'Salt' Sound

Jul 27, 2010 3:30 PM, By Tom Kenny



Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

Effects re-recording mixer Greg P. Russell, a 13-time Oscar nominee, at the Harrison in the Kim Novak Theatre, Sony Pictures Studios.

Effects re-recording mixer Greg P. Russell, a 13-time Oscar nominee, at the Harrison in the Kim Novak Theatre, Sony Pictures Studios.

There are a lot of principals and a lot of extras and group in the film, leading to what Haboush, a nearly 30-year veteran, calls “one of the most complicated mixes I’ve ever done.” He set up at the Harrison with seven predubs: dialog, ADR, two group, an x track, a futz track and a PFX (production effects) track.

“Phillip loves the cacophony and the layers, not only in effects, but in dialog, too,” Haboush says. “Real walkie-talkies with police calls. CB radios with squelch and static. TV monitors, newscasters, people in and around the President’s bunker and in CIA headquarters. Control room interiors and a ton of outdoor scenes where we had to seamlessly blend in the ADR. But the nice thing is he is not at all afraid to pan dialog, but not for a cheeseball or geographical effect; it’s more to open up the space so he can get important group lines or offstage lines to poke through and tell the story.”

Noyce spent five months writing, casting and recording the group dialog, as he considered every single line crucial to story. In a key scene at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the President is delivering a eulogy and all hell breaks loose, he kept the extras on location, and with production sound mixer William Sarokin recorded some stellar lines for perspective and energy, with reverb intact.

“The church scene is a real good example of how he is not afraid to move around the room,” Haboush says. “He cuts constantly to all these different angles, from security areas where they’re monitoring the eulogy and the President is off to the right, then over to the rears, cut to the catacombs and you hear him reverberating through the speakers, then you pop up on the other side of the church, then you’re tight up on him. And all those reverbs are panned. But it’s never distracting. He moves the dialog without you even noticing that he is doing it.”

The group dialog track became key for Noyce because it adds that layer of verisimilitude, placing the audience believably in the center of the action. “This is not fake group,” Haboush explains. “None of that, ‘Duck, he’s got a gun!’ Every line had meaning. My favorite scene is really all of reel 5, when you’re down in the bunker under the White House. You have professional newscasters commenting on this crazy day, coming out of monitors in a room full of people. Walkie-talkies. Perspective cuts in and out of the room. At one point I put this cool P.A. effect on our lead actors because they’re coming out of a speaker. Then we’re back in the room inside all the chaos. It’s an amazing use of layers, and you hear every syllable. William did a great job with the production track, and Deborah Walllach did a great job of providing ADR that was seamless.”

No doubt audiences will leave theaters feeling like they’ve been on a roller coaster, but the way it’s been set up, they won’t feel yanked around and they won’t feel ear fatigue or the lingering effects of sonic bombardment.

“This is a great ride, one of the better films I’ve worked on,” concludes Russell. “A spy thriller is right up my alley, and this is Phillip Noyce doing what he does best. What more could you ask for?”

Being the director, we’ll give Noyce the end credit: “This mix team could be described as ‘smooth as silk.’ I don’t think I’ve ever had a soundtrack that was so complex and yet at first appears to be quite straightforward. I’ve had many tracks over the years that have cried out to the audience, ‘Listen to me!’ This track doesn’t cry out listen to me. You just listen to it. You don’t know what is being done to you, but these sound mixers are wrapping you up and pushing you along this way and pulling you that way. But because they’ve mixed so subtly, you give over to the experience. And that is truly great sound mixing.”

Tom Kenny is the editorial director of Mix.

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.