Definition April 2021 - Web


AURAL PLEASURE Nicolas Becker and Carolina Santana are the minds behind Sound of Metal’s groundbreaking audio design. The pair of melomaniacs discuss recording inside the human body and emulating deafness moving – it’s very physical. That was a big part of the film.” For Santana, a major challenge was

the marking of progressive hearing loss. “We spent a lot of time finding how to get to that moment where Ruben finally realises he can no longer hear,” she explains. A piano accompanies that pivotal juncture, after which Ruben receives cochlear implants. “Everything that follows that scene is what life sounds like when you’re forced to accept change. It becomes disconnected, broken and unmusical.” Ahead of the shoot, Becker and Santana performed lots of tests and simulations, mastering the exact sound of the implants. “It was such an important element of the design,” says Santana. Somewhat unusual backgrounds proved useful for both sound editors. Becker spent 25 years as a foley artist before becoming a sound designer. “I’d be in a room with microphones and props, creating material to emulate the sound of a monster, or an explosion outside a submarine. Doing that, you create a library and discover a lot when you’re curious.”


F ilms are often reduced only to visual elements – beautiful camerawork, the performance of a lifetime or revolutionary CGI. This leaves a production’s sound design firmly in the dark. Nonetheless, audio is always working away, influencing us consciously or subconsciously. Try and picture Psycho ’s shower scene without Bernard Herrmann’s piercing strings; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly ’s three-way standoff devoid of Ennio Morricone’s swelling score; Jurassic Park ’s T-Rex lacking its chin-trembling roar. For Sound of Metal , supervising sound editor Nicolas Becker and sound editor Carolina Santana took things in an

altogether different direction. The film follows heavy metal musician, Ruben (Riz Ahmed), as he loses his hearing and is left to deal with a drastically changed world. But how do you even begin to craft the absence of something – let alone sound? It’s unimaginable for anyone who isn’t aurally impaired. The answer: it takes something that’s scarcely been done before. PICTURING THE INDESCRIBABLE Becker met Sound of Metal director, Darius Marder, a year before filming began. “I took Marder to an echo chamber in Paris that emulates total silence,” he says. “You can hear your heart beating, or organs

10 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 202 1

Powered by