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How the creators of the “Quiet Place” could make a terrible silence

The film, almost without dialogue, turned out to be a paradise for sound designers.

Frame Paramount Pictures
Frame Paramount Pictures

The film “Quiet Place” tells about a family that survives in the world, where mankind was exterminated by monsters with incredibly sensitive hearing. The painting became an international phenomenon at the box office and earned rave reviews from both viewers and critics.

However, unlike many other films, there are almost no dialogue and traditional loud-sounding sounds for the Hollywood movie in the one and a half hour tape: instead, the “Quiet Place” keeps its silence in suspense. The sound designers who worked on the film, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, told The Verge how they managed to use the lack of sound for the development of history and how to watch a movie with such a characteristic sound at home.

Sound designers said that they had read the script before they met with the director of the tape John Krasinski. They explained that they were shocked by the “opportunities for sound” in the film.

In the script there were almost no dialogues and we realized that it would be a dream for the sound designer, but at the same time it would be very, very difficult. It’s funny that during the meeting with John [Krasinski] the first thing we heard from him even before something said was: “It’s a dream for the sound designer.”

Eric Aadal
sound designer of “Quiet Place”

Designers have worked together for the last 10 years, but according to Van der Rin, it was all necessary only to finally make a “quiet place.” He noted that usually people do not hear his work as much as in this film.

Ethan van der Rin (left) and Erik Aadal (right)
Ethan van der Rin (left) and Erik Aadal (right)
Van der Rin and Aadal said that after the experience of making films with a lot of action, special effects and pictures about some creatures, they realized how best to influence the audience. According to them, for this it is necessary to seriously reduce the number of sounds so that they can be concentrated.

Sometimes we have to resist the fact that there is too much on the screen. In this case, many people think: “How many sounds can we use?”. For us it works the other way round. What is the minimum [of sounds] we can take and how concentrated we can make them? In [“Silent place”] it comes to its logical conclusion.

Ethan van der Rin
sound designer of “Quiet Place”

However, sound designers also encountered some problems. Aadal said that when the film is saturated and there are many different sounds – it’s safer, because there are many layers, and the composition is very full and active. It’s another matter when the film starts from the opposite: silence and its shades. According to the sound designers, in the case of “Silent place” when playing any sound, they were practically naked.

The sounds had to be perfect. This is a very serious and wide-ranging task for such a rare film as this one.

Eric Aadal

In addition, Aadal talked about the difficulties of the sound design of creatures from the film. Since they reacted to any sound much better than a person, their “sound language” became a serious task.

Frame Paramount Pictures
Frame Paramount Pictures
To prepare for the “Quiet Place” audience, accustomed to loud sounds in the cinema, sound designers concentrated on the sounds of nature, who are accustomed to hearing, but do not pay attention to them.

This is part of the ordinary life, but for some reason people do not really concentrate on this. So we used the sounds of wind among the empty streets and the usual natural sounds that are felt to people as real.

Ethan van der Rin

Van der Rin noted that it was important to do without music, so that the audience felt like the characters of the film, and not just were in the cinema. After the first show at the SXSW festival in Texas Austin, the designers realized that they could even more impact the audience, and in the final version they raised the sound at the beginning of the film by a few decibels, dropping it towards the end of the picture. At some point because of this, the audience had only a few minutes to rebuild the perception of sounds in the head and ears.

Frame Paramount Pictures
Frame Paramount Pictures
Sound designers admitted that they immediately thought about the consequences of their approach, for example, that people would complain aboutthe high volume of surrounding sounds after leaving the cinema.

When you have a lot of sounds and loudness, it [creates] a psychoacoustic effect in any movie. This relaxes the audience, and people recline in the armchairs, but in fact, the sound can make them and move closer to the screen.

Eric Aadal

Aadal explained that if you take away the “protective blanket” from the audience in the form of a loud sound and make everything quiet, then they will start to move closer to the screen and be afraid of their own sounds. According to him, as designers have made the audience a really active participant in the picture.

Van der Rin and Aadal were aware of all the risks of what they were doing. They understood that this is compensated by experience from viewing, which forces viewers to hold their breath and join the film to the credits.

We seriously thought: “What if people make too much noise and it does not work.” But it affected us and we felt that it was worth including in the film and look at the reaction of the audience.

Ethan van der Rin

According to the sound designers, there were several passages in the film with complete silence. The creators thought for a long time how long they could do without sound in the scenes with deaf girl Regan. The approach of Van der Rin and Aadal was believed by the producers and director John Krasinski, but they could not “exhale” only after the premiere at the SXSW festival. The audience then reacted exactly as they expected, although the soundtrack was only half completed.

Frame Paramount Pictures
Frame Paramount Pictures
Also, the sound designers gave some advice to those who will watch the film at home. They noted that they do not yet know exactly in which format the picture will be available for home viewing: with a full dynamic range or with a compressed one, which is often done for disk releases.

Van der Rin and Aadal advised to completely immerse themselves in silence: turn off the dishwashers and washing machines, close the doors.

If you do not have a good home theater, you can try using headphones to squeeze everything out of the movie. We thought about this a lot. Therefore, we hope that everyone will go to the cinema to first hear and see it there.

Sound designers of the “Quiet Place”
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