Dan Laurie: The Man Behind the Voices of Ant-Man and Captain America

The Sound Supervising Editor behind some of Marvel Studios’ biggest blockbusters is the one rescuing superheroes—from the cutting-room floor.

Artist Stories  | 

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As a Dialogue Editor, Supervising Sound Editor, and ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) editor, Dan Laurie has worn many post audio hats on some of Hollywood’s biggest movies over the last 10 years.

Best known for his work as ADR editor for the Harry Potter film franchise, more recently Dan was the Sound Supervising Editor on Marvel Studios hits like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the newly released Ant-Man.

The real star of the show, though? iZotope’s RX 4 repair and enhancement software. Dan says it’s sort of a hero in its own way. “Everybody loves it,” he says. “It’s made a big impact.”

Even heroes need saving

Over the years, Dan has used many of RX’s audio repair modules to do whatever job he’s tasked with on a particular film. Of the Spectral Repair module, the British-born editor recalled using it to great effect on Ant-Man: “It’s fantastic, it’s so good. I love it! Just getting all the high-end noises out. Repairing all the bits and bumps and nasty noises is really good as well. We were using spectral repair on Ant-Man a lot because we had a lot of high-end light noises. Tom Johnson [re-recording mixer, Ant-Man] used it the whole time on the dubbing stage, too. He’s always raving on about it.”

Part of what makes RX so valuable is its versatility across the workflow of audio for film. Indeed, RX was used in all different phases of post production for Ant-Man. “It gets used all down the line. I used it before pre-dub, it gets used in pre-dub, and then of course on the final.”

Directors are even getting a mid-mix education in the ways of RX Spectral Repair. “You’ll be sitting in a session and the director will go, ‘I think I hear a some sort of buzz.’ We’ll go, ‘Really? Are you 20 years younger than us?’ and then fix it in Spectral Repair. The directors love it.”

Along with Spectral Repair, Dan relies on De-noise, De-crackle, Ambience Match, and De-click to get the results he needs in a timely fashion. “All those things saved our butts, really. I used De-crackle the whole time on Ant-Man. I can’t tell you how much time I used to spend cutting out crackles and clicks.”

In the case of Captain America, “We had a couple of lines on Cap that were very, very noisy and they were supposed to be for the tag at the end of the film. We were pressed for time and De-noise really came through. From a time point of view, De-noise in RX really saved the day.”

“We had a couple of lines on Cap that were very, very noisy and they were supposed to be for the tag at the end of the film. We were pressed for time and De-noise really came through. From a time point of view, De-noise in RX really saved the day.”

No cape or mask, but many hats

More recently, as he did on Ant-Man, Dan has played the role of Supervising Sound Editor. As a supervisor, Dan oversees both the dialogue editors and ADR recording (along with co-supervisor Shannon Mills, who supervises the film's FX). At the ADR sessions, Dan makes sure that everything sounds up to snuff and that things run smoothly.

ADR can be key in some special situations. “On the big action films like Ant-Man you’re going to have to use ADR because sometimes the production sound isn’t good enough, or you’ve got a lot of explosions or fan noises and you can only do so much, even with your tools, to get rid of all the horrible noises.”

In fact, the way Dan sees it, RX has transformed the post audio workflow, particularly in the ADR realm. “These days there’s much less ADR than there used to be 10 years ago because you can do so much with RX. It’s interesting, 10 or 15 years ago you’d be doing a lot of ADR and now it’s been reduced by about 50%.”

Directors and actors both appreciate being able to keep the original production sound. Actors in particular tend to dislike time spent in studios doing ADR, as it’s often hard for them to recreate the emotional thrust of dialogue in the absence of sets, costumes, and their fellow actors.

Despite working on some high-performing blockbusters, Dan hasn’t become immune to how special his job is. “I sometimes have to pinch myself because it’s quite extraordinary coming to work with all these creative people. It’s so far from getting up in the morning in West London and getting on the Tube!”

“I take it in my stride now, but sometimes I think to myself, ‘How in the world did I end up here?’”

To be your own sound superhero, download the free, 10-day trial of RX 4.

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