Rain, clank armor and liquid metal: how sound is created for the movie

Sound has a great influence on the perception of the film by the viewer. Back in 1940, Aaron Copland (Aaron Copland) defined how music complements the video series:

Music theorist Bernd Willimek (Bernd Willimek) believes that "music can not convey emotions, it can only cause them - if the listener will have any associations with it."

Creating a soundtrack - both music and just sounds - is a painstaking process in which everything is much more complicated than it seems. We describe how sound engineers create soundtracks for films and why this is such a difficult task.

Photo of Vancouver Film School / CC-BY

What could be more natural than what is actually happening. It is raining in the scene - why not leave the sound of the rain as it is?

It’s almost impossible to record the sound of rain from the set - too many extraneous sounds. The voices of the actors, the sounds of working equipment and the outside world are mixed with each other, and almost no rain is heard.

And sometimes realistic sounds are not needed. For example, some noises are actually not at all what the director wants. When the sword is pulled out of its scabbard, it only scratches the sheath, and does not make this ringing sound “Shching!”, To which we are all accustomed.

“This [“ Terminator 2: Judgment Day ”] is bigger than life, it’s not science fiction. Sounds should be organic and real, but they are more than anything you've heard before. These are sound effects with an oversupply of testosterone, ” says sound producer Gary Rydstrom.

Therefore, sounds are superimposed later, with sound editing: they are recreated or taken from the library of sounds.

Ready sounds from the library

Filmmakers have access to a library of sounds. Common sounds have long been recreated, and repeatedly - you can choose what best suits the particular scene.

For example, this is how the sound of a shot changes in the same scene of the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. The library is common for everyone, so the same sound can roam from movie to movie. The most famous of them - the cry of William, it was used in 216 films and video games.

Wilhelm 's cry is an outstanding sound that stands out from the general theme. I would say this is an easter egg for sound engineers. This chip, which they specifically use as a joke. Once in the film, let Wilhelm scream somewhere. This is a joke, a sound engineering trick! ”, - Evgeny Pereyaslavtsev, sound producer and guest of one of the releases of our podcast“ Sound ”( source )

Until the mid-1980s, the same rumble of thunder (“Castle Thunder”) from the film “Frankenstein” of 1931 was often used - especially in cartoons, where you need to recreate all sounds and television shows, where there is no time for a unique sound. and a separate budget.

Finished sounds can be mixed with each other and create new effects. For example, the same “ Castle Thunder ” is the basis for the effect of the warp-accelerator “Enterprise” from Star Trek and the shot of the X-Wing laser gun from Star Wars.

Tarzan's creek for its intended purpose was used only in films and cartoons of the series, but its distorted version is often used in other films to create a comic effect. He first appeared in the movie "Tarzan: the Ape-Man" in 1932.

There are three legends about the origin of this scream. On one of his reproduced himself Johnny Weissmuller (Johnny Weissmuller), who played the main role. Operator Lloyd Thomas Leech also claimed to be the author. Some believe that shouting is a symbiosis of dog growls, trilling on a violin and howling hyenas.

When you need a unique sound

However, creators often need sounds that are not in the library. Naturally, before The Lord of the Rings, no one recorded Balrog’s growl, so the film’s sound engineers had to make it themselves. To do this, they took a slag block and scraped them on a wooden floor at different speeds. A bit of post-processing, and that's what happened .

So create other, more familiar to us sounds. For example, the trampling of horses: it is really too difficult to record, therefore the steppe herd is replaced with a bag of potatoes. It pours in a cardboard box, and the necessary sound turns out.

Directed by Glen Kaiser (Glen Kiser) talks about how to do sound design for his short film, while still in college. According to the scenario, the antihero gets into the car at night and tries to go home, but his car does not start. And the woman he pursued pities him and takes him home.

“On the day of the shooting, the actor asked me:“ How can I make sure that the car does not start? ”. I patted him on the shoulder, said that there is no need to worry - we will do everything afterwards. ”

During the installation, Glenn did not find a suitable sound in the library and rewrote the original recording 20 times where the car started up. He just mixed the pieces of film with this mix, and the final record sounded like “a car as if he died a thousand painful deaths”.

