It’s time for the next part of this month’s Paul Davies special. One of Paul’s most prolific collaborations is his work with Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, best known for her feature films Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar and We Need to Talk about Kevin, which have all been highly acclaimed. We Need to Talk about Kevin premiered at this year’s Cannes Festival and is released in the UK next month. This interview focuses on their special working methods and close creative kinship.
Designing Sound: How did you and Lynne Ramsay meet the first time?
Paul Davies: I first met Lynne when she was a student at the National Film and Television school in Beaconsfield, UK. I had already graduated, and was temporarily working in the sound department as an assistant to the Head of Sound, Gareth Haywood. Lynne was a camera student at the time, and I remember her being a regular visitor to the sound office to discuss filmmaking with Gareth, especially their shared love of Robert Bresson and Tarkovsky. However, I only really got to know Lynne well, some years later when I worked with her for the first time on Ratcatcher.
DS: How would you describe her as a collaborator and filmmaker?
PD: Lynne and I have developed a very close working relationship, and she has in fact become a good friend. We begin discussing projects a long time in advance of filming, and I receive early drafts of the scripts, and our collaboration progresses from there. With each film the working relationship becomes closer, for example I have already produced a sound sketch for one of Lynne’s proposed next projects, and I have seen a treatment of another, for which we are discussing the overall sound approach. Lynne is by nature very collaborative, and she always ensures that she leaves enough space for other to contribute while being very clear in her direction and conceptual input.
I should also mention the importance of Lynne’s other collaborators in post-production and their contribution of ideas and concepts Lucia Zucchetti and Pani Ahmadi-Moore the picture editor and 1st assistant from the first two features and all the shorts, Richard Flynn sound recordist and dialogue editor, and Tim Alban, re-recording mixer on the first two features also, Joe Bini and Adam Biskupski, editor and 1st assistant on We Need To Talk About Kevin, alongside Simon Changer and Robert Farr, music editor and re-recording mixer respectively. All were essential collaborators on these soundtracks, with everybody encouraged by Lynne to make their contribution. She is very good at building a collaborative, collegiate atmosphere on her films whilst at the same time being decisive when presented with choices in the mix, a very good combination to work with indeed.
DS: You’ve now collaborated on three feature films. Quite often, sound can be very tricky to talk about – how do you communicate about sound and how has your dialogue evolved throughout the years?
PD: Yes, sound is notoriously difficult to discuss with directors, but Lynne has a good ear for sound and is a musician herself, and over time we seem to have had little difficulty in discussing sound concepts and ideas. It certainly helps when I am able, as I was on the last film We Need To Talk About Kevin, to begin work early on in the process, as the picture is still being edited, this meant that I was able to submit work in progress, so that Lynne, Joe Bini and myself had something concrete to discuss and a basis for development of the soundtrack, and we were quickly able to see what was working and what wasn’t. However, by this time I am very familiar with Lynne’s tastes and generally know what works for her and what won’t. That being said
Lynne is always looking to progress as a director and in her film making language and techniques, so it’ s never a case of offering up what worked before, but always seeking to move on.
Welcome to the next Sound Design Challenge! We’re excited to have Boom Library sponsoring this challenge, and they’ve donated a copy of their Creatures library for the winner of this Challenge. Please take a moment to thank them for their generosity by following them on Twitter and visiting their Facebook page.
So, what creative challenge have we got in store for you this time? I think it’s past time we got another video oriented challenge into the mix. So this time we’ve gotten permission to use a test animation from 3d animator extraordinaire, Marcelino Newquist. [Marcelino would also like us to mention the modeller/rigger Chad Vernon, whose rig he used in this animation.] The picture at the top is a screen-cap from this challenge’s video. (more…)
New Sound Lab has released NSL007 Hybrid Electric Car (24-Bit/96kHz | $30).
This library features a collection of exterior and interior sounds from a 2007 Toyota Prius. A majority of the recording was conducted at El Mirage Lake, a six mile long dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert, 90 miles north of Los Angeles. This barren landscape, unique for its miles of completely flat terrain, is a popular filming location for automobile commercials and feature films. The recording sessions took place late in the evening and early in the morning, when the surroundings were completely silent. An ample collection of exterior pass bys, starts, and stop recordings on pavement, gravel, and dry lake bed are included. Speeds range from 5MPH to 80MPH from only running on the electric motor/battery pack, to pushing the Prius’ gas engine towards its max. Other sounds such as washer/wipers, electric motor and gas engine idling complete the collection.
Sounds were captured with a Sanken CSS-5 Stereo Shotgun mic. The shotgun microphone was mounted in a full Rycote windshield kit and connected to a Sound Devices 702 recording at 96khz.
