A Quiet Place II Post Mortem

I had the opportunity to work on a sound replacement exercise for the A Quiet Place 2 trailer & the whole idea was to make my interpretation of the movie through the use of dialogue, foley & sound effects. I also had to look at the audience perspective if they are to watch the trailer and be satisfied & that I found to very absolutely challenging.

The first step I took was muting the audio and just sit looking at the screen whilst the video played and started to imagine what type of sounds that would likely integrate for each scene without being over ambitious. I remember the saying less is more. I then categorised each section by priority making dialogue as first. The dialogue is probably the most important section in this trailer and so the placement of each dialogue I made sure is in sync with the video. There is nothing that is annoying as watching a video which is not in time with the dialogue. I spend more time almost 2 weeks and a half just working on dialogue & surely it has been challenging. Some of it needed some change of pitch to fit in the scene, especially the boy sounded like a minor from the files that had been provided for us. The boy’s voice is more like a young man in his puberty stage as his voice is breaking.

The challenge with dialogue also was the frequency levels and the dynamics that seem to change for example the woman being in the car and she being in the iron tunnel. High to mid frequencies in the vehicle and then the frequency changes once she is in the tunnel. I received some feedback on dropping her frequency range as it was high pitched. I managed to do the man’s voice to fit in the tunnel frequency and the feedback I received was that its a bit drowned with low frequency therefore need to work on it a little bit.

The next step I took was working on the foley which was a lot of work but very interesting with Roy, Clement, Ron and Jo right in the Neve studio. We created things like trip wire, fire, bottles & trolley bangs that would help me in creating tension within the sections of the trailer. I had quite a huge challenge as soon as I received the files a few days later was that the recordings had not been named and so it was a stress to start renaming each audio track. I was time consuming but I figured out that if I had not done it would frustrate me. File management is very important and so the renaming helped on locating and accessing files ensuring an easy workflow. Some of the foley I got it from free sound.org website just to beef up the particular sounds.

After all the foley was recorded I then started placing my dialogue in place and to be in sync with the video. There is nothing worse than watching a trailer or movie with dialogue coming late or earlier than the visual or see them not matching. Within the that process I added my fades why because it is much easier for me to remember than trying to figure out later as the workload increases and played a lot more with the clip gain as it gave me more control over my tracks. I did find clip gain to be more useful other than using automation reason being that I needed much control to know how to balance the music, effects and the dialogue. I cleaned up the dialogue using a 7 band EQ to get rid of low frequencies in the female dialogue and make it nice and tight. The male vocal was rather a challenge to make it match with the tunnel environment.

The next step was to add in sound effects and some Atmos building up on creating intensity. The first scene is the radio and the car moving towards the town. I added car passing effect and car horns from the foley and the most interesting of all was the part were the bus charges towards the female character’s car. I made it by having a huge plane with about 60Hz engine layered with a drill machine with about 2k achieving the rumbling and high pitched sound which I think worked well. Another interesting sound I found interesting was the monster sound crawling from the roof. How I achieved it was using an sm58 microphone making a grow from my mouth and recorded it then then rubbed the microphone and recorded that sound. I layered both sounds then time stretched them in Pro tools. It is my first time to create such as sound and that gave me confidence to do more. Another sound I liked was the bottle trap. How I achieved it was using the the foley of bottles and cans that we had recorded the n layered it with a bang sound from the trolley bang from foley. The trolley bang I put about 60 Hz frequency to give a boom and the bottles a of 1k then added a plate reverb.

After all the editing and mixing was done I knew I had a huge task and that is mastering. The first presentation I totally would say did not impress me at all whilst we were in the S6. Hearing everyone’s work so nice and loud and having mine so low really challenged me. Therefore I went back to the drawing board and the word which Guy Gray kept mentioning was make it loud. It was tough for me as I use headphones as I do not have studio monitors yet. So what I decided to do was to use the volume section on my laptop and lowered it to below half then used the limiter to increase the loudness meanwhile watching how the luffs are behaving so I can achieve the -14. I unliked the threshold and the ceiling and kept adjusting the release. So it became more of an experiment as time was not on my side. I would say pressure made me to work that way and to my surprise yes the final product was pretty loud and I was happy with it.

Overall this was an exciting but nervous wrecking assessment. I do appreciate the fact that it was only a trailer and if it was a full movie that would be crazy. I have learnt a lot from this exercise on how to manage files, workflow and creativity. I hope to improve my skills by collaborating with other disciplines and put in the creativity.

