Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Difficulty: 0

[Murch] Before we were born, you're looking at darkness.

Sound is the first sense that gets plugged in.

Six months, seven months into the womb,

it's hearing the mother's heartbeat,

it's hearing her breathing,

it's hearing dad shouting from the garage.

[man shouting in the background]

[dog barking]

[Murch] It's making sense of the world.

[children laughing]

[instrumental music plays]

[Murch] You have emerged into a kind of consciousness

using only sound.

And then you're born.

[bells tinkling]

[birds chirping]

Sound affects us in a deeper way

almost than-- than image does.

It goes deeper.




And yet we're naturally seemingly oblivious to that.

[Burtt] Film sound is an illusionary art,

as if you're just hearing the natural sounds...


...happening in the world on screen.


It's subliminal, and it's a purely emotional way

of thinking about a movie.


[girl pants]

[glass breaking]

[Jackson] It's stealthy sound work.

It's flying under the radar.


[Jackson] It's understated.


[Jackson] But what sound adds to picture

is so exhilarating that I just was hooked

and pretty much never looked back.

When you're depressed, it's not working,

and then the sound design comes in.

A feeling of scale that the sound was giving.

And I think the sound in many ways

is more tied to imagination.

-[clang] -[all yell]


If you're born to be artistic,

then sound is gonna be part of the deal.

It's part of being human.

You know, movie is silent sound.

They are only expressive with silent sound.


People always talk about the look of a film.

They don't talk so much about sounds of a film,

but it's equally important, sometimes more important.

I'm not an animal!

The point is to convey an emotion.


[Lucas] Everything is in service of that.



[heroic music plays]


[Lucas] And the sound is half of the experience.

[instrumental music plays]

I've always been of the belief

that our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives.


[Miler panting]


[Rydstrom] When you're designing sound on a film today,

like Saving Private Ryan, you're bringing together

a rich, complex, orchestration of sounds.

And every film I've worked on with Steven Spielberg,

he gives a gift of here's a scene,

here's a moment, and I'm counting on sound

to help tell the story.

There you go.




[Rydstrom] What strikes me most about especially the opening

of Private Ryan

is that it was designed to use sound

to tell a part of the story that it's not showing you.


[Rydstrom] So a scene like that

fully takes advantage of how a soldier takes in a war,

which is a pretty narrow point of view.



[Rydstrom] Sound got to handle the scale of it.

And we spent a lot of time on that first 25 minutes.

It was weeks and weeks and weeks

of just balancing all the sound effects

that Gary and his crew provided.


I kinda came up with, like, a certain pattern or rhythm

of cutting these machine guns

for the background battle...


[gunfire] that there was some form to this battle.


There's a rhythm. There's always a rhythm.

Even to chaos, there's a rhythm.


[Rydstrom] The point of view is great for sound

'cause it allows you to go inside the head.

[Spielberg] So I designed a sequence

where when the explosion hits near Captain Miller,

all the sound goes out.

And that came from an actual veteran

that told me that was how it affected him.

So it put you deep inside his experience.

[Rydstrom] If you look at it, it never has,

until the battle is over, a wide shot.

It gives you a grand-scale longest day-style of D-Day.

It doesn't do it, it's all very intimate.


[Rydstrom] And very importantly,

there's no score.

John Williams would've done a beautiful score,

would've had a whole different feeling.

But without score, it tells you this is real.

[emotional music plays]

[Rydstrom] And the score comes in, the score is often used--

I think of it as like a life raft.

You have an emotional moment in the movie,

and the score comes in, it just gives you

something to hold onto.

[emotional orchestral music plays]

[Rydstrom] These different elements of sounds

we use in movies,

music, sound effects and voice are similar

to the instrument groupings of an orchestra.

But film sound work wasn't always like that.

You know, with dozens of sound editors

editing thousands of tracks.


[Rydstrom] And it ultimately took people

like Ben Burtt on Star Wars

and Walter Murch on Apocalypse Now

to get us to the full immersive soundtrack

that the audience has come to expect in movies today,

created by a team of sound artists,

a circle of talent.

But when it all started, movies were silent.

[Edison] "Mary had a little lamb,

its fleece was white as snow,

and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go."

[Rydstrom] The invention of the phonograph

was a truly monumental step for humanity.

We could now capture sound forever.

[Burtt] Edison originally developed

the motion picture camera

because he wanted images to go along with his phonograph.

So the audio came first.

[Murch] But picture works at one speed,

and sound is on another.

[lively music plays]

And they had no way to put it in sync,

which is why the whole project was abandoned.

But they were just so eager to put sound to movies

'cause everybody knew this would elevate the experience.

Films were projected with a full live orchestra.

They could be projected

with people talking behind the screen.

[bell tolls]

[Burtt] And there were actually people that traveled around

doing sound effects live to silent films.

There's films like Wings

when they were played in New York in its big premiere

so they had performers on stage doing the live sound effects

for airplane engines and using percussion instruments

for the boom of artillery and explosions.


[Burtt] They could do some wind,

they could do some galloping horses.



There just wasn't technically a way

of capturing and recording the sounds

and attaching them to the movies yet.

Until 1926 Warner Brothers did Don Juan with John Barrymore,

And it actually had a synchronized music track

which was mechanically connected to a projector.

[intense music plays]


[Burtt] But then in 1927,

they actually recorded dialogue on the set,

and so The Jazz Singer had spoken portions of it.

Toot, Toot, Tootsie, goodbye

Toot, Toot, Tootsie, don't cry

[reporter] Warner Brothers Theater in New York City,

where The Jazz Singer is now playing,

is sold out for many weeks in advance.

What struck people most was Al Jolson's speaking voice,

not even his singing voice, but that he spoke

was revolutionary to audiences at the time.

And that's what they wanted to hear.

Wait a minute, wait a minute.

You ain't heard nothing yet.

Wait a minute, I tell you.

You ain't heard nothing.


[Burtt] And of course, it was a gigantic sensation.

So Hollywood was faced with what to do now.

They had developed a way of shooting movies without sound

and that involved certain freedom on a set

to be in a noisy place, 'cause it didn't matter.

Suddenly there was this revolution

when they had to start entombing the productions in sound stages

so all sound was blocked out from the outside world.

[Dexter] All right, here we go. Quiet!

-Quiet! -Quiet!

Roll 'em!

[Rydstrom] But the microphones' ranges were so short,

the actors couldn't even move.

[man] She's gotta talk into the mic.

I can't pick it up.

Don't you remember I told you

there's a microphone right there in the bush.

[Rydstrom] It was very limiting.

[sound breaking up] In the...

...with the...


[Dexter] Oh.


[Rydstrom] But even despite the limitations,

audiences loved sound,

and I think it's because even in the sound

of a human voice, we carry emotion.


He's alive!



[Rydstrom] But the addition of the voice

was not the only thing that changed

in movies at that time.

