AMI October 2015 Digital Edition

Page 24


OUT IN THE COLD Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be trapped in a blizzard at the highest point on Earth? The new blockbuster film ‘Everest’ will bring you about as close as you’ll want to get to the real thing, and that’s largely due to the sterling work of the team at Sound 24, as Adam Savage discovered…


fter rightly winning an Oscar last year for his work on the sensually stunning Gravity, Glenn Freemantle could’ve been forgiven for thinking he may never again get an opportunity to push his sound design skills to the limit. His latest project, though, turned out to be another truly testing one, also offering more than a slight likeness to Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi thriller from an audio perspective. Everest tells the true story of two groups of climbers who are on a mission to conquer one of the world’s toughest physical tests, but are instead left fighting for their lives after finding themselves engulfed by one of the worst blizzards ever recorded. One of the main challenges for sound designer and supervising sound editor Freemantle and his colleagues at Pinewood Studios-based Sound 24 – sound design editor and re-recording sound mixer (effects) Niv Adiri and sound re-recording sound mixer (dialogue and effects) Ian Tapp – was piecing together a sound mix that would meet two very different objectives: 24

provide enough aural razzle-dazzle to make the audience believe they really are taking a tour of one of the most dangerous environments on Earth – suffering the full force of nature’s wrath – while also ensuring that the bond between the characters – clearly important when telling a harrowing true story such as this – is not lost. “It’s an epic so they wanted to shoot it wide and do these big shots, but it also had to be intimate,” explains Freemantle. “It was about making the film as real as possible and pacing the film through the journey. We wanted it as though you wouldn’t question it – you think you are actually on the mountain. The great thing is that people have thought that as well.” “A lot of the filming and the way it was cut was done very close-shot, and that helped us get the human contact of what was happening to them,” says Tapp. “In every film we try to make the audience part of the experience, but for this one in particular it was important that people feel that tension, and with sound you have the ability to create physical reactions with people,” adds Adiri.

One scene that won’t fail to generate a physical reaction with viewers is the moment the storm hits. It’s impossible not to be blown away (no pun intended) by the sheer aural onslaught cooked up by the guys at Sound 24 once, as Freemantle says, “it all kicks off”. “You really feel the weight of it – it literally pushes people back in their seats,” he notes. “There isn’t any music in a lot of that part of the film as well, so it really feels like you’re there. All of a sudden you’re put in that position where you really develop this fear for them and their struggle.” “When you get that first cut to Jan [Keira Knightley] at home and there’s this sudden silence, you realise what you’ve just sat through for the last ten minutes and you really notice how strong that part is,” explains Tapp. “The build-up to that is also very important too though, because you’re not hit with all that sound straight away – it all slowly comes together,” Adiri says.

EASY DOES IT Although the crew’s aim was to make Everest a white-knuckle ride for the

audience – and they’ve definitely achieved that – they knew there was a limit to how much the listener could take before it became too overwhelming. “Wind and ice are quite harsh elements so there’s always the danger of pushing people away because it can be painful to your ears, so the job was to get them to experience that without going too far,” reveals Adiri. Unfortunately – but unavoidably – the filmmakers were made to rely on visual aids such as wind machines, while the filming locations were less than ideal for dialogue recording, which made things more than a bit difficult for the sound department. It also meant Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) had to be used extensively throughout. “We had to do a load of ADR and a whole pass of the film really quickly because when they were on the mountain or wherever they were [filming] you couldn’t hear anything that was going on,” recalls Freemantle. “Loads of dialogue was recorded to start with just so they could cut the film properly and then it gradually got replaced.

October 2015

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