According to Yevgeny Pereyaslavtsev, “the noise maker is a profession with the most creative approach from the entire sound shop”

Soundmen are engaged in sound creation - in the West they are called “Foley artists” in honor of Jack Donovan Foley, the pioneer of sound design. It was he who created the sounds for many classic films. For example, when an army of soldiers marched in Spartak in 1960, the characteristic clank was not issued by armor and horses, but Foley, who was strumming keys.

The sound of the lightsaber from Star Wars appeared randomly. Sound engineer Ben Burtt (Ben Burtt) just walked with a microphone past the TV. This moment gave half of the sound of the lightsaber - an unusual hum, and the second part consists of the sound of the projector motor.

Remember the sound of liquid metal from the second part of the "Terminator"? A true classic: Robert Patrick performed the T-1000 and the T-800 and John Connor throughout the film, suddenly appearing and disappearing with a distinctive sound. To record it, the microphone was wrapped in a condom and dipped in oatmeal.

Sound engineers sometimes use the same method to create different sounds. A Star Wars blaster shoots with the sound of a hammer hitting a stretched steel cable. They also created the sound of the Green Ray of Death from the movie “War of the Worlds”, released in 1953, and photon torpedoes from Star Trek:

You will find more stories about the creation of classic sounds in the video about the work of the Sinkers .

So, three ways to fill a movie with sounds.

Imagine: one actor shoots another from a conditional AK. Need a sound track.

How can I do that:

1. The sound from the stage. Blank cartridges, located near the microphone.

2. Shumovik. Throws grapes into the wall. Then from the resulting record remove pauses and accelerate it. Further, the noise-maker rattles the leather bag filled with metal gears: this sound imitates the shaking of the weapon.

3. Library of sounds. The sound engineer takes the sound of the shots you like and edits it.

And what about music

Sounds - this is not all. Musical accompaniment is also an important part of the credibility and atmosphere of the film. And it’s not always easy to create it either: it’s not just the imposition of a finished musical composition on a specific scene.

Music is especially important in horror movies. A successful soundtrack in itself sometimes terrifies, and in combination with the visuals it increases the tension. This is explained by the instincts of man: we first react to sounds, and realize them later. That is why the horror uses “non-linear” sounds: abrupt frequency changes, unusual harmonics and excessive noise.

To create creepy soundtracks often use special musical instruments. One of them is a voterphone, which you could hear in the films “Let Me In” and “Poltergeist”.

Waterphone is a resonant bowl and bronze rods of different lengths in a circle. Water is poured inside the bowl, and the sound is removed with a bow, by tapping the rods or with a rubber mallet.

Another tool that is better not to listen before bedtime is the Apprehension Engine . It consists of metal bars and rods of different lengths, spring reverbs and other devices that emit eerie sounds.

We have already written an article about the role of music in horror - read if interested.

And sometimes it turns out that the best music for the stage is its absence. Composer Lalo Schifrin refused to write music for the ten-minute chase scene on the streets of San Francisco in the movie “Bullitt”. He considered that the whistling of tires and the roar of the engines would be enough, and the music would only hurt. And so it happened: Shifrina is often praised precisely for this part of the film , which was left without musical accompaniment.

The soundtrack in the films appeals to certain feelings of the viewer and creates the mood that the director wants to convey. The central message of Christopher Nolan in Interstellar is not the collapse of earthly civilization and not the study of other planets, but the relationship between father and daughter.

The main theme for the film composer Hants Zimmer wrote for one day on one piece of the script. The dialogue in it consisted of two cues:

- I'll be back.
- when?

On the same sheet, Nolan quoted Zimmer's words, which he said to him a year earlier: “Once you have children, you can never look at yourself with your own eyes — you will look at yourself with their eyes.”

And after that, writing the rest of the soundtrack to Interstellar was extremely nontrivial. Zimmer gathered the best musicians who play wind instruments and asked them to play strange and unusual sounds, so that the notes of “air and breath” appeared on the soundtrack.

Working with the choir was also unusual. Zimmer told 60 artists to turn away from the microphones and used them as reverb for piano. He wanted to "hear the exhalation of 60 people depicting the wind in the deserts of the Sahara."

On how to create sound for the movie, you can read in an interview with Yevgeny Pereyaslavtsev. We also wrote about the role of sound in video games and how to get a job of a sound designer in the game.

Other materials on our GT blog:

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/406329/

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