The Sounds Behind The Hulk

Jul 2, 2003 12:00 PM


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Here, read outtakes from Mix senior editor Blair Jackson’s conversations with re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom and co-supervising sound editor Richard Hymns on the sounds behind the Hulk…

Gary Rydstrom on being at a working disadvantage working with unfinished visuals…
“There are various states of completions,” Rydstrom explains during a break in post production at Skywalker Ranch. “[I’m currently working with] an unfinished ILM shot, before the lighting is finished and everything is completed. But for sync purposes we like to have something in there. Sometimes it’s only basic geometric forms that give us the most fundamental sense of what’s happening in the shot. Then it gets refined later.”

Richard Hymns on managing sound effects…
“Gary also created a whole library of sounds for this movie which we put together with the New York material in one huge library file and then the editors pull from all of that. So they use some New York sound and some Skywalker sounds, and no one will know what the combination of those are until the final mix is over.”

Inside the mind of the Hulk: On the sonic “psychologial landscape”…
“The hardest stuff is the weirdest stuff,” Gary Rydstrom says, “like when you’re inside of Hulk’s head or there are things happening that are kind of mind-blowing. There’s a lot flashbacks to a memory he had a child, so one of the things we tried to do is have motif sounds—things that you remember from the other flashbacks. There are recurring images, and for some of them there’s no explanation for a while. So we have the same thing with the sounds—there are wind chimes at his house when he’s a little boy, so wind chimes keep coming back at different times to remind you of this memory—even if you don’t see [the memory], you can get inside of his head by hearing the kind of sounds he remembers from this moment as a child. He transforms into the Hulk because of the rage that’s caused by this repressed memory, so we put snippets of dialog in his head, so it becomes a psychological landscape. We have weird things swimming around his head, things that sound like a voice but is not really a voice. Things that sound like growls but are not really growls. It was an interesting challenge.”

Mixing the score with effects, dialog and Foley…
“We’ll just have to have our battles in the final mix, where Ang will say ‘I like more music here’ or ‘I like more effects here’ or ‘I want you guys to try to mix the two,’” says Hymns. “ That’s usually the case anyway. One of the strangest things in film, in my opinion is the lack of collaboration between composers and sound people. You’d think they would want to get us together and be very intimate from the get-go so we could aim for different frequencies—because we are very much governed by frequencies. If we have an explosion, we have to take up those frequencies, whereas a composer has an option of doing something with very high strings that would allow his music to sit better with the sound effects. But that’s not usually what happens. What usually happens is the composer will often hit the same things we will hit and then they clash.
“The first run-through [of the final] will be that mystery where the music mixer will be bringing up music and Gary will be bringing up effects and neither of them will know what the other one’s got and it’ll either be ‘Oh, that works nicely’ or ‘Oh, God, what are we going to do?’ And there will be some of both, probably.”

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