It was up to supervising sound editors Will Files and Matt Yocum and dialogue and ADR supervisor Eliza Zebert to build the soundscape for Korean War-set “Devotion,” a story that centers on the friendship between Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) the first Black aviator in U.S. Navy history, and fellow fighter pilot Tom Hudner (Glen Powell).
Yocum, an alumnus of Savannah College of Art and Design, was able to record a real 1950 F4U Corsair, making it period-correct. “It was important for us to get authentic sound to feel the weight and visceral quality of these aircraft, because, at the end of the day, they are characters in the film that had to be brought to life and participate in the story with Tom Hudner, Jesse Brown and the other pilots,” he says.
To collect the sounds, Yocum flew to the Erickson Aircraft Collection in Oregon with friend and fellow sound expert Kai Paquin. Paquin found full blueprints and schematics for the airplanes.
“We put two lavalier microphones inside the cockpit on either side of the dashboard, and an ambisonic microphone at the back right of the pilot to capture the internal quality of the airplane,” Yocum says. “We attached two more lavaliers to handles on the exterior of the airplane, where they were protected from the wind and could be used without too much distortion from air movement.”
As the planes flew, Yocum and Paquin were on the ground with microphones capturing fly-bys. Yocum was able to communicate with pilots, calling out specific maneuvers from the script that he needed.
He adds, “We recorded the sound of the plane’s 2,000 horsepower engine cooling down.”
Files stepped in to record additional sounds through the headsets. “We used the mics in breathing masks and headgear to capture radio communication,” says Files.
Zebert wanted to preserve as much of the production dialogue as possible to ensure authenticity, but for those moments when things were too noisy, Zebert says her workaround was to record ADR with the actors in helmets so when the original dialogue was unusable, she could use recordings.