Aaron Glascock has been a sound editor since 1984, and has worked on more than 70 films. His total credits include another 14 television projects as well. In 2014, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work as a Sound Editor on the Michael Keaton film Birdman. He also did sound work on Interstellar, War of the Worlds, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Crazy Stupid Love, among many others. We talked to Aaron recently about his work as a Sound Editor.
DVD.com: First off, what does a sound editor do?
Aaron Glascock: The Sound Editor works with the filmmaker by adding clarity and heightening the illusion—using sound—to support the storytelling. This involves choices that can seem small, or can be quite extensive, like the creation of a different world. Collectively the sound becomes a language, a set of organized signals, that together help with the identity of the storyteller’s voice.
DVD.com: What resources do you have for the sound you edit?
AG: The sound editor starts with the production picture and audio as a framework, and no visual effects. The story's environments and action sound are almost non-existent at this stage. It becomes clear what the story is and where it is sonically deficient. The idea of what sound could be is the true spark of this process.
What happens next is the recording of new sounds and the scouring of sound effects libraries (often personal collections). The unearthed library sound effect can be extensively modified to result in a new sound that fits a unique need. Props are found or made from unusual materials to produce sounds that cannot be found. A good sound effect can come from a carefully-planned multi-channel recording session, or from a bad recording off a phone having tons of character. Every sound editor brings their own way of visualizing sound to this process, resulting in choices that support a sonic identity that is unique.
DVD.com: Are you on set during the shoot?
AG: Occasionally a movie production will support having a sound effect recordist (or sound editor, recording) at the set location. Lately, in the modern age of visual effects it's a rare opportunity. The production location is an ideal place to efficiently access environments, vehicles, props etc. that are on screen. This kind of access occurs less and less lately.
DVD.com: What is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing?
AG: Though the tools and methods used by both Sound Editing and Mixing are similar, the circumstances are completely different. The Sound Editing process is one of visualization and planning. Sound Editors can work with filmmakers for months, sometimes years. The work includes the invention of story concepts and their structured development and experimentation.
The mixing process takes place on a dubbing stage—a carefully-engineered sound theater. Mixing can take place over the course of several days, weeks, or more. It's a process of merging sound mediums. The music, dialog and sound editing are gracefully woven into a form in a manner that will be both unique to that story and carry the familiarity of the cinematic soundtrack.
DVD.com: How did you decide to pursue a career in sound in the motion picture business? Where did you study?
AG: I grew up around documentary film production so the elements of the work were familiar. My earliest sound work was as a Sound Effects Librarian, listening to sound effects. It is not easy to understand one's own career path. I feel that I have been extremely fortunate to have found myself in the situations where I could learn from independently-minded storytellers.
The culture of Film Sound is one of constant discovery. That discovery—the invention process—that is what the career path is to me. The best sound editors and re-recording mixers describe learning new methods, approaches to new challenges, [and] new ways of presenting ideas found in their work every day. I believe this is what happens throughout the filmmaking process in many other departments, too. This is what makes movie culture so rewarding to viewers. This approach to the work path is the only way I know how to guide myself.
DVD.com: Among the many movies and projects you’ve been involved in, which have you been the most proud of?
A.G: I believe when sound is driven by unusual storytelling it can be the premise for a memorable outcome—for instance, when I am reading a script and in my mind a spark kicks off something that is not on the page. This can also happen when the filmmaker's guidance includes taking risks. For these reasons, I loved working on Birdman.
Spring Breakers was out of the convention too for this approach.
For me, working in film is about trying to exceed the level of one's prior work.
The other great experience for me in my career has been the opportunity to do sound in classic film genres like heist film The Town or a modern film-noir Insomnia. It is quite satisfying to get to be a small part of a rich culture, with a great history.
DVD.com: Is the DVD a good medium for sound?
AG: The near field format is really good for understanding content. I think that how you have a movie experience totally changes with your state of mind. It can sound good anywhere that has the technical potential, but your state of mind can have an affect on this outcome, too. An example I'd make is an empty theater sounds better because I know the theater is empty.
Hearing the difference with MartinLogan
There's a sound system for everyone. Plus, enter the sweepstakes!
Whether it is the tinkling of a silver bell or the roar of a train speeding the track, the sounds of a movie can quicken your heartbeat or make you grip your seat.
