Emmys: 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' Balances "Machinery to Organics"

The 10-part anthology series required unique sounds for each episode.
Courtesy of Amazon Studios
'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams'

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams consists of 10 stand-alone, one-hour episodes, each based on a different Philip K. Dick short. As such, each episode of the Amazon anthology series was completely different, including the settings, time periods, cast and even the directors.

That was a challenge for supervising sound editor Mark Lanza, sound effects editor Harry Snodgrass, dialogue editor Ryne Gierke and the rest of the sound-editing team, who were based at Sony Pictures Studios. “It was very difficult; we couldn't use any of the sound effects a second time in a different episode,” Lanza says, adding that for sounds such as computer technology, “we tried to put each in their own genre. Some sounds were futuristic yet retro.”

“A spacecraft built 10 years from now would sound a lot different from one built in the next millennium,” explains Snodgrass. “Each episode had a unique feel based whether it was on Earth or somewhere in space and how far it was set in the future. Some of the hardest parts were simple things, like beeps and glitches. Those little touches couldn’t be the same from show to show.”

In the end, the team created separate libraries of computer sounds for the various episodes. Among them was “Autofac,” an episode set in a post-apocalyptic world.

"The robots that thought they were human were treated as human," Lanza says. "Others were given very subtle servos noises, so you could tell it was a robot. The eyes are a window to the soul and I wanted viewers to know when they look at the eyes that they are looking at a robot."

Mixing for the series was split between two stages at Sony Pictures Studios with Elmo Ponsdomenech and Todd Beckett, and Ryan Collins and Nick Offord, as the two mix teams. Collins and Offord drew "Autofac."

Of this episode, Lanza explains. “Our director, Peter Horton, said there were no more birds or crickets in this world. So we did our best in editing to get rid of all that we could [from the production sound]. That left Nick and Ryan with several challenges. They needed to cover up what we couldn’t get rid of. ... There was a delicate balance of machinery to organics in the mix as that was one of the main themes of the episode."