On Sunday, Michael Hopkins died in a rafting accident in New Zealand. Mike’s best known work was with Peter Jackson. He and I worked on the Jackson film “The Frighteners.” He won Oscars for his work on “Lord Of The Rings” and “King Kong.”
Mike Hopkins was as kind, generous, and humble a man as you might hope to meet, and a world class sound editor/designer. Everybody who spent time with him liked him. I’m a better man for having been around him, and a better sound designer too.
Transformers has been one of the most important titles for Erik Aadahl’s career. As we are on his special, I take the opportunity to do a mashup of articles, interviews, and videos, trying to put all the info about Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I found in the Internet, including also material from the rest of the crew on the mix, dialogue and foley. Also an exclusive interview with Erik on Transformers is coming in the next days.
I’ve read a lot of discussions lately about defining a Sound Designer. What were your duties on Transformers?
Erik Aadahl: The term “sound designer” can mean lots of things. In some cases, a designer is brought in to handle a scene or a concept, with effects editors handling everything else. In other cases, a designer may have a broader role and oversee the overall track. This movie was a little of both–I was brought on by Ethan van der Ryn to design the robots, but as time went by that job broadened to encompass the entire final track. By the end of the final mix, I had plenty of chances to go over the whole film, tweaking details till we couldn’t do it any more.
Had to ask it. Is the signature transforming sound from the cartoon in the film?
Ethan Van der Ryn: We used the original transforming sound twice in the film. It is used for one of the largest transformers and also for the smallest. More importantly we were inspired by the original transformation sound in the creation of new sounds. The very first sounds heard in the movie which play over the Dreamworks and Paramount logos are an example of sounds which are inspired by that original transformation sound vibe.
How much time did you get to spend on conceptional proofs before going full bore on design and editorial?
Erik Aadahl: It all happened at the same time. The first scene I got was Blackout (at the time his name was Vortex) destroying the Qatar airbase. I had a week to come up with the transformation and weapons and destruction and the shape of that very first pass stayed pretty much intact until the end. After that first week, I had a chance to catch my breath and go conceptual again, spending my days under headphones recording everything that might be useful–scissorlift servos, remote control copters, sliding acrylic sheets, power windows–and then throwing them into ProTools to manipulate them into fun sounds. After a few weeks of that, I had a palette of several hundred fresh robot sounds that I could draw from as the movie progressed.
More videos! Let’s check these videos of The Lord Of The Rings, with director Peter Jackson, producer Barrie Osborne, co-producer Rick Porras, supervising sound editors Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van Der Ryn, sound designer David Farmer, ADR Recordist Chris Ward, and re-recording mixers Chris Boyes and Michael Semanick talking about the sound design of “The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers”. If you want more information about this, check the Special Editions of the films on DVD and Blu-Ray.
I planned on interviewing some of the post sound crew from “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” but there are so many great interviews out there already about the great work they did, I might as well be a blogger in disguise and just link to them.
Wow, I feel like Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”: “I’ve abandoned my child! I’ve abandoned my child!” Sorry for the long gap in posts. The current gig has ruined any free time I had to do this thing, but we’re almost into final mix so things here will get back on track. So I promised some coverage on last week’s “Transformers” event. There is some great stuff already online (RED CARPET DISTRICT has coverage and links most of the other sites). So what do I have? Blurry video with mediocre sound! Thanks to sound editor Barbara Delpuech for providing the footage (way more forward thinking then I was about covering this event by the way) and I’ll be back with regular posts soon.
I was talking to sound designer Erik Aadahl after the event about the video below and how I wish more people would have got a chance to see it(shown at the MPSE sound show this summer). Now, its online…