THE PATRIOT
Page 4

 

 

 

 

The Battlefield
The battles are big and, yes, they are loud, but not at all in the harsh manner that led OSHA into Hollywood five years ago. The big scenes are really more dense and full than loud, and the five screen channels were crucial in providing the separation from retreating Americans on the left and charging Brits on the right.

Some of the battles are small skirmishes, and some ranged across miles of open fields. In either case, the approach at the effects premix was the same. Russell automated the close-up guns first (typically adding a “snap” with a 1.5 to 2dB boost at 3 kHz, with the “thunder” out the center channel and the high-end report out of channels 2 and 4), then the medium distant guns, then the offstage. That’s one predub. Then he went back and did bullet whiz-bys on 1-3-5 of a second predub, with body impacts on channels 2 and 4. Next came a gun mechanism predub, where the “chink” came out the center channel two frames before the explosion, followed by a “poof” of smoke out of channels 2 and 4, with reverb across all five front channels to fill it up. Finally, he tackled cannons (firing sound, traveling sound, explosion) on a separate predub, using channels 2 and 4 for debris.

Clarity and detail are often sacrificed when a post-production schedule gets as tight as it was on The Patriot. In the middle of May, with the
William Holden Theatre,
re-recording mixer
s
film’s release just six weeks away, the team was wrapping up the premixes on three stages at Sony. O’Connell finished up the dialog on the William Holden Theatre a day later, as Russell was honing gunshots and horses in the effects premix for reel 8AB in the new Burt Lancaster Theatre across the hall. Meanwhile, pinch hitters Greg Orloff and Chris Carpenter, were tackling the Foley in reel 7 on the reconditioned and sweet-sounding main stage (and O’Connell’s and Russell’s true home), the Cary Grant Theatre.
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When you consider that each musket or pistol shot is a three-part sound (mechanism, fire, whiz-impact), and that mechanism sounds of an army preparing to fire need to travel left to right, as do the bullet whizzes, that’s a lot of passes on the console for even a small battle. It helped that Russell knows guns, but even he was thankful for the slower, richer, character-laced report of muskets and pistols, and not AK-47s.

The gun sounds are definitely unique, and according to Russell they had plenty of low end built in so that he didn’t have to dial in “boom” at the mix except when he wanted to add emphasis. What couldn’t be found in the extensive Soundelux library (and this is the editorial house that did Last of the Mohicans and the Civil War film Glory) was recorded in the canyons of Frasier Park, near Los Angeles. On a big show like The Patriot, Hallberg prefers to split up his crew by categories, so David Baldwin cut most of the muskets and pistols. (Randy Kelly cut the horses, “the vehicles,” as Russell called them; Chris Assells, Dino DiMuro and Dan Hegemann worked on miscellaneous explosions, fires, cannons and design elements.)

There are a couple of moments inside the battles where the filmmakers use slow-motion photography to suck the audience into the personal battle-within-a-battle. Here, score will be big, and sometimes breathing or Foley will carry the effects track. “I think we’ll be pulling effects way back and into reverb, almost nonexistent, allowing score to carry,” Russell says. “How effectively we come in and out of those surreal moments will probably be the biggest challenge for me.”

Page 5: Exterior ADR

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