50 CinÉireann / Issue 9
Dublin Oldschool is a love letter to Dublin and the Dublin music scene. Shooting guerrilla style on the streets of Dublin and in houses, clubs, and outdoor rave scenes, the film presented its sound team with a series of challenges. Among these were how to capture emotionally charged scenes that quickly went from whispers to shouts, and how to capture those performances in one take on Dublin streets, where traffic and background sounds were largely uncontrolled. Additionally, the sound team had to deal with recording and matching onscreen dialogue with spoken word voiceover that would be recorded long after production, as well as capturing dialogue in party scenes where loud music would ultimately dominate the background. Shortly after the film’s premiere I spoke with production sound mixer Patrick Downey and dialogue editor Peter Blayney about bringing the sound of Dublin to the screen.
Keeping it Simple On Set
When asked about the challenges of shooting Dublin Oldschool on the noisy and active streets of Dublin, production sound mixer Patrick Downey says, he told director Dave Tynan, that, despite their having worked together for years, “You’re going to hate me by the end of this, because I’m going to ask to go again”. Downey explains that, “It’s always difficult to be in a position when everyone is tired, and you have to be stern and say, ‘we don’t have that. I need to get a certain line’, or, ‘it didn’t work.”
But, for him, it comes down to “Keep it simple. Simple. Simple. It’s all about your microphones. It’s all about your placement of microphones, and your willingness to say, ‘we need to go again, and your willingness to say, ‘that wasn’t good enough’. That’s what gets good sound.” In terms of keeping it simple, and ensuring good microphone placement, Downey is quick to credit both boom swinger
Simon Murphy and sound assistant/second boom operator Naoise Meegan.
Traveling light, with just the mixing bag, two booms, and a peli-case full of radio mics., they tried to have two booms on every shot, and at least one lav (hidden lavalier radio microphone) on every character with a line. For the emotionally charged alley confrontation between brothers Jason (Emmet Kirwan) and Daniel (Ian Lloyd Anderson), Downey reflects, “It was such an emotional scene, that on set that day there was no laughter; there was no joking. It was very difficult for Ian and Emmet, so we knew we couldn’t mess it up.” They had to get it on the first take.
The scene was shot with two booms and four radio mics. (two on each actor). The double radio mics. guaranteed that Downey had ISO (isolated) tracks of every character/line recorded at different gain (volume) settings, giving the actors the freedom to work the complete emotional range of the scene, while ensuring that everything from the softest whisper to the loudest shout was cleanly captured and never distorted. Downey laughs, recalling the scene’s wide shot, which was recorded from across the street. He fondly remembers, “watching Simon (boom op Simon Murphy) just dancing around. There were two cast members and Simon on the other side of the street managing to stay out of frame while following them”. And, for budgetary reasons, and to keep things low profile, nothing was locked off (controlled).
Because they give both he and the actors that level of flexibility, and because he likes their sound (particularly the DPA 4071s and 4061s) Downey is a firm believer in properly using lavs on everything, and in, what he calls, “the dark art of hiding a lav”. And after speaking to dialogue editor Peter Blayney, it’s clear that Downey just may be a master of that dark art.
Sound on Film
With Glenn Kaufmann