Filed in: Blog the Line, Crafts, Featured, Sound
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Masterfully Crafted Sound Within A Quiet Place

April 16, 2018 | By

 

Supervising Sound Editors Ethan Van der Ryn (Left) and Erik Aadahl (Right)

Supervising Sound Editors Ethan Van der Ryn (Left) and Erik Aadahl (Right).

We live in a society where sound is omnipresent. A Quiet Place takes us back to the root of solitude but simultaneously experiments with the versatility of sound sonically and atmospherically within the dynamic spectrum. Director John Krasinski (“The Office,” 13 Hours) sought two of the top supervising sound editors in Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, who are mostly known for their awe-inspiring, game changing sound design in the Transformers franchise. Krasinski pitched the film to them as a sound designer’s dream. The minimal dialogue in the film set the stage to generate and establish this environment, elevate boundaries, experiment sonically, elicit emotion, immerse the audience, and transcend sound to new heights.

The extensive dynamic range from absolute silence to extreme loudness is executed with precision through a broad scope. Van der Ryn explained, “We played a lot with contrast between very quiet and then very loud; or even not so loud, but apparently loud, because it’s coming out of such quiet detailed work. We had to preserve the space around the sound.” Aadahl expanded, “We have all sorts of different shades of quiet all the way down to silence. There are really three moments in the film that are absolute digital silence. Those moments are when Regan (Millicent Simmonds), the daughter whose character is deaf. When her cochlear implant, her hearing aid is turned off, we go to complete silence. The next shade of quiet just above silence is when her cochlear implant is turned on and there’s a very low hum, sort of an internal rumble. We have the perspective of the daughter. On the inverse, we have the perspective of the creatures and we get a few moments of what’s going on in their headspace.”

As conversations ensued with the director and the supervising sound editors, the thought of essentially three modes for the creatures materialized. “They have a mode when they’re searching using echolocation to navigate through their environment. That developed into the clicking sounds.” Van der Ryn initiated. Aadahl continued, “John Krasinski described as kind of an idling mode which their raspy, wet breathing and some other physical sounds, excess exoskeleton or crab like joints. Lastly, there’s the more intense creature vocals when they get agitated either through pain or aggression.”

 

Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Sound is one of the most powerful approaches to convey or induce any emotion. Van der Ryn expressed, “For me, the first emotion would be love. It was important to feel the love these family members all share for each other. The second big emotion obviously is terror. To experience the terror  these characters were experiencing; we had to watch these characters we had fallen in love with go through what they were going through.”

“Sound is so powerful at eliciting emotion and perhaps in more subliminal and subversive ways than the image. We try to use every sonic tool in our arsenal to get that spectrum of emotion in this cinematic experience, whether it’s intimacy, delicateness, touch, to sheer terror,” continued Aadahl. Delivering an immersive experience for the audience to feel one with the film truly displays the mastery behind the sound design. “One of the things we were really focused on doing was making it feel real, believable, and wanting the audience to go through this journey with this family,” noted Van der Ryn. “It’s really that sparseness that pulls you in. A lot of movies can lull you with wall to wall music. In this film, we take that comfort blanket away. It makes you really lean and hang on to every little detail and every little sound, part of which is because quiet is a matter of survival,” Aadahl concluded.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott, and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott. Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott, and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott. Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

A Quiet Place fully revolves and reconnoiters the vastness of sound, while encapsulating the audience within this masterful, interactive, and intimate experience.

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