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Posted by on Aug 31, 2009 | 0 comments

Dane A. Davis Special: Matrix Reloaded


This is the end of the Dane A. Davis Special, finishing with another article about his masterpiece Matrix, this time with the second part of the trilogy: Matrix Reloaded. Let’s check another article at Mix Online with interesting info about the mix, the music and some sound effects of Matrix Reloaded.


Dane Davis: “It was all about the angles that things would bounce. We had to drop the cars right in the middle of the microphone array, and then keep them from rolling over the mics or over all of us. We also had a couple of wrecking balls — including one that weighed 3,500 pounds — that we dropped through the cars. At one point, one of the balls went all the way through the cars, through the concrete under them, into the dirt and back up through the car, then rolled over a bunch of mic cables and came to rest on a PZM mic, completely crushing it. We got some really great sounds out of that.”


Dane Davis: “The Sentinels had to be very monstrous-sounding, very alive and very lethal; yet we know that they’re machines. Each one has eight motor and gear tracks, plus about four Foley tracks that are done live [mostly for the tails]. Each track is a composite of a bunch of sounds, and every move that the Sentinels make has to be expressed in every one of those tracks. The dubbing mixers then had to carefully pan each element of each Sentinel as they moved through space to give them a very real, three-dimensional power and menace.”


Dane Davis: “A really key part of the sound of The Matrix is the way air is pushed out of the way. The whooshes are the power: all those molecules of air being moved out of the way so that fist or foot can connect with you in a bad way. It’s unlike a lot of Hong Kong movies that go ‘thuk’ — with no air. The way we approach it is that every limb is a combination of different whooshes. They’re very complicated, with a lot of sound manipulation, but they all start out with real sounds: me swinging things around my head as hard as I can — computer cables, phone cords, unraveled nylon rope, lots of odd things on the ends of rope — you name it, we flung it.”

Full Article Here.

September Special will feature a wonderful sound designer, considered by many as “the father of modern sound design”.

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Posted by on Aug 25, 2009 | 1 comment

Dane A. Davis Special: MPSE Sound Show


We had already seen the Gary Rydstrom Sound Show at “Big Movie Sound Effects: Behind the Scenes and Out of the Speakers”, an special Show Co-Produced by the Motion Picture Sound Editors and the American Cinematheque.

Now, let`s check the transcript of the Dane A. Davis Sound Show talking about his work, specifically The Matrix:

Hello, I’m Dane and I design and oversee the sounds in movies.Bill Pope, Director of Photography, told me after the premier of one of the Matrix movies that we were the “Invisible Crew” and that even if he turned the camera around 180° on every shot nobody would see us. So nobody knows we’re there. They just know that in the theater those Styrofoam and wood sets sound like heavy iron. You know that three-foot tall tower they crashed and blew up on the set and STILL looks three-foot tall in the dailies? When they go to the theater it’s scary and huge and heavy and dangerous. And they know that somehow those amazing visual effects people are cooking up monsters and spaceships and all these amazing things that don’t exist on earth, that somehow the sounds for all those visuals go through their light pens into the movie theater as well. But that’s not quite how it happens. There are people like Gary and me and all of the people on our teams and the people in the MPSE, and we have to cook up all of those sounds. It’s a little sad that all the people that create and edit and mix all these sounds for these movies to make everything feel real and exciting and dramatic are invisible. In fact, on most of the “making of” videos that you see, they’re still all invisible. We do our job so well we disappear.

So I had a hypothesis I thought I’d try out. Since turning the camera around 180 degrees didn’t really help, let’s try turning the projector around 180 degrees. Now let’s watch some highlights from “The Matrix.”

[Clip with no picture but the sound effects mix exactly as heard in the movie in narrative order.]

So, how did it look? You take away the actors that everybody can see and everything else on the set you can see and even the orchestra, which most people can pretty much imagine is there somewhere, and this is what’s left. What you just heard.

When we’re brought onto a project, we can’t always see a whole lot. It’s great that Gary played some of those animatics. That’s very often how movies like “The Matrix” look when we first see them.

Full Transcript of the presentation Here.

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Posted by on Aug 21, 2009 | 0 comments

Dane A. Davis Special: The Art of Sound Design


This is an article from Danetracks, published on Post Magazine on November 1, 2002. We can clearly see the Dane’s vision about “The Art of Sound Design” and see more about danetracks and its members.

… Dane Davis, president of West Hollywood’s Danetracks, Inc. (, doesn’t see himself simply “painting by numbers with sound” in the “see a bird, hear a bird” tradition.

Instead, Davis, who won the 1999 Academy Award for best Sound Effects Editing for The Matrix – on which he was sound designer/supervising sound editor – thinks about “what’s happening on screen and what sounds are created in the process of what’s happening. You want to find a way to put motivation in the sound, to suggest more is going on than just what you see.”

