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Wayne Pashley On Location Recording for ‘Australia’

‘Australia’ supervising sound editor Wayne Pashley on location in Australia

Wayne Pashley (pictured), the supervising sound editor for Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 epic film Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, used Sound Devices 744T recorders and a SoundField ST350 surround microphone to capture 5.1 location ambience. Pashley captured wind sounds, salt flat ambience and musical performances on location. Most of the film’s location recording took place in the barren northwestern corner of Australia, in the Kimberley Mountains near where Western Australia borders the Northern Territory.

“One of this film’s primary characters is the land itself,” Pashley explains. “Because of the sheer scale of the picture, and the epic feel to the images on screen, the idea was to match that with the audio. So the ambiences had to be in surround. We wanted to immerse the viewer in them.”

Pashley used Sound Devices 744T recorders for location recording during the production of ‘Australia’

Recording in SoundField’s 4-channel proprietary B-Format, Pashley was able to create 5.1 mixes of his recordings at leisure during the post-production stage. If recorded to a suitable 4-channel medium, the B-Format signals from SoundField microphones can be decoded with absolute phase coherence to a variety of possible formats long after the original recording. Thus, Pashley was able to create 5.1 and/or phase-accurate stereo mixes from his 4-channel location B-format recordings using SoundField’s Surround Zone decoder plug-in for Pro Tools, depending on the requirements of the film’s dubbing mixers.

“I usually did a simultaneous stereo fold-down alongside the 5.1 mix, taking up eight channels in Pro Tools, in case there was a problem with the surround, so that there would be a few options at the dubbing stage,” he explains. “I got really into the SoundField Surround Zone software. On some of the recordings, I needed to back off some of the low-end on the dubbing stage, so it was good to have discrete control of the LFE channel. But I was also able to use the ST350 as a directional microphone for on-set dialogue on the sound stage recordings, by adjusting the polar pattern retrospectively at the post-production stage. The ST350 was also great on some of the studio-based crowd scenes. I used it instead of a standard X/Y stereo pair to give a sense of movement through the crowd in surround.”

Pashley’s SoundField ST350 mic

For more information on SoundField’s ST350 and the associated Surround Zone software for Pro Tools and VST-capable digital audio workstations, visit and SoundField’s U.S. distributor, TransAudio Group.

For more about the audio production for Australia, read Blair Jackson’s Sound For Picture story on Australia in Mix‘s November 2008 issue.