Geek To Me wrote:...
G2M: Who is your favorite Transformer bot?
Ryan Yzquierdo: Soundwave without a doubt. There’s just something very awesome about him, despite the fact that he transforms into an outdated Walkman that plays cassette tapes. His toy is still my favorite after all of these years. He’s just a classic character and a classic toy. I think the fact that Hasbro has had such a difficult time updating Soundwave to modern times has helped maintain the appeal of this character to me.
Editors Guild Magazine: Greg, how do you set up for a mix on an effects-heavy movie like Transformers: Dark of the Moon?
Greg Russell: Having worked with the same basic crew, including supervising sound editors Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl, on two previous Transformers films, we have developed a formula for the effects food groups that would come to the stage as well as how the elements would be broken out. I worked toward a total of eight robot pre-dubs and 14 hard effects pre-dubs, plus four background and four Foley pre-dubs.
For robots, I first started with the feet, literally building the mix from the ground up. Then I moved onto bigger metal movements and the medium metal movements, right on down to the eyelash clicks. The other food groups included vocalizations––the robot language and tonalities are in the effects, not part of dialogue. The hard effects included vehicles, skids, cars, jets, trucks, helicopters, human artillery, and fire and explosions, plus some props and Foley elements, as well as touchy-feely stuff like paper downs and so on. Since I prefer to do all the panning, these mono elements comprise maybe 20 or 25 tracks for each food group.
EGM: How do you work with the sound editorial crew?
GR: The sound editors are pretty disciplined by now; they are more concise in what they bring to the stage and they don’t over-cut. If necessary, ProTools sessions can be opened and an element refined without the need to re-cut the track. In the old days of 35mm mag, editors didn’t want to commit and would over-cut, meaning that I spent my time weeding out things I didn’t need.
EGM: Michael, how important is sound to your movies?
Michael Bay: Sound is 50 percent of the movie; it is critical. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an effects-heavy movie, stylized and beautiful. Greg Russell is a key to its success.
We consistently try and make my movies the best sounding we’ve ever done. As James Cameron told me the other day when I played him an in-progress mix: “It’s f*cking epic!” We were in the middle of mixing the wall-to-wall sound in Act 3, as we’re preparing for the Battle of Chicago with a few characters in the middle of the city. It is all too easy for the mix to become too overwhelming. I rely on Greg to keep me grounded. You can make it totally loud, but then you have nowhere to go in terms of dynamics. Less, quite often, can be more for a movie soundtrack.
EGM: What does Greg Russell bring to your productions?
MB: I’ve been working with Greg since 1996; he is fantastic at his job. I prefer to weave the sound so that audiences can hear important cues and I can focus their attention on specific elements. A director basically manipulates audiences in terms of guiding where he wants their eyes to go from shot to shot. It is exactly the same with sound; we use it as a tool to have the audience hear exactly what is important in the film. It is how you focus the audience with sound effects, which can all too often dominate the action.
EGM: Greg, what did Dolby 7.1 Surround bring to the production?
GR: This was my first 7.1-channel mix, with Gary Summers handling dialogue and Jeff Haboush the music; we had a great time! The four surround channels—left-wall, left-back, right-wall and right-back—offer a full-field quad scenario. If I have a machine gun going “rat-tat-tat” in the right-side surround, a separate “kaboom” in the right-rear adds impact and interest; 7.1 offers creative opportunities to move sounds around the room with much more defined rear-field panning.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon was a very busy mix. I was out to around 256 faders on the Harrison MC-4D at Sony’s Kim Novak Stage, with 32 open-channel sweeteners for things that changed or where we wanted a different sound. We often received new or revised visuals for which I might need to add new material. We just muted tracks in the pre-dub and added the new sweetener tracks.
EGM: Michael, what was the standout for you, sound-wise?
