You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Subtle Soundscapes Shape Mood of ‘Manchester by the Sea’

When he came on board Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” Jacob Ribicoff instantly saw the picture’s creative potential. The supervising sound editor, sound designer, and sound re-
recording mixer knew he could use the film’s soundscape to lift it off the screen.

“Kenny had a specific idea of what he wanted to hear,” says Ribicoff.  “What was great was that he also valued my ideas.”

After reading the script, Ribicoff determined he’d use a few field mics, including his RSM 191 Neumann microphone, to capture the audio in the film’s authentic locations. Now discontinued, the stereophonic model is ideal for recording outdoor and motion picture sound where the width of the sound image must match the camera viewing angle.

Ribicoff then spent hours at each location capturing every type of sonic atmosphere. He went into a fishermen’s bar during business hours, recording audio from different sides of the room; he caught sound in multiple corridors of a hospital and a high school, and even staged scenes with people walking and casually talking so he could have material to use for voice scoring.

He traveled on the film’s ferryboat, recording vessel sounds at different engine settings. He recorded oceanfront sounds in varying weather conditions and at different times of day.

Audio crew, including dialogue and ADR, particularly foley artists, were crucial to creating the mix.  Ribicoff reteamed with his “The Light Between the Oceans” foley expert Leslie Bloome, whom he credits with creating “all types of soundscapes” to capture audio such as blades on ice during the hockey sequence, which required great sensitivity and skill. During a high school hockey practice, Patrick (Lucas Hedges) gets benched for fighting with other players, and then immediately learns that his father has died. Ribicoff worked with Bloome to get the sound of the blades just right, synching it to the action in the picture, then further manipulating the tone slightly — something no computer could have done.

“A computer would have to know character and emotion,” says Ribicoff. “These sounds are visceral … tactile.”

Before completing the sound editing and mixing, Ribicoff sat with Lonergan and editor Jennifer Lame, discussing the overall movie as well as specific scenes.  After mapping out his edit, sound design, and mix, he created multiple versions of some scenes: a mix that followed their requests as well as one he imagined.

His handling of a more emotional opening design, featuring seagulls and storm sounds combined with the score, replaced the early idea of score-only. And Ribicoff’s idea to eliminate ambient sounds in a pivotal hospital scene veered from the original concept, but strengthened the moment’s emotional weight.

Combining the role of sound editing, designing, and re-recording has become common on smaller-budget, more intimate films, and it’s a role with which Ribicoff is comfortable. Since 2013’s “Concussion,” he’s simultaneously handled the positions on seven films, including “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “Where to Invade Next.”

More Artisans

  • Alfonso Cuarón, Emmanuel Lubezki Discuss the

    Alfonso Cuarón Details 'Roma' Cinematography With 'Gravity' DP Emmanuel Lubezki

    As part of an overall push to bring Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” to awards season voters, Netflix’s “‘Roma’ Experience'” played host to guild and Academy members Sunday in Hollywood. The all-day event featured panels focused on the film’s crafts and an audio-visual installation akin to the streamer’s FYSee initiative for Emmy contenders, featuring costumes and art [...]

  • 12 08 _148.NEF

    Mississippi Beckons Producers With Southern Charm, High Incentives

    Mississippi may not be the first state that comes jumps into the mind of a producer considering locations for an upcoming shoot, but the state has a lot going for it, including a picturesque Southern ambience, antebellum homes, rich farmlands, pine forests, Gulf coast sands and casinos – not to mention significant rebates on qualified [...]

  • Charles Saldana Clint Eastwood Key Grip

    Key Grip Charlie Saldana Recalls His Long Career With Film/TV Greats

    Interviewing Charlie Saldana in the quiet of his North Hollywood home, the 79-year-old working key grip still exudes the cool confidence of someone who’s spent a lifetime in partnership with one of Hollywood’s great directors: Clint Eastwood. Saldana still possesses an actor’s looks, with a salt-white mustache and a full silver mane. He began his [...]

  • Directors Guild Selects Special Awards Recipients

    Film News Roundup: Directors Guild Selects Special Awards Recipients

    In today’s film news roundup, the DGA honors a pair of members for contributions to the guild, romantic comedy “Wild Honey” gets a release and VFX house Proof expands. DGA HONORS Unit production manager Kathleen McGill and associate director Mimi (Marian) Deaton have been selected as the recipients of the Directors Guild of America special [...]

  • C2_01217_RCMichael B. Jordan stars as Adonis

    'Creed II' Production, Costume Designers Worked Together to Get the Right Look

    Below-the-line department heads who have the opportunity to work together on more than one film often develop a kind of communications shorthand. For production designer Franco-Giacomo Carbone and costume designer Lizz Wolf, “Creed II” marks their fourth collaboration — a relationship that began with 2008’s “Rambo.” This worked to the great advantage of the eighth [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos The Favourite BTS

    How 'The Favourite' Director and Crew Defied Period Conventions

    Director Yorgos Lanthimos continues to defy conventions with “The Favourite,” a funny and savage look at the court of England’s Queen Anne in the early 1700s. “Period films are always challenging,” he tells Variety, “and with a limited budget, it takes a lot of work. So it was hard but fun.” Lanthimos and his crew [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content