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JULY 2011

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[ ] of Oscars.“We actually had a really groovy spread.There were long strings, short strings, brass, low percussion, mid percussion, high percussion, low synth, high synth — a wide variety of this score, separated at my fingertips, made it great in the final mix for blending with other sounds and any of the sound effects sequences.” INSIDE THE KIM NOVAK THEATRE While working on Transformers 3 inside Sony Pic- tures’ Kim Novak Theatre, the mix crew used a Har- rison MPC4-D digital console on which Russell ad- hered to the adage that less is more. “This was a busier movie, but we were more concise in our ap- proach,” he says, “There was tremendous density throughout the big set pieces and we were trying to be as focused as possible. So, I have to applaud Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn for not throwing in everything plus the kitchen sink.We really tried to find out how lean we could come into every se- quence and not feel like we were missing things. It’s about going with less; as big and dynamic and pow- erful, but with a more singular focus pertaining to specific moments in the film. “A perfect example is the wonderful, subtle shuttle blast-off.NASA tested a rocket several months ago, Erik and his team recorded it from 500 feet away — which is the closest they’ve ever been to a launch — as well from a mile setback and a five-mile setback.Then, for the epic shot of this rocket taking off,we used a sin- gle stereo track that sounds absolutely phenomenal. In fact, the whole sequence has very few tracks, but it is so big, so bold and so singular that it’s really fantastic.” The template for the first two Transformers movies allocated 5.1 effects pre-dubs 1 to 14 for the cars, he- licopters, jets, artillery and assorted explosions on the human side, while the robots were allocated effects pre-dubs 15 through 23.This time around, mixing in 7.1, the template was the same minus one effects pre-dub for the robots. “The maximum number of faders I have on the ef- fects section of the console is 256 and I filled every single hole for this movie’s final mix,” Russell explains. “That’s why, mixing 7.1 with two extra channels, we had to do away with one pre-dub.” Having already created a sort of 3D sound for the first two movies, flying things into the theater and over the audience’s head, the post crew made the most of a 7.1 configuration that included four discrete channels in the rear; two on the back wall and one on either side. “Pulling something into the room via the rear sides before crossing over to the back wall provided a field from the screen to the middle of the room that I could play with in terms of the 3D visuals,” Russell says.“Accommodating the 3D was, for me, the best and most fun use of the 7.1.The biggest challenge was to get the whole package as clean and discrete and have as much definition as possible.” “Greg is the most 3D mixer of any re-recording mixer I’ve ever worked with,” adds Aadahl.“He is an artist with those joysticks and he plays them like a musical instrument. Greg Russell with 7.1 is an experi- ence that I don’t think anyone has ever heard before.” “This new Transformers movie is an all-encompass- ing theatrical experience,” Russell concludes.“I feel in- credibly proud of all the work everyone did on the movie, and it is, without a doubt, the most impressive project I’ve ever been a part of.” AUDIO FOR ANIMA TION [ ] All the monitoring is done on Genelec 1032As, with Bag End Infrasub 18 pro sub- woofers.The mix is done on a 24-fader Avid D-Com- mand using Pro Tools Version 9.02.The expansion chassis has five HD Accel cards.“Because of going to 5.1, I can have upwards of 15 to 20 music tracks, 40 to 50 effects tracks, Foley and ambience tracks and 20 dialogue tracks and reverb returns.We need the power.The animation shows are robust, and becom- ing more so. Even with Bob’s, it’s a delicate balance to get it to sound believable.The music needs to be charming and mixed in such a way that it adds to the charm and tension moments.” Working on animated shows, like Bob’s Burgers, V F X [ ] ated digital set extensions of these practical elements, including augmenting a large- scale practical explosion onstage with digital pyro. ILM also built a mini version of the mothership’s tower, which it took on location.“We shot plates with the tower to see how it reacted to light as a reference for the CG version we created later. There was such harsh sun in the desert that the ability to see the color reflecting off surfaces in the light was an important point of departure for artists,” explains Guyett. Shane Mahan crafted a model Speeder that Jake (Daniel Craig) shot down and crashed in town. “It flew on a giant gimbal at Universal,” says Guyett.“We used it for bluescreen work later on. But when Speeders fly they’re CG,” and so are the heat signa- ture and smoke trails, created with particle systems, when they incur damage. “Jon has a specific language for the Speeders in fly- ing and attack mode,” says Marc Chu. “You’d see a Speeder perform a maneuver and know if it was going into a normal flight or attack mode. He found a cool, fresh take on flying space ships.” Chu notes that “it’s always a difficult task to make something feel realistic, and Jon relies on keeping things based in reality. So we tried not to make the Speeders too fast lest they look less believable — F O R they had to have a sense of being grounded in reality so they’d tie into the aerial plates.” JAKE’S GOT A GUN Vancouver-based Embassy (www.theembassyvfx. com) also worked on the CG Speeders. Jake’s myste- rious Blaster wrist shackle was another merger of practical and digital. A detailed prop was constructed in both closed and open forms, but its transformation to very effective weapon was entirely CG.“The prop couldn’t animate, and there’s real complexity in the way it unfolds,” notes Guyett. “It was interesting to design the HUD (Heads Up Display) for it — we’ve done a million HUDs, and we wanted something new, different and visually exciting. This one reads as a HUD but makes no sense to hu- mans since it’s in the alien language.” ILM devised watery-style effects for the way infor- mation is pulled across from the HUD and added the destructive blasting effects. “It’s the classic western man with the gun,” Guyett laughs, “but now it’s a suped-up ultimate hand weapon. It’s very suitable for a showdown.” Although the showdown itself is immersive one- on-one combat, the movie features considerable scenes of destruction, he points out.“We did R&D within ILM for large-scale fire, explosions and gives Piñon the opportunity to be part of the creative team.“We’re craftsmen and we’re doing what we do. For all the deadlines we have to face and making sure that everything is to spec and exactly the way that everyone wants it, at the end of day when you can smile about what you’ve done, and laugh, it doesn’t get much more rewarding than that.” F I L M S smoke — it was one more trip around the dial from our work on Avatar.The tools we developed for that film made it easier to integrate elements for Cowboys & Aliens.” Practical pyro was not an option when shooting on protected land in New Mexico, he says. Besides, ILM “wanted to choreograph” the destruction, too.“With our simulation programs we can develop the look of a 300-400-foot fireball with all the correct physics,” Guyett explains.“I had shown Jon (Favreau) what we could do in a quick test. He was blown away by the level of detail and complexity we could achieve and the ability to choreograph a very large event.” The anamorphic photography of the stunning New Mexico locales often didn’t require digital set extensions, notes Chu.“They were such great back- grounds to start with that in some cases little needed to be done. In other cases entire environ- ments were digitally manipulated by Barry Williams’s digital matte team.” He says that Cowboys & Aliens was not only chal- lenging in its individual shots and sequences but also in its big-picture perspective.“It’s such a cool blend of genres;we wanted it to live up to expectations.Who doesn’t want to make a western and add in sci-fi ele- ments? It’s a really fresh and exciting new genre, and we hope audiences will enjoy it!” July 2011 • Post 47 TRANSFORMERS 3 cont. from 36 cont. from 42 cont. from 22

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