- Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014
The acclaimed documentary film from Kartemquin Films and award-winning filmmaker Steve James "Life Itself" is continuing to earn rave reviews this summer as distributor Magnolia Pictures rolls it out in theaters, following its on-demand and iTunes release on July 4. Today, Drew Weir and his colleagues at the award-winning sound design studio Another Country are proud to reveal their contributions to the film's highly polished original audio soundtrack.
"Drew and his team at Another Country did a stellar and inspired job on our mix for 'Life Itself,'" said James. "What I love about Drew is that no matter how granular we get about every detail of the mix, he's right there with us, wanting to make it the very best it can be."
An award-winning sound designer, mixer and audio engineer, Weir joined Another Country last fall, and since then, he has been building on his impressive credit list spanning top-tier commercial, television and feature film work. His most recent feature projects include "Drinking Buddies" from writer/director Joe Swanberg, and Swanberg's new release "Happy Christmas" which is currently in select theaters across America – as well as "Life Itself" and "The Interrupters" from Steve James for Kartemquin, and James' 30 for 30 Allen Iverson documentary for ESPN, "No Crossover."
Nominated for an MPSE Golden Reel for Best Audio Editing for his work on the "The Interrupters," Weir has also won a New York Art Director's Club Award, several Telly Awards, and the Intercom Awards Special Achievement for Sound Design.
"It was an honor to work again alongside Steve James, Kartemquin producer Zak Piper and composer Joshua Abrams on this amazing tribute to Roger Ebert," Weir began. "Essentially, Steve wanted a big cinematic sound and score that complimented Roger's character. Steve often relies on audio to build on emotion or tension in any particular scene; getting the sound consistent and clear was the primary task, but with Steve's style of filmmaking, he really uses sound to bring the audience into the story."
Weir's project team at Another Country included executive producer Tim Konn, who served as audio post supervisor, as well as assistant sound effects editors Alison Ho, Josh Hunnicutt, Mike Regan and Louise Rider. En route to delivering the film's 5.1 cinema mix, a LtRt cinema mix, a stereo cinema mix, an unfilled marketing and entertainment mix and full stems, the challenges were heightened by a compressed schedule finalizing the film for its world debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Another Country began with audio captured as part of James' production by Zak Piper, who also served as location audio mixer. Under Weir's direction, artful post-production sound design was performed using Avid's Pro Tools to support the visual story, including, for example, handling perspective shifts when movie clips moved from full-screen to being part of a TV show.
"After doing a lot of editing and cleanup to the production audio, we then added Foley and library sound effects back in to give certain scenes more detail," Weir added. "For instance, to allow the audience to feel the moment better in a particularly lonesome shot of Roger in rehab, the production sound was removed and the footsteps and gripping of the hand railing were put in just enough to work with the music score and compliment the picture."
According to Weir, surround sound was used artistically throughout the film to envelop the listener in the music and ambience but also as an effect in key places, like during the opening titles, when the sound of a film projector comes from behind the audience as if it's coming from a projection booth. Weir created the final mix in Another Country's Sound 4 studio, which presented the film on a large screen with a JBL theatrical sound system and a Dolby Cinema processor, and provided a large enough surround field to accommodate everyone who needed to be present for the final mix.
"I think 'Life Itself' is a great example of how Another Country comes together as a team," Tim Konn concluded. "While Drew did all the dialog cleanup and final mixing, all of our assistants did an amazing job of spotting sound effects, Foleying sounds and helping build the different ambiences throughout the film. Our assistants volunteered to come in over the weekends and work really late nights to give Drew everything he needed to stay on schedule."
The latest information on "Life Itself" is available at http://magpictures.com/lifeitself.
About Another Country
An industry leader in high-definition surround sound, Chicago-based Another Country's award-winning talents specialize in sound design and mixing for cinema, television, radio, gaming and online media. Each of the company's four 128-track Pro Tools HD suites is 5.1 to 7.1 capable, hosts all the latest and best plugins, and offers ISDN and Source Connect capabilities and unparalleled stock music and sound effects libraries. Staff sound designers/mixers include John Binder, David Gerbosi, Drew Weir and Erik Widmark, and the executive producer is Tim Konn. To learn more please visit http://anothercountry.net.