At 344 Audio we know when it is time to go full throttle with sound and when it is time to keep it minimal and let the story unfold.
On one of our recent sonic ventures 'Choice. Regret.' we chose to save Sound Design for pivotal moments in the film.
The Spotting Session
When sat with the Director Christopher Schönning, we talked about holding back quite a lot, creating a sense of desolation in the opening scenes but ensuring nothing would give away what is to come. We won't mention any spoilers, the title gives a sense of what to expect in this Drama short. There are a couple of moments where many would tracklay extensive effects and design, but Christopher was clear on the fact that he wanted to keep as much of the production sound as possible.
Previous viewers of the early edit had said that the sound already hit many of the emotional cues needed - we didn't want to take away from that but instead enhance it. Paired with Lukas Loughran's amazing performance, the dialogue gaps in some scenes are awkwardly damning.
Sat with Christopher, we took a very bold step, deciding to fade out the theme music after 8 bars and bring a touch of background ambience, only to then continue the music on an offbeat - giving the audience a sense of the characters thoughts on past choices; an uncomfortable silence.
We cheered in the spotting session with Christopher, even receiving a high five for the moments we had created - a combination of luck and bravery in breaking the mould.
Sound Design, Foley
After some audio restoration, we were able to use 100% production dialogue - which was necessary for a project like this, the great performances had to be real for me and Christopher. We even shuffled around some off screen dialogue in an intense scene, completely changing the mood and escalating the drama.
The great thing about drama is that sound remains 'invisible' and only shows it's hand in pivotal moments. The establishing shots in the film open up to a rural village somewhere in Northern England, we filled these with heavy gales, the subtlety of windswept metal fences and haunting creaky trees, giving a sense that you are trapped within this small world.
Shortly after, as the characters leave their venue, in search of refuge, the world falls silent, we focus in on their foley movements, something is coming. A sense of mystery was formed with heavily reverberated sounds and an interactive rural wildlife.
An intense narrative moment occurs and again we're back into reality. A common theme that runs throughout this film is the use of almost magical hyper-realism followed by the harsh and brutal reality of 'silence' and moments of reflection (hence the title).
We managed to fill some scenes with sounds we recorded at the real locations, bringing a sense of authenticity to the film.
The mix on this project was mostly about grounding everything in reality with balance and distance perception. The use of perspective EQ and impulse response reverbs gave a sense of believability to the film - especially in 5.1.
Many of the moments that hit you are location recordings, layered subtly with effects to let them come to life.
Choice. Regret. was mixed on an Avid S6, with a wonderful 5.1/7.1 Exigy system. We don't believe that technology should be an obstacle to creativity, but the S6 is so intuitive when surround mixing, using its touch screen surround panner allowed us to instil movement into even the most static effects.
We also upmixed the theme music from stereo to 5.1, which made it feel more powerful and engaging.
Choice. Regret. was a pleasure to work on, no doubt we will be working with Christopher again. You can expect to see the film at all major festivals soon!
If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production: https://www.344audio.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-audio-post-production-sound-design