Filmmakers began to realize that sound effects

were also an important part of cinema.

[Burtt] And they discovered that you don't get

all the sound effects you want

by just hanging a microphone out over the set.

The sounds aren't there.

So this is where slowly the idea

of the sound editor evolved

to add sounds after the fact.

[Hedgepath] There's fire, there's explosions,

there's barnyard animals.

Cars and...


Different from buses,

different from trains.

With a little bit of wind

in the background, and there's rain.

[wind blowing]

[Murch] As sound editors, we create a sound world

independent of what got recorded at the time of shooting.




[Rydstrom] But it isn't probably

until you get to King Kong

that you could actually call it sound design.

[tense music]


[Rydstrom] Many of the techniques we use

to manipulate sound today

were pioneered on that film.

The bulk of it is all about characters that don't exist.

So Murray Spivack had to get creative

to find the right sound.

I went to the Selig Zoo at the time.

I got all the roars I needed.

I then slowed those down to half speed

and I played the tiger growl backwards

against a lion roar forward,

and it gave me sort of an uncanny roar.


[Burtt] These sound design tricks are still in use today,

and that was a big step forward.

But Murray Spivack operated outside the system.

He was locked away in the music department

and no one knew what he was doing.


I think they felt that the studio would say,

"Don't bother with all that,"

if they knew the kind of effort

he was putting into it.


[Burtt] Because the studios had their own collections

and their own stock of sound effects,

and they would repeat them.

They wouldn't change them over the years.

Each studio had its own ricochet...


[Burtt] ...and face punch and explosion.


[Burtt] If they worked out successfully,

they'd be kept and used over and over again.



They were just expected to get something in there

and it'd be on budget.

But some of the biggest innovations in film sound

actually had their roots in radio.

[Shadow] Who knows what evil

lurks in the hearts of men?

[Lucas] The Shadow or The Whistler,

any of those shows were fun to listen to.

And sound brought it to life.


Doors opening and closing

and footsteps.


[man] Honey, we are going to the kitchen.

[woman] Oh, it's not Milo playing chess again.

What is it this time?

[Jackson] I can remember lying on the floor

in front of the radio console.

I thought, "When I grow up,

I'm gonna make footsteps like that."

Your imagination could dramatize what you were hearing.

I just thought it was really great.

You know, it was great for your imagination,

great for your creative spirit, simple.

[Murch] And the innovator here was Orson Welles.

He was very adventuresome in sound perspective.

[broadcaster] Now the smoke is crossing Sixth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue.

A hundred yards away.

-[broadcaster gasps] -[knocking]

[Murch] And so when he did Citizen Kane,

he brought those techniques in sound from radio to film.


[Murch] By being as aggressive spatially with sound

as he was with his depth of focus on camera.

Charlie, what time is it?


[Susan] New York?

[Kane] Hm?

[Murch] This idea that every space

has its own signature,

the sound energizes the environment.

[Kane] Now in complete control of the government of the state.

And you can use even very refined elements

of reverberation to help you tell your story.

[Rydstrom] But this was a new innovation

for sound in film.

The norm from the 1930s to the 1960s

was to emphasize music over sound effects.

Why don't you say it, you coward?

You're afraid to marry.

You'd rather live with that silly little fool

who can't open her mouth except to say, "Yes," "No,"

and raise a passel of mealy-mouthed brats

just like her!

You mustn't say things like that about Melanie.

[Scarlett] Who are you to tell me I mustn't?

[Murch] But if you run music all the time in the film,

it has a cumulatively counterproductive effect,

constantly injecting steroids.

[orchestral music plays]

[Murch] But if you want unrelieved tension,

don't use any music at all.

[Weis] Hitchcock got the power of sound.

He actually essentially dictated a sound script

and he really incorporated the uses of the sound

into the concept of the film.



Damn it.


[Baker] Hearing their breaths

and feeling the impacts and hits...

They kept you very connected right with the characters.

[Melanie gasps]

And I think that that was a scene

where it worked really well,

just having effects on their own.

[Lucas] David Lean focused on sound.

Stanley Kubrick focused on sound.

[tense music plays]

But the studios weren't encouraging

of that kind of thing.

[Rydstrom] The Hollywood studio system

often had a built-in approach to film sound

that was controlled and traditional.



That's a parallel to filmmakers maybe making

the same kind of movies over and over again.

Pillow Talk

Girls, girls

Girls, girls

Beach Blanket Bingo

That's the name of the game

It was looked upon as like a factory.

[Murch] And that tends to restrict

the adventuresomeness,

especially in a studio environment.

So the Hollywood films that I had seen

as a kid growing up

didn't make me want to become a filmmaker.

My way of thinking, they were corporate creations.

But when I was ten, I learned that there was such a thing

as a tape recorder.

And I understood intuitively what it did and how it did it.

[Commander] Enemy tripod machines now in sight.

[Murch] I would record from the radio

onto the tape recorder.

[announcer] The War of the Worlds by HG Wells.

[Murch] And then cut the tape into pieces

and then rearrange the pieces and scotch tape them

in a different order than they were recorded

and flip them upside down and play them backwards

and hear what that sounded like.

[man] Now that's--

Now that's-- Now that's-- Now that's--

[Murch] And then I came back from school one day

and turned on the radio

and I was disoriented for a moment

because I heard something coming out of the radio

that sounded like what I had recorded the day before.

[static noise]

[Murch] And it was a record made in France

of musique concrte

by Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer.

That was a revelation to me

that there were people in the world, French people,

doing what I was doing

and they were making records of it.


And so I suddenly saw what I was doing

had a broader application.

I loved Ingmar Bergman films at age 15

and I loved Kurosawa

because the imprint of the personality

of these filmmakers was very strong.


[Murch] In 1963, I went to a university in Paris

studying for a year

right at the height of the New Wave.

I saw Jean-Luc Godard's film Breathless

and I could tell that rules were being broken.

[man] Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa, Patricia


[Murch] And that got me excited.

I got injected with the film bug

and went to USC.

I met Walter Murch in film school.

He was a graduate student, I was an undergrad.

It was very easy to make friends,

and that was part of the fun of being there.

[Murch] And it was only when I got to film school

that I realized that you have to do to sound in film

very kinds of things that I was doing

with these random sounds

that I recorded back in the early '50s.

[Lucas] Walter was coming up with sound ideas

and running tracks backwards.


Basically, that's all he was doing,

was creating sound tracks.

[Murch] But it was an unusual time

to go to film school

because television was killing film.

President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas.

[Rydstrom] The '60s were a time when we were focused

on what we saw on television and the news.


[reporter] I think it was

the most powerful civil rights protest.


[Rydstrom] Full of unrest and politics.

Hollywood's film felt a little out of sync.

I want to hear nothing more about this troublemaker.

[Rydstrom] It was actually rock and roll

when musicians like The Beatles

that were capturing culture's imagination...


