FILM EDITING: “Whiplash” Finale Is a Choice Cut
If film editing is, on one level, a way of keeping tempo, then the riveting final moments of “Whiplash” embody that principle to the hilt.
Having turned the tables on each other in full view of a live audience, J.K. Simmons’ orchestra conductor and Miles Teller’s drum prodigy at last turn their conflict into complicity.
It begins with a measured series of back-and-forth cuts between Teller, drumming slowly at first, and Simmons, signaling him to gradually accelerate, at which point the cutting follows suit.
Teller’s frenzied hand movements are echoed by Simmons’ own rapid-fire gestures, and soon the cutting, like the music, reaches peak intensity, darting among minute closeups of cymbals, bass pedals and other clattering drum parts, as well as trickles of blood and sweat. It ends with a bang, and an exhilarating cut to black.
— Justin Chang
SOUND MIXING: “Unbroken’s” Raft Scenes Took Artful Trickery
“Ah, the secret of the raft scenes,” says supervising sound editor Becky Sullivan with a laugh.
It turns out the emotionally wrought scenes in “Unbroken” were filmed in a tank, on a soundstage, next to a freeway and an amusement park.
‘“So, no matter how we cleaned the dialogue there was still a veil of noise and traffic between the performance and an audience member,” Sullivan says. All the scenes had to be re-recorded in ADR.
“We brought (the actors) in and laid them on the floor,” she recalls. “I made a makeshift raft around them, miced ’em, turned out the lights and didn’t let them drink water, because I needed their voices to be as dry as they were during their days on the raft.”
Moreover, Sullivan collected a library of swallowing, chewing and dry mouth clicks. “A lot of times we’ll remove that, but it was important to hear their throats and mouths getting drier.”
— David John Farinella
VISUAL EFFECTS: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Kitchen Scene Really Cooks
Easily one of the most buzzed about vfx sequences in years, the “Pentagon kitchen” scene in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” takes audiences on a chaotic trip with super-fast mutant Quicksilver though a slow-motion fight scene.
The scene left the vfx crew no place to hide because they couldn’t use a quick camera move to cover anything. “The trajectory of every item flying through the kitchen had to match as the camera swung around,” says vfx supervisor Tim Crowley, Oscar-nommed for the film.
Crowley spent seven months brainstorming about the characteristics of cut carrots and flying soup, building assets and rendering the f/x.
“We didn’t think of this as multiple shots,” Crowley says. “This is really multiple views on one shot that moves around in a circle. So the continuity of each element and the choreography all had to be done with a sense of continuity — and in time to the song ‘Time in a Bottle.’
“It was one of the most complex exercises in pre-planning I’ve ever done.”
— Karen Idelson
See Also: That Touch of Grit Makes F/X Fit
SOUND EDITING: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Team Worked Magic With a Spell
In “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” after Galadriel rescues Gandalf at Dol Guldur, she battles the nine Ringwraiths with the help of Elrond and Saruman before banishing Sauron from his stronghold.
The scene is memorable both for the care sound editors took during the battle itself and the force of Galadriel’s voice as she casts the spell upon Sauron.
“We created the principal dialogue track and then we overlaid that with six similar reads by Cate (Blanchett),” says supervising sound editor Jason Canovas. “Each track was compressed, lined up and pitched differently. On the mix stage the track was spread (throughout the surround channels).
“It was quite a lot of editing and sound design,” he continues. “I think it took six hours to get all that weight in her voice.”
— David John Farinella
See Also: Fine Aural Details Help Stories Shine