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‘Hemingway’ sound guru Murray influenced by ‘Apocalypse’

DOUGLASMURRAYThe Variety Emmy preview coverage of the Creative Arts Awards starts off with a look at nominees in sound mixing and sound editing. As a bonus, writer Karen Idelson offers this small spotlight of double nominee Douglas Murray.

Douglas Murray, nominated for the Emmy in both sound editing and sound mixing for the HBO film “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” put together the right soundscape by following the historical and musical cues of the story.

Murray said 30% to 40% of the project used old footage, and dramatic moments were also grounded by music. Still, with all these elements, the veteran sound pro had to make careful choices.

“You actually have to hold back in some of your choices,” explains Murray. “You can’t overwhelm the audience with noises, and you’re much better off even when there’s a battle onscreen teasing out certain sounds so people feel like they are in the fight with the characters.”

 Murray, who counts legendary “Apocalypse Now” sound designer Walter Murch as one of his influences, set about keeping some of the smaller sounds like voices “close to the audience” so that the battles weren’t all the sounds of explosions.

 “We also wanted to have sound that was feature-quality level for a story most people would watch on TV,” says Murray. “So it’s tricky because you want the dynamic range of everything that’s happening but you also have to keep in mind the equipment most people will be using to listen to your work.”

 Murray also kept in mind Murch’s love of transitions when working on this project. Instead of hard breaks between scenes, he looked for ways to carry the viewers into one scene from the next.

 “You preserve the historical sweep of the story when you carry viewers along that way,” says Murray. “They don’t notice that there’s suddenly a change of place or time, but just that they’ve been artfully transported into the story.”

Elsewhere in the Creative Arts coverage, you’ll find features on the different dynamics of period hairstyling, as well as the healthy serving of food shows in the picture editing and cinematography competish.

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