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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

HomeAwardsAward Contender-Dane Davis-Sound-The Cave

Award Contender-Dane Davis-Sound-The Cave


Some artisans in the entertainment industry create imaginary worlds by painting pictures and manipulating light. Dane Davis, MPSE, births his worlds through the dramatic and inventive use of sound. Davis, supervising sound editor/designer, always has a sound recorder handy. People come to him with suggestions, he says, like “My stepladder makes the most horrible screech. You’ve got to record it.” Even before he founded Danetracks and began editing and designing sound for independent films out of a closet of the company he worked for during the day, Davis had a noisy upbringing, experimenting with the improper use of reel-to-reel tape decks from his mother’s garage.Davis was charged with creating the unique aural effects needed to bring the subterranean, watery, creature-filled world of The Cave to chilling, frightening life. The story follows a group of divers exploring a maze of underground caverns in Romania in search of the legendary creatures said to exist in that lightless space deep within the earth. Davis had to establish diverse environments, including underwater dives, cave ambiences and creature vocalizations and movement. The creature was one of the biggest challenges on the film. Davis used virtually all human sounds—made by Davis and his ten-year-old son—for the creature’s “voice.” These were captured using cutting-edge recording techniques that could extract sounds that ordinarily would not be heard. Davis shares, “It was very tricky. The creature is supposed to be devolved from people, but it seemed wrong to have it be very animalistic. You had to believe it was coming from humans even though they are not physiologically very human any more. We still wanted the sounds to evoke humans, especially in the scenes where they confront each other. There had to be enough humanity in the sounds from the creatures so that people would buy that you were talking about related animals. There was also a huge emotional range that these creatures had to have. They had to be sneaky, carnivorous and dangerous.”Echolocation in the caves was also a big part of the storytelling. The blind creatures produce clicking noises, lots of little chirps and cartilage popping sounds, but they go through an elaborate echoing process “to see.” There were over 80 different caves in the film and they all needed to sound different. For the backgrounds, Davis’ team recorded thousands of drips and different air current noises for diversity.Davis also sampled real spaces and used sampled reverb. “We went to a bunch of caves and did scans of them,” he explains. “We also created some small caves at Danetracks by stacking rocks and stuff. Once we got the impulse responses, I created virtual spaces within ProTools sessions. Those were the most complex ProTools sessions I have ever made, and I am famous for grinding a system to a halt. What we really wanted was believable spaces, but a key thing was to have enough variety for all the rooms. We wanted to keep it dynamic for the audience.”

Written by Mary Ann Skweres

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