SoundWorks Collection Brings Us the Sound of 'Skyfall.' Plus, a Sit-Down with Sam Mendes
Skyfall has been given a fair amount of attention here on NoFilmSchool recently, as there truly seems to be a great amount of interesting material regarding the making of the film passing through the internet, and also because some things are just plain old too cool not to share. You may also be well acquainted with something else we can’t get enough of — the videos from Michael Coleman‘s consistently excellent SoundWorks Collection series. If you’re not yet acquainted, SoundWorks provides rare insight into, you guessed it, the creation of films’ soundtracks — a facet of the craft we don’t get to examine nearly as often as the visual side of things. Now, thanks to another well-produced offering from the SWC, we get to merge the two aforementioned subjects together, and round out the making-of coverage we’ve had so far on the latest 007 film. Read on to watch SoundWorks Collection’s The Sound of Skyfall.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I could watch this stuff for days — any behind-the-scenes material fascinates me endlessly, and audio production is in no way an exception to that. Being very interested in sound design myself (but with a rather woefully incomplete knowledge of some of its technical considerations), I find it very insightful for hear things straight from the sound team. Here, for instance, Sound Re-recording Mixer Greg Russell talks about the importance of allowing the film’s score to exist unimpeded or distracted by sound effects in many instances — which sounds simple, but depending on the tone or the action of a scene, both sound effects and score may have a wide range in dynamics, so I’d bet this is far easier said than done.
Additionally, I think Karen Baker Landers, Supervising Sound Editor, brings up a really interesting point here. What I got out of what she says is that there are two basic sorts of schools for sound design — the representation of a space, which I think can be very immersive and allow the audience to be engrossed by the environment of the film, and the representation of a moment, which can perhaps be more impressionistic and minimal but allow for a more focused impact. Neither one seems the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to portray the world of a film through its sound, but I think it’s worth noting which way a given director chooses to go about this. Apparently in this case, director Sam Mendes chooses to gravitate toward the latter style — and though I haven’t gotten a chance to see the film yet, I’d be pretty interested in keeping an ear out to hear it exemplified.
Supervising Sound Editor Per Hallberg brings up the last thing I’d like to address, which is the effectiveness of simplicity. He describes the proper placement of but a few, carefully selected sound effects to sharpen the impact of a well-cut, concordantly basic scene — which all works together to create a movie moment with true magic and resonance. All of the things that can be going on to record, tweak, EQ, and mix sound may seem a little daunting to some of us (especially if we aren’t sound people, and I include myself here), but it’s good to know that, even if something seems almost too simple — if it works, it works.
Also, since it was posted recently, I’ll leave you guys with this great interview from DP/30, with director Sam Mendes:
Has anybody had a chance to see Skyfall yet, and perhaps noticed any of these things (or anything in particular at all) to be true of the soundtrack? What sort of environmental representation do you prefer to build into the soundtracks of your own work — the two mentioned here, or even a different approach?