Gary Rydstrom wasn’t the main sound designer of Titanic, he worked as a re-recording mixer, making a wonderful work with the Sound Crew, and won an Academy Award for Best Sound.
I couldn’t let go this article that I find about the ound design of Titanic. Let’s read!
“What the extra time gave us,” says supervising sound editor Tom Bellfort, “was the ability to come to terms with all the material and try to articulate all the possible sounds that would create the sheer size and elegance of the ship before it hits the iceberg. It also gave us the time to approach the job [in the post-iceberg section] in less of a mechanical way. It’s easy to do a mechanical job as compared to more of an emotional and psychological rendering of what’s going on aboard the ship while it’s sinking.”
Of course, the later release also gave more time for the mix. Premixing began in early August and the final mix was finished in late October, in time for the world premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival on November 1. The schedule might seem luxurious in today’s film sound climate, but the length made it essentially two movies, and the complexity of the material (127 speaking parts, 4,000 principal loops, intricate water Foley, at least three big, protracted action scenes) was daunting. By all accounts, it couldn’t have been done without the stage setup on the new Mix A at Skywalker, which includes the 156-input AMS Neve Capricorn digital console pictured on last month’s Mix cover, along with two Pro Tools systems for effects fixes, two Studioframes for dialog and a Sonic Solutions system for music. Premixes and finals were recorded to Skywalker’s Sondor mag machines with Dolby SR.
“With a digital, fully automated console, we were able to audition alternate effects that we premixed, and we could cut elements on the stage,” says effects re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom. “I could take those inputs to the board, and since it’s fully automated, I could pan it, EQ it, make it echo, and it sits right in. It’s almost like being able to edit, premix and final mix at the same stage. So it gave us a lot of flexibility.”
Working with Cameron demanded flexibility. He makes full use of the four outputs on his Avid system during the picture edit and creates a detailed temp mix (which was used at the first test screenings). The re-recording team would then solo those tracks before going into a reel to isolate Cameron’s ideas. Sometimes he wanted the single effect from his temp, sometimes he wanted a different sound or more fullness. And because he was so involved with other aspects of the film at the time, there was really no way of knowing before he sat in for the final, at which point he would inevitably ask for changes.
“Jim [Cameron] is very good about pacing when he does his temps,” says music re-recording mixer Gary Summers. “He is very conscious of where there’s going to be effects only, where there’s going to be music, the interplay of them, and how dense it is. When you say he likes effects big, well, he also likes music big, but he’s very, very selective. I remember that from Terminator 2–at any given moment, there’s only certain things you’re going to hear.”
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