The Sound Effects Bible Hard Drive (SFX Bible book also included) is now at $499 for students ($999 regular price).
Collection of 5,000 sound effects recorded by Ric Viers and his team at the Detroit Chop Shop including close to 2,000 new and previously unreleased sound effects. All of the sounds were recorded at 24/96KHz, along with a small selection of unique 16/44.1KHz sounds that were pulled from the Detroit Chop Shop archives.
Daniel Gooding released the The MIDI Factory, including 400 sounds (and their respective MIDI files)
Before there was wav files, and sound files, often times retro games used music to create a sound effect. This library was created on that same premise, and adapted to fit a wide variety of sounds that a designer might need. With the added bonus of the included midi files, you can create your own unique version of the sound as well, making this library a very helpful tool for sound designers.
Arrowhead Audio released AAS002 Metal Scrapes, including 324 sounds.
AAS-002 Metal Scrapes’ has been developed with a variety of tools including rusty knives, dirty spades, rotting pegs, files and steel brushes.
We’re starting off September’s special with an exclusive interview with our guest Paul Davies, discussing inspirations, creative methods, techniques, and how an inappropriate sound can sometimes come in handy.
Designing Sound: How did you get started in sound design? What’s been the evolution of your career?
Paul Davies: My early interest was in electronic and experimental music, in particular people like Brian Eno, Cabaret Voltaire and contemporary composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. I set up a small 8 track studio with a friend, who was a sound artist, in the mid ‘80s, partly to produce our own work but also to record other bands and musicians around Cardiff, South Wales, where I lived at the time. I became involved with location sound recording for very low budget films by local filmmakers, and I also composed some music for these films as well.
With this material I applied for the sound course at the National Film and Television School which is based in Beaconsfield just outside London. For most of my time there I was mainly interested in location sound recording and re-recording mixing. It was only when the School obtained their first hard disk sound editing system, an 8 track AMS Neve Audiofile that I became more interested in the creative possibilities of sound editing, as I realised that with this technology I could start working with sound for film in a similar way to my work in electronic music. After graduation I worked for a time as a freelance sound recordist, sound editor and re-recording mixer on a variety of projects, factual TV, short films, corporate productions and low budget film.
Then in one of the most important developments in my career I joined the staff of a well-established family run London sound post company Videosonics, as sound editor. The owner Dennis Weinreich, showed in a great deal of faith by employing me, despite my limited CV at that time, he obviously saw something in me that could be developed in the future. At that time Videosonics was starting to branch out from sound post for TV productions in to feature film sound and Dennis had made a significant investment in building a THX accredited re-recording stage based around an AMS Neve digital console. Because of being in the right place at the right time I was given the opportunity to work on a large number of feature film projects as sound designer and supervising sound editor, including films such as Love is the Devil by John Maybury, Ratcatcher by Lynne Ramsay and The Filth and the Fury by Julien Temple. I became freelance in 2000 and worked with Lynne Ramsay on her next film Morvern Callar as well as sound designing the horror film The Hole.
I then set up a small independent sound editing company PDSoundDesign a couple of years later, which I ran for several years with premises in the West End of London and employed a number of people who have now gone on to become established sound editors in their own right, such as Jack Gillies, Antonia Bates, Anna Bertmark and Peter Shaw. During that time we worked on films such as The Jacket, The Merchant of Venice, The Proposition, Kinky Boots, The Queen, Hunger and The American.
I am currently setting up a sound design, supervision and mixing company called The Project, with an old colleague from my Videosonics days, the re-recording mixer and sound supervisor Andrew Stirk, who has worked with the likes of Shane Meadows, Pawel Pawlikowski and Paul W.S. Anderson. This year I have completed work as sound designer on my third Lynne Ramsay feature We Need to Talk about Kevin, and I have also been developing my career in film sound education with my appointment as external assessor of the sound course at the National Film and Television School in the U.K.
In another recent development and a return to my roots I’ve recently contributed additional music cues to two films I’ve recently worked on The American and We Need to Talk about Kevin, the material I’ve contributed might best be described as “ambient music/sound design”. I’m not intending to set myself up as a film composer as such, but I think there is an increasing requirement for elements in the soundtrack that fall between the gaps of sound design and music, that are tonal and atmospheric but also seem to convey some emotion and are distinct from the atmospheres and backgrounds that might conventionally be cut.
This month’s issue of Develop Magazine is now available for download. On its heard about section, John Broomhall talks with Develop award winner Martin Stig Andersen, composer and sound designer of Limbo.
GAME AUDIO people are still talking about Limbo. They may be for some time. One leading audio developer recently stated publically they would likely have made a terrible job of Limbo’s audio compared to the treatment by Martin Stig Andersen, who single-handedly created its sound and audio.
