Winter 2015

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30 CINEMONTAGE / WINTER 2015 by Bill Desowitz T his year's Oscar nominees for Best Sound Editing transport us to three very distinct war zones (American Sniper, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Unbroken), take us for a roller-coaster ride inside a wormhole and a black hole (Interstellar), and put us in the mindset of a has-been movie star going out of his mind (Birdman). "What was unique about American Sniper's soundtrack was that early on in the post-production process, a decision was made to tailor the sound in a realistic manner, almost documentary-style," explain supervising sound editors Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman via e-mail. The team was also nominated for a Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award for Sound Effects and Foley for the film. This was at the behest of director Clint Eastwood, who was drawn to the war- front/home-front conflicts for legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (played by Oscar-nominated Bradley Cooper). "This meant that a very minimal amount of musical score would be utilized in the movie," continue Murray and Asman. "During the home-front sequences, the underlying tension of the horrors of war that our main character carried within was then orchestrated through either Tom Ozanich's intricate sound design or enhanced levels of natural sounds, building to an internal crescendo. The battle sequences' intensity was drawn out by enhancing the concussive elements within the multi-channel recordings of each weapon and careful placement in the theatre soundscape to surround the audience." Murray and Asman, who previously shared an Oscar for Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), offer the following criteria for why they believe they were nominated by the Academy's Sound Branch: "Did your work enhance the movie-going experience? Did it help the audience feel what the characters were experiencing? Did they feel like they were in the location of the scene? Did they not only hear the sound you were presenting but also feel it?" For Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), starring Oscar-nominated Michael Keaton, the unique sound design challenge complemented the experimental attempt at a single-take experience. The nominated supervising sound editors are Oscar's Favorite Sound Editors Bub Asman. Alan Robert Murray.

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