New York (November 9, 2006)–Emilio Estevez, best known for acting in The Breakfast Club and the revered Mighty Ducks trilogy, is not a name that typically comes up in pro audio circles, but his new film Bobby, turned out to be a highly-demanding picture to film in terms of its sound. Written, directed and co-starred by Estevez, the highly-anticipated flick about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy features an all-star cast and, it turns out, was something of a challenge in terms of capturing its production sound. Answering that challenge, then, was production sound mixer Coleman Metts, who used a Venue wireless system from Lectrosonics.
While capturing clean, uncluttered dialog free from ambient environmental noises is never easy, the challenge compounds itself when there is excessive body contact–which is exactly what happened while filmming a drug-induced brawl that occurs during a tennis court mishap in the film.
“There’s a scene where Helen Hunt and Martin Sheen are dressed in their tennis whites–playing tennis–and their game is interrupted by stray balls wandering into their court,” noted Metts. “Clearly annoyed by this intrusion, the focus shifts to an adjacent court, where two guys in business suits (played by Brian Geraghty and Shia LaBeouf) are high on drugs, goofing around, and being generally obnoxious. This leads to one of the men collapsing over the net while fumbling for the ball and, in short order, the two are falling over one another, laughing, and being extremely rude.”
Metts reports this scene was captured late in the day, the cast and crew were rapidly losing daylight, and a school across the street was just letting out–so there was an abundance of peripheral noise. “Recognizing we were likely to get only one take,” said Metts, “the DP (Director of Photography) decided to place one camera up high on a 15-foot step ladder and the other one at ground level on a dolly while I wired the actors up and placed the transmitters in their pants pockets.”
“Throughout this scene,” acknowledged Metts, “I was not only concerned about the quality of audio I might get, I was extremely anxious about the ability of my transmitters to endure this. All four actors were speaking at once and there was all this commotion, not to mention the noise from the nearby school. When the scene was over, I checked my recording and the sound quality was great. When I went to see what condition my transmitters were in, the actors told me they had forgotten they were even wearing them. Much to my surprise, the transmitters held up really well, with just a few minor scratches. My Lectrosonics gear performed beyond all expectations.”
Metts attributes the success of this project to the diminutive size of his SM Series Super-Miniature Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitters. “The small size of the transmitter is something everyone comments on,” said Metts. “It is a tremendous help in hiding the unit from the camera, enabling us to put a transmitter on the talent in ways that, previously, wardrobe would never have allowed. The range and sound quality of this system is excellent, too.”