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Music Production

Ford v Ferrari Revs Up with Sound Oscar Nominations

Much of the drama in Ford V Ferrari hinges on the excitement conjured by the sound captured by production sound mixer Steve Morrow and his team

Los Angeles, CA (January 22, 2020) — Ford v Ferrari, the true story of the Ford Motor Company’s upset racing victory at Le Mans in 1966, is among the nominees for sound editing and sound mixing Oscars, and much of the film’s drama hinges on the excitement conjured by its sound. That’s a fact not lost on reviewers such as Mihir Fadnavis of FirstPost, who noted, “Nothing beats the experience of bombastic sound design, tires squealing and sparks flying on a massive screen.”

Capturing those sounds was no simple feat either. Production sound mixer Steve Morrow used a variety of wireless transmitters and receivers to capture the action, recording the sounds of the cars as well as their drivers. “We only had one vintage Ford GT40 on set,” recalls Morrow. “The rest were film cars with more modern engines for the sake of reliability. So, for authenticity, the post-production team went to a track day and convinced a bunch of guys with actual GT40s to let them record their engine sounds. Where boom mics were needed, we put Lectrosonics HMa plug-on transmitters on the boom poles so that the operators could move around freely.”

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While one might move around a car to get sounds, when it comes to capturing the likes of Christian Bale and Matt Damon, keeping the mic still and out of sight are priorities. “I always use SSM transmitters for all the actors’ mics,” says Morrow, who was previously nominated for Academy Awards for his work on La La Land and the 2019 remake of A Star Is Born. “SSMs are the smallest and lightest transmitters Lectro makes, so the talent barely knows they’re there. They have other transmitters with higher output power, but we’ve never had a problem with range. For most of the dialogue, we have active shark-fin antennas on long coax cables, powered from the Venue 2 receiver chassis.”

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With the FCC rewriting the rules on wireless audio every few years, being able to find and hold a usable frequency is more crucial than ever. Accordingly, Morrow comes to the set loaded for bear: “I now have three Venue 2 units on my main cart, so I can do 18 channels of wideband. The SSMs are wideband-capable, which is key with the available frequency spectrum being such a moving target.”

For on-set communications and IFB monitoring, “My team, which included Craig Dollinger and Brian Mendoza, used LT transmitters to talk to each other,” says Morrow. “We also used an older UM400a as an IFB transmitter, and we all listened using IFB-R1a receivers. I’ve recently just gotten into the M2 Duet system as well.”

All that effort is already paying off as Ford v Ferrari won Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing— Effects/Foley at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Awards in mid-January.

Lectrosonics •