'Into the Spider-Verse,' 'Black Panther' Sound Editors on Bringing Two Heroes to the Big Screen

9:30 AM 12/13/2018

by Carolyn Giardina

The sound editor on the animated Spider-Man film explains how he used bows and stringed instruments to render "Spidey sense," while 'Black Panther's' sound pro reveals the trick to creating the spaceships' "tonal signature": birdcalls.

SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE - Still 1 - Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'

    This animated Spidey film featuring the Miles Morales Spider-Man (played by Shameik Moore) has a uniquely stylized comic-book look, and yet in many parts of the film, the approach to the sound went in the opposite direction.

    “Now there’s tons of stylized things in there,” supervising sound editor Geoffrey Rubay says. But “because the visual was so strong in one direction,” he adds, “we were tasked at times to ground it and give it some believability.”

    It was especially tough to edit sequences involving graphic representations of the characters using their “Spidey sense — getting that sense that they were reaching out and trying to get Miles’ attention or maybe having a group experience.” To pull it off, a variety of techniques were used. “Sometimes it was simple, just a ring-y, chime-y feel,” Rubay says. “We also used bows — in some cases actual stringed instruments — to make things resonate.

  • 'Black Panther'

    “We wanted Wakanda to be high-tech beyond high-tech. My version of that is something that is designed to make no sound unless it has some kind of cultural significance,” says Steve Boeddeker, supervising sound editor and rerecording mixer, of the sounds for the fictitious African nation and home of Black Panther.

    “If you imagine Wakanda being this place in Africa that had never been touched or influenced by the outside world but had developed this advanced technology, that tech would be culturally rooted in West African tradition,” Boeddeker explains. “So the sounds were based in, as much as possible, African instruments — percussion, flutes.”

    For the Ryan Coogler-helmed film, the calls of African birds were also a key element of the sounds of Wakanda. “We went through all kinds of African birdcalls, and we would pitch them and slow them down, and those became the tonal signatures to the spaceships,” he says of T’Challa’s personal aircraft, the RTF (Royal Talon Flyer).

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