...more than film.

[Murch] And that year was the absolute bottom

of number of films produced in Hollywood.

The model on which they had built their studios

was not working anymore.

There was not enough jobs.

But kind of a life raft

that was extended to us young film students

was a fellowship by Warner Brothers,

which George won.

And George met the only other person on the lot

who had a beard, who was Francis Coppola,

who was directing Finian's Rainbow.

[Lucas] We had both been film students, long hair.

Everybody else on that crew was over 50.

So at the end of Finian's Rainbow,

Francis wanted to make a movie on his own called Rain People.

And he said, "Do you know anybody

who knows anything about sound?"

And I said, "Oh, I got the perfect guy,

Walter Murch."

[Murch] Rain People is a road movie,

much like Easy Rider.

Our two guys in Easy Rider were travelling west to east,

the Rain People was traveling the other way.

[Lucas] So we built this truck

and just went across the country making a movie.

And it was the Nagra,

which a smaller, lighter sound equipment

that actually started the ability

to shoot movies on the street.

[people talking indistinctively]

[Murch] If we can make a film out of a shoe store in Nebraska,

why do we have to be in Hollywood?

So we moved to San Francisco.

[upbeat music plays]

Francis, George and me were all in our late twenties

and we formed American Zoetrope.

One of the dreams or goals of Zoetrope

was to break down the barriers

between picture editing and sound editing

and sound mixing.

Then I could let my musique concrte demon

out of the bottle completely,

which was a whole new direction.

So immediately after finishing the mix on Rain People,

George and I got together

to write the screenplay for THX 1138

and we got financing from Warner's.

I would cut picture during the day,

and then Walter would come in at night

and cut the sound.


[Murch] I took it upon myself to record every sound effect

for the film myself.


[Lucas] THX had a very eerie, strange soundtrack.

[Murch] And based on the dismal performance

of the film commercially,

Warner Brothers cancelled the development advance

that they had made to Zoetrope.

They claimed that this was a personal loan to Francis

and he owed them all this money back.

The equivalent today would be three million.

Bankrupted our company,

made it so I couldn't work in business for a while.

[Murch] It was the end of the road

as far as Zoetrope was concerned.

And in that state,

Francis was offered to direct this sleazy gangster film

that 12 other directors had turned down,

which was The Godfather.

["The Godfather Waltz" by Nino Rota playing]

[Murch] But he wanted to invest the film

with the sensibility of the European film and art

that had influenced all of us.

And he pulled all of us into it.

When I was the kid growing up,

one of the composers who was doing

the most advanced thinking at the time was John Cage.

He was proselytizing that everything is music.

Even the sound that the audience makes in the theater is music.


And even the sound

of the lid of the piano going down is kind of music.

He made us pay attention.


[Murch] So in The Godfather,

the moment leading up to Sollozzo death,

it is accompanied by this screechy John-Cagey sound.



What you're actually listening to

are Michael's neurons

clashing against each other

as he's making the decision to actually kill these people.

And the murder of a dream he had

of having nothing to do with the family.


[Murch] It's not technically music,

but it conjures up emotion and meaning.

[Murch] Obviously it became a big hit,

and that bailed Zoetrope out.

We were able to keep going after that.

This one time I'll let you ask me about my affairs.

[Murch] But the soundtrack of The Godfather,

as it was released in the theaters in 1972,

was virtually identical to the soundtrack

of Gone with the Wind released in 1939.

You will promise, won't you?

[Murch] It's mono film with just a single speaker

behind the screen.

Is that-- Is that all, Ashley?

So sound in film didn't really change.

But contrast that with the music industry,

which was adopting all of this new technology.

Things like the LP,

which by the late 1950s, had stereo sound.

Stereo spread the music across two different speakers...

["Symphony No. 5" by Beethoven playing]

[Whittington] ...surrounding you

and immersing you in the music.

And The Beatles in particular

were really testing the boundaries of the medium.

I remember when I played Revolver,

it was a visceral feel,

you could feel the sound in your body.

Turn off your mind, relax

And float downstream

[Whittington] In the song "Revolution 9"...

Number nine, number nine

[Whittington] George Martin brought this ability

to mix and create sound design

that would then be melded with rock and roll.


[Rydstrom] "Revolution 9" was fascinating to me

because it was just like musique concrte.

As we come out of the-- the hippies '60s era of rock music,

we brought that sensibility to cinema and thought,

"Why can't movies be in stereo?"


[Murch] And it was in that overheated environment

that Dolby came along from the music industry

in the mid '70s and took the lid off.

[Allen] ...providing stereo sound

in more and more theaters.

But I remember a nameless film executive

at one of the distributors in Hollywood

who actually hit his desk and said,

"God damn it," he said,

"it's good stories and comfortable seats,

that's what sells movies, not sound."

But then in 1976 with A Star is Born,

Barbra Streisand had the imagination to say,

"I want to do this stereo sound with my film,"

and just to tell the studio, "We're gonna do it."

With one more look at you

That all-enveloping sound,

and especially coming from the audiences

to involve you as an audience member

into the concert.

Leave a troubled past and I might start anew

On A Star is Born, Barbra Streisand insisted on,

and in fact got an extraordinary amount of time

to do the sound edit and sound mix.


[Mangini] In fact, it was something

on the order of magnitude of four months,

at a time when it was more traditional

to have seven weeks.

["Watch Closely Now" by Kris Kristofferson playing]

The deal with First Artist was that the artist was responsible

for anything over six million dollars.

I spent the six million dollars on the movie.

But then when I got into sound, I spent another million dollars.

Are you a figment of my imagination?

Or I of yours

When Warner Brothers saw the film,

they liked it so much

that they didn't make me pay the million dollars.

I thought it was wonderful.

I was willing to spend it.


There was a degree of reality that you can get from stereo

that's never possible with a mono sound track.

And bless Barbra Streisand for recognizing the value.

-[rock music playing] -[cheering]

[Whittington] But it wasn't just the way

films were played in theaters

that was changing during this time,

it was the way they were recorded too.

I was a teenager in the '70s and I saw the film Nashville.

[march music plays]

[Hirschberg] And I think that was probably

the film that turned my ears

on to what was possible in a movie with sound.

When they come into the airport, I mean, that's a...

incredibly beautiful piece of sound.

[woman] Who do you think you are? Marlon Brando?

[man] Barbara Jean, ladies and gentlemen!

[plane roaring]

[Hirschberg] There's airplanes that come in and out

and obliterate what people are saying,

there's a reporter on a microphone,

there's a marching band.

And thank you, Franklin High School Band.

I think you kids get better every year.

-[applause] -[march music playing]

[man] All right, twirlers, let's twirl!

[Hirschberg] You're woven through that entire tapestry,

and the sound is what's pulling it,

the sound is what's telling you

where you're gonna go next.

Jim Webb obviously had worked

with Robert Altman on many of his films.

