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Alien sounds go old-school

Stoeckinger embraces analog for 'Prometheus'

In a way, Mark Stoeckinger feels like he’s come full circle with his work on Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus.” It was the helmer’s “Alien,” after all, that pulled the supervising sound editor into the film business.

“That film made such a huge impact on me,” Stoeckinger says. “Now that I find myself working on this movie, which deals with many of the same themes and ideas, it’s like I have the opportunity to work on the thing that I fell in love with in the first place.”

Stoeckinger took what he calls an “analog” approach to creating a soundscape for Scott’s new futuristic venture. Scott embraced the method right away: It turns out such older methodologies gave the film a spontaneity that might not have been attainable digitally.

In this case, Stoeckinger and his team used guitar pedals and outboard gear to process sounds and create unique sci-fi-inspired environments. Since each time a sound hits a guitar pedal the result is different, the team was able to reproduce a distinct set of sounds.

“When you program sounds, you’re often locking yourself into exactly the same kind of noises over and over again without the sort of irregularities that can exist in real life,” Stoeckinger says. “It’s also more interesting to the ear to have something that’s not so predicable.”

Another challenge was making the actors’ dialogue sound like it was coming from the inside of a helmet, since the thesps wear headgear in many of the scenes. In order to match the production dialogue with ADR, the team came up with a method that modeled the acoustic quality of a helmet, so they were able to record actors on an ADR stage and still make it sound like their voices were coming from inside an encased environment.

“The beauty of this job is the unique challenges that come up on each project,” Stoeckinger says. “A director like Ridley Scott (is) willing to experiment.”

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