One of the main influences on my project is Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi noir. The sound design in this film works wonderfully in conjunction with the score to create the dystopic atmosphere, and there are several scenes that are tonally underpinned by the beeps and clicks of the environment. The full realisation of Los Angeles in 2019 is a world away from what I could possibly even dream of achieving on this module, but there are several scenes that I’m going to study closely as I attempt to emulate the same believable effect.
Whilst researching Blade Runner, I found that the Foley Recordist (Final Cut) is Scott Morgan. Amongst his credits is Foley work for another film that I’ll be studying for this project, X2 (2003). As The Fourth concerns psychic abilities and the near future (indeed, it’s a story that’s entirely comicbook in conception), X2 is an extremely pertinent point of reference. However, whilst Morgan links these films, I am more interested in studying them from a sound design point of view.
The Co-Supervising Sound Editor/Sound Designer for X2 was Craig Berkey, whose other credits include No Country for Old Men (2007), Elysium (2013), and Hanna (2011); the latter being one of my favourite films and another key influence for The Fourth. A Google search returned an illuminating interview with Berkey from Designingsound.org, which provides an excellent lesson on how to approach the task of sound design and mixing. I won’t copy it all, but there are some incredibly useful insights into his process such as:
“I mix as I edit. As a sound ends up in the timeline volume, eq, panning and reverb etc. are addressed. After I finish a section I’ll go back and tweak and try different things. I used to cut the start and end of sounds in sync with picture, but now I generally toss it in there and grab the fader and mix it in and see what inspires me.“
“A simple example would be when I bring a sound onto the Pro Tools timeline I tend to drag and drop it somewhere near where I think I might want it and play it as opposed to the exact spot one would expect. It may be completely wrong in that position, but once in a while something magical happens that sparks an unexpected idea and result.“
“[Terrence Malick] didn’t want me to watch the complete film for quite a while, he was more interested in discovering ways to use sound in the smaller sections to help us feel something different than what the image may be telling us.“
From the same site I also found this article by Pierce O’Toole. Whilst the entire piece is engaging and interesting, there is one key quote in particular that I’m going to need to remember during this production:
“During production, you’re in a constant state of balancing. The goal is, of course, to get the perfect take – to capture the scene with the best performance, cinematography, and sound possible. This is also almost never going to happen. The reality is you have to decide where to make your concession. Sound is usually the victim here because it’s seen as the “easiest” to fix later.”
“That is a mistake.“