'Game of Thrones' and More Sound Pros Reveal Secrets of Bringing Key Battles to Life

10:30 AM 8/16/2019

by Carolyn Giardina

This year's Emmy-nominated sound mixers and editors also open up about their work on 'Better Call Saul,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' and 'Star Trek: Discovery.'

Courtesy of Amazon Studios, HBO and AMC

  • 'Better Call Saul'

    AMC

    Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

    Nominated episode "Talk" includes an action sequence during which the Salamancas kill the Espinosas, with production sound ranging from quiet whispers to gunshots and explosions. Lensed on location in Albuquerque, the sequence starts with the Salamancas in a car. "We have a lot of whispered dialogue in the car, and then the twins take off and walk into the motel with more tight, whispered dialogue," explains production sound mixer Phillip W. Palmer, adding that they then had to follow the action, including handheld work, with such effects as explosions and gunfire. "At this point, it's a sound effects and postproduction embellishment. An immense amount of gunfire was recorded on location."

  • 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

    Amazon

    Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Studios

    "The most important thing is to preserve the clarity of the dialogue, set within the audio background of the time period," says rerecording mixer Ron Bochar of the work on the 1950s- and '60s-set story that stars Rachel Brosnahan as a housewife with a knack for stand-up comedy. This includes incorporating the sounds of period vehicles, machinery and phones as well as a walla track (crowd sound) with conversations related to the month and year of a given episode. "Within this '50s reality, the dialogue has to shine, whether it's happening in a diner or on the stage or coming from television sets," says Bochar of the show's signature quick-witted talk, citing a telethon scene with "six different television sets that had to sound true to the time."

  • 'Game of Thrones'

    HBO

    Helen Sloan/HBO

    "The Long Night" episode features the series' epic battle at Winterfell. "The biggest challenge was keeping the battle interesting and dynamic," says sound supervisor Tim Kimmel. "The scene where the Army of the Dead breach the fire trench and start to climb the walls of the castle to attack was particularly challenging. There were so many layers — with vocals and movement, bows and flaming arrows, weapons and body movement and falls — that keeping it all properly detailed and organized for the mixers to do their job took a lot of time and patience." Sound designer Paula Fairfield adds that a pass of weather-related sounds such as wind and rain contributed to a sense of disorientation.

  • 'Star Trek: Discovery'

    CBS All Access

    John Medland/CBS

    A key sequence from season two's finale involved Michael Burnham's (Sonequa Martin-Green) first flight in the Red Angel suit. "It was a delicate balance of conveying the chaos of the battle, exploring new tech and also keeping the audience sonically engaged with Burnham's experience," explains sound supervisor Matthew E. Taylor, who was tasked with using a palette of radio calls, crew calls, radio cross chatter and effects to help "focus us on the human experience."

    This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.