Dolby Institute Oscars® podcast 2019
In this series of episodes, join Dolby® Institute director Glenn Kiser in conversation with the creative teams behind the Oscar nominees in the Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Animated Film categories for the 91st Academy Awards®.
About the artists
Episode 1 — Incredibles 2
Left to right: Brad Bird, Writer & Director; Nichole Paradis Grindle, Producer
Writer/director Brad Bird and producer Nicole Paradis Grindle join us from the studios at Pixar to discuss returning fourteen years later for the sequel to a beloved film. They describe the technical challenges of the new movie, how their approach to visual design, color, and sound have evolved, and the inspiration behind the notorious fight scene between baby Jack-Jack and the raccoon.
Episode 2 — Black Panther
Left to right: Brandon Proctor, Rerecording mixer; Steve Boeddeker, Supervising sound editor & Rerecording mixer
Supervising sound editor and rerecording mixer Steve Boeddeker and rerecording mixer Brandon Proctor talk about how the sound design of futuristic Wakanda technology and weaponry is influenced by West African sounds. They also discuss how they used signature sounds to differentiate the action in Wakanda, Oakland, and Korea, as well as the intricacies of constructing the ritual fight scenes in a waterfall.
Episode 3 — A Quiet Place
Left to right: Erik Aadahl & Ethan Van der Ryn, Co-supervising sound editors
Co-supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn talk about the challenges of building the soundscape for what many people think is a “silent” movie. Other topics include: how sound design was used to give the audience the experience of the hearing impairment of one of the main characters, and the fun of creating an alien monster who hunts and navigates using only its hearing.
Episode 4 — Bohemian Rhapsody
Left to right: John Warhurst, Supervising sound editor; Nina Hartstone, Supervising dialog/ADR editor; Paul Massey, Rerecording mixer; Tim Cavagin, Rerecording mixer; John Casali, Production sound mixer
Besy Sound Editing nominees John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone join Best Sound Mixing nominees Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, and John Casali to discuss the intricate work of building the sounds of the rock band Queen for Bohemian Rhapsody. In this episode, the team discusses the process of recreating the band’s famous 1985 Live-Aid concert performance. THey also talk about how sound design helped to get inside the head of an agitated Freddie Mercury during an infamous London press conference and how having access to the band’s original session tapes let this Oscar-nominated team build the amazing scene where the band records the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” single.
Episode 5 — First Man
Left to right: Justin Hurwitz, Composer; Ai-Ling Lee, Supervising sound editor & rerecording mixer; Mildred Iatrou Morgan, Supervising sound editor; Frank Montaño, Rerecording mixer; Jon Taylor, Rerecording mixer; Tom Cross, Film editor; Mary Ellis, Production sound mixer
In this two-part episode, First Man’s Best Sound Editing nominees Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan and Best Sound Mixing nominees Frank Montaño and Jon Taylor join composer Justin Hurwitz and picture editor Tom Cross to discuss how the film’s documentary look (it was filmed in Super-16mm) affected the approach to sound and music. In addition, they touch on what the sound elements contributed to the understanding of how dangerous the early space flights were.
In part two, we join production sound mixer Mary Ellis as she talks about the challenges of recording the production tracks for the film, including the complex system they devised to record dialogue inside the astronauts’ helmets in the cramped space capsule.
Episode 6 — Roma
Left to right: Skip Lievsay, Supervising sound editor & rerecording mixer; Craig Henighan, Sound designer & rerecording mixer
In this two-part episode, writer/director Alfonso Cuarón joins his sound, picture, and music editorial artists to discuss the extraordinarily detailed work that went into recreating the Mexico City of his 1970s childhood. They also discuss how not having a musical score keeps the audience guessing what will happen next, why it was important to have the dialogue emanate not just from the screen channels but all around the audience, and how shooting the movie in sequence allowed for more spontaneous performances.
In part two, supervising sound editor & rerecording mixer Skip Lievsay takes us on a deep dive of how the film’s complex tracks were constructed, including a discussion of the 70-day final mix of the film.
Episode 7 — A Star is Born
Left to right: Steve Morrow, Production sound mixer; Nick Baxter, Music mixer; Dean Zupancic, Rerecording mixer
Production sound mixer Steve Morrow, Grammy®-winning music mixer Nick Baxter, and rerecording mixer Dean Zupancic talk about grabbing crowd scenes between sets at the Stagecoach and Glastonbury music festivals. They also share with us how doing impulse responses in each of the venues allowed them to recreate the sound of the arenas in post-production and how Bradley Cooper was not your typical first-time director.