Recently, the DVD team had a chance to sit down with premier audio experts from MartinLogan and experience the difference that sound quality makes. It doesn’t matter what size your screen or how big your room is; there’s a solution for everyone. If you’re still pondering holiday gift ideas, here are a few for the cinema lover in your life.
SMALL AND MIGHTY
Ideal for someone who's just getting their first home theatre set up, the new Motion i Compact Speakers deliver a smooth, refined sound with stunning dynamic range and jaw-dropping clarity thanks to the bass response and Folded Motion tweeter.
As MartinLogan’s marketing manager, Devin Zell, explains: “These are exceptional at the price, so we took the time to optimize the design and improve where we could. Listening to consumer feedback, we made the front grills removable and improved the binding posts, plus reduced the size on them.”
The result is stellar speaker perfect for any room or application in your home, whether its on a bookshelf or in use in your theater’s surround sound.
SLEEK AND ROBUST
Often, the assumption is that higher end TVs have better sound. This is sometimes true, but listening to the difference of a TV sound versus a sound bar was mind blowing. For the partner or parents who have everything else, a sound bar can be a sound choice.
The Cadence Sound bar uses nine 4-inch full range drivers and nine channels of amplification to reproduce multi-channel recordings with incredible accuracy. The same Anthem Room Correction technology (ARC) found in the higher end Masterpiece Series is also found in the Cadence to deliver an immersive home theater surround sound experience in nearly any room.
“With today’s increasingly thin TVs, a thinner sound bar was necessary,” Devin explained. “We wanted to design a sound bar that would mount much flatter to the wall, to give customers more placement flexibility.”
The Cadence sound bar also integrates Play-Fi, AirPlay and Bluetooth technologies. Devin told us, “It has the Holy Grail of the best streaming technologies, so you can stream the best quality content to the sound bar wirelessly." And with Play-Fi’s echo system, simply add two other Play-Fi speakers for the rear surround sound, and you have a 5.0 surround sound system.
MASTERPIECE OF SOUND AND DESIGN
Since 1983 MartinLogan has been delivering iconic electrostatic speakers which deliver the audio realism they are famous for. Their latest speakers are amazing, but be prepared to win the lottery before purchasing them.
The Masterpiece Series is a culmination of ideas MartinLogan has been working on for years. The last redesign of their iconic electrostatic line was almost a decade ago, and their engineers have continued to work to make improvements in nearly every phase of the speaker. As Devin shared with us, “Bringing bass technology up to the level of the electrostatic panel has been our challenge since the beginning. The electrostatic panel is considered one of the most precise transducers on the planet. So for the Masterpiece Series, it wasn’t about changing the already magnificent sound of the electrostatic panel itself, it was about bringing the rest of the speaker’s technology up to match its performance. With the Masterpiece Series, we were able to integrate bass, not only with the panel itself, but also to better integrate it into the listener’s room.”
To accomplish this task, two innovations were introduced into the Masterpiece Series: PoweredForce Forward™ bass technology and Anthem Room Correction (ARC).
PoweredForce Forward™ bass technology allows small enclosures to accurately produce massive amounts of bass, while significantly reducing performance-robbing front-wall bass reflections. This minimizes the effects of bass information that might bounce back into the listening area, resulting in realistic and accurate bass effects you can feel.
Integrated ARC and the calibrated microphone measures the bass output within your unique listening environment and compares it to optimal response curves. ARC technology then instantly adjusts your speaker’s output to accommodate for the landscape of your room, virtually eliminating performance-robbing anomalies such as doors, windows, furniture and other hard surfaces, for the ultimate in sound performance.
ENGINEERING FOR ALL
One of the amazing things about MartinLogan speakers is the engineering.
“The same engineers who work on the monolithic Masterpiece Series are also designing the Motion i Series and Cadence sound bar,” Devin explained. “The same gentleman who is thinking about how to create the perfect crossover for a super speaker, is thinking about how to build a crossover for a $180 speaker, and he gives just as much thought to those speakers as he does the super speaker.” In the end, you get a truly iconic sound across the entire MartinLogan line.
Make this the hap-hap-happiest holiday ever! Enter now for your chance to win a $10,000 sound system from MartinLogan to create an amazing and innovative movie night experience.