Not because they’re rubbish – far from it. It’s just that Andersen did such a brilliant, innovative and thoughtful job. It’s all about vision – or perhaps that should be audio vision. Would you have added a ‘spooky’ stylised interactive orchestral score, a plethora of character emotes and maybe even a narrator? How easily the ‘nothingness’ – the ‘notional silence’ – could have been tromped on and thereby the intensity and involvement diminished.
The brief was ‘not like a video game’, leaving Andersen free to explore some powerful ideas in an environment in which he could nurture them – and he found the iterative experimentation/decision-making process both engaging and inspiring in itself.
Download: Develop 120 – September 2011
DS related article: Damian’s interview with Martin on DS.
Here are the answers to the questions you did to Tim Nielsen during the last month. And if you liked his special, I have some great news to share: Tim will keep contributing to Designing Sound as part of our editorial team! stay tuned.
DSR: In light of this Q&A, I have finally seen “The Prince of Persia” today with my wife and daughters – it’s so much more intense to watch childrens’ movies with actual children ;) I lost my critical listening after about 10 minutes and fell for the drama; hoped and weeped, and waited for that first kiss :)
Being a very demanding movie with a lot of action, CGI, unfamiliar places and magical devices, crowds, crashing boulders, and sand in all of its incarnations, it is beyond my grasp to assess the magnitude of work that needs to be done on such a project. I see a lot of names on IMDB, but that, of course, doesn’t tell much – some of the people might have took part for only a day, while some may have invested their heart and soul. Could you please, as close as you can, estimate how many man-hours was spent on The Prince of Persia (from dialog editing to printmastering), or, if that would be in violation of your NDA, then, how much man-hours do you think it would take to do a movie that is almost the same ;)
Tim Nielsen: Hi. It’s hard now to remember exactly how many man-hours went into something like Persia. But I’ll try to give you a ballpark. I think I myself was on Prince of Persia about 26 weeks, including my time from the beginning of the project until the end of the final mix. We had four main effects editors, and each of them was probably on about an average of 16 to 20 weeks. We had two or three Foley editors on slightly less than that. That would cover the effects side of Persia. But every project differs. Some have a huge amount of editors on for a short amount of time. On the first Lord of the Rings movie, we had a relatively small crew, only four effects editors and David Farmer, the sound designer, but we were on the project for almost a year. So unfortunately there just is not ‘normal’ amount of time. But for a large effects heavy film, I would say our post schedules usually run around 26 weeks total at the long end.
DSR: Crowds – considering the film dialog is in English, did you record or use English or Persian language crowds and group loops? I’m asking because I must admit I don’t remember really hearing any specific words, although there definitely was this ‘middle-eastern’ sound to them…. I’m a real crowd-fan and I’m always in fear, uncertainty and doubt about my films until I get good crows in there. Since this film is full of crowds, crowd reactions, different armies from all perspectives and what not, I wonder how you felt about the crowd sounds – and were they high on the priority list of Mr Mike Newell, the director of the film?
TN: Hmm, I can’t recall now exactly what we did. Certainly we did have some Arabic crowds in the effects side of things. I honestly can’t remember how we did our loop group, but in the crowds side of things, we mixed both English and Arabic. And actually, as you’re building out beds of crowds, it’s good that you can’t understand any particular words, that’s our goal. So we might even use other languages too, if the character of the voices is correct. On Persia, we had a recordist who happened to be in Africa, and was able to record some various markets, that although the language was French, was nondescript enough that we were fine using it. The key with crowds is that if you can understand any of the words, it has to be replaced in the foreign versions, so we try quite hard to make the crowds have the right size, the right perspective, but to layer and edit them in such a way that you can’t pick out any single words.
After enjoying a wonderful month with Tim Nielsen, it’s time to move on to our next great guest here at Designing Sound. It’s a pleasure to introduce this month’s featured sound designer: Paul Davies. Based in the UK, Paul has a long, impressive credit list, working as sound designer and supervising sound editor, and he will share articles, tips and thoughts with us.
Paul Davies was born in 1961 and first became interested in sound design through a passion for electronic music. Ran a small music studio in the mid-eighties, based in Cardiff, South Wales, and through this he became involved in the local filmmaking scene.
Enrolled in the sound department of the UK’s National Film and Television School in 1988. After graduation worked as a location sound recordist, sound editor and re-recording mixer on a variety of productions. In 1995 joined Videosonics, located in London, where he soon became head of sound editing and design.