Dolby Institute podcast series
Conversations with sound artists: 2018 Oscars® edition
The Dolby Institute and the SoundWorks Collection have collaborated to produce a series of podcast conversations with the artists nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
About the artists
The sound of Baby Driver with Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, and Julian Slater
In this episode, production sound mixer Mary Ellis talks about her very first day of the shoot — recording the sound on set during the continuous five-minute shot set to “Harlem Shuffle,” and the challenges of mic’ing all those fast-moving cars. Sound supervisor/mixer Julian Slater talks about using tinnitus to take the audience into the head of the main character Baby. He and dialogue mixer Tim Cavagin also discuss the unique challenges of mixing all the crafted sound design and dialogue to blend with a driving music track.
The sound of Blade Runner 2049 with Ron Bartlett, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, Mark Mangini, and Mac Ruth
The team behind Blade Runner 2049 talks about how they paid homage to the iconic original film while breaking new sonic ground. They explore the film’s distinctive blend of sound design and musical score, and discuss the producers’ wise decision to start the sound design while the shoot was still going on. They then examine key scenes, including the fight among malfunctioning holograms and how K’s walk in the desert evolved from full score to playing in almost silence.
“My first conversation with [film editor] Joe Walker was all about silence, and how we would handle silence. If that’s the first conversation you’re having with your filmmakers, it’s exciting because we’ll get to the big moments, and in some ways those are the easiest to do.” — Mark Mangini
“What I love about Dolby Atmos is that scenes that are more sparse are what really show it off. It’s scenes like the baseline test — the interviewer is primarily in the overheads; the whole idea is that he’s on top of you, oppressive and claustrophobic. You can’t do that with other formats.” — Ron Bartlett
“If you close your eyes, you can hear the story.” — Joe Walker
The sound of The Shape of Water with Christian Cooke, Nelson Ferreira, Glen Gauthier, Nathan Robitaille, and Brad Zoern
The artists behind The Shape of Water discuss the creation of the sounds of the creature (nicknamed “Fishman” by the team), revealing that director Guillermo del Toro’s vocalizations became a key part of the sound of the creature’s breathing. They describe how the creature’s sound design evolves over the course of the film as he goes from being a potential threat to the romantic lead, and how the movie theatre downstairs helps score the film.
“[The creature] had to be the romantic lead. You’re asking a lot of the audience, to get them to be on board with this beautiful relationship that develops. I knew the best place to start is with human sounds [for him]. And so I started with my own voice, and then added animal sweeteners, and then for a final pass, Guillermo gave us a breathing layer.” — Nathan Robitaille
“It’s so much harder to mix something quiet than to throw everything at it. It takes a lot of bravery to turn it down.” — Brad Zoern
The sound of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood, and Michael Semanick
Ren Klyce, primarily known for his sound design of David Fincher’s films, talks about the challenges and opportunities of joining an already-established sound universe while adding his own spin. He, Matthew Wood, and Michael Semanick discuss the security of reading the script before the shoot, and the feeling of walking onto the set of the Millennium Falcon. The team also discuss some of your favorite sequences from the film: the Fathiers chase, the mirror cave, the Force connection between Rey and Kylo Ren, and of course the famous “silent” jump to hyperspace through the First Order star destroyer.
The sound of Dunkirk with Alex Gibson, Gregg Landaker, Richard King, Gary Rizzo, and Mark Weingarten
We wrap up our Oscar® nominees series with the team from Dunkirk. In this two-part episode, the artists show how the carefully engineered track builds and maintains tension for the entire running time of the movie, with music playing almost continuously from the opening shot of soldiers walking down the street to the moment Finn falls asleep on the train. They talk about how the mixing time works: they make a complete pass through the film and screen it every week during the final mix. They also reveal why director Christopher Nolan feels you don’t necessarily need to understand every word of dialogue in his films.