He's the master of multi-track,

just ahead of their time and pushing the limits.

[Macmillan] Before that, they recorded one track,

but now we don't shoot two tracks or three tracks.

We've got eight, ten, sixteen tracks.

[reporter] ...other members of the Chamber of Commerce,

Barbara Jean reportedly...

[Sampson] You know, everybody had a mic.

No matter how many people were in the scene,

they all had microphones

and they were all on mic all the time.

[reporter] All the other friends, members and--

[Barbara Jean screams]

[reporter] She's fallen. Harold, come on! She's fallen!

It was amazing how the story was driven by the sound

in a way that I don't think had happened before then

in American films.

[Spielberg] My generation, you know,

Francis and George, Marty and Brian

and-- and my whole group that I sort of grew up with,

very sound conscious generation.

[Whittington] So between the technological and creative

advances of the early 1970s, sound was taking root

in a new American renaissance of movies

in a way that had never been heard before.

Oh, I-- I understand.

[Whittington] But heading into the late '70s,

even bigger breakthroughs were on the way.

[Lucas] Most directors spent a lot of time

with their cameramen and the actors.

I just take the same amount of time

and spend it also with the sound designer.

But when I started my next film,

Francis was doing The Conversation,

and Walter was busy on that.

So I called Ken Miura at the USC and said,

"Do you have anybody else like Walter?"

He said, "Yeah, I got somebody here.

[Burtt] My mother tells me that, as a toddler,

I loved to act out to music, that if she put a record on,

that I would not only dance around the room,

but I would assume characters, I'd be a cowboy

or I'd be some kind of pirate or something.

But when I was about six years old,

I had a serious illness and I was in bed

for a few weeks and very weak.

But my father had access to a tape recorder

and he brought that home.


[Burtt] I began recording television shows

by putting a microphone up to the TV

and recording the Saturday morning cartoons.

["Looney Tunes Intro Theme" playing]

[Burtt] There were two television stations,

and one of them had the Warner Brothers package

of syndicated film.

I loved recording Errol Flynn movies in particular.

[adventurous music plays]


[Burtt] They ran the Cagney gangster movies

and Bogart films.

So I got very familiar with the sounds

of Warner Brothers classic library.

The other channel, pretty much MGM.


Somewhere over the rainbow

Singin' in the rain

Just singin' in the rain

[Burtt] As the other children were developing

the love for certain music,

I was listening to these explosions.


[Burtt] So I began collecting things I liked.

I'd seek after a movie just to record the battle scene

and just listen to them.

I think the thousands of hours I spent doing that as a kid,

unknown to me, that was building up an inventory

of how sound in movies was part of the experience.

I started making my own little movies.

And of course in those days you couldn't record live sound

while you're shooting super hit films,

but I could generate a sound track after the fact

by taking sound effects I'd extracted from movies

and television shows and putting them in my movies.


[orchestral music plays]

I first met Ben Burtt at USC film school.

We kind of were kindred spirits.

Whereas a lot of the students

were into all the Antonioni and the arty films,

we kind of like the traditional Hollywood fun films and serials.


[man] Rod Flash!

[Anderson] So we wrote this movie

called Rod Flash Conquers Infinity.

Ben and I dressed up

in these knockoff Flash Gordon things

that we got at an army surplus store in Hollywood.


[Anderson] We were making the voyage

to the planet Extraneous.

[eerie music plays]


[Anderson] We discovered a dinosaur,

and of course we have a pretty girl in, like, a cape.


[Anderson] And Ben did the sound on that one.

[tense music plays]

So I was just finishing at USC Cinema,

and Gary Kurtz, who had represented George Lucas,

came down to school

looking for a student interested in sound

who they could mold into their own ways.

I went out to the studio and met with the two of them.

They outlined the film they were gonna make.

They had artwork on the walls done by Ralph McQuarrie,

concept art for the film.

I was astounded by what I saw.

This was a film I always wanted to work on.

This had spaceships and monsters

and weapons like lightsabers.

It was called Star Wars.

So I leaped at the chance, and the initial discussion was,

"Would you like to help collect sounds for a Wookiee?"

This was still about a year away from principal photography.

I put Ben on in the beginning because I--

I knew I had to figure out a way of making these characters real,

and I knew it depended on how we developed these languages.

And that's what Ben spent the better part of a year doing.

[seal barking]

[Burtt] We were trying to find an animal that had

enough vocal expressiveness in its sounds

that we could use it for the Wookiee.

So there was a young bear named Pooh,

and we spent an afternoon with this bear in a pen

coaxing it to say different sounds.

The way they got it to make sound was to show it bread.

It loved bread.

The bear would...

[imitates growl]


And then you give him the bread, and then he'd be like...

[imitates growling]


[Burtt] George wanted to know

before they filmed the movie

how would the Wookiee sound.

Well, you said it, Chewie.

[Burtt] This is not the way

that most filmmakers worked at that time.

[Lucas] I knew the sound was part of the foundation

of what the movie was gonna to be.

So everything had to have been figured out way ahead of time.

[Burtt] So I proceeded on to work my way

through the screenplay of Star Wars.

I read through it and made some notes,

broke it down and I realized

there were hundreds of things in the script,

from Darth Vader's breathing,

you had the Death Star, you had TIE fighters

and a whole library of things in there.

I said, "Well, do you want sounds

for the rest of these things as well?"

The answer was, "Yeah, sure, just-- just--

just spend some time."

And so I operated out of my apartment

for many months coming up

with expeditions to go out and gather sound.

While George, he was off in England

busy shooting the movie, I was still based in LA.

He wanted me to go out and record real motors

and real airplanes and real rusty doors,

this hum of a projector,

a buzzing sound behind a television set.

I tried to go into factories and a scuba shop.

I just started recording everything I'd get my hands on

and to populate the universe of Star Wars

with the sounds of things that we would hear as real.

We didn't wanna follow the conventions

of science fiction that were current at the time,

which was things like Forbidden Planet

or War of the Worlds using electronic music technology.


We didn't use synthesizers or anything like that.

We used real sound effects.


[Burtt] So a year or so went by me collecting,

and when they returned from filming,

I kind of got a note saying, "We'll take the tapes

and deliver them to Northern California."

They were doing the picture editing in George's house.

So I started to cut my sound effects

into the editor's cuts of the movie.

But R2-D2 took a long time.

There were many versions of that

over months that were failures.

You have to actually make him talk

and make you understand what he's saying.

[Burtt] And R2 had no mouth at all.

What mission? What are you talking about?

We were very worried that it would be incomprehensible.

[Burtt] What eventually happened was,

as George and I were talking to each other, we would say,

"Well, R2 comes up to this point in a movie

and he kind of goes..."

[imitates beeping]


[Burtt] And suddenly we realized we were talking

with expressive sounds.

They had the intonation of meaning.

We were verbalizing a sound that worked for us.


