Thursday, March 26, 2009

Addicts 2008: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Sound Mixing

The Dark Knight
Ed Novick & Agce Ulas

Heath Ledger's distinctive cackle may be the most resonant snippet of audio that The Dark Knight has to offer, but it's only a towering component of the film's sound library. While the heavy, dramatic, overloaded score threatens to dominate, the sound mixing ensures that this seems like a rather tense countdown of the ilk you're accustomed to seeing every five minutes on 24, and the dialogue, similarly heavy, is punctuated with booming effect. This film is loud but rarely turgid.

Derek Mansvelt

Another loud film; not that I think loud necessarily equals worthy, as you'll see further down. Neil Marshall's Doomsday is a runaway fledgling of B-movie anarchy, and the vehicular carnage that becomes its trademark custom feels wholly diegetic to the senses. The mobbish, grating platform of sound feels über-pulpy, and heightens the on-going battle, perpetuating the 'doom' half of its appropriate title.

The Strangers
Jeffree Bloomer, Marti D. Humphrey & Chris M. Jacobson

Horror movies are churned out ten-a-penny these days, so finding one that legitimately "scares" you is a tiresome task in itself. Enter The Strangers, which understands that the success of shocking the audience relies primarily on the quality and effect of the soundwork, as well as its mystery and unpredictability. The film is not perfect, but neither is it predictable, introducing bursts of sound that stir you to the point where you can't really accept them as manipulative devices. The contrapuntal bursts of folk music provide a certain eeriness by themselves.

The Wackness
Ken Ishii, Eric Justen & Jeffrey Perkins

Set in a time when Hip-Hop was still a revelation, The Wackness has a rather catchy and relevant song score to accompany its vehemently 'indie' circumstances. I realise that this is a sound mixing category, and was incredibly impressed with both how the film was put together, and particularly how it integrated the sounds of the period into its plot, without these moments appearing too focus-pulling, deliberate, or self-conscious. These moments also gave the film a much-needed (at times) energy.

Ben Burrt, Zach Martin, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick & Tony Sereno

Wall-E is a quiet, patient, and modest film that does everything you'd really want it to, and the sound is indicative of this. From Wall-E's voice, robotic but intricate and emotional, to the subtle, pattering score, to the institutional chaos of life in outer space. It's all interesting, involving, and perhaps encourages us to ruminate a little more about what's going on. Kind of like an animated version of 2001.

Winners: Jeffree Bloomer, Marti D. Humphrey & Chris M. Jacobson (The Strangers)
Runner Up: Ben Burrt, Zach Martin, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick & Tony Sereno (Wall-E)

Sound Editing

The Dark Knight
Michael Babcock, Richard King, Michael W. Mitchell & Hamilton Sterling

More bombs than you can shake a stick at (although why you'd want to, I don't know) and countless numbers of crashes, smashes, and thuds litter the latest Batman installment, and it's testament to the sound department that it doesn't become repetitive or tiresome, like other parts of the film.

Eagle Eye
Christopher Assells, Karen Baker Landers, Albert Gasser, Per Hallberg, Peter Staubli & Bruce Tanis

If action films are supposed to be thrill rides, Eagle Eye is a pretty top-billed fairground attraction. You know this when it almost deters you from seeing the flaws through sheer energy and confidence. The film feels so mapped-out and is full of plot holes, but its super-slick, never-say-die attitude extends to some wonderful sound effects (explosions, electronics, mammoth vehicles) that it's often a joy to sit through.

The Strangers
Scott A. Hecker, Rick Hromadka & Cliff Latimer

Containing some of the sharpest sound-work I've ever seen in a horror film it playfully and torturously terrifies; whether it be banging, scraping, shooting, or otherwise.
Taken from

Ben Burrt, Dustin Cawood, Teresa Eckton, Al Nelson & Matthew Wood

The mechanism of the sound in Wall-E is far from standard. The sharp, clanging, rickety nature of the moving robot a fascinating observation in the film's opening minutes, and the introduction of the highly-strung, bubbling electronica of Eve another smart touch. The conveyor-belt consumerism of space allows for more recognition, but in theory, so it should. All-in-all, fascinating variety.

Margit Pfeiffer, Wylie Stateman & Jon Title

Although I doubted that Wanted would be embraced by the Academy's sound branch, I did enjoy the film's audio work in a similar way to Eagle Eye. In fact everything in the film is flash, but when you've got a budget as huge as this film was afforded, you'd kind of expect the soundwork to be good. A standout in that area is the gunfire, which feels wickedly gratuitous and certainly grips your attention.

Winners: Ben Burrt, Dustin Cawood, Teresa Eckton, Al Nelson & Matthew Wood (Wall-E)
Runner Up: Christopher Assells, Karen Baker Landers, Albert Gasser, Per Hallberg, Peter Staubli & Bruce Tanis (Eagle Eye)

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