“[Composer] Hans [Zimmer] is making the sounds that the audience hears, and I’m making the sounds that the characters hear.” — Richard King
Conversations with sound artists: 2017 Oscar® Edition
The Dolby® Institute and the SoundWorks Collection have collaborated to produce a series of podcast conversations with the artists nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
About the nominated artists
The sound of Arrival with Sylvain Bellemare and Bernard Gariépy Strobl
Sylvain Bellemare (Best Sound Editing) and Bernard Gariépy Strobl (Best Sound Mixing) discuss the unique challenges of building the soundscapes of the alien heptapods and managing their multinational crew working in Paris, Montréal, Los Angeles, and New Zealand. Adhering to director Denis Villeneuve’s mandate to keep everything real and organic, the sound artists describe using no electronics in generating the film’s sounds and how the sound design interweaves seamlessly with Jóhann Jóhannsson's haunting score.
The sound of Deepwater Horizon with Renée Tondelli
(Best Sound Editing) joins us for an in-depth exploration of the sound design of Peter Berg’s film, for which she is nominated with Wylie Stateman. From the challenges of learning to speak “oilese,” the specialized language of the oil exploration world, to the problems of capturing usable production audio at the film’s noisy locations, Renée discusses how the sound for this action-packed film, mixed by Ron Bartlett and Doug Hemphill, came together.
The sound of Hacksaw Ridge with Kevin O’Connell, Robert Mackenzie, and Andy Wright
Kevin O’Connell (Best Sound Mixing), celebrating his 21st Academy Award nomination, joins first-time nominees Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright (double nominees for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing) in conversation about their work on Mel Gibson’s film. The artists talk about using sound design and music to sculpt the three different battle sequences that comprise the film’s second half, the challenges of using period-accurate weaponry, and how the sound of breathing can take you inside the main character’s experience.
The sound of La La Land with Steve Morrow, Ai-Ling Lee, and Mildred Iatrou
In part one of this episode, Steve Morrow (Best Sound Mixing) describes his work as the production sound mixer on this contemporary movie musical filmed largely on location in Los Angeles and the challenges of capturing the live on-set singing of stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. In part two, Ai-Ling Lee (nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing) and Mildred Iatrou (Best Sound Editing) discuss weaving the sung performances into a magical musical design soundscape.
The sound of Sully with Alan Murray
Two-time Academy Award® winner Alan Murray (Best Sound Editing) joins us to discuss his 37th film in collaboration with director Clint Eastwood, for which he has received his ninth Oscar nomination. From his first conversation with Captain Chesley Sullenberger to an eventful sound recording trip on an empty A320 in flight, Alan recounts the lengths to which his team went to make sure they kept realism in the sound track of the famous “Miracle on the Hudson.”
The sound of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi with Greg Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey Haboush
Greg Russell (17 Oscar® nominations), Gary Summers (11 Oscar nominations and 4 wins), and Jeffrey Haboush (4 Oscar nominations) talk about their work, nominated for Best Sound Mixing, on Michael Bay’s film. The artists describe their long collaboration with Bay and their work on this film to keep the tension high through the film’s chaotic scenes of battle.
Conversations with sound artists: 2016 Oscar® edition
Sound is an art and a craft that many people appreciate but that few know much about. In these podcasts with recent Oscar nominees and winners, sound designers take an in-depth look at different aspects of the sound process.
In this special series of podcasts, Dolby® Institute director Glenn Kiser shines a spotlight on some of this year's nominees for the Academy Award® for Best Sound Editing. Hear the teams behind Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and Sicario talk about the creation of the sound design for the films, their collaboration with the music department and rerecording mixers, and the challenges of managing the logistics and aesthetics of their films.
About the nominated artists
The sound of Sicario with Alan Murray
Alan Murray, two-time Academy Award winner nominated this year for Sicario, discusses using sound to tell the audience that things may not be quite right, how low-end can heighten tension, and his remarkable 40-year collaboration with Clint Eastwood.
The sound of Mad Max: Fury Road with Mark Mangini and David White
Mark Mangini and David White, nominated this year for Mad Max: Fury Road, talk about the challenges of managing such an epic production. They also discuss how they used ADR to achieve emotional intimacy, the use of silence in chaos, and how director George Miller (who trained as a doctor) can cure common maladies.
The sound of The Revenant with Lon Bender and Martin Hernandez
In this two-part podcast, we catch up with Academy Award nominees Lon Bender and Martín Hernández to discuss their BAFTA-winning work on The Revenant. Bender talks about recording Foley in Colorado on real snow (with horses!) and gives advice to young sound artists. Hernández talks about managing directors' anxiety and describes getting his start doing radio shows with director Alejandro Iñárritu in Mexico when they were college classmates.