[Burtt] And that led down the road of doing just that.

I could do a vocalization

and play something on the keyboard.


And you could sort of work two things together.


What mission? What are you talking about?


I've just about had enough of you.

Go that way. You'll be malfunctioning within a day,

you near-sighted scrap pile.


We were not sure that audiences

would comprehend this at all, though.

I was nervous, as anybody would be.

And I thought maybe this was probably the end,

I'd go back and become a science teacher

somewhere in the east.

[Lucas] You gotta remember,

my first film was a failure.

[Burtt] I thought the ultimate honor would be

if we could be invited to a Star Trek convention.

I could sell t-shirts.

[Burtt] Maybe we'd have a card table there

with, you know, handout posters or something.

That to me would have been the peak of my career.

[Allen] When the film was finished,

Fox didn't really know what they had.

And I sat in a meeting

with a Fox executive with Gary Kurtz,

and the Fox executive said,

"We like your movie, Gary, but we think it's a sleeper.

We think it's gonna open very slowly."

I sat in the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco

for the opening show there, the 70 mm print

and I was sitting actually in the middle of the audience.

And this guy sitting next to me as the plane comes overhead.

[climactic music plays]

And this guy goes, "Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!"

And two weeks later, there were lines

around the blocks across the country

waiting for Star Wars.


The award goes to Mr. Benjamin Burtt Jr.

["Star Wars theme song" playing]


Thank you very much.

[Burtt] I'd like to of course thank George Lucas,

who had all the great ideas and provided all the inspiration

for the things in Star Wars.

Thank you very much.


[Allen] He was the imaginative director

who will say,

"Let's take the next step in the sound story."

George Lucas and Gary Kurtz,

Barbra Streisand on A Star is Born,

Francis Coppola, Stanley Kubrick,

those are the key players who will say,

"Yes, I'll do this."


[Holman] Star Wars was a revolution.

It was that soundtrack that changed everything, 1977.

[Rydstrom] In people's minds,

there was a time when sound was cool,

and it created this era driven by the filmmakers.

At that time, David Lynch and Alan Splet

came out of AFI and were a partnership.

These really great minds were doing experimental things.

I believe the source of everyone's creativity

comes from within.

[violin music playing]

[Lynch] And Alan, he was a born sound man.

[violin playing]

[Lynch] Very interested in music,

especially classical music.

And he was a joyous experimenter.

The trick for the human being

is experiencing this deepest level of life.

The unbounded infinite ocean of consciousness

at the base of all matter and mind

where sounds play a huge role

in the abstract cinema.

[elephant trumpets]

[Lynch] You wanna bring people into a world

and give them an experience.

And you could get lost in there for years.


So it was in the air, breaking the mold

and trying things that seemed crazy

and seeing if they worked.

The '70s was a really good time of filmmaking.

And there was no more experimental or chaotic film

in all of history that so changed the way

film sound was done and presented

as Apocalypse Now.

[heroic music plays]

[helicopters whirring]

During the shooting of Apocalypse Now,

Francis heard a record by Tomita,

which was The Planets by Gustav Holst in four-track.

The idea was that you put speakers

at each corner of your room, and you sat in the center

and you were surrounded by the music.

["Mars, The Bringer of War" by Tomita playing]

Francis heard it and thought,

"This is how I want the film to sound."

But all of us working on the sound,

Richard Beggs, Mark Berger and myself,

we'd only worked in mono,

none of us had even worked on a stereo film

let alone this whole new six-track surround format.


[Murch] We were exploring the unknown

going into this whole new continent

where we move objects all the way around the theater...

which had never been done before.

[whirring intensifies]


[Murch] If you're breaking new ground,

then people who are interested in new ground come

because they wanna participate in it

and more ground gets broken.

[Thom] I spent about half of my time on Apocalypse

in the mix sitting there

watching Walter Murch and Mark Berger

and Richard Beggs and Francis

figure out what this movie was going to sound like.

Working on Apocalypse Now was my film school.

Ultimately, we wound up spending

a year-and-a-half editing the sound

and nine months doing the mix,

which is just unheard of.

[Thom] Just about everything that could possibly go right

or go wrong did.

The whole Apocalypse Now experience

was like dropping acid.

["The End" by The Doors playing]

This is the end, beautiful friend

[Beggs] What you have at the beginning of the film

is Captain Willard in his Saigon hotel room

hallucinating, regretting what he's done in the war.

[helicopter whirring]

[Beggs] Everything that you see and hear

is being filtered through his consciousness.


Waiting for the summer rain, yeah


And that decision is what allowed Walter

to do what he did with the sound...

[helicopter whirring]

[Beggs] tell the story more from the point of view

of this character in this crazy situation in Vietnam.

[Willard] Saigon.


[Beggs] And it frames the whole movie.

The most interesting sound is designed into the script

and is designed into the scenes.


[Murch] And so I wrote out a script

for the sound treatment of the film to guide the mix.



[Jackson] Walter decided that it was more efficient

if each editor be responsible for one whole layer of sound.

So that the helicopters were edited by one editor

and the background voices were edited by another editor.

[Murch] Les Hodgson was in charge of atmospheres.

Les Wiggins was in charge of munitions.

Pat Jackson was in charge of the boat.

So that there was a consistency.

[Murch] To treat each sound editor as the head

of an instrument grouping in an orchestra.

You are the lead violin.

You are a head of the woodwinds.

You are head of percussion.

You're head of the brasses.



[Murch] And as Chef is dying,

had Jackson change the pitch of the boat

so that the boat sound is going down.

[Chef gasps]

[Willard panting]

I think the biggest lesson I learned from Apocalypse Now,

sitting there, was figuring out from moment to moment

what sounds to use and what sounds not to use.

Those kinds of decisions are the essence of film.


And the exhibitors, they're gonna play the picture

on our terms, with our sound, the way we want them to show it.

[Murch] The film did run

in this six-track surround format.

And as things have evolved over the next 30, 40 years,

that format is now the ground standard

of how you mix a film.


The soundtrack is at least as important as the film

and the director of the soundtrack,

of the entire movie is Walter Murch.



[Thom] In a way, Walter Murch

is the father of us all

in this modern era of film sound.

[Rydstrom] Apocalypse Now marked the culmination

of over 50 years of film sound development.

And its repercussions can still be felt today.

But the next big challenge for sound

was how to work in the crazy new digital world.

[Lasseter] I always thought that animation

was such a visual medium.

But when I started putting just the right sound effects,

it just made it a thousand times better.

February of 1986, we formed Pixar.

And I'd been working on animating these desk lamps.

So I made this little one and a half minute short film

called Luxo Jr.

And of course we wanted Ben Burtt to do the sound.

But they told us he was busy.

And they said, "But there's this young guy

that's been working with Ben, he's really, really good.

Let's give this new guy a try. His name's Gary Rydstrom."

But I wanted Ben Burtt.




