Oscars: 5 Nominated Sound Editors Reveal Tricks to Their Trade

"We had to create the sound of an environment that has never been heard by a human ear and make it feel natural to the viewer," says Oliver Tarney on creating sound effects for 'The Martian,' as he and the masterminds behind 'Mad Max,' 'The Revenant,' 'Sicario' and 'Star Wars' share the challenges of giving audio treatment to pivotal scenes.
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

This story first appeared in the Feb. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Mad Max: Fury Road 

"Max spends much of the film troubled by his past, acknowledged through an audio treatment we called 'Max's headspace.' When he wakes up in the sand dune, we externalize his blood rushing in the catheter that bleeds him and the hyperstylized chains that confine him. When Max has a flashback on top of the War Rig, we removed all sound, an audio 'blackout,' to reinforce his loss of consciousness." — Mark Mangini, nominated with David White 

The Martian

"We had to create the sound of an environment that has never been heard by a human ear and make it feel natural to the viewer. We favored raw, unprocessed sounds to create a palette that would feel less sci-fi and more near-future. For instance, we broadcasted all the radio transmissions through valve AM transmitters." — Oliver Tarney

The Revenant 

"We used wind and water in creating the power of the Earth through the sound to give the characters the sense of their smallness in relation to the greatness of nature." — Lon Bender, Nominated with Martin Hernandez


"Benicio Del Toro's silencer pistol had to resemble the sound of a silenced weapon but also had to be visceral, concussive and dynamic enough for the audience to feel his rage." — Alan Robert Murray

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

"The Rey and Ren interrogation scene is a battle of the wills and the Force. The sound design is used to convey their struggle: The guttural rumble of Kylo Ren's Force power contrasts with Rey's rhythmic heartbeat and sharp countermoves." — David Accord, Nominated with Matthew Wood 

Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are nominated for outstanding sound mixing, along with Bridge of Spies. More on this work can be found here.