Magazine article Variety

Authenticity Challenges Aural Experts

Magazine article Variety

Authenticity Challenges Aural Experts

Article excerpt

The sound contenders in this year's Oscar race echo a vast auditory range, from the subtle complexities of a poet's inner monologue to the whimsical songs of a couple falling in love, and even an explosive true-to-life battlefield. Each soundtrack harmoniously conveys a unique emotional tone, making it difficult to pick a clear standout in a crop of diverse films.

The Damien Chazelle-directed "La La Land" tested production sound mixer Steven Morrow and crew to provide the energy on set. "One thing Damien laid down was the challenge to make the music loud enough so the actors could feel it, not just hear it," says Morrow.

The mixer used up to 32 different audio tracks to record live instruments and songs from Justin Hurwitz's original score. "It was important to create a soundscape that was pretty but also one based in reality," notes sound designer and sound supervising editor Ai-Ling Lee, who along with re-recording mixer Andy Nelson finely tuned moments leading into song so they didn't feel as if they came from a vocal booth. "It was about balancing the correct blend of live and recorded elements into each song," says Lee.

Robert Hein, the sound designer, sound editor, and re-recording mixer on "Paterson," manipulated repetition to tell the story of a bus driver with a secret love of poetry. "Paterson wakes up every day and every day is a little different. The issue with sound when the film is repetitive is not to make the sound repetitive, but reflect on that," says Hein. "The intention of the film was to feel that quality of every day being somewhat similar but not. We did a lot of delicate maneuvering with sounds and tried to make it evolve as the film went along. It was important to have every day feel like it was the same but in reality every day was different and special."

The sound team behind Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge," which is based on a true story, created intense combat sequences to place the audience directly into the experience. "Everything was high-impact and very visceral, very engaging," says sound designer and re-recording mixer Robert Mackenzie. "It was about creating a real intimate and personal portrayal of what it is like to be in the thick of the battle."

In building the intensity, sound supervisor and re-recording mixer Andy Wright played guns to a realistic level, with explosions overpowering the audience to keep them on edge. …

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