I think all of my early opportunities

were shows that people wanted Ben Burtt.

I mean, it's how it works in the world, right?

"We'd like Ben Burtt, please."

"He's not available." "Who else you got?"

[Lasseter] Now, Luxo Jr. was definitely

a huge step forward for animation,

and they had a very real look to him.

And Gary kept looking at it going,

"I wanna ground this in reality."

[Rydstrom] I had this digital workstation

called the Synclavier

where I could take real sounds, load them into the computer

and manipulate them on the keyboard,

like scraping metal, the screwing in of light bulbs,

harsh boring sounds, the springs.

You record sounds you don't know

what they're going to be for but they're interesting.

And later on you'll find little tidbits

that have a little vocal quality as sad or happy.

[Lasseter] And next thing you know, he brought me down

and he showed me a first pass of Luxo Jr.

And the characters came alive.




[Lasseter] He crafted their voices

and he gave them weight.


[Lasseter] Gary got it.

He took the medium of computer animation

to new heights.

And pretty much everything Pixar did,

Gary did the sound for it.

[Rydstrom] I thought, "This is cool,

I'm part of something really big here."

George Lucas and Ben Burtt,

Francis Coppola and Walter Murch,

David Lynch and Alan Splet.

Great directors connected at the hip to a sound person.

One of mine was with John Lasseter,

and another one was with Steven Spielberg.


Welcome to Jurassic Park.


We're gonna make a fortune with this place.

I think Gary Rydstrom's greatest contribution

to Jurassic Park was presuming what dinosaurs sounded like,

to make them extraordinary, but also natural.


[girl screams]



[Spielberg] And the first time I ever heard the T-Rex,

I did literally fall off my chair.


Talk about innovative.

It was just unbelievable a sound

that he did on Jurassic Park.

So we just asked him to do sound for us

on the first computer animated feature film.

You've got a friend in me

[Stanton] I just appreciated how Gary was making sure

that the sounds he used

supported the emotional intention

of the narrative of whatever was going on.

-Say, what's that button do? -I'll show you.


[Buzz] Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

[all] Whoa!

Woody's got something like that.

His is a pull string.

[Lasseter] We wanted to have one thing

that both Woody and Buzz had

that you could tell Woody's was older and cheesier

and Buzz's was new and high tech.

And that was a sound system.

I had an old Casper doll.

There's a record in there that he is, um... Come on.


See, that's like, "I love you."

-[screech] -[Lassiter laughs]

He's sounding awesome these days.

Oop, come on, Casper.

[Woody] Reach for the sky!

[Lasseter] Gary loved that idea.

We were innovating with computers so much

and creating new tools for animation

and, therefore, he was at the same time

kind of really using computers for the first time

in really clever ways to do sound design.

You know, it's mind-blowing to think

that just, I don't know,

even many people around the industry

were still cutting sound at that time on mag.

[Rydstrom] Up until the early 1990s,

we were cutting one track of sound at a time

on mag film.

But by the mid-1990s, sound editing migrated

to computer systems like Pro Tools.

Now we could see the waveforms we were editing,

but more importantly, sound editors could finally hear

how all their tracks played together.

[glass breaking]


It was a very exciting time

for all people in visual and sound.

[mysterious music plays]


So all of a sudden, I get this call.


The Wachowskis said,

"Remember that really great script called The Matrix

that we used to talk about on the mixing stage?

It's green lit."


[pop music playing in the background]

[Davis] And the fact that the movie

was about this digital reality that was coming through wire,

I thought there was some parallel

to trying to do all of the sound design

in the digital world.

And it was a chance to apply this technology.

It was still sketchy,

but allowed for all these possibilities.

[distorted squeaky sound]

[Davis] Like one of the first sounds that I developed

was the sound of Neo perceiving himself being digitized.


Did you?

[Davis] In the digital world everything is zeros and ones,

just little boxes, basically.

I wanted to get that feeling across to the audience,

the jaggedness.

[Neo screams]

[distorted scream]



[Davis] Computers did allow to do

some very fun creative work on The Matrix.

It would not have been time otherwise.

And I've always had a love-hate thing with technology.

Computers suck.

You know, part of me just wants to live in the woods,

you know, and-- and carve sticks.

I have seen the future. This is it.

It definitely does not work.

But another part of me just loves all these fancy tools.


[Lynch] These days there's so many tools

to manipulate a sound that now pretty much in sound,

if you can think it, you can do it.


[waves crashing]

[water splashing]

[piano music plays]

[Rydstrom] But ultimately, it wasn't about the technology,

it's the contribution of dozens of sound people,

a circle of talent who collaborate

behind the scenes to help tell the story.

[Weir] And a human voice, you know,

it's the great position of the individual.

You can have all sorts of nuances,

and that's unique.

If you listen real close,

you can hear them whisper their legacy to you,

"Carpe Diem.

Seize the day, boys."

[Vaughan] When you're recording production sound,

what you're really trying to capture is the performance.

You have my permission to die.

[Vaughan] People's voice is a really complex instrument.

With a boom microphone, you're

about maybe ten inches away from a person's mouth.

It's an enormous sense of intimacy that you get.

[Streisand] I remember on Funny Girl,

we filmed it to a pre-recorded track.

For whatever my man is

I am his

Willie leans towards me and he says, "What do you think?"

And I said, "It could be better."

Because I believe in working in the moment.

I have to do it live.

And he said okay.

So they put a boom like this because it had to be close up.

When I know I'll come back

On my knees someday

For whatever my man is

I am his

Forever more

And I thought, "Yeah, that's the kind of feeling

I'd like to get into my man."

As a director, I can hear the truth

when an actor is indicating something or...

feeling it.

-What are you, a demon? -[Yentl] I'm not. You know me.

-You spit on the Torah! -I love the Torah!

You spit on it, you spit on everything

and everyone and nature itself!

In God's face, in my face, and Hadass's face!

As a production sound mixer, one film that I'm very proud of

is a film that Patty Jenkins directed.

It was called Monster.

It was about the serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

You don't have to do this.

-Get down. -You don't.

[Devlin] We captured every little breath.

-[Aileen sobbing] -Oh, God, my wife.

-[Aileen sobbing] -My wife.

My daughter is having a baby.

[Aileen sobbing]

Oh, God. Oh, God, I'm sorry.

That was one of those moments where literally the hair

stood on the back of your neck at the end of the performance.

It's just all those things

that you battle as I sound mixer.

You're dealing with wind. That is never our friend.

[wind blowing]

And there's many, many things that are required for things

to look right on camera that are noisy.



I know ships that sail into the Triangle do not...

...guilty of putting me in this dreadful pickle.

If you're hearing those, that takes you out of the story.

That's why we edit the dialogue.

My mom is Kay Rose, and she was the first woman

to win an Oscar for sound.

She could hear clicks and pops that shouldn't be there,

take it out, fill it with ambience

and be very smooth.

