he is “here , there and everywhere”.
This interview is something that I always wanted to do. It’s not as easy to ask a limited number of questions to someone who has influenced and inspired me (and many of you, I guess) in the way Tim has done. His philosophy, creative methods, influences, his unique way of approach his work. Let’s discover what’s in the creative mind of Tim Prebble.
Designing Sound: Could you describe your sound design philosophy? What’s sound design for you?
Tim Prebble: I started my career as a sound editor back in the early 90s, inspired by the work of directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Akira Kurosawa, Sergio Leone, Francis Ford-Coppolla, Andrei Tarkovsky and many others. So any form of a philosophy of sound design originates for me from the active role sound (and music) play in the context of film making. Sound design for me is film sound design – that is why I do what I do.
Benoit Tigeot is a french sound designer/engineer from France that works on animation films and cartoons, which have inspired him to join the force of the independent SFX libraries, by announcing the release of Glass Squeak, a new library loaded with all kinds of different elements interacting with glass, recorded with Lauriane Capaldi at Talkover Studios, France.
We work almost exclusively on cartoons. Too often the characters are knocking on windows and gliding along the windows. They have lacked of SFX for this type of action that’s why we had the idea to record this type of sound.
We recorded on a glass in the studio; squeaks, slide, wail with sponges, cardboard plate, polystyrene plate, small block of polystyrene and finally fingers.
Recorded sounds are very musical and can be used in many other actions that they originally planned.
Glass Squeak SFX Library – $10 | 89 WAV files | 24-Bit 96kHz