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.
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
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.
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.”
5: Exterior ADR
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights
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