Alex Mills studio recording session

We had the privilege of recording Alex Mills, an artist born and raised in Barbados then relocated to Australia. Alex is a guitarist, singer & has recorded a couple of songs in USA. The plan was to record one of his written songs in the Avid S6 studio & that was exciting as I had no idea that we could record in this particular studio.

One of the major highlights was getting to know the artist (Alex Mills) his workflow, writing songs skills and his journey through the musical experience. Most of his music is inspired by life experiences and in particular the song recorded for the day was about his upbringing. Alex had a demo stems prerecorded that we used as a guide. Part of our preproduction plan was to have a listen to the demo version before Alex came in the studio.

The S6 is a digital console that requires patching when wanting use outboard gear just like any other studio. The difference being the patching is done digitally changing channels on the stage box. The Avalon preamps I found them to be very interesting as they really boost the levels of microphones bringing out beautiful characters. Avalon preamps are Australian made and they do cost quite a couple of dollars and they are worth the price. The choice of microphones used are the Shure sm7B and Royer 121 for the main vocals, AKG C414 for guitar. The plan for mid-side microphone setup did not go as planned as the channels on the multicore/stage box did not respond. Therefore we suspended the idea. A lesson I learnt there was that it is very important to check before which we did and thought that microphones were faulty. We intended to use the Royer 121 and the Neumann K184 pencil microphones for the mid-side.

One may ask why use the shure sm7b dynamic microphone and a Royer 121 Ribbon microphone at the same time. The reason is that the sm7b is built to capture smooth, warm vocals that connect the speaker to the listener according to the manufacturer .(Shure , 2020). Alex Mills voice is a smooth voice which does work well with this type of microphone. On the other hand the Royer 121 is a Ribbon microphone and offers an exceptional midrange detail, low self noise and excellent transient response. 9 recording hacks, 2020). According to Guy Gray, blending these to two microphones together cause phase cancellations but you do it slightly and it can bring a nice feel in the mix.

Another highlight was recording a well organised artist makes a whole lot more difference. We spend more time recording & adding during the recording which made the project a smooth sail just because Alex is a well organised artist well practised and works very professional with the producer. He is also an exciting, funny guy who makes the whole session pretty much relaxed. The relationship between Alex & Guy Gray proved that they work relationship is professional and they know each other’s workflows and know when to stop the recording. It shows that they have been working together for a while now.

A Quiet Place (Sound replacement)

A perfect footage and excellent camera work can lose power when there is no sound accompanying it. I have come across a couple of films that I lost my tastebuds just because of bad sound.

The first project for this class is sound replacement for a horror film trailer “A Quiet Place 2”, which is a 2020 movie and yet to be released. The trailer has some interesting aspects both loud and quiet. The challenge here now is to redo the sound on the trailer.

On 24/02/2020 had the Neve studio booked to do sound replacement exercise by recording the sounds that would compliment the trailer. We booked 2 condenser microphones the Rode NT2 and Rode shotgun for recording our sounds. Roy, Clement, Jo and Ron brought in some stuff from home to so that we create sounds from. I would say this was an exciting exercise but yet critical particularly on brainstorming and selecting the equipment to create sounds that would make sense and compliment the video.

We all do have different workflows, the one thing I discovered was that during our recording the recorded clips were not named. I do prefer having track named so it it makes easy to manage files and identifying. Sound design is pretty heavy when it comes to looking for sounds that are not named properly. Interestingly the trailer is just 2 minutes of play but the amount of work required is pretty much a lot. Meaning to say if I was to do sound design for a full movie then that is pretty intense. Attention to detail is very important on recording foley. Things like gain structure play a major role when recording and sound levels must be excellent to avoid clipping. Guy Gray always insists that a good recording helps with easy mixing and mastering.

The most interesting recording to me was the crackling of dry leaves to imitate fire crackles for a particular scene. We used a Rode NTG2 shotgun mic but at a distance of a meter. With the same leaves we also created corn filed leaves rustling for another scene and this time we loosened the leaves to imitate the wind rushing the dry corn leaves.

All this experience gave me a new lease of life on my desire to be a sound designer. The more I practise and create sounds the better I become in this field. I have learnt that brainstorming is an essential tool towards creating foley.

Cross, M. (2013). Audio post production for film and television(J. Feist, Ed.). Boston: Berklee Press.

Franinović, K., & Serafin, S. (Eds.). (2013). Sonic interaction design. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press