Noise – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

Post 4 of 5

Well this week on The Haunting Hour has been a challenging one for Wayne (my Boom Operator) and I. This week’s episode takes place on a commuter jet prop airplane. That is about all I can say about it due to not giving the story away before it airs. Dakota Goyois our child actor on this episode. He playes young Thor from that movie and is a major player in a movie with Hugh Jackman called Rise of the Gaurdians that will be coming out very soon. Great little actor.

A company brought the airplane mock up here from California somewhere down by Warner Bros Studios. I believe it is called Aero Mock-ups. They are, for all intensive purposes, exact replicas of the inside of whatever jet plane you want to be in. They have several LARGE warehouses with airline seats, galleys, fuselages, cockpits, etc stacked in there and then they just gather up the parts they need, put it on truck or trains and away it goes complete with guys to put it together and take it apart. Karl is helping put ours together and he has done a very extensive bit of travelling with the company.

What does noise and fake planes have to do with one another?? Well to make it look real, one has to employ many devices to make it look like you are actually flying. In our case we happen to be flying through a storm. This is where I go… UGH! Special Effects and Sound always have a delicate relationship together. Lots of the toys they use to make stuff happen on camera is noisy. Don’t get me wrong, I love those guys, but they can make my days challenging to say the least, especially on this episode.

First, you need clouds to go by the windows very quickly every once in awhile?Use a very powerful fan (noisy) to blow it by the outside of the windows. Tah Dah! You are flying. To solve this sound issue I asked them to put the noise makers outside and pipe it in through a large duct hose. Worked like a charm. Problem number one solved. Phew!

Second, you need to make it look like thunder and lightning outside the plane at 30,000 feet? One thing you can do is use members of the lighting department to open and close special shutters in front of very large lights and voila…lightning! There is also another quiet more expensive way, but it is…. more expensive so…. Shutters are a bit noisy, but give the guys comteks so they can listen to the dialouge, and try to get them to do it in between the lines. Sort of works. A little bit of lubrication on the shutters helps as well. I  also hope sound design will be able to cover a bit of it up in the final mix. Finally, see additional methods below to help with the shutter noise.

Third, you need rain to blow across glass at an alarmingly quick rate? Use a modified compressor system to blow air and water across the windows just out of frame. This one is a little tougher to deal with. Basically I barricade and baffle all entrances into the mock up that I can, and I have to live with it. The crew hates me because this makes the temperature in there go up quite uncomfortably. How do I solve that one? Well, because I have shot in these mock ups before I already know about this, and advise the producers and higher ups that they should rent an air conditioner to cool the set ahead of time.  After narrowly averting a mutiny against the sound department by the crew, I call post production warning them that, after I listened back to some of the tracks I recorded, they should be able to incorporate it into the sound design of the jet engine noise. Also, whenever possible we turn off the noise, when not seeing the windows, and make sure we roll enough ambience of the air and water blowing over the windows that Post Production has what they need to build the engine sound in the sound effects editing stage of things. I have flown on a fair number of planes in my life and believe I can say for certain it should work. If I am wrong, a lot of actors will have to go in later and replace their dialouge. Not what I like to hear, but in the glamourous world of a production sound mixer you sometimes lose the noise battle and there is nothing you can do about it. Pick your battles and don’t take it as a failure or stress out about it. I am too young to have a heart attack because I was worried about something that I could never control.

What a tough week! Well off to sleep in my nice quiet house….ahhh peace and quiet. Treasure it….