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Finding Nemo, Kill Bill, The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King, Master and Commande Pirates of the Caribbean, and Seabiscuit

Finding Nemo
From the flapping wet paper towel that portrayed Nemo's stunted fin to the Jacuzzi bubbles that provided one of the many marine ambiances for the film, supervising sound editor Gary Rydstrom and his team wrangled a lot of H20. "There are a lot of cliche things that we do for things underwater in movies," Rydstrom says. "When it's a short scene, we might muddle the dialogue or add echo, but we couldn't really do that because the entire film was underwater. But we played with different ambiances for wide-open ocean versus a constricted aquarium and different parts of the ocean." >> Sound Design of Finding Nemo

Kill Bill-Vol. 1
Writer-director Quentin Tarantino took the unusual step of providing supervising sound editor Wylie Stateman with a collection of reference material to help him realize the film's violent sonic marriage of chop socky and spaghetti Western. "He gave us more than a dozen films that he thought were extremely important," Stateman says. "We watched videotapes of '60s- and '70s-era karate films, and he gave us modern films and film trailers that he found interesting for one reason or another. It's very uncommon, but he's an uncommon filmmaker."

The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King
When supervising sound editors Michael Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn wanted to give voice to the battle-heavy film's marauding masses, they turned to a crowd of about 6,000 rowdy sports fans at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. "It was after a rugby game," Hopkins says. "We had them do the chant that (the) Rohan Army do and the chanting stuff for the Orcs' advance. We actually did the same thing (the previous) year, but it was cricket match. Unfortunately, at cricket matches the crowds tend to drink a lot more, so we had quite a few drunks blasting off horns and shouting things that weren't appropriate."

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
In his quest for aural authenticity, supervising sound editor Richard King had projectiles (bar shot, chain shot, grape shot and round shot) cast to early 19th century specs and tracked down vintage cannons to fire them. "One of the historical advisors was friends with some collectors in Michigan who own some large field pieces, one 24-pound cannon and one 12-pound cannon," King says. "So we arranged with them to meet at a National Guard base in northern Michigan in January when the base is more or less closed and set the pieces up on an artillery range. We were able to mount mikes downfield so that the projectiles could fire over us." >> Sound Design of Master & Commander

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
For supervising sound editors Christopher Boyes and George Watters II, one of the first steps in crafting the film's sound was defining the sonic character of the ships. "The Black Pearl, being a pirate ship, it needed to take on a sonic characteristic indicative of the pirates themselves," Boyes says. "It needed to feel rusty, with air coming through the cracks of it, almost like rotten wood and metal. It had to seem demonic but very worn, mean and angry. The Dauntless needed to sound like a sleek, well-tuned British fighting vessel with tight ropes and crisp sails."

The wealth of galloping hooves and racetrack roars were the biggest logistical challenge for supervising sound editors Karen Baker and Per Hallberg, but their proudest aural interlude comes in one of the film's quietest scenes. "One of the most emotional moments for me is when Seabiscuit sees Red Pollard for the first time after the accident and their legs are both bandaged up," Baker says. "The sound was very simple and very subtle horse vocals to create the emotion in this relationship between this man and this horse."

Notes of Sound design is an excerpt from "Crafts II: Sights & sounds" Hollywood Reporter Feb. 11, 2004

>> READ Next Generation: Crafts: Sound - Profiles of industry prodigies making their mark Article in Hollywood Reporter   
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