Getting the Right Sound for a Superhero

Christian Buenaventura, dialogue editor for the gritty Netflix series Daredevil, discusses the challenges of capturing audio in NYC.

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Netflix, the on-demand streaming service, has produced a streak of compelling original programming that pleases both critics and consumers. House of CardsOrange Is The New Black. And now, Daredevil, the story of a blind, crime-fighting vigilante who protects the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

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Contributing to the show’s success is Christian Buenaventura, Sound Editor at Technicolor Sound Services. He’s no stranger to good TV. High-profile credits like DexterThe Good Wife, and Glee pepper his resume. Christian won a 2013 Emmy Award for his dialogue editing work on American Horror Story, and was nominated — twice! — for True Blood.

With his long list of credits and a little help from RX, Christian helped give Daredevil the dark sonic atmosphere that keeps fans coming back each episode.

Seeing the World Through Sound

As a young boy, Daredevil’s main character Matt Murdock loses his sight in an accident. Although he’s left blind, the accident indirectly strengthens his remaining four senses — touch, taste, smell, and in particular his hearing — to superhuman levels. His sensitivity to sound is so advanced that he can actually hear a person’s heartbeat.

Sound is a critical aspect of the show, as it helps convey to viewers how the Man Without Fear, as Daredevil is known, interprets his world sonically rather than visually.

“From the very beginning, we knew that sound was going to play a huge part,” Christian says on creating a deliberate soundscape for Daredevil. “Creating the backgrounds of Hell’s Kitchen, deciding what exactly Matt Murdock hears in the flurry of city chatter, having the rate of the heartbeats that Matt hears hit at exactly the right points. Every part of the editing and mixing process was very meticulous and we are very proud of how everything turned out.”

The City That Never Sleeps — or Shuts Up

Dialogue editors typically work with audio recorded on location. When you’re filming in an inherently noisy environment like New York City, you have to deal with more than the typical ticks, pops, and production movement sounds.

“New York will find a way to make a scene difficult to edit,” Christian says, noting “the traffic, brake squeals, people talking and shouting, music bumping from cars.”

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL

Christian recalls working on a scene in Washington Square Park, where a street performer was drumming and singing in the background as the actors delivered their lines. Rather than having to use ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) to recapture the actors' dialogue, Christian used Spectral Repair and “some fancy editing” to remove the street performer and achieve the right sound.

“RX Spectral Repair has always helped me in this bind,” he explains. “I could easily see brake squeals to take out over dialogue as well as people talking who aren’t supposed to.”

RX to the Rescue

Even with an Emmy under his belt, Christian is constantly seeking out new ways to further his craft. “I believe I’ve been successful because I’m constantly trying to get better at it everyday,” he says.

And for Christian, staying relevant in the industry requires a keen knowledge of the latest and greatest audio technology. “It’s important to keep learning and evolving because the technology does so,” he says. “I’m always trying to research and try new plug-ins or try different techniques to get faster and more efficient.”

“There are many scenes that I have cut that would not have been possible unless I had RX Spectral Repair.”

One of his main go-to tools for saving dialogue captured on set, whether it’s the cacophony of New York sidewalks or someplace a little more tranquil, is RX. “I use RX because it’s a life saver,” he explains. “Brake squeals or back up beeps, no problem. Lavalier mic cutting off or boom mic bump, got it covered.” But RX does more than just remove pesky on-set noises — it can actually save otherwise great footage from the cutting-room floor. “There are many scenes that I have cut that would not have been possible unless I had RX Spectral Repair.”

“When I first began using it, I thought it was the future,” he remarks. “RX is so reliable and I know what it’s going to do for me. I use every single plug-in in RX because I know it will get the job done.”

You don’t have to be working on a high-profile series like Daredevil to take advantage of RX.

Download your free, 10-day trial to see what RX’s powerful repair and enhancement tools can do for your audio.

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