MB: Act 3, which focuses on an all-out attack on Chicago, is ridiculously complex. The sound weaves around the action; it is just staggering what a good mix these talented people can produce. I look for creativity in my re-recording crew—people who come up with something fresh and new for me. Ingenuity is the key; people who think outside the box and constantly have a varied approach to the movie’s soundtrack. During pre-production, I get involved with the mixers early; I’m constantly demanding the very best of people.
IGN goes to Moscow to interview the stars and cast of the new summer movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon about giant robots, explosions, and more.
1986 was a bright, jolly year for movies, reveling in the height of the decade’s notorious frolicking attitude. Tom Cruise got “goosed” in TOP GUN, Paul Hogan took us Down Under in CROCODILE DUNDEE, Molly Ringwold was PRETTY IN PINK, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock played with whales in STAR TREK IV, Kurt Russell dealt with some BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, Rodney Dangerfield went BACK TO SCHOOL, and Matthew Broderick played hooky in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF.
And yet, amid all that fun in the sun, the sparkle-eyed, carefree joy of children took a slightly darker turn, as the concept of death punctured one of the most popular toy and cartoon franchises of the decade when THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (TF:TM) was unleashed upon an unsuspecting summer audience. Probably for the first time in their lives, kids across the country sat jaw-dropped as their beloved heroes of the past two years began dropping like flies, culminating in the gut-wrenching horror of the death of the most popular character in the series, the Autobot leader Optimus Prime.
Although the summer of 1986 left many an adolescent scarred, THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE ultimately became a cult classic among animated film junkies and 1980s retro-fans. 2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of the film’s original release, and we felt it only appropriate to commemorate the occasion by tracking down the man responsible for the explosive music that contributed greatly to the film’s memorability.
Read on, as Examiner spends time with soundtrack composer (and rock musician) Vince DiCola, as we discuss the past and the present of his life among god-sized robots – THE TRANSFORMERS!
I talked with Shout’s DVD producer Brian Ward about Beast Wars, which he worked on in addition to the upcoming releases of ‘80s faves M.A.S.K. and Jem. “I have the job of being the ‘niche guy’ at the company,” he says. “Once they figured that the Gen-X crowd was the ones spending the money and I amply proved myself geeky enough to appreciate all that stuff, they immediately assigned me all of it.”
Did you find that there was a lot of interest in it at the Transformers convention BotCon earlier this month?
Beast Wars was all the rage. You had fans who would come up to us saying, “This is the show that I grew up on. G1 was OK, I like it, it’s fine, but Beast Wars is the one I’m interested in.” I can’t deny them that this show is incredibly well-written. It’s incredibly smart. I didn’t grow up on it at all. In fact, I was a bit creeped out by the idea of a computer-generated Transofrmers show. When I started watching as I started producing the set, I feel in love with it very quickly. It took me three, maybe four episodes to get past the computer animation and to get into the fact that I was going to be growing with characters a lot. The genius of the writing of the show really came in the fact that unlike G1, you didn’t have 101 characters and toys to try to push. There wasn’t a new character introduced every episode. In this case, you had six or seven characters on either side, which gave you a lot more chances to establish those characters, dive into them a little bit more, learn a little bit more and really it helps. When certain things happen throughout the course of the series, you’re emotionally invested.
As a G1 fan watching it for the first time, were there any Beast Wars characters that appealed to you as you were watching them?
They were smart – they did a number of things that weren’t traditional to Saturday-morning cartoons. Everyone likes Dinobot, and for those who don’t know, Dinobot was a Predacon, a bad guy, who in the first episode decided he wanted to challenge Megatron for the leadership and got booted out. He then decided he wanted to become a good guy, a Maximal, and even challenged Optimus for leadership. You don’t find characters like that in most traditional cartoons. You have black hats, and you’ve got white hats. This was a character I liken to Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: He’s a character who basically wants to kill things just because that’s what he likes to do. Even if that means going and killing his old team, he’ll do it because that’s what he wants to do. I thought he was a pretty deep character, and certainly by the end of the series you don’t want anything bad to happen to him.
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