When shooting the first ever 3D movie in Antarctica, Antarctica, on The Edge, director Jon Bowermaster was faced with innumerable physical and technological challenges due to the hard conditions of the frigid continent. In order to minimize potential sound problems created by the harsh weather and mechanical noises, Bowermaster decided to shoot the entire movie M.O.S (without sound), knowing that he would turn to New York based Creative Audio Post later on to recreate realistic sounds during the post production phase.
"Starting a movie about life in Antarctica for IMAX 3D and other large screen theaters without any sound-of-tape was a daunting task that many would have just covered up with a heavy and overwhelming musical score. My goal was to balance the beautifully scored orchestral track with a completely organic, natural and upfront surrounding sound that would complement the amazing cinematography and portray the beauty and grandeur of this continent and its fauna," explains Jacques Boulanger, Creative Audio Post's Founder.
During the 2.5 years that spanned from the initial concept to the post production phase, sound designer Jacques Boulanger used every opportunity to record sound that could be used in post to recreate realistic sounds for the frozen continent. To help him do that Boulanger and partner Holly Grace acquired a Soundfield ST450 microphone from TSL Products, together with a dead-cat wind stopper, a multichannel portable recorder, and a battery pack.
From recording his footsteps in knee deep snow, to breaking ice while kayaking frozen sections of the Hudson River in NY state, and capturing howling winds on top of Gunks Ridge in the Shawangunk Mountains, Boulanger used the TSL Soundfield ST-450 microphone to acquire realistic, fully 3-dimensional sounds that could be used in a variety of surround mixing environments, from stereo to 5.1, 7.1 and beyond.
"I had been researching surround microphones for a long time and had waited for the right opportunity to acquire one. The TSL SoundField ST-450 coincidental mic diaphragm architecture is unique and unrivaled and provides not only a limitless combination of polar patterns and surround formats, but most importantly, gives the mixer the confidence that its use will always remain phase coherent, no matter how the delivery may be folded down to: 3.0, stereo, mono, etc.," explains Boulanger.
"The Soundfield mic enabled me to create material with a convincing and overwhelming texture and dimension that makes the soundtrack completely natural and convincing, and immediately transports you to Antarctica through the magic of the 3D full surround experience."
Creative Audio Post also collaborated with renowned location recordist and TSL ST-450 user, Chris Watson, to supplement Boulanger's sounds palette with recordings of groaning icebergs grinding against another, underwater seal chants, winds, melting ice, and other extraordinary sound perspectives only the ST-450 could capture.
When it came to working on the final mix, Boulanger and his team used the output of the Soundfield microphone in the final mix by folding out the B-format into 5.1, using the SurroundZone2 plug-in. The SurroundZone2 plug-in unlocks the information captured by the SoundField microphone, providing unprecedented control over a wide range of microphone parameters from a single user interface. Boulanger and his team were able to tweak the polar pattern, focus point, and orientation dynamically matching sound to the picture as if it was the sound-on-tape (SOT) but with hyper surround imaging. The process was akin to "unwrapping a Christmas present" according to Boulanger.
"I love my TSL Soundfield Mic and it is always packed and ready to go at the drop of a hat, whenever the impulse strikes my partner and me to go out in the wild and capture some unique and organic sounds while enjoying the outdoors," concludes Boulanger.