Sound editing: Always make dramatic sense

Sound editors essentially choose the aural palette that create the soundscape of a film, often finding sounds make “dramatic sense” (as sound guru Randy Thom explains it) even if they don’t represent precisely what’s seen on screen.

In order to create emotionally resonant sounds for the chimp characters in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Chuck Michael and the sound team worked with recordings of noises made both by actors and by chimps. Ape sounds were recorded at Chimp Haven in Louisiana, then layered with actors’ vocals.

“There’s an emotional range that only an actor can convey, but there’s also an authenticity that comes from these being the real sounds made by chimps,” Michael says.

In “Cars 2” making dramatic sense meant not always using the exact sound made by the particular make or model of car seen in the film. Originally helmer John Lasseter wanted that kind of authenticity, but that changed.

Supervising sound editor Tom Myers says, “You need something that will resonate with the audience emotionally.”

“Fast Five” also needed car and crash sounds that would tell the action story in a way that put the audience in the center of the action. Even though the audience is looking at 1970 Dodge Charger for a large part of the movie, chances are they’re hearing a group of sounds developed by a crew over time, says the film’s supervising sound editor Peter Brown.

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