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Posted by on Dec 22, 2012 | 7 comments

Nicolas Becker – Behind the Art

We’re getting very close to the end of 2012 and there’s been lots of brilliant sonic experiences in the cinema throughout the year. One that really stood out, though, was the latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights by the English director Andrea Arnold with wonderfully textured soundscapes created by the French sound designer Nicolas Becker. Nicolas has worked as a foley artist for several years and among his collaborators are prominent directors like Roman Polanski, Danny Boyle and David Cronenberg. During the last few years, though, he’s been much more of a sound supervisor and designer. In this interview he discusses working methods, how music inspires him and the exquisite sound world of Wuthering Heights:

Designing Sound: Could you describe your sound design philosophy? What’s sound design for you?

Nicolas Becker: I don’t have a particular sound design philosophy but I think each film should be taken as a prototype, fitting the entire sound process to each film. Working with conceptual artists was and still is very important for me in my approach. For them the artwork itself is not the only target, building a process, designing a trajectory that makes sense with the meaning and the artistic field of the artwork is their main concern. In the movie business the way the budgets are made, and the way the films are made is very industrialized; very normalized.

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2011 | 5 comments

Behind the Art: Craig Berkey

It’s time for another “Behind the Art” interview, the section of Designing Sound created with the goal of studying the artistic and creative aspects of sound design. We’ve asked one of the most prolific sound designers right now, Craig Berkey, to share some thoughts with us.

Just recently, Berkey has been the sound designer for both the latest mutant magnum opus, X-Men: First Class, and Terrence Malick’s poetic The Tree of Life, winner of this year’s Palme d’Or in Cannes. Two very, very different movies which just goes to show the diversity of Berkey’s impressive career. Berkey has been in charge of the sound department on blockbusters like I, Robot and Superman Returns but has also collaborated closely with sound supervisor Skip Lievsay on the four recent films by the Coen brothers, including No Country for Old Men and True Grit – which resulted in Berkey receiving three well-deserved Academy Award nominations, two for mixing and one for editing.

The Vancouver-based Berkey shares thoughts on music, philosophy and experimentation – and how the net has helped his creative process.

Designing Sound: Could you describe your sound design philosophy? What’s sound design for you?

Craig Berkey: Sound design for me, in the world of film, is the overall thought/concept and execution of the entire sound-track. Philosophically my role as a sound designer is to help filmmakers achieve and exceed their aural aspirations for their films. I approach this with an ears wide-open attitude. I like to get a feel for the film I’m working on, not by me deciding what I think it should sound like, but by letting the images and sounds present at the time of my initial viewing soak in. This experience, in conjunction with discussions with the filmmakers, helps me discover any unturned stones the sound team can work towards revealing. If I am not open to original ideas at the start and forge ahead with the soundtrack, it can be nothing more than previously expressed concepts, perhaps with different execution.

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Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 | 3 comments

Behind the Art: Pelayo Gutierrez

[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 stories with sound.]

If we want to talk about the art of fine film soundtrack and its aesthetics, there’s one man everyone needs to know: Pelayo Gutiérrez, a master of film sound in Spain with more than 120 titles on his backs, for which he has got three Goya awards (and three nominations). He has worked on films by directors like Pedro Almodovar, Bollain, among many others, and currently runs La Bocina post audio facility with two other partners.

I personally admire his work so much (Recommended: “Chico & Rita“,”Te Doy Mis Ojos“,”Lo que sé de Lola“, “After“). He’s a true director of sound who likes to get deeply into the smallest detail of the scene in order to enhance the story and create a rich soundscape. He combines the qualities of a prolific professional with a special vision and unique way to live his profession.

Designing Sound: Could you talk us about your philosophy as sound editor/designer?

Pelayo Gutiérrez: It is very interesting. One essential thing that I think is the backbone for any film that I do: the production sound. If I don’t have a clean production sound is difficult to create the atmosphere because they do not hear great in harmony. Then this is the first battle that I have, especially in this country, where sometimes a hard time doing ADR for certain sequences because we work with many directors that put all the production sound dialog in the film, they don’t believe that you can get much more from the actor in the dub, etc.

Luckily I’ve managed to convince many directors to make the actors do ADR, and especially to have this concept of going to the set and already record the dialog in a later stage. Of course that also depends on the actor. I have many excuses to convince a director and tell him how interesting is to do ADR that can coexist with the dialog and live for the film. not direct sound off and live for the film. Because what I do is put myself first for the film and then find is best for it.

Some time ago, there’s one interesting thing happening to me. I see the film as a whole, and the more I work on it, remains a global issue. In other words, there is a separate sequence, it’s all about harmony, about dynamics, which of course depends on the film we are doing. I built little by little, but the final point is when I have everything harmonized, armed in a central scheme.

You always start from a base, read the script and you get the idea. And then there are meetings with the director, who sets one thing or another. But with that basic structure, you can enter every day in the film. That’s why if you come and tell me if I do the sound of a film in 5 weeks, I say can’t, simply because it’s not enough time to get into the film, to dream about the film. I dream about movies. Some nights it takes me to sleep because I start thinking about how I can create an atmosphere and how to keep the film growing.

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Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 | 13 comments

Behind the Art: Tim Prebble

[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.

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Posted by on Jan 12, 2011 | 6 comments

Behind the Art: Randy Thom

Courtesy of Skywalker Sound

Welcome to “Behind the Art”, a new 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 out there, with the goal of expand our creative worlds and learn how others tell stories with sound.

There are a lot of fantastic articles and interviews dedicated to the technical side of sound design, but what about creativity? influences? collaboration? What make us unique in our jobs? How sound designers get ideas that help to create those fantastic sonic worlds from scratch? That’s what we’ll discover in this section.

For the first installment of the series, it’s a pleasure to share an interview I had with a man who needs no introduction in this site. Director of sound design at Skywalker Sound and one of the most brilliant minds of film sound: Randy Thom.

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