Ordinary People was a movie my mom and I worked on,

and it was one of the hardest sound jobs

we'd ever, ever done.

The movie is about a family

affected by the death of their older son.

The surviving son goes to a psychiatrist.

Ah, hi, yeah, come in. It's okay, they all do that.

[Sampson] And they chose an aluminum warehouse

near an airport for these very intimate scenes

with the psychiatrist...


[Sampson] ...which was awful.

I had a fairly strong idea about sound,

but I had not directed a film before.

So I needed help,

and she did just a great job.

[Sampson] It took weeks to try to get out the little clicks

and pops and planes.

Boating accident...

[Sampson] For ten minutes of production dialogue, weeks.

You wanna tell me about it?

[Redford] The silence was meant to illustrate pain,

the disconnect between people.

You can go upstairs to that room of yours

and clean out the closet.

Because it really is a mess.

[Whittle] The dialogue department.

We're the queens of the soundtrack.

Jake, my Jake.

[Whittle] Everything falls apart without it.

It's the thing that everything has to work around.

And you don't wanna lose a moment in a film saying

to, you know, your friend, you know, "What did he say?"

That's why sometimes we need to shoot ADR.

[man panting]

[Gallavan] ADR stands for...

[man] Lillian!

Automated Dialogue Replacement.

[man gasps]

[Gallavan] It's dialogue

that's rerecorded in a sound studio.


You pick out some lines

that might be really low to hear,

the actors have to come in, re-record

and then we as editors have to cut it

to try to match those people's mouths.


[Banks] So Beth Bergeron hired me

on A League of Their Own.

One of the scenes that I cut was when Tom Hanks is yelling.

There's no crying in baseball!


[Banks] Her crying on the set

was actually really kind of soft.

[Jimmy] Are you crying? Are you crying?

[cries softly]

And so, in order to get her crying again,

you had to get Tom Hanks as well.

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.

Because they're overlapping each other.

All right, listen, listen, listen, listen, listen.

-[Evelyn crying] -Rogers Hornsby was my manager

and he called me a talking pile of pig shit.

[Banks] So that way, when they mix,

they can then bring up her crying

when they need to.

-[Jimmy] Did I cry? -No. No.

No, because there is no crying in baseball.

I loved working on that film.



[Gallavan] But our job is also to add the background people,

and that's what we call group ADR.


Most people might not realize

that that whole opening of Argo,

the assumption is, "Oh, that's all recorded on set."

But the truth is all of that's reconstructed.

[Aadahl] We had over a hundred Farsi speaking crews and extras.

We were making the crowd right in the middle of it,

from behind windows, from the rooftops.

After a few hours of this, everyone was, like, hugging

and a few people were crying

and we found out that some of our voice talent

had actually lived through the revolution.

And all of that emotion that we were recording,

it became part of the DNA of the scene.



[Hedgepath] When people ask me about working on Selma,

I tell them it's the-- the first film

that I've worked on that really meant something.



[Banks] When they're on the bridge,

they're running for their lives so they don't get killed.

You want the audience to feel the pain.



[Hedgepath] When I had people running by the mics,

it's more real because it's got movement,

it's got cloth movement, it's got feet,

they're turning their heads,

and they're doing efforts,

and so it just sounds more real.

[man] Stop it!

It was so important to me to work on this film.

It allows me to relive

some of the things as I was a child

that speaks to what people went through,

what we're still going through today.

I'm just really proud that I was able to work on it.


[Rydstrom] But surrounding the voices in the movie

is a whole world of sound effects

created and cut by the sound editors,

and it consists of three distinct parts.

Highway to the danger zone

[Hall] I got hired to do Top Gun

with George Waters.

So I spent a week in San Diego recording jets with John Fasal.

[plane roaring]

[Hall] But the jets themselves are not that interesting.

They sounded kind of wimpy.

So it created a library of mostly exotic animal roars.

Lions and tiger roars and monkey screeches.

[intense roaring]



[Hall] And that wound up being the thing.


[Hall] It gave them a cutting sharp feeling.


And it's the single most labor-intensive

editing process I've ever experienced.

It took forever,

which the studio was very frightened by

and didn't understand.

So at one point in the middle of this process,

there was an executor from the studio.

He came over to fire me

And he said,

"This movie isn't about the sound."

But months later, we were nominated

for an Academy Award.

And I will say that he sent me flowers,

and the note said,

"I guess it was about the sound."


[Viper] She's also a civilian contractor,

so you do not salute her, but you'd better listen to her.

[Behlmer] People who say, well, you know,

it's a big action war movie, a guy should do the sound.

I was like, "Why? Has he been in a war?"

-[screaming] -[swords clanging]

[Behlmer] This idea of one gender

being better at it than another,

I think it's kind of silly.

It's experience.

[Hirschberg] You're sitting in front

of this big piece of equipment,

and it looks very complicated and technical.

And it's sort of that thing like you peek your head

into the cockpit, and there's all that equipment,

ooh, you wind up with some big guy

who looks like he was in the Air Force in there

'cause, you know,

if anything goes wrong, that person

will get a screwdriver, I don't know.

Because the job consists of,

you know, pushing little buttons and turning little knobs

and that's not particularly a macho endeavor at all.


But if you don't see anybody like yourself doing something,

then that doesn't seem like a place you could fit in.

[soft music plays]


[Roesch] Foley is a subset of sound effects.


[Roesch] We're called Foley artists.

And truly what we do is custom sound effects.


[Moore] We're really like performers.


[Moore] Getting into their mindset...


...we really give them character.



[Moore] It's that detail that you don't really think about

that makes it come alive.

[glass breaking]

[Roesch] There's a very famous story

where Jack Foley heard

the director of Spartacus bemoaning the fact

that the armor they were wearing

sounded like tin pots.


[Roesch] They're saying, "We have to go back over

and reshoot the picture at a huge cost.

Jack said, "Wait a second."

He runs out to his car, he grabs some props,

some big set of keys, etc., etc.,

comes in and works his magic.

[armors clanging]

[instrumental music plays]

Which is kind of fun,

'cause that's what Foley really is for us, it's magic.

[armors clanging]

[Rydstrom] And the last subset of sound effects are ambiences.

Atmospheric beds of sounds

that editors lay underneath everything else.

[soft music plays]

[car engine revving]

[Coppola] I think that any film

like Lost in Translation,

building the-- the world and the atmosphere,

the sound is such a big part of it

that you don't realize until you're working on it.

[people talking indistinctively]


[Coppola] Picking up all those little details

and adding these layers that makes,

I think, you feel like you're really there.

[metro horn honking]

[indistinct PA announcement]

[Coppola] There's this whole other world that it brings.

That's really half the movie.

It's a bed of sound and the scene

that sets you in that environment.

It could be traffic.

[cars passing by]

[Ai-Ling Lee] A bed of crickets.

