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May 2016

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SOUND DESIGN 42 POST MAY 2016 ccuracy and immersion, those were two main motivators for sound on Disney's The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau. This is Favreau's fifth film with four-time, Oscar-winning, supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Chris Boyes at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, CA ( He is joined at Skywalker by co-super- vising sound editor Frank E. Eulner and re-recording mixer Lora Hirschberg. "The three of us have worked for Jon for a long time," says Boyes. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for him and he just happens to be a really won- derful person to work for. He is giving and complementary, but yet demanding in the right time." The Jungle Book tells the classic tale of a human child named Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi), who is raised by wolves but forced to leave his family in the jungle after a fierce tiger threatens his pack. Set in India, producer Brigham Taylor felt strongly about the animal sounds being accurate to that location. Although Boyes and Eulner could have traveled to India to record spe- cific sounds themselves, they decided the wisest approach was to purchase sound libraries since "there are recordists who have already captured some really amaz- ing recordings there," Boyes explains. For Favreau, immersion was important. He wanted to really wrap the audience up in the jungle, Boyes notes. He points out the listing of 'Fantasound' in the film's end credits, which refers to the multi-channel playback system developed in the 1940s to handle Fantasia. Being the first com- mercial film released in stereo, the mono playback systems of that time were sim- ply too inadequate. "That was something near and dear to Jon's heart. I told him that Dolby Atmos was going to be the key to us developing that immersive quality that Walt Disney had originally envisioned way back on Fantasia," says Boyes. "The Jungle Book was to be immersive right from the get-go." While mono playback for a soundtrack is extremely limiting, mono recordings have the opposite effect. To create an immersive Atmos experience, Boyes opts for mono sounds, which he can place discretely around the theater. For The Jungle Book, Boyes says he hired "one of the best sound effects editors in the world, Ken Fisher. He chose to only cut backgrounds and I'm quite happy with that because Ken focused 100 percent on the backgrounds. He cut hundreds upon hundreds of elements so that I could place them all around the theater at all times." The sound of the jungle is meant to be so intrinsic to the story itself that the audience almost forgets that they're hearing jungle ambience. "You just buy the fact that you're experiencing this story in the middle of the jungle," says Boyes. Boyes and Eulner may not have trav- eled to India, but they certainly set out on their own field recording adventures to capture a wealth of fresh material for Fisher and Dave Chrastka, the film's main sound effects editor. Boyes is a big propo- nent of the practice, he says, "I can't help myself in that I have to record new mate- rial. It's one way that I get fired up about doing sound on a big movie like this." With his field recording kit — a Sound Devices 722 digital recorder with a Neumann KMR 81 shotgun mic — and two handheld digital recorders (a Sony PCM-D50 and a Zoom H1), Boyes traveled JUNGLE SOUNDS A SKYWALKER SOUND CREATES AN IMMERSIVE AUDIO DESIGN & MIX FOR DISNEY'S THE JUNGLE BOOK BY JENNIFER WALDEN

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