Immersive Sound in ‘The Reason I Jump’

Imagine that you notice every sound that’s made around you, all the time…

We wanted ‘The Reason I Jump’ to take us into the world of intense sensory experience that Naoki Higashida describes in the book on which the film was based – and this is how we went about it.

Photo @sampaynephotography

Naoki describes a daily experience of sensory overload – which bombards him with distracting sounds and sights, intense memories and random associations and impulses. When it came to creating a film equivalent of the book, sound – both location recording and design – was crucial to try and represent this experience for a cinema audience.  

Our starting point was Naoki’s description of particular and often distracting details, and how, for him sound, memory and image can become conflated.  But we also knew that each of our contributors has their own sensory experiences which might or might not mirror Naoki’s and so wanted to build on the specifics of the locations we filmed in.

Early on, sound designer Nick Ryan and I decided to create a 360 Atmos mix of the film, enabling the specific placement of sounds in an Atmos cinema. We wanted these sounds to be authentic to the situations and subjects of the film, so decided that all production sound during filming would be captured using 360 ambisonic and binaural microphones.

Photo @sampaynephotography

LOCATION RECORDING

Recording 360 location sound in many different locations around the world presented a huge undertaking for sound recordist Sara Lima, as we also wanted to work with a really small crew – just sound, camera, camera assistant and director – to retain a sense of everyday intimacy.

Sara worked alone, consistently running three recorders from different perspectives, capturing around 16 tracks of audio for each shot.  One recorder with a 360 mic set up was placed on the camera to give the viewer a 360 perspective as a point of view. A second recorder with another 360 mic was set up on a tripod and placed on location but hidden from the shot. And on her portable recorder Sara used a Double MS set up on the boom, personal microphones and towards the end when finishing filming on each location, she also did binaural recordings. ​

To establish a strong connection between location sound and sound design, Sara made a sound diary for each character after filming, providing as much information as possible for sound post. She also recorded room tone/atmos and sweep tone of every room we shot in, which became important for feel and helped to build the acoustics of the sound design. 

SOUND DESIGN

Nick Ryan’s sound design drew on his own experiences of synaesthesia (the perceptual experience in which sounds can lead to involuntary perception of images and vice versa – which is also common to many nonverbal autistic people).  Nick’s approach built on his on previous work on the neuroscience of sound exploring the connections between sound, memory, images and spaces. 

Editor David Charap worked both with Sara’s material and temp effects to create a cut that left space for sound, and in which sound often led the way sequences in the film were structured.

Nick was involved during production and edit, advising Sara and developing ideas from early cuts. As well as material gathered on location, original sounds were created using variety of unusual techniques including induction microphones to capture the sound of electromagnetic radiation emitted from green junction boxes. The film’s sound design techniques include hyper detailed foley, perspective shifts, reverberation, infrasound, silence and diegetic music. Nainita Desai’s score brilliantly bound together music and sound design, using location sounds both within and to inspire the music cues. 

SOUND POST AND MIX

The final theatrical mix was created by Aquarium’s Ben Baird utilising the latest advances in Dolby Atmos at Aquarium and Point1Post.  Ben brought his deep understanding of an audience’s experience of sound in the cinema to create a seamless and subtle mix of the different elements.   The challenge was to portray an overwhelming experience without it become overwhelming.  Overuse of the 360 would make the film feel more fragmented so we focused on specific scenes in which the 360 could be used to its full extent, appropriate to a documentary rather than an FX led film.  As well as its Atmos mix the film also has a binaural mix for headphone listeners using binaural material gathered on location.

TECH BOX

Mics:
Boom: Double MS – DPA 4017C; Schoeps CCM41, CCM8
Radio mics: Lectrosonics with DPA 4060 and 4071
360 (on a tripod): Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic; Røde NT-SF1- Soundfield 360
On camera (360): Zoom H3-VR
Binaural: Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset

Software:
Pro Tools
Dolby Atmos Production Suite

Plug Ins:
Harpex
AudioEase Altiverb
Sennheiser Ambeo and Orbit
Slapper by The Cargo Cult
Spanner by The Cargo Cult

Facilities:
Aquarium, Point1Post

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