- Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018
In Columbia Pictures’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the game has changed as four teenagers are sucked into the world of Jumanji. Director Jake Kasdan has introduced many clever twists to the action-adventure, and that created plenty of opportunities for the film’s sound crew to get creative with sound. All sound services were completed at Sony Pictures Post Production Services.
The new film centers on four high school students who discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting. The teens assume the outer form of their game avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan), while retaining their adolescent personalities, and contend with a variety of menaces, including oversized hippos, rhinos and elephants.
The film’s fanciful visuals required a novel approach toward sound. “The land of Jumanji is fictional,” says Supervising Sound Editor Joel Shryack, who led the sound team alongside Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer Julian Slater and Re-Recording Mixer Kevin O’Connell. “The environments and animals aren’t exactly like they are in the real world. That gave us creative freedom, but it also challenged us to bring this world to life, sonically, in a way that’s believable and exciting for the audience.”
The sound team devoted much of its attention to the huge assortment of jungle creatures featured in the film. Slater explains that the animals needed to appear both familiar and larger than life, and that led to some imaginative sound treatments. “They’re real animals, but they’re 50 percent bigger because this is Jumanji,” explains Slater. “Many of the animal sounds were designed from scratch and involved a cocktail of sounds blended together. For the hippos and rhinos, we blended in the sounds of tigers and even moose. We pitched them down and put them through filters to make them sound completely different from what we started with. I also used my own voice quite a bit.”
One of the film’s most challenging sequences, from a sound perspective, has the four heroes in a helicopter zooming through a jungle cavern while being pursued by an angry herd of albino rhinos. The whirr of the copter’s propeller and whine of its engine alternate with the snorts and pounding hooves of the animals as they clatter through the brush. At several points, the rhinos bash the helicopter with their horns. “The shots come fast and include a lot of detail,” notes Shryack. “Our object is to make the audience imagine they are inside the helicopter with the actors. It feels like an amusement park ride. You are completely immersed in the sound design and Henry Jackman’s beautiful score. It’s exciting.”
The sound team also took a novel approach with human sounds. One scene is set in what appears to be a crowded bazaar -- but because it is happening inside Jumanji, it wasn’t meant to represent any real-world location. To create the right sense of geographic ambiguity, Shryack instructed crowd actors taking part in ADR sessions to speak in an improvised language.
“We brought in actors who could speak a second language and had them make things up, using the cadence of Spanish or an African language, but not the words,” Shryack explains. “The crowds sound foreign, but it’s not a real language.”
The scope and intricacy of the sound design combined with layered dialogue tracks and buoyant score made for a complex mix. O’Connell, who won an Academy Award® for his work on Hacksaw Ridge, said the film’s veteran crew kept the project on track. “Joel and Julian did a fantastic job in preparing and organizing the dialogue and sound elements,” he says. “That left us with a lot of room to get creative with the mix. It was especially beneficial to have Julian working the sound effects side of the mix console, since he had designed many of the elements himself.”
Slater agrees calling the completed soundtrack a collaborative effort, driven by the sound team’s passionate desire to bring the world of Jumanji to life. “Joel, Kevin and I are kindred spirits,” he says. “We’ll do whatever is necessary for the betterment of the movie. We put a lot of time into the sound design, editing and mixing and when we finished the movie, we all had massive smiles on our faces because it had been such a fun and positive experience.”
About Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
In the brand-new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the game has changed as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they decide to play and are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, in the bodies of the avatar characters they chose (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan). What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – Jumanji plays you. To win, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever… Directed by Jake Kasdan, the screenplay is by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers and Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner with a screen story by Chris McKenna, based on the book Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. The film is produced by Matt Tolmach and William Teitler.
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group includes film labels Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/divisions.