Cinema Audio Society Awards: ‘Gravity,’ ‘Frozen’ Tops in Sound Mixing

'Game of Thrones,' 'Modern Family' among TV winners

Gravity Movie

Gravity” and “Frozen” continued to lay waste to their competition in technical awards races as the two much-lauded pics collected motion picture mixing honors at the Cinema Audio Society Awards Saturday night.

“Gravity” won for sound mixing in a live-action pic while “Frozen” was honored for mixing in an animated film.

Another project with enough awards to fill several mantels, HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra,” added another statuette to its collection, taking the award for mixing in a TV movie or mini-series.

Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere” won the award for hourlong skein and “Modern Family: Goodnight Gracie” won in the half-hour category. “History of the Eagles, Part 1” won for non-fiction TV.

The presentation, held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, marked the 50th anniversary of the CAS Awards. David Fluhr, president of the org (who would later be among the winners for “Frozen”) addressed the crowded ballroom early, announcing that veteran production mixer Richard Lightstone had sent a message from Georgia, where he is working on the film “Midnight Rider.” Lightstone was at the scene of the fatal accident earlier in the week, but sent word to the gathering said that he and his crew were okay, though a little banged up.

Special awards included helmer Edward Zwick receiving the org’s Filmmaker Award and Andy Nelson given the Lifetime Achievement award.

Zwick, who received his award first, described filmmaking as a years-long struggle that begins when the project’s creator has a “very complete experience,” only to see that experience reduced to its component parts “until it is lying there in some chaotic mess that has to be reconstructed.”

“And then you walk into the mixing stage with all these pieces and there are people waiting to help you put it back together,” said Zwick. “You hate it by that time, you’ve seen it too many times, you’re convinced that it’s terrible… You are essentially in despair.” But the mixers, said Zwick, “give your movie back to you.”

Nelson, a frequent collaborator of Zwick’s who has also mixed such films as “Full Metal Jacket,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Star Trek,” was introduced by several luminaries: His frequent creative collaborator Anna Behlmer, mixer Jeffrey Wexler and composer John Williams. He was also saluted on videotape by Alan Parker, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.

Nelson recounted having attended a school in London where on Career Day the students were taken to a slaughterhouse and sausage factory daily, because that’s where they were expected to end up working.

“I didn’t fancy that,” said Nelson, “but a sausage-making factory, ending up in Hollywood, maybe there was some (similarity),” he quipped.

He remembered starting as a projectionist in England at 16, in 1969, then later getting started doing sound because he was willing to try to figure out how to use a tape recorder.

The evening included a salute to the late Ray Dolby, including footage of interviews with the legendary inventor and sound innovator. One quote garnered especially strong response: “I wasn’t trying to enhance any experience. I just wanted to make sound as accurate as possible. What goes into the microphone comes out of the loudspeaker, without any nonsense in between.”

In a room full of sound mixers, that drew cheers.

Another well-received moment came near the end of the evening, with actor Michael O’Neill, co-presenter of the motion picture awards, said “Thank you for the things you allow the audience to hear, and for some of the things you didn’t allow them to hear.”

A complete list of winners follows:

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Live Action: “Gravity”; production mixer Chris Munro; re-recording Mixers Skip Lievsay; Niv Adiri and Christopher Benstead; scoring mixer Gareth Cousins; ADR mixers Chris Navarro and Thomas J. O’Connell; and Foley mixer Adam Fil Mendez

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Animated: “Frozen”; original dialogue mixer Gabriel Guy; re-recording mixers David E. Fluhr and Gabriel Guy; scoring mixer Casey Stone and Foley mixer Mary Jo Lang.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Television Movie or Mini-Series: “Behind the Candelabra”; production mixer Dennis Towns; re-recording mixer Larry Blake; scoring mixer Thomas Vicari; and Foley mixer Scott Curtis.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour: “Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere”; production mixers Ronan Hill and Richard Dyer re-recording mixers Onnalee Blank and Matthew Waters; and Foley mixer Brett Voss.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – Half Hour: “Modern Family: Goodnight Gracie”; production mixer Stephen A. Tibbo and re-recording mixers Dean Okrand and Brian R. Harman.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Non Fiction, Variety or Music – Series or Specials: “History of the Eagles – Part One”; re-recording mixers Tom Fleischman and Elliot Scheiner.

The winners of the 10th CAS Technical Achievement Awards:

Production: Sound Devices, LLC – 633 Mixer/Recorder

Post-Production: iZotope – RX 3 Advanced