Audio engineer Jennifer Walden provides a fascinating analysis of the sound design in Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight in a recent issue of Randi Altman’s postPerspective.
Tarantino is “truly an aural enthusiast and very much a sculptor of his cinema through the use of sound and music,” according to his longtime supervising sound editor, Wylie Stateman, who continues,
Sound is a major contributor to Quentin’s films and often the secret sauce that makes the meal just gel and come together as a coherent recognizable work…
Wylie Stateman, Supervising Sound Editor on Hateful Eight
Audio is very different from the other filmmaking aspects… Audio is very mysterious — a force that is just truly present in the moment. It’s just a vibration in the room. It’s something that the audience experiences but can’t see and can’t touch. It’s a different kind of art form, and as an audio artist I love working for Quentin because he is so particular and he values the contribution that sound makes to the experience of watching his film.
Sylvain Lasseur created & performed the voice of the blizzard
Tarantino is fascinated with the sounds of the actors’ voices and he wanted the ninth adversary in the film, the blizzard, to have its own character and its own unique ‘voice’. For that challenge, Stateman and co-supervising sound editor Harry Cohen called in sound designer Sylvain Lasseur. Sylvain brought in his Continuum fingerboard and Kyma / Pacarana system and set to work creating the voice of the blizzard.
Using Kyma and the Continuum, Lasseur was able to perform multiple layers of wind sounds to picture. They built the blizzard literally one gust, one whistle and one whisp at a time, designing the wind to complement the dialog and the picture editing in a unique way. According to Stateman, using Kyma, Lasseur was able to create an “instrument” on which he could perform the voice of the blizzard.
The first step was to create a guide track based around the dialog; then they modeled other sounds around that guide track. Stateman describes how they composed the sound design in an almost musical way:
So let’s say we have a base sound of a blizzard, we could then, very selectively, model wind wisps or rumbles or anything else against it. The Kyma would shape the other samples in time relative to the control track. Once we have them all modeled against each other we can start to pull them apart a little bit so that each element can have its own dynamic moment. It becomes more like a parade and you hear the low, the mid and the high — not on top of each other but offset from each other. The artistry comes in turning samples into instruments.
The importance of sound to Tarantino is evident in the fact that Lasseur ended up spending four months creating the instruments in Kyma and another four months performing and shaping the voice of the blizzard around the dialog and visuals.
For more insights on the sound for Hateful Eight, check out Jennifer Walden’s full article: Wyle Stateman Talks Sound Editing on ‘The Hateful Eight’