Here he did several significant movies like Ratcatcher by Lynne Ramsay, who has since then become a key collaborator for Paul – one of his most recent works is Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin which competed at this year’s Cannes Festival and is shown this month at Toronto International Film Festival.
Paul left Videosonics in 2000 to set up his own sound design/editorial company, and these days he’s once again establishing a new company, The Project. The last few years, Paul has gained recognition for his work on acclaimed films like The American and Hunger and is currently working on a new Luc Besson sci-fi production, Lockout. At the same time, Paul is in discussions about developing a production music library project utilising Paul’s roots in ambient music.
We’re happy to have you here, Paul!
Nominations and Awards
- Bafta TV Award Nomination for Best Sound (1998) – Touching Evil
- Bafta TV Award Nomination for Best Sound (2003) – Shameless
- Australian Film Institute Nomination for Best Sound (2005) – The Proposition
- Love is the Devil – John Maybury – 1997
- Ratcatcher – Lynne Ramsay – 1999
- The Hole – Nick Hamm – 2000
- Morvern Callar – Lynne Ramsay – 2001
- The Jacket – John Maybury – 2004
- The Proposition – John Hillcoat – 2005
- The Queen – Stephen Frears – 2006
- Hunger – Steve McQueen – 2008
- The American – Anton Corbijn – 2010
- We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay – 2011
The Recordist has released two airplane sfx libraries:
Prop Planes 2 HD ($35.00 | 35 files at 96kHz/24-Bit)
It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since the 5th Annual Sandpoint fly in and on August 13, 2011 I traveled to the Sandpoint Idaho Airport and recorded the 6th Annual Fly In. Included are 24-Bit 96K recordings presented as Broadcast WAV files with full Soundminer 4 Metadata of a variety of small modern and vintage aircraft on the ground and in the ripping through air. Included are high speed passes, take offs, landings and ground taxi bys. There is also a J5 Wright powered 1928 Stearman C3B starting its engine and taxiing down the tarmac that I was fortunate enough to get at the end of the show. The owner wanted the sound for his cell phone ring tone. I recorded the graceful aircraft as it was departing and flying by.
Beech 58P Aurplane HD ($75 | 78 files at 96kHz/24-Bit)
Presenting the Beechcraft Baron 58P propeller plane sound effects collection. The Beechcraft Baron is a light, twin-engined piston aircraft originally developed by Beech Aircraft Corporation and currently manufactured by the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. The Baron is a variant of the Beechcraft Bonanza, and was first introduced in 1961. Since its inception, the Baron has always been near the top of the light airplane hierarchy. Expensive as it is to buy and to operate, the ‘next step up’ from a Baron is a very big one. Faster aircraft, with greater range and more load-carrying capability are generally turbine-powered and far more expensive.
Barons come in two basic types: the Baron 55 (short body) and Baron 58 (long body), with several subtypes. Introduced in 1970, the more powerful Baron 58 has club seating, double aft doors, and a gross weight of 5400–5500 lb (2450–2500 kg).
I had the opportunity to record much of this airplane and this collection is the result. Recorded at 24-bit 96kHz in stereo and mono this library contains 3 gigabytes of the many sounds this plane generates.
Also, Frank has published very informative posts on his blog talking about the recording sessions for these libraries. You can take a look at The Recordist blog.
New article of Mix Magazine dedicated to sound effects, featuring sound editors Harry Cohen, Christopher Assells and Jon Title.
From the clang of a sword to the roar of a monster to the rev of a car engine, Hollywood directors depend on sound designers and sound effects editors to craft the sonic elements that help add impact and interest, set the mood or ratchet up the terror of a scene. Working with Foley artists, re-recording mixers, composers and others, the creators of film sound effects have challenging jobs that require imagination, creativity and technical abilities, not to mention a great ear.
There are two primary job titles for those who create and edit effects—sound designer and sound effects editor—though the differences between the two job descriptions have become blurred over time, and both are essentially involved in effects creation.
To learn more about the techniques used to create effects for films, Mix spoke with three pros at Soundelux (Hollywood), all with sound designer and sound effects editor credits to their name. Harry Cohen has worked on such titles as Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek, Robin Hood, The Green Lantern and The Perfect Storm. Chris Assells has credits on films like Fright Night, The Green Hornet, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Gladiator. Jon Title’s filmography includes Final Destination 5, Red, Blood Diamond and The Bourne Ultimatum.
Congratulations to SoundCloud user, Manuel, who won the popular vote for the Sound Scavenging Sound Design Challenge! He wins a copy of the Futzbox plug-in from McDSP (a sincere thank you to McDSP for sponsoring this challenge). Hopefully, there will be a forthcoming interview with Manuel as well.
As a reminder, the next Sound Design Challenge will start on September 15th. See you then.