There are a lot of technical articles on Designing Sound so I thought I’d try to balance that with this month’s theme of Reverb. We all know that reverb is used to create realism. Adding the correct or appropriate reverb to ADR will instantly make the dialogue fit better into a scene and remove the artifice of the replacement. However, we can use reverb in a creative way and in a wide variety of techniques. We must remember that what we do with sound always serves the narrative. Here is a small collection of examples in no particular order.
I’ll begin with a well known example from Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (1993). After an argument over a building’s foundations, the camp commander Goeth orders the execution of a Jewish engineer. A guard pulls out his pistol and shoots the woman in the head, instantly killing her. We hear the initial bang of the gunshot very clearly, we are also fairly close to the incident. Immediately after, we hear the gunshot bounce around the hills that surround the camp. Obviously, guns are loud but would a small pistol really create so much echo? I would argue that the echo is at least enhanced and deliberately exaggerated. The reason is that this is a very shocking and emotional moment and the echo exaggerates the shock that the audience will feel. This is a heightened reality where we are focused on a single element of that event through the sound. This link will play a clip of that scene, skip to 2:50 for the execution.
After eight films over a 10-year span, the epic adventure of Harry Potter and his circle of wizard friends will close the last chapter of this celebrated series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
Director David Yates returns to direct his fourth Harry Potter film and returns with his talented sound team including Re-recording mixers Stuart Hilliker and Mike Dawson, Supervising Music Editor Gerard McCann, Supervising Sound Editor James Mather, and Sound Designer Dom Gibbs. Expecto Patronum!
Sound designer John Kassab recently interviewed supervising sound editor James Mather about his work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. He kindly sent me the full Q&A for publishing here on the site, so we hope you enjoy it.
[By John Kassab for Designing Sound]
JK: To What extent is sonic consistency a priority when creating sounds for a film franchise like Harry Potter?
JM: Each production of Harry Potter demands it’s own unique sonic requirements but there are always generic sounds which we carry along the way. More often than not we start off with elements from the previous instalment, then tweak them to work in the latest version. Obviously the score has a considerable influence on how we approach things, defining whether or not tones are appropriate or more gritty, staccato or percussive elements. Spells and charms are an obvious example, so to are the Hogwarts fx (doors, ambience etc. ). We also like to stick with specific design elements like Gringots vault locks or the the door to the Chamber of Secrets, as the fans will know and love these. The Snitch is another favorite.
JK:What was your favorite sequence/character/object to make sounds for and what was your process to create it?
JM: One of my favourite scenes is in the forest when Harry retrieves the sword and Ron kills the horcrux. It has a lovely blend of subtlety and mystery which builds to a huge crescendo. This allows ambience, music, foley, dialogue and design to all feature without crowding the soundtrack. It also enhances the emotion of solitude and intimacy as well as being cinematic. The treatment for Voldamort horcrux voices gave the dialogue team a chance to be creative, which is always appreciated.
Here is an interesting video from an event called “Games Meet Films” with a panel discussion and Q&A at Pienwood Studios on 16th February and hosted by Dennis Weinreich (MD of Film and TV Post Production at Pinewood Studios Group).
They talk about the audio production process on games and films and discuss what the two industries can learn from each other and what are the challenges there.
Nigel Bennett - Re-recording Mixer / Post Production Operations Manager, Pinewood
IPR School has posted five additional videos to his compilation of videos about creating audio for videogames. Maybe you already seen some of these here at DS, but be sure to see the rest, very interesting!