From fact-based to fantasy films, field recordings add authenticity and originality to sound design. Even if they’re enhanced with library effects during editing, field recordings convey the character of the original sound source, giving the track a unique flavor. Post finds out how The Finest Hours and Warcraft post sound teams designed their big Hollywood soundtracks with the help of field recordings.
THE FINEST HOURS
Disney’s The Finest Hours, now on Blu-ray, is based on the true events of a Coast Guard rescue of a tanker crew, whose vessel was torn in half during a storm off the coast of Chatham, MA, in 1952. The film was partially shot on-location in Chatham, where the events actually happened. This prompted the post sound team to trek up there, too. Supervising sound editor Mark P. Stoeckinger and sound effects recordist/editor Charlie Campagna, at Formosa Group (formosagroup.com) in Hollywood, packed up suitcases full of microphones, including a Neumann 190i, a DPA 5100 (a 5.1 channel microphone) and two Sennheiser MKH 800s, plus two Sound Devices 788T digital recorders, and set out for a week long field recording trip in December 2014.
On their recording hit-list was the little 36-foot Coast Guard rescue boat. Stoeckinger and Campagna recorded the CG-36001, a sister ship of the story’s original CG-36500, in the harbor off Chatham. They placed DPA 4061 spot mics near the engine and exhaust, and the 5.1 channel DPA 5100 at the bow to capture an overallimpression of the vessel. They captured on-board recordings in different currents and a range of engine stress sounds. They recorded boat-bys and maneuvers from an exterior perspective.
Stoeckinger and Campagna also had access to the USS Salem, a heavy cruiser on which several interior scenes were filmed for The Finest Hours’s ill-fated SS Pendleton tanker. They had free reign inside the USS Salem to bang on the hull, metal floors, stairs and pipes, and open and close hatches. “We got great metal impacts, Foley footsteps on the metal grate stairs and resonant metal floorboards,” Campagna says. “These sounds were added to enhance the traditional Foley in the film.”