Miami Vice discussion
I supervised both Collateral and Miami Vice for Michael Mann and had two polar opposite sonic experiences. I agree with some of the issues raised on the final result on Vice. We were working with extremely challenging production dia tracks and if you had only heard where we began from you would appreciate how much the dia was improved in the end. But no one knows that in a movie theater. As to the final mix of fx, I can only say, that time honored old chestnut, you should have heard the predubs. We recorded every vehicle, guns, atmospheres, etc. but the mix decisions were creative choices by MM that he felt best told his story. And that is really what counts here. Our job is to present the director with all that cool stuff that indeed most of us do repeatedly but we can only lead that horse to water.
I think what I am getting at is that maybe we, the forum, are better served to encourage and engage in more discussion of how that was made, rather than why. Sharing insights about the process is I think much more valuable.
I enjoyed the movie on DVD recently (I really liked the beautiful new opening of the unrated edition). I think it's a really bold mix in the way that only selected sounds are played instead of everything at once. And you make it sound like you didn't enjoy the dub at all!!!
I guess we've all experienced that it can be really difficult to kill your darlings at the dub stage when you've brought a whole wide palette of advanced effects which have taken weeks or months to create. How did you approach the radical mix decisions of what to hear and what not to hear?
By the way, the fx work was great - I remember vividly the extreme impact of the gun sounds at some of the assassinations. You must have done a lot of sound effects recording...
Another aspect that was important on this film was the extensive field recording I did. Knowing that we would use very specific sounds makes it even more important to have clean well recorded material because I knew that any effect at anytime could play by itself. We used the Sound Device 744 and also made great use in "stealthy" situations of the M Audio Microtrack recorder.
Back to the Barrett 50 cal, we also added a couple of pure low end sub woofer elements to really give that gun an ominous character. It was more than a gun, it was a statement showing the bad guys were really bad. This gun literally ripped apart the FBI men's car and ripped them apart as well so it had to be very special.
If anyone else has interesting weapons stories I think we would all enjoy reading about them.
I went to northern Utah where I grew up and enlisted the help of my neighbor who was at the time a historical gun nut. We went through the prop list and found working originals (and a replica or two...) of every gun from set. Then we made reloads with black powder all of the rounds we would need. We did use real bullets. Then we went out into the canyons around my house. Some of the canyons are very desolate with great rock walls... We also found a great lake with rock walls on the far side... Just beautiful places to record both visually and from a sound perspective. It was early april so there were no insects and very little bird life. I recorded with a few different rigs. Two M + S Schoeps rigs, one going to a Stereo Nagra, the other going to DAT. Also we used some sure Dynamic mics and a RSM Kmr 81i pointed generally away from the the guns and at reflections we wanted to capture.
Eugene Gearty then re-recorded all the elements back into a Sonic Solutions station. This was quite some time ago but it was a really great and fun experience. I think analogue still does some amazing things for explosions and the like... I also think Dynamic mic's often record guns and things really wonderfully...
Most of all, and this is the lesson I carry with me always... Sounds do not happen in a vacuum. Great sounds are more common in great sounding places, the reflections and reverb that naturally color a sound often are what make great sounds unique. Sure, every situation is different, and needs often dictate what will work and what will not, but what really makes those recordings shine are the reflections and ring outs that the environment gave us. I have found the same to be true with glass ups and downs and car doors, dog barks and horn honks...
I always love recording in the field, just adds so much life to what we do...
Adding a dryfire to a CU makes a big difference. Like other gun handling noises, dryfires especially make guns seem more dangerous and unpredictable. The first time I used this technique, I thought that I invented it and was bummed when I discovered that it is fairly common. :-)
Even when I'm spotting foley, I cue dryfires for CU's just in case the FX editor doesn't add this subtle, but effective, layer.
Sometimes Michael makes special requests for things. On Collateral Bruce and I spent an entire night wandering around downtown LA when MM requested us the explore what really goes on there sonically. There is a large homeless population there and and once again we felt were in occasional jeopardy as we recorded. However those recordings did indeed pay off with some really wild "down the alley" screams that helped keep the tension high while Tom Cruise and Jaimie Foxx were driving thru the city streets.
I think with the low cost of the various mini digital recorders it makes sense to keep one in the car for whenever inspiration strikes.
Thread "Miami Vice " started Jan 10, 2007 at Sound Design discussion list
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