Davis and his Danetracks team had a special challenge in the new Disney animated feature, Treasure Planet, which transplants the Treasure Island tale to outer space where Long John Silver is a cyborg and his pet, Morph, is a shape shifter instead of a shoulder-perching parrot.

“It’s set in a future as it might have been imagined 200 years ago,” Davis explains. “It’s sort of retro-futurism, so we had to find the threshold of the old and the new.”

He notes that “Disney-animated soundtracks are usually somewhat simple compared to live-action features such as The Matrix. We create a level of detail that’s pretty extreme, so people were worried that our sound might overwhelm the animation.” Davis spent two years (with breaks for other commitments) as sound designer/supervising sound editor, working constantly to see how much like a live-action movie the animated feature could sound. In the end, “it surprised a lot of people” that his premise – the animation would be more real and plausible with detailed sound – worked.

The movie’s sound effects were recorded at the Danetracks facility using Pro Tools 24-bit systems with multiple plug-ins and stand-alone digital processing programs, including U&I Software’s MetaSynth and Sound Hack.

For Long John Silver’s mechanical prosthetic arm, which “can do just about anything,” Davis says he and sound designer Richard Adrian “tried a million things and picked what worked best [spinning and vibrating friction motors and mechanisms] without conflicting too much with the character dialogue.” The sounds were edited and processed to “grow the sound onto the picture” such as a sequence where the pirate’s arm whirs and spins furiously as he whips up a meal for the crew.

Supervising sound editor Julia Evershade handled many of the action sounds such as the wooden tall (space)ships’ explosions, gunfire and classic-yet-sci-fi swashbuckling, plus the mechanical robot Ben. Andrew Lackey and the rest of the design team devised sound to accompany the gigantic visuals of a black hole and solar storm. “They had to sound expansive, fun and dramatic without blowing the kids out of the theater,” says Davis. “We experimented with lots of growling and shrieking sounds for the threat of destruction that had to work with the whistling and howling of the ‘etherium’ being sucked in and exhaled from the black hole.”

He and the directors decided to use his own voice, sped up and pitched higher, for Morph, but he filled his mouth with Jello for gooey vocalizations with no consonants or vowels. Over time Davis developed an amazing repertoire of about 90 emotional categories for Morph with 10 to 40 variations in each.

Davis also squished, splatted and plopped Jello for Morph flying, flipping and melting. To avoid sounding wet and disgusting, he digitally stretched the sounds so they became very springy, “as if Morph’s molecules were always rearranging and bumping into each other.”

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2009 | 0 comments

Dane A. Davis Special: The Matrix [Part 2]


The second part of this special about the sound design of Matrix, awesome work by our August’s featured Dane A. Davis.

This time let’s check this interesting article from Mix Magazine featuring Davis and Danetracks:

The edgy, effects-laden feature-directed by the Wachowski brothers (whose directorial debut was the stylish Bound, also with sound design by Davis)-is a dazzling combination of traditional science fiction and new technology, and it provided Danetracks with budgetary and creative challenges that don’t come around very often.

From dripping computer code, alternative realities and machine monsters to kung fu, helicopters and even the sounds of silence, design for The Matrix ranged from classic to surreal.

Situated in West L.A., the Danetracks facility was formed in 1986 as a place for Davis to design elements for other sound editors. Davis, a supervising sound editor, re-recording mixer and sound designer with such smart movies as Drugstore Cowboy, Boogie Nights, Don Juan DeMarco, Romeo Is Bleeding, Your Friends and Neighbors and GO to his credit, began manipulating tape machines in high school. Recording pingpong games from the table leg’s perspective, taping backwards, turning reels by hand and running delay loops through the garage, he created soundtracks for his own Super 8 films. At the California Institute of the Arts film school, Davis honed his skills and learned studio engineering, tracking and mixing for his own films as well as other student projects. During a few postgrad years as a starving writer, he continued to create sound scores for short animated films and built up a client list of documentary, experimental and narrative feature filmmakers.

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Posted by on Aug 14, 2009 | 4 comments

Dane A. Davis Special: Danetracks & GRM Tools


GRM Tools, plugins used by many sound designers out there. They had an article about Dane A. Davis featuring his company Danetracks. He spoke about the plugins that he use and some techniques or procedures with the processes. Even if you don’t GRM Tools, be sure to read, the article deals all kinds of interesting techniques.

Did you see the freeway chase scene in The Matrix: Reloaded? Or that gigantic sky crane helicopter in Swordfish? How about those nifty spaceships in Treasure Planet and the otherworldly screams and grinding gears in 13 Ghosts?

If you’re into movies as much as you’re into sound and you stick around for the credits, then you already know about the signature Academy Award-winning touch of Danetracks Studios. Every sound effect in Romeo Must Die, 8 Mile, and The Matrix trilogy — including The Matrix: Revolutions — was scored there. The passion for audio at this West Hollywood, California, sound design, editorial, and mixing company is matched only by the team’s boundless energy for improvisation.

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