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Posted by on Dec 31, 2012 | 10 comments

Analog Worldization

Guest contribution by Cormac Donnelly

I am, at heart, a techno-nostalgiast and I’ve worked with tape machines of one kind or other for most of my career. When I sold my 2” multi-track, in 2010, I resolved almost immediately to get myself another tape machine (albeit something a little smaller than the 250kg Otari I had just parted with). A few weeks later, I found myself owning two portable Nagras. I have since realised that the only reason any one person should own two Nagras is so they can indulge in a spot of worldizing.

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Posted by on Oct 19, 2009 | 0 comments

Walter Murch Special: Touch Of Evil

Touch Of Evil

Another amazing work by Walter Murch, with the sound and picture editing on the remake of Touch Of Evil. Really interesting techniques applied in both sound and picture. And as usual in Walter Murch articles… you can’t miss this!

Orson Welles’ 1957 film noir masterpiece, Touch of Evil, has recently been re-edited and released to enthusiastic reviews–many revolving around the film’s meticulously re-worked sound track, and the real, behind-the-scenes drama that deeply affected Welles’ life and career.

The re-editing project grew from a 58-page memo Welles had sent to Universal studios just prior to the film’s original release. Welles had been absent for the final editing of the film, and Universal had finished it in ways that disturbed the director enormously. The memo, and nine pages of “sound notes”, describe in exquisite detail the ways Welles most passionately wanted the film to be re-edited. Unfortunately, Universal implemented only a very few of Welles’ suggestions, aborting the director’s vision of a film into which he had poured his soul, in the hope it would revitalized his doomed Hollywood career [...]

The Tools:

  • Walter Murch edited picture and sound on an Avid Media Composer. He exported his sound files in Avid’s Open Media Format (OMF) format and sent these to his editors.
  • Sound editors Richard LeGrand and Harry Snodgrass imported Murch’s OMF files into Digidesign Pro Tools audio workstations. They used Pro Tools plug-in software both to process certain segments of the audio and to clean up pops, clicks, snaps and other noise.
  • Their primary cleanup tool was the DeClicker from Steinberg www.steinberg.net/
  • For processing, they used the d2 equalizer from Focusrite www.focusrite.com and the Lexiverb from Lexicon www.lexicon.com
  • They laid their finished audio back to Tascam DA-88s which they took to the mixing stage to create the final analog master.
  • To re-record the sound of the radio news broadcast, they used Sennheiser CM-50s and a CM-60.

Continue reading at Filmsound…

There is an extensive interview at Parallaz View, with Murch talking about all the info about Touch of Evil.

What does Touch of Evil mean to you as a filmmaker?

It had a large indirect influence on me because the filmmakers who influenced me directly were the French New Wave – Godard, Resnais, Truffaut and Rohmer. But it turns out that as young men they were all heavily influenced by Orson Welles and particularly by Touch of Evil, which came out in 1958, just as they started making their own film, and was much more warmly received in Europe than it was in the United States.

In addition, when I went to film school in 1965, Touch of Evil was only seven years old and was studied directly by all of us because of Welles’ use of composition, camera angles, sound, and staging. It’s a tremendous piece of filmmaking.

Do you find Welles’ sensibility to sound unusual?

It was very unusual then, and it’s still unusual today. I’m just flabbergasted when I read his memos, thinking that he was writing these ideas forty years ago, because, if I was working on a film now and a director came up with ideas like these, I’d be amazed – pleased but amazed – to realize that someone was thinking that hard about sound – which is all too rare.

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