A few days ago I talked about a MPSE Discussion Panel called “Watchmen – Superhero Sound“, which took place on December 8 at Hitchcock Theater, Universal Studios. Then you can read some notes taken from the show and wait for Michael Coleman said on Twitter that he would be there filming the show to publish on SoundWorksCollection (I guess). I hope to see that video on the web.
“Just make it sound awesome,” Jenkins recalls of Snyder’s reply to his Day 1 question: How do you want the film to sound? “In other words,” the seasoned mixer reasons, “we created worlds around the actors that are framed by Zack Snyder.” Jenkins and the same crew worked previously with the director onDawn of the Dead and 300. “Zack doesn’t initially bog you down with all of his ideas,” confirms supervising sound editor Hecker. “He is interested in your ideas and then responds accordingly to refine the work with his sensibilities.”
Having replayed the film’s nine-minute opening sequence, through the front credits, composer Bates explained that the guiding song–a rare and sardonic use of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin”–required some work. “The original song didn’t run that long,” Bates recalls, “so we had to record new instrumental sequences [with a house band] against a click track, and loop Dylan’s vocals. We added maybe 35 percent new material which was sweetened to match the original  recording.” Darrell Hall served as the film’s music editor.
“Zack makes colorful, vibrant movies that are true to the graphic novels,” Hecker considers. “We needed to come up with ‘kaleidoscopic’ sound. Even in the fight sequence, we use pitch changes and other effects to stylize the soundtrack and avoid repetition.”
For the Tenement Fire scene, in which the characters of Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II and Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre II are rescuing a trapped family and finally escaping in the Owl Ship, “we used pitch changes to add more texture to the basic jet-engine whines to refine the tonality and color,” the supervising sound editor explains. Effects mixer Montaño then replayed four separate passes of Blasts, which was comprised of jet whines with panning and spatial reverb, Jets that had been dramatically processed and manipulated, Pitch-Shifted synthesized components, and finally Low-Tone components. The resultant combination defined the dimensionality of the escaping ship, and conveyed a sense of realism often missing from conventional sound design. Eric Norris and Rick Hromadka served as sound designers.
Jenkins considers that for a sound-heavy movie like Watchmen, less most definitively can be more. “For the Tenement Fire explosion, for example,” he continues, “during premixes, we had continuous music and sound effects. When we came to final [the soundtrack] we realized that a four-frame hold out–a beat where there was no sound on the track–would dramatically complement the thunderous explosion that follows.”