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February 2017

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Page 29 of 43 28 POST FEBRUARY 2017 4 saved us quite a bit. Karol [Urban] did a great job cleaning it up," Coghlan says. There's a beach scene in the film, but ironically the dialogue in that sequence wasn't an issue. "It was the best recorded beach scene I have ever heard. I don't know how production mixer Kerbie Seis did it, but it was magic," says Coghlan. Aside from the dialogue, director Lister-Jones's main concern was the music. Lister-Jones, along with composer Kyle Forester, wrote all the original songs for the band. She, Pally and Armisen per- formed their parts live on-screen. Production mixer Seis used a multi-channel setup to record all the instruments, vocals and drums separately. Seis also recorded a boom mic track during the band's ses- sions as well. "She recorded the tracks exactly how you'd hope they would get recorded. All of those individual mics and instrument tracks were what we relied on to clean up the songs and mix them prop- erly. Everything they performed live were the tracks that we used in the final mix," says Coghlan. There was no pre-record. Coghlan says she hasn't been in many situations where the music recorded live on-set worked, but this one did. "The produc- tion mixer did a great job miking the band, and making sure we had proper coverage. The picture editor Libby Cuenin did a great job of cutting the scenes and tracks in a way that kept the music in time. If you don't have an ear for music, you can easily edit the tracks wrong and it can go off beat." During the picture edit, Lister-Jones was listening to a rough mixed track of the band's performance with unprocessed vocals. According to Coghlan, the director was worried about the muddy quality of the vocals, and hoped that the post sound team could make the music more 'poppy.' Coghlan says, "Karol [Urban] and I were concerned because it would've been difficult to get the tracks to sound slick, and very produced like a pop song. That's always hard to do with tracks that are recorded live on-set. Ultimately, Lister-Jones wasn't going for a highly polished, studio sound. She didn't want it to look like they were lip-synching. She wanted it to sound real." Re-recording mixer Urban processed and mixed the music tracks. Her approach was to "straddle the line between improving sound quality in order to optimize emotional evocation and listenability while keeping the musical progression of the characters organic and true to their visible locations in order to serve the narrative," Urban says. Urban worked in Pro Tools 11 on an Avid ICON D-Command. For processing, she used Waves Renaissance Compressor on the vocals and Avid's Reverb One to help the songs sit well in the space on-screen and in the mix. She notes that while the direction was to have a cleaned-up garage band sound most of the time, "there was a desire for some of the songs to feel more produced. I chose to noise-gate some instrument tracks to clean up bleed and separate them a bit from the produc- tion sound. Then I used EQ and added them back into the room using Reverb One to achieve a more desirable blend." When needed, Urban also used Waves SuperTap to thicken vocals, SansAmp PSA-1 to add a gritty texture to the guitars and bass, and Lo-Fi to dirty up vocal recordings that seemed too clean and crisp for garage band scenes. To help smooth the transition from dialogue to music, Urban panned instruments "somewhere be- tween what I would expect for a recorded track of music and where they would be in the reality of the location." Urban concludes, "It was really just a prac- tice of classic tools and balancing. It was a pleasure and I feel that we were truly able to capture a good compromise between a glossy, produced track and an authentic live recording." LIFE, ANIMATED Owen Suskind's world is filled with Hollywood- crafted sound, culled from the comprehensive collection of Disney Classics animations. That's because they play inside his head non-stop. "He's a walking soundtrack for all the sound design and dialogue in these Disney films. Owen says he sees all 52 Disney Classics, everything from The Little Mermaid to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in his head at the same time," says Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams, who tells Owen's tale in his award-winning documentary Life, Animated. "Owen imitates these sound effects, going 'ka-pew,' 'ker- plat,' 'merauuuu,' and other sound effects constantly all day long. It's an intense barrage of Foley and sound design imitations from all the Disney Classics and it's playing as a backdrop anytime you're with Owen. It's amazing." When Owen was struck with autism at age three, he lost his ability to communicate. Miraculously, he and his family were able to use the Disney films as a means to help him reconnect. To tell Owen's story properly, Williams required uninhibited access to those Disney films — and not just the rights to use them. Williams needed the soundtracks too. Supervising sound editor Pete Horner, at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, CA (, says, "Disney was very generous in allowing us to have materials from those films, including stems when available." Picture editor David Teague was able to cut between the Disney films and overlap them in different ways. Having the ability to play just the dialogue from those films opened up a world of creative possibilities for Horner and his sound team. "We could play our score underneath instead of theirs or just play bits of dialogue. That was a pretty unique experi- ence and really generous of Disney to do. I believe Disney was as impressed with Owen and his story as we were, and so they made that available to us," says Horner. Burning Sand PETER HORNER

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