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February 2016

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udiences seek out indie films for their plot-twisting storylines and kooky characters, but what good is the storyline if you can't hear the dialogue? Post asks four re-recording mixers about their approach to handling dialogue, and other mix issues, when working with an indie film's typical time and budget constraints. THE LOBSTER Finding your match is everything in director Yorgos Lanthimos's dystopian film, The Lobster, where single people are whisked off to The Hotel with the ultima- tum to find a partner in 45 days or else be turned into an animal of their choosing. David (played by Colin Farrell), who opts to become a lobster, finds himself near- ing his deadline. After an unsuccessful coupling, he flees The Hotel and lodges in the woods with the other Loners. There, he finds his perfect match, Short-Sighted Woman (played by Rachel Weisz). The Lobster re-recording mixer/dia- logue editor Danny van Spreuwel, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (www. ), says director Lanthimos's mix motivation was to have the dialogue as clear and unobstructed as possible. "Every extra sound that was put in, sound effects or Foley, he would hear it right away and it mostly distract- ed him. He was fond of the original pro- duction sound, so finding a good balance of original sound and extra effects was essential," says Van Spreuwel. Since director Lanthimos chose to forgo ADR, Van Spreuwel relied on the Waves C4 multi-band gate and the iZotope RX Advanced Denoise mod- ule to clean up background noise from the production tracks, especially in the woods. "The film was shot in Ireland, but not every area is car-free. Instead of dealing with wind or other noise, we had to deal with the static noise that came from highway traffic," says Van Spreuwel. Director Lanthimos asked that only a minimum of extra sound, like birds or trees creaking, be added to the scenes. "The woods are so quiet. It was mostly clear, silent soundtrack, for the whole movie. The iZotope tools were great for decrackling and cleaning up the dialogue track." It's often the quiet scenes that are the hardest to mix, and Van Spreuwel was facing a solid 118 minutes of it. One of Van Spreuwel's dialogue challenges was to match different takes of actress Weisz's voiceover lines, which were recorded at different times and locations on-set and in the studio in New York and London, so that it sounded like one continuous read. "The voiceover was important and only the best of the best takes were used. We had about four different locations during one section of voiceover that I had to make match. At times just one word was exchanged so you hear all this reverberation and then you drop in the studio line and it sounds clearer and brighter than ever. Then it goes back to the production dialogue. That was quite a jump but we managed it," he says. "The end result is great. You hardly hear the cuts." Although typically a Pro Tools guy, Van Spreuwel edited and pre-mixed at his home studio and at Waves Studios using Steinberg Nuendo 6, since his collaborators — Wave Studios in London and Amsterdam — are Nuendo-driven studios. "I never used Nuendo before this film, but I liked it," he says. "It comes standard with great EQ, reverbs, and compressors. I especially like the EQ, which has a built-in analyzer." Using a Dropbox workflow, Van Spreuwel, sound supervisor Johnnie Burn and sound effects editor Simon Carroll at Waves Studio in London were able to easily share their changes to the film. "If the team put some effects into a reel, then I would mix that and save it as a new session to Dropbox. When they open that new session, all the automa- tion would be there," says Van Spreuwel. His final 5.1 mix was at Warnier Posta in Amsterdam ( on an Avid S6 console. While the soundtrack was mainly dialogue, there was enough music and effects to fill in the 5.1 surround space. "When you have a director who feels that less is more, you have a goal to find only sounds that actually support the story. Eighty percent was cut out of the movie, but the 20 percent that is still there are the best sounds you'll ever hear. I loved working on this great movie." TRIPLE 9 Not all indie films are quiet, introspec- tive character studies. Some are ac- tion-packed character studies, as is the graphic heist-thriller Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat. He worked with super- vising sound editor Leslie Shatz, who designed the sound for Hillcoat's two previous films — Lawless and The Road. Shatz, co-owner of Wildfire Post (www., enjoys working on indie films, where collaboration is part of the workflow. "I got into movies because of this idea of artistic collaboration and I feel like that is more fully realized in independent film," he says. As both supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer on Triple 9, distribut- ed by Open Road Films, Shatz was able to fully interpret the director's vision and impart his own creative influence on the film. "At the end of the project, there was never anything that I still wanted to do. I had enough time. This was a longer post schedule with a smaller crew. I was getting feedback from the director and picture editor, and interacting and changing things with each new cut," says Shatz, who did nearly eight months of sound editorial work from his New York location of Wildfire Post. Triple 9 — set in and completely filmed in Atlanta — tells the tale of corrupt cops and criminals working together to pull off a challenging heist by using a code 999 (officer down) to distract the rest of the force. Sound mixer Jay Meagher and his team used a multi-mic approach during the shoot, giving the post sound team options for dialogue editing later on. When it comes to cleaning up the noise, Shatz prefers a light-handed ap- proach. "My motto is, 'Do less than you think you should.' The tools available to us are so comprehensive and seemingly magical that the temptation is to take everything out of the dialogue and just create a completely-pristine track. You can't do that because you're always left with something. And, if you go too far with these tools, you end up making the dialogue unnatural," he says. 35 POST FEBRUARY 2016 A The team at Waves Studio in London, where The Lobster was mixed.

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