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The Sound of ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’—Part 3: The Everything Bagel

‘Everything Everywhere All At Once‘ features unusual, creative concepts, so its sound team had to get equally out-there.

Everything Everywhere All At Once
PHOTO: Allyson Riggs

Everything Everywhere All At Once‘ features unusual, creative concepts, so its sound team had to get equally out-there. Don’t miss Parts 1 and 2!

Our antagonist Jobu’s omnipotence has led her to a nihilistic outlook on life. She’s taken everything she’s ever felt, thought and experienced from all iterations of life across the multiverse and put it onto a bagel. This “everything bagel” is like a black hole, which begs the question: What does a black-hole, everything bagel sound like?

Twite started by recording a bagel, naturally, using a Sound Devices 744t and a Sennheiser MKH 8050. He captured sounds of crushing, crumbling and tearing a toasted bagel and a piece of toast, along with the sounds of a butter knife scraping their surfaces. “I also intentionally burnt about six pieces of bread and stacked them on top of one another and just slowly crushed all of them at once by putting pressure on the stack with my hands,” Twite says. “Those cracks, once pitched and tweaked, became one of the main textural layers of the everything bagel. The MKH 8050 has a really tight polar pattern, and its ultrasonic recording capabilities allow the samples to retain strong high-frequency content, which made for some great sounds once I started doing pitching and time manipulation.”

During one of the spotting sessions, director Kwan described the everything bagel as being like a washing machine or dryer with a very slow-spinning, constantly moving, elemental force. To achieve this rhythmic quality, Twite tried several ideas but discovered the best source for sound was his rowing machine, where he was able to control the speed of the machine itself to get a wide range of rhythmic beds.

“I recorded it straight into my Omni [preamp] using an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo mic,” he explains. “It worked out really well because the sound of the machine itself is rhythmic by nature and sits at a mid/mid-low frequency range. It also has this almost whine-y moan to it that I love because it adds to the despair I associated with the everything bagel. I could stretch out the slower rows to play really, really slow when the bagel is just chilling behind the curtain. Or, I could really speed up the rowing, and that texture was helpful for when the bagel is spinning out of control and pulling everything into itself.”

Everything Everywhere All At Oncw
PHOTO: Allyson Riggs

Re-recording mixer Fehrman (effects/ backgrounds/Foley) joined Kiser for the native Dolby Atmos mix at Signature Post on Mix Stage 1 in Burbank, Calif. They mixed on a dual-operator Avid S6 M40 24-9-D control surface, with monitoring via JBL 5732 mains, JBL 9320 surrounds, and JBL 5628 subs with JBL 7118 surrounds for low-frequency extension.

This was Fehrman’s first time working with Unbridled Sound, and coming in at the end meant opening an unfamiliar Pro Tools template that was 300 tracks wide, figuring out the layout, grouping and busing tracks, and listening through layers of complex designs.

“I opened the sessions ahead of the mix to familiarize myself with where everything was, and I decided that I’d just have to hit the ground running,” she says with a slight laugh. “There was literally everything in the session, from natural backgrounds to sci-fi elements, and so many fight scenes.””

One of the most challenging scenes in terms of the mix was when Jobu and Evelyn confront each other in the woods. Jobu snaps off a tree branch and it transforms into several different objects before becoming a sword. There is big score and important dialog. “There’s all this chaos of everything changing, and we had to poke out little tiny moments so that you could understand what Jobu was saying,” Fehrman explains. “In that little section, there were such fast and small events; it required lots of quick fader moves. We did try to put some of the sounds in Atmos, but it’s hard to register because it’s happening so quickly.””

The Atmos surround field worked best for spatially specific effects, like the overhead lights flickering in the hallway scene, and for the verse-jumping radio transitions. “In Atmos, we were using that transition in conjunction with voices that were pulling us into different verses. It was very effective,” says Fehrman.”

Everything Everywhere All At Once isn’t about the everything bagel. Nor is it about the future-tech ability to jump into different universes. It’s less about conflict and more about resolution through acceptance and appreciation.

“This is an important film that shines a light on the challenges we face as humanity, and all the important themes in the film were mirrored in the way that the film was made,” Kiser concludes. “The directors are so crew-focused; we never felt like the hired help. And I’m so blessed that I have great people that I can help empower to do their amazing jobs. That’s what a supervisor should do. I’m thankful that I’ve been surrounded by great people on this film—clients and team.”