There’s an extraordinary level of craftsmanship among this year’s nominees for the Cinema Audio Society Awards, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sound mixing, a collaborative discipline that requires sound editors, re-recording mixers, Foley and ADR artistry to work together to create a finished product.
Seven categories will be recognized this year across from live action features to specials and post-production, and the nominees include awards season stalwarts such as “Mank,” “News of the World,” “Soul” and “News of the World,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Sound of Metal” and “Onward.”
As previously announced, George Clooney will receive the CAS filmmaker award and production sound mixer William B. Kaplan will be the CAS career achievement honoree.
“2020 was wrought with unprecedented challenges, yet the nominees of the 57th Annual CAS Awards display a stellar example of quality and creativity that rivals any of our previous years. This year’s celebration is a testament to the outstanding technical ingenuity and creative prowess of our sound mixing community,” said CAS President Karol Urban in a statement.
Oscar-nominee Nicolas Becker’s biggest challenge for “Sound of Metal” was how to create sound design for a film that hinges on silence. In a film in which Riz Ahmed plays a punk rock metal drummer who is loses his hearing, Becker spent a year before filming mapping out the sound environment. Rather than rely on a sound library, Becker built his sound, placing microphones where he needed.
Also taking the naturalistic approach was double CAS nominee Ren Klyce. For “Mank’s” extravagant dinner party sequences at the lavish San Simeon estate owned by William Randolph Heart, everything needed to sound wealthy. “It was the feeling of crystal, the feeling of the finest Champagne being popped and the finest leather chairs being sat in. It was the most ferociously gigantic fires — roaring fireplaces. All of that was to say, ‘Look at how rich William Randolph Hearst is.’”
It was action at sea for Apple’s sound contender “Greyhound,” which sees Tom Hanks as captain of a naval destroyer as he’s crossing the cold Atlantic during World War II. In a climactic battle sequence, the ship comes under fire from German U boats. “It’s attached by two boats at the same time, and Tom has to make critical decisions to avoid being hit by torpedoes. He goes from being on the offense to being on the defense, and everything radically changes,” says CAS nominee Warren Shaw.
The boat has to change direction as torpedoes are being fired. “It’s an amazing sequence that illustrates the dramatic action. Music has to be playing, there’s the action, the sound effects, the gun fires, the engines, the explosions,” says Shaw, whose team relied on existing libraries of the sounds of ships at war to build the aural scape.
For the Great Before ethereal world of Pixar’s “Soul,” Klyce’s question was, “What does the Great Before sound like?’” In the film, Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) is an aspiring jazz musician who has a near-death experience and stumbles into this realm.
The sound needed to be warm and inviting and not a scary place. Since the film was a music-driven film, there were contrasting scores, with one the New York world, scored by Jon Batiste, and the other, the Great Before, scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Ross, a CAS nominee, was scoring mixer. Klyce’s sound palette came together, inspired by the score.
Whether animated or action, the theme was to rely on naturalist sounds as possible to immerse audiences into the environments they were seeing on screen.