Speaking of film, as we have been, Melena Ryzik interviewed Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning sound designer Alan Robert Murray yesterday.

The pursuit of authenticity apparently knows no bounds. Says Murray:

We went and recorded a lot in South Africa and tried to be accurate to the background. My recorder went to the shantytowns. We found circa 1990 phones that we believed would be in Mandela’s office. We went to Robben Island — the jail door you hear is actually Mandela’s cell door. We got to record in his cell, which is kind of eerie.

and …

In South Africa, we recruited 25 guys, professional players that they rounded up in Cape Town, and we had a professional rugby coach there. We got them together and we set them 25-30 yards apart and said, O.K., you guys run into each other as hard as you can. And I mean, it was just brutal what we got back.

Ryzik professes honestly that sound design is a mystery category, Academy-wise, that it’s “one of those categories that make people lose their Oscar pool.” Murray, like most people who deal with sound professionally, is obviously used to the association of invisibility with nonexistence that accounts for such a lack of awareness. (He starts the interview by saying “thanks for noticing. A lot of people just think the sound happens when they shoot the movie.”)

Coming up: a sound studies primer

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