“3:10 to Yuma” saunters into theaters September 7th. Donald Sylvester, who supervised director James Mangold’s last effort “Walk the Line,” dueled with the sound editorial. Sylvester, a sound editing renaissance man has cut everything from foley to ADR to dialog to effects during his career. Re-recording mixers Paul Massey and David Giammarco came out, faders blazing on FOX’s John Ford dubbing stage. Another “Walk the Line” alum, Massey is fresh off this May’s “Pirates of the Caribean” sequel while Giammarco mixed New Line’s “The Last Mimzy” earlier this year.Jim Stuebe was deputized to mix the production sound. Stuebe has production mixed Wes Craven’s last few films and shot sound on Ben Affleck’s directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone.” ComposerMarco Beltram, another Wes Craven frequenter, scored “3:10 to Yuma” at Abbey Road in London. Beltram has already had a big summer composing for June’s “Live Free or Die Hard.”
Introducing the most fun part of sound effects editorial, field recording! Sound supervisors always seek out new sounds, I think if they had it their way, they would record all new effects for every show. While some projects might not warrant sessions out in the field, films like “3:10 to Yuma” cry out for them. So, when sound soup Donald Sylvester needed fresh sounds to blanket the Arizona desert, he sent up smoke signals for sound effect recordist, Rob Nokes. Nokes is among the few sound effects recordists that work almost exclusively in the craft (Mix Magazine covered a few more HERE), and without their heart, adventurous attitude, and health insurance, we as an film audience would never be treated to all of those cool new sounds.
Designing Sound: Did you get to record any production effects during principle photography on “3:10”? How often does that happen?
Rob Nokes: I did not record production effects on this movie. Anytime a movie has a unique situation involving crowds or machines it makes sense to capture the original on location as the costs to re-stage unique events are usually cost prohibitive. A couple of examples of this would be recording the production crowds’ performance on “Walk Hard” a new movie by Jake Kasdan; the real authentic crowds sit more naturally than library crowds. Sometimes stock library crowds and clapping jump off the screen or are too close -According to Bob Grieve and Joel Shryack (Sound Supervisors) the production crowds sat perfectly in the mix and everyone was very happy. Another example would be recording the final ten-second countdown and the “USA! USA!” chant in the movie “Miracle.” The director gave us 4,000 extras to perform these critical story elements on location. Typically we get the location or machines after the principle photography, such as destruction of the house wood set on “The Spiderwick Chronicles” (Mark Mangini, Sound Supervisor), or the original beat-up Volvo used in the movie “Blue State,” (Jake Eberle, Sound Supevisor).
DS: What was the bulk of the coverage that Donald Sylvester needed for editorial? What were your favorite sessions on the film?
RN: Don Sylvester (Sound Supervisor) wanted a great collection of new gun recordings that did not sound like Howitzers and many gun libraries are over processed and lack natural dynamics. Don’s friend and collaborator Doug Hemphill, the Re-Recording Mixer on “3:10” and “Walk The Line,” was an exceptional sound effects recordist early in his career and had pioneered and recorded some of the best guns in the 1980’s. Based on my experience with Doug, I learned that a lot of his efforts have been passed on to subsequent generations of sound effects recordists. Our goal at Doug’s neighborhood of Missoula Montana was to capture a clear, crisp, natural gun library for the movie. My only objective on the shoot and subsequent mastering of the ten channels recorded, was deliver Don and Ted Caplan (Sound Designer) a great gun library.
DS: What does your main rig comprise of these days?
RN: Deva 5, three Neumann 190i stereo microphones, Sanken CUB-01 boundary mics, several PZM mics, Sennheiser 815T, Countryman lavs, four Sennheiser E835s dynamic mics, seven Hydrophones, Fostex Fr-2, and M-Audio Micro Trak. I am not crazy about the latter two recorders; I plan on buying two new small two-channel recorders.
DS: Does being an active supervising sound editor help in prep for the field sessions?
RN: While mixing with Re-Recording Mixers good recordings are appreciated and the Mixers generally know good unique libraries from stock CD libraries or poorly recorded libraries. On several movies the Mixers have complimented me on my recordings which is greatly appreciated, however, that thanks is due, in part, to the Supervisor or Sound Editor that used the right sound in the right place in the movie being mixed. With that being said, all experience is beneficial; sometimes I may not get what I want exactly, however, another opportunity may present itself where I can provide another series of sounds for the Supervisor.
DS: How much time do you normally get for experimentation during the effects shoots?
RN: With the Deva 5 on all effects shoots, I can experiment with a couple of channels and try different mic techniques or microphones. Most sound effects shoots are partly experimental because I am dealing with situational factors such as the target to be recorded, background noises, wind, temperature, time, security, safety, acoustic reflections, speed of a moving target, and the people that are helping or hindering the shoot. The more recording experience a person has the better they can resolve these factors. I strongly recommend that recordists listen to test recordings during the shoot to ensure that these factors are properly observed and adequately adjusted for.
DS: You shot effects on “Walk Hard”; What was it like working on a musical? Did your focus differ from a large-scale action film?
RN: On some movies less is more – my goal on “Walk Hard” was to provide broad crowd coverage of the crowds without having the mics seen on camera or having my presence be an intrusion to the Director or the 1st AD. As a result of directorial overlaps talking to the crowd and music playback, I hid small microphones behind the seats so that the density of the immediate crowd would obliterate the overlapping voice or music and in many cases this helped. On a musical the setup is very important and patience is critical – doing less is more. Action films usually have greater speeds and decibels, which results in more setups and movement.
DS: What was your first gig like?
RN: I had some awareness of sound effects recording at Master’s Workshop in Toronto. They had a really good recordist named Terry ‘Turk” McCarthy. My first recording gig was as an Assistant for Peter Thillaye on IMAX Mountain Gorillas. We drove outside of rural Toronto and pretended to be Gorillas rummaging in an African forest. After that I borrowed microphones all the time and recorded as much as possible; fortunately for me Greg King, whom I started working for
, preferred to have a unique sound library so original recordings were encouraged and preferred. It was a great environment for a young sound effects recordist.