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August 2017

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Page 17 of 43 16 POST AUGUST 2017 AUDIO he new critically-acclaimed film, Baby Driver, from TriStar Pictures (Sony Pictures Entertainment) and writer/director Edgar Wright, follows the story of Baby (actor Ansel Elgort), a young getaway driver who suffers from a medical condition known as tinnitus, which causes a constant ringing in his ears. To tune out the ringing, Baby listens to high volumes of music through earbuds. The film, which also stars Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm, was released in theaters this summer. From the early stages of produc- tion (in fact, even while working on the script), Wright's position on the film was that audiences experience it from Baby's perspective. In other words, they hear what he hears (including the musical tracks he's listening to in his earbuds). At the same time, the action around him plays out in perfect sync to the beats and rhythms of the tunes. While both a challenge and an op- portunity, sound designer, supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer Julian Slater stepped up to the task. Slater, who won a Motion Picture Sound Editors award for Mad Max: Fury Road (and was busy with the new Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle film for Sony Pictures at the time we spoke), worked with his team — FX editors Jeremy Price and Martin Cantwell and dialogue/ADR supervisor Dan Morgan — to create the audio landscape for the film. Sound effects guru/field recordist Watson Wu was busy capturing authentic car sounds — including engine roars, gear shifts and tire screeches. "I doubt I will work on something that is this unique again," says Slater. "The whole movie is orchestrated to whatever Baby is listening to at the moment. Gunfights are in time with the music. Car chases are cut in sync. Police sirens, barking dogs, speeding trains are at tempo. Much of it is pitched and syncopated so that the music and sound design work as one." Slater says that much of the car's sounds were an amalgam of what Watson recorded, along with some oth- er original car sounds, live recordings, sound libraries and such. "It was a real mixture," he says. CAPTURING RAW SOUNDS For his part in the film, Wu, a composer, sound designer and field recordist who specializes in creating audio content for video games, film TV and ads (includ- ing such AAA titles as Assassin's Creed, Transformers, NCAA Football, Madden and The Need for Speed franchise), says that capturing genuine sounds is important when creating a believable, authentic experience for audiences. "My role in any project is to help make the experience a great one," he says. "If someone watches a movie and sees a close up shot of a tire, and it's spinning, I want to help create that effect that it's spinning — I don't want someone to go, 'that sounds terrible.'" To capture some of the film's true car sounds — in many cases the exact same cars that were used in the film — Wu spent several days in May 2016, driving around as a passenger at an Atlanta speedway, recording the sounds of the film's vehicles as a stunt driver handled the speeding cars. "There were over 100 vehicles in this film," says Wu. "And there are some scenes where they had to shut down a few highways in the Atlanta area to shoot them. They wanted somebody with expe- rience to capture the sounds of burning rubber and crazy high RPMs for all these wild stunts. I had to find, from all the gear I own, something that would sit on my lap, a recorder/mixer that when we do drifting and donuts, it wouldn't fall off and bounce all over the place. I basical- ly had to use my left arm and almost headlock my recorder bag and with my right arm free, hold on to the handle so I didn't flip around and interfere with the stunt driver. That's what I was doing the entire time I was capturing the on board sounds — the sounds you hear from the driver and passenger perspectives." According to Wu, he had placed three mics in the engine compartment, one on the radio dashboard and two right next BABY DRIVER: ALL REVVED UP! BY LINDA ROMANELLO T CAPTURING AUTHENTIC SOUNDS AND SYNCOPATING A SOUNDTRACK FOR SONY'S TURBO- CHARGED FILM Julian Slater

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