×

‘Ford v Ferrari’ Sound Team Balanced Emotion and Intensity

While on the surface, director James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari” is a story about racing, at the heart of it is a character-driven piece about a renegade named Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and the friendship he forges with Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) as he chases a lifelong dream. For the sound team, the characters of the story were far more important than the mechanics around them.

For production sound mixer Steven Morrow, the focus was capturing the dialogue and emotional arc of the characters. While post would record the brunt of the sound effects Morrow detailed a baseline for them to follow. Special microphones were used to record the dialogue during the intense racing scenes.

“We used DPA 60 lavaliers both on the actors and for planting on the vehicles,” says Morrow. “You wouldn’t normally use those mics for dialogue scenes as they’re reserved for jet-engine-level noise, but because of how loud the cars were and the way Christian [Bale] was acting in the moment, it was the best mic.”

Production sound employed several unique techniques on the project. “The way Jim [Mangold] works is he will watch a scene and make changes as it progresses so we had to anticipate anything,” Morrow says. “We ended up placing a microphone on anyone who could potentially speak and record every piece of possible dialogue. This way post can sift through it and decide what’s gold and what isn’t.”

Popular on Variety

In post, supervising sound editor Donald Sylvester finessed an aural authenticity to the library of original sounds.

“Jim isn’t into sound effects. He’s into the effect of sound,” says Sylvester. “He wants to be totally immersed in a scene and for the sound to support the story. Any red flags he hears we throw them out.”

This was especially true for the dramatic 25-minute Le Mans race in which Miles takes on Ferrari driving the iconic Ford GT40. The grandstands were a cornucopia of sounds that included pit row, hundreds of spectators, a PA system covering the race and the throttle-pushing cars.

To create the soundscape, a Ford GT40 was located in Ohio where the owner allowed them to record several elements including its engine, transmission, tailpipe and interior. Their next stop was finding the Ferrari, which they did in Atlanta.

“In the end we might have had too many options, but we were able to use everything to create a select group of sounds for when the audience is inside the vehicle versus outside,” notes Sylvester.

Subliminally heightening the full range of sounds was the use of Dolby Atmos dialed in by rerecording mixers Paul Massey and David Giammarco. Massey, who mixed the dialogue and music portions, and Giammarco the effects, keyed in on the legibility and richness of each word so that not a single story point would be lost.

“Our fundamental approach was the character storytelling and how the friendship between Ken and Shelby evolved,” says Massey.

For the Le Mans race the soundscape led the audience without overwhelming them. “The sound effects had to be powerful in the racing moments but it was important for us to track the emotion of each scene and strike a balance,” says Giammarco. “What served and complimented each scene the best were the guidelines for us.”

The key to the immersion was detailing the exact frequency, rhythm and level of each element whether it was dialogue, effects or music.

“A lot of it came from what we decided to pull out rather than what we decided to put in,” adds Massey. “It was a constant handoff and dance between us.”

More Film

  • Nardjes A.

    ‘Invisible Life’s’ Karim Ainouz Drops Trailer for 'Nardjes A.’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    On Feb. 14 last year, Karim Aïnouz arrived in Algeria to trace via the story of his parents the Algerian Revolution which happened 60 years ago – its 1954-62 War of Independence from France. The uprising he very quickly started to shoot, however, was one happening right then, the Revolution of Smiles, whose first street [...]

  • Call of the Wild

    Harrison Ford in 'The Call of the Wild': Film Review

    Dogs, in their rambunctious domesticated way, can lead us overly civilized humans a step or two closer to the natural world. So it’s only fitting that the best dog movies have saluted that unruly canine spirit without a lot of artificial flavoring. Hollywood’s classic dog tales, like “Old Yeller” (1957) or “Lassie Come Home” (1943), [...]

  • Adventures of a Mathematician

    Indie Sales Unveils Trailer For 'Adventures of a Mathematician' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run up to Berlin’s European Film Market, Indie Sales has unveiled the trailer for Thor Klein’s “Adventures of a Mathematician” which had its world premiere in Palm Springs. The film tells the inspiring true story of a Polish-Jewish mathematician who got a fellowship at Harvard and went on to join the prestigious Manhattan [...]

  • Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE

    How Internet Backlash Helped 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Avoid Box Office Disaster

    It’s not a stretch to say Universal’s “Cats” and Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” had two of the most polarizing movie trailers in recent memory. Both caught fire online for all the wrong reasons after fans on social media torched the questionable CGI. “Cats,” an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, used a new science called [...]

  • Neumond Berlin Germany Restaurant

    Berlin Offers Diversity in Restaurant Scene

    Berlin Film Festival attendees have a chance to sample the diverse cuisine of a foodie city. Some of the top pics for a pre-film repast: Adana Grillhaus  A hugely popular Turkish restaurant in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, Adana Grillhaus now has a second location right around the corner. Manteuffelstr. 86 +49 30 6127790 Skalitzer Str. 105 [...]

  • my salinger year

    Berlin Festival's New Selection Committee Takes Off

    Berlin’s new seven-member selection committee — four women and three men — comprises the core of new director Carlo Chatrian’s programming staff, which is led Canadian critic Mark Peranson. Peranson was the Locarno Film Festival’s chief of programming when Chatrian headed that Swiss festival. This year, Berlin is opening with “My Salinger Year,” starring Sigourney [...]

  • Mariette Rissenbeek Berlin Film Festival Executive

    Mariette Rissenbeek Faces Challenges as Berlin Festival Executive Director

    Making her debut as the new executive director of the Berlin Film Festival this year, Mariette Rissenbeek is facing some big challenges after taking over management duties at one of the world’s biggest public film fests. Rissenbeek and new artistic director Carlo Chatrian succeed Dieter Kosslick, who left an indelible mark on the fest after [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content