[crickets chirping]

[Ai-Ling Lee] The sound of a room.


[clock ticking]

[drops splashing]

[Ai-Ling Lee] Or birds.

[birds chirping]

[Ai-Ling Lee] It has to be evocative.

[Redford] When I was 11 years old,

I had a mild case of polio.

So as a reward for getting better,

my mom drove me to Yosemite National Park.

Once I went through that tunnel and it opened up

and I saw Half Dome and El Capitan,

I said, "Well, this is-- this is it for me.

I don't wanna look at this, I wanna be in it."


[Redford] The sound of those falls

rushing past me as I climbed up.

The power of water.

I'd like to use that in film.

[Boyes] I was working on A River Runs Through It,

and the sound designer just said,

"Look, I just need you to go out and record sounds."

I knew every stream within a hundred miles.

When I heard it back in the film,

I could feel the moisture of the stream

and I could hear the presence of this volume of air.

That hit me so heavily.

I thought to myself,

"This is me with my father fishing

as an eight-year-old boy."

It brings me to a really...

Peaceful, important time in my life.

Everything has emotion and, therefore, spirit.

[Gearty] Ang really wanted the wind

to have its own character in this movie.

[wind blowing]

[Lee] Wind sound was very expressive

for their characters.

How much they're quiet about their feelings...

how much repression they endure.

[wind blowing]


[Beggs] That's the art of sound,

that ability to interpret expressively

things that are happening.

[Rydstrom] And the final element of the soundtrack

is music.

It has a direct connection to emotion.

[emotional music plays]

[Zimmer] The great thing about music is

it's there that you as an audience

can connect on a human level.

It has a way of inviting you in.

The way in which he records them,

the way in which they're executed

is extremely lavish and epic really.

[emotional music plays]

[King] I love that Hans doesn't give up

and he just keeps trying to make it better

and better and better and better.

He's obsessed.

[Miles] Look who is here.

[Zimmer] I think the heart has to come first

and then the intellect will follow.

-[Cobb] Hey, guys, hey. -[Philippa] Daddy!

-[Cobb] How are you? -[James] Daddy!

[Cobb] How are you?

Your job is to come up with the unimaginable for them.

[tense music plays]

[Coogler] You think about people's favorite movie moments,

and it's usually the score element.

[African music plays]

[Coogler] Black Panther was set in Africa,

and music is so important setting that up.


is the first person I called.

When I write music for any of his projects,

I'm always pushing myself to another kind of level.

Music is what ties the whole thing together.

[African music plays]

[Goransson] Experimenting in contemporary music.

But also not being scared to bring in

the classic, really heroic theme.

[heroic music plays]

[Goransson] And how do we tie that together

in one consistent piece of music.

We're gonna write something new,

we're gonna create something completely different.

And then we watched it, it was like, man, this is perfect.

[African music plays]

[Coogler] In a song, I can do in three minutes

what a really great movie needs hours to do.

[African music plays]

[Dorman] It's the collaborative effort

of all those people...

that make that soundtrack what it is.

And the very last step is to provide that

to the sound mixing stage.

[Rydstrom] Re-recording mixing is

a key component of film sound.

You take all the elements from the sound editors

and you finally bring them together

like a conductor would.

[rain falling down]

[Rydstrom] You may turn up the music to enhance the emotion.

[emotional music plays]

[Rydstrom] You may turn up the sound effects

to add a visceral punch.


[Rydstrom] Or you may turn them both down

to focus on a line of dialogue.

I'm glad it's you.

[Lievsay] Mixing also involves thinking

about where sounds are placed on the screen

and how they move.

We use this panning technique everywhere in Roma.

Like, what components could go from that side to that side.

Left, center, right.

[people talking indistinctively]

[Lievsay] Have the voices move that way

when the camera pans that way.

Alfonso was constantly trying to get us

to keep things moving.

[people talking indistinctively]


[Cuarn] Roma is filled with a lot

of foreground, background sounds.

The film is very oral, there's a lot of--

There are a lot of sounds going on.

The dance between the elements is what I consider cinematic.

This is what the core of mixing is,

is taking all these components, creating a place for them all.

[horse neighing]

[Behlmer] So it's just really building the track slowly,

having everything play harmoniously.

-[grunting] -[swords clanging]

[Behlmer] At one point you go,

"Okay, we got a movie. Sounds like a movie."


[swords clanging]

And when you feel those goosebumps,

then you've done it right.

[Dorman] The circle of talent

is a collaborative group of people

that spend hours and hours and days and days

in the trenches that are doing all the work.

And if people have to try and find meaning

in what they do,

it's the group of people that you're working with.

[Burtt] But it's easy to lose sight of that.

Because I had public success so quickly in my career.


[Burtt] We come to work every day

thinking you're an Oscar-winning genius.

Thank you very much.


But you can't put that kind of pressure on yourself

that each time you do something it's gonna shake the world.

And it led to a nervous breakdown.

And finally came one day where I just couldn't work anymore.

I was just sitting at the console

crying to myself I didn't know why.

It was because I invested too much in it.

To be honest, one of the main things

I would always try to do

is get home for dinner with my family.

And I have to appreciate my wife Peggy

and all the years she's dragged me

back out of my world of make-believe.

Don't lose your foot.

Plant it in something outside.

Those are good things.

You kind of get to the point where you realize

that you wanna be happy doing the work you're doing,

that the-- the pleasure is on what happens on a daily basis.

We come in on any given Tuesday

and you're working with making pass-bys

out of bicycle rattling.


If you can enjoy that and see that

for what it is, for a daily task,

then that's where the pleasure will lie.

[Banks] I love what I do.

It's very tedious, it's very time-consuming,

but when I can play something back

and I can feel it, I was like, "Oh, man."

You know, it's just-- It's like really satisfying.

[Jackson] I just couldn't believe

I was getting paid real money

to have so much fun.


[Behlmer] I always say, you know,

I would hate to have a real job.

Pinch myself every day.

[Rydstrom] Even in my early sound career

I remember how magical it felt to me.

Movies were a place to have emotion that was safe.

Of all the ways, all the things I can do in movies

or have done in movies, sound is still the best way

to experience emotion working on a movie, to me.

[Murch] So the creation of the sound film

made sound an art form.


It's been very valuable in the evolution

of human's relationship to the cosmos.

The work you all do make massive contributions

to the telling of the story.


[Spielberg] And I love all your cleverness

and ingenuity and I love the sense of fun.

And it makes these moments eternal.

[Tarzan yodeling]

You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?



Come on, then!


[plane roaring]

[tense music plays]







I'll be right here.

[Jenny] Run, Forrest, run!

[swords clanging]

[Jack] Hold on!





[music fades out]

[wind blowing]

[wolf howling]

[crickets chirping]


[birds chirping]

[drops splashing]

[birds chirping]

[instrumental music plays]

The Description of Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound