Alchemical sound

Let’s talk a little bit about sound.
Or as someone said: touch at a distance.

A US military "acoustic radar" from 1921! Click the image for info.

For a while already, our post production sound department has been working on creating the sonic universe for “Kommandør Treholt & Ninjatroppen” / “Norwegian Ninja”. And let me tell you, from what I’ve heard so far, this aspect of the movie is going to be wild! Following the script and directiorial concept of the movie, we have a license to go way beyond what can be considered “realistic” sound. To head deeply into the fantastical, and actually design sounds for things, characters and places from the ground up. It’s quite exciting. Our teaser shows some of this work already.

Of course, movie sound is never realistic in the real world sense – it’s a calculated and powerful tool to tell a cinematic story, no matter what genre you’re in. Even for the most “realistic” of documentaries, sound is carefully considered – if only to augment a sense of reality.

Research and exploration should be part of the process with post production sound for any project, but it definitely is integral for us. And I think our sound crew are having fun with it, because sometimes they send us…things. Like the video below.

Make sure you have sound turned on before you click!

So, what is that?

In technical terms, it’s the sound of dry ice, recorded with a hydrophone (the one being dipped) plus a contact mic placed underneath the beaker. In terms of where this will go in the movie, or whether it will go anywhere at all, you (and I) will have to wait a bit longer to find out. These quite alien sounds can end up being part of background atmospherics, maybe they will belong to some kind of Ninja machinery or even be used to describe a character’s inner emotional life, at a crucial turning point?

The video was mady by supervising sound editor Gisle Tveito and sound designer Fredric Vogel, at Storyline Studios‘ facility at Jar outside of Oslo.

Sound designer Fredric Vogel "mixing it up" in the studio.

To round off, here are a couple of recommendations related to sound work, not just in movies.

I very much enjoy reading sound designer Tim Prebble’s blog The Music Of Sound, and I think you will too! Also, check out the amazing documentary about the history of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – The Alchemists Of Sound. Both of these should be interesting also to non sound professionals, aka. regular folks.

If you have other links or recommendations, please post them in the comments!