The ‘Revolution’ Will Be Televised

Apr 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Matt Hurwitz


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Following a weekly spotting session, at which specific sounds are identified, as well as ADR, backgrounds and other effects, Atomic’s lead sound designer, Mark Allen, and sound effects editor Patrick O’Sullivan begin creating the more unique sounds for each episode. These often include more subjective elements, meant to invoke a particular emotion for the viewer, without being obvious about it. “I know these guys can do the old ‘see a car, cue a car,’” Garrett explains. “But if there’s a moment where something’s supposed to be subjective or unusual, that gets addressed first.”

The end of the 10th episode, for example, begins with an odd whoomp whoomp whoomp. “We don’t reveal right away that it’s a helicopter, which would be a shock to our audience. We want the characters to be going, ‘What is that?’ and make it confusing. So in spotting, we note that it will require more of a sound design approach.” Those elements are layered together from Allen’s vast existing sound library, as well as new sounds created in the studio.

Also in the pilot, when the power stops, jet aircraft engines also stop, leaving planes simply falling out of the sky. “Since the engines aren’t running, the traditional sound of the whine of the deceleration of the jet doesn’t happen; there’s no power to run them,” deGorter explains. “There’s no rumble, none of the sounds you expect to hear. We’re constantly riding a fine line between realism and sounds that convey the emotional charge.”

After seeing footage of the plane cartwheeling on screen to its destruction, Hinton got the idea for more of a whoosh air-type sound. “I duct taped a bunch of long ribbed plastic tubing to a giant fan and put a microphone at the other end,” he recalls. “It made a high-frequency whistle-y sound coupled with a rush of air, creating a weird Doppler effect. It’s chilling, in the same way as the image we’re seeing.”

The show has plenty of swashbuckling, old-fashioned brutal fight scenes as well, represented by an interesting collection of weaponry, including swords, muskets and the like. “It’s really like a period piece,” Smith says. Adds deGorter, “They’re all weapons that you don’t use in the typical cop show of today.”

deGorter says that Allen, however, has a talent for finding the right swords. “These aren’t your typical pirate swords,” he says. “They’re shorter, so they’re not going to sound as big and shingly. And Mark builds the sounds of the swords out of multiple sounds, layered on. And they can vary depending how bad the bad guy is and who’s more powerful.”

“When a sword slashes somebody here, it’s more than just the shirt being ripped,” adds Garrett. “It’s the spray of the blood afterwards. We’re playing for the reality of, ‘This is a real world, and it’s a dangerous world.’”

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