“Yellowstone” fans expect viscerally charged action tied to the intense emotional and political entanglements of the Dutton family. But even by those standards, Season 4’s opening sequence is a game-changer: The episode begins with three main characters targeted for assassination in a 13-minute gunfight and chase that incorporates nearly all of the show’s main characters into one. impeccably orchestrated playing, regularly. growing explosion of violence. In its relentlessness, immediacy, and clear, concise expression of character through action, it’s the closest TV has come to the bank robbery at the center of Michael Mann’s “Heat.”
Contributing to the opening’s impact is its sound design, characterized – like all the other components of the sequence – by a gritty authenticity punctuated by moments of lyrical impressionism. In its complexity, ambition and overall effect, the set set is a culmination for re-recording mixers Samuel Ejnes and Diego Gat, who have worked together since 2017 on shows as varied as “Mythic Quest”, “Black Monday” and ” Atlanta”. TV schedules are notoriously unforgiving, but Ejnes and Gat have managed to bring the nuance and aural complexity of the best feature films to their work.
“I always feel like the term ‘sound mixer’ understates what Diego and Sam do, and what makes them so great,” said Paul Simms, executive producer of “What We Do in the Shadows ” and “Atlanta”. “Just like the production designer and DP design the look of the show, [Diego and Sam] really design the sound and tone of it – and adding a whole lot of fun that viewers would never know wasn’t planned from the very beginning. And since their work is the final step in the process, you can really feel a cut you’ve probably seen 30 times in the edit suddenly come to life and feel brand new when they work their magic on it.
Ejnes and Gat found that their similar tastes and ease of communication produced pleasing results. “I do sound effects, foley and backgrounds, and Diego mostly focuses on music and dialogue,” Ejnes said, “but we’re not afraid to give each other notes or ideas.” Ejnes came to sound design through music, playing trumpet in his school band and working as a DJ before learning in college that there was “this thing called post-production” and moving in Los Angeles to work in the cinema. Gat worked in live theater in his home country of Argentina and started mixing films in film school. six years ago he moved to Hollywood and met Ejnes, with whom he has worked ever since.
“We’ve developed a common way of doing things that makes things much smoother,” Gat said. “It’s unspoken communication – we just look at each other and know what the other is thinking most of the time.” Their ability to communicate quickly and clearly was key when it came to this ‘Yellowstone’ premiere: “The note we were given was, ‘We want the show’s cold open to grab the audience by the face. and throttle it until the main title starts,” Ejnes said. Initially, he and Gat mixed the sequence in a more orthodox way, balancing the music and effects and leaving breaks where the music dipped to make room for dialogue. But the producers wanted the mix to be a persistent, relentless assault.
“We had to keep the music in place and not dive into the sound effects, just let the sound effects overwhelm the music,” Gat said. “We had to maintain the sound pressure at all times, so when we were doing a dip it had to be very detailed, working note by note. It took a very long time. Very detailed frame-by-frame mixing. They added layer upon layer to the sound mix: gunshots, screeching tires, bone fractures, dialogue crisp and clear but not incredibly louder than the surrounding bustle, music that weaves its way through with hypnotic power. Even Ejnes felt tense watching the final review footage. “It’s something like 14 minutes of action before the main titles come on, and you realize when those titles start that you’ve been holding your breath,” he said.
Part of what makes “Yellowstone” so successful as a whole is its sense of realism, an approach that informs all of Ejnes and Gat’s choices on the mixing scene. “We always try to keep it very authentic and real,” Ejnes said. “There may be more design and fun moments, but for the most part it’s just about presenting what’s happening in the scene. There’s always the urge to make big guns and look like a movie of action, and sometimes we do, but for the most part we want to keep it in the world and contained, and we’re also aware of not only what we’re hearing, but also what we’re not hearing.
Gat added: “If we’re in a house, we think about the thickness of the windows. Can you hear the rain outside the window? When you close a door, is it sealed enough not to hear the rain, or do you still hear it? There’s a lot of footstep conversations – like, even though we can’t see the floor, we know the last two steps were on carpet, so we want that sound. It’s that kind of detail.
These are guiding principles shared by two of Ejnes and Gat’s other recent credits: the “Yellowstone” prequel “1883” and the supernatural mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows.” The period setting of the first presents some unique challenges, especially for Gat – “From a dialogue perspective, there’s a lot more cleanup. You can’t have a highway in the background, nor a generator – as the latter deviates from all the other shows the duo mixes, in practice adding the kinds of sounds that other productions do. would try to remove.
“We’re going to go into a mix and say, ‘What would it sound like if this character wasn’t on a microphone? “Shadows” director and editor Yana Gorsaka said. “Not to make it look like we did it wrong on purpose, but we’re still trying to make it look like we recorded it as a documentary. “
Gat credits Ejnes with finding sound effects that add to the show’s humor. “There’s a way to drop a funny body, and it might not be funny either,” he said. “It’s like, what about the materials? If it’s sweeter, is it funnier? Is it funny if it feels like a limp body, or is it funnier if it’s harder, sharper, and more painful? Would it be funnier if it was two ‘plop plops’, or should there be three parts or just one? This testifies to their concern for rhythm. “One thing we’ve learned over years of working in comedy is that creating or breaking the beat can help add humor to a situation,” Ejnes said.
In the video below, see how this seemingly counterintuitive approach, combined with the imaginary noises of a supernatural world, amplifies the comedy of “What We Do In The Shadows.”
Mixers admit that the secret to comedy is relatively simple. “The trick is to relax, let the brilliant writing and the show’s amazing protagonists and guests do their thing, and then find a point to intensify what we’re seeing and push it a bit.” For Ejnes, what makes the job fun is its connection to his musical roots. “I approach it as a musical performance,” he said. “Finding the rhythm, finding the balance, trying to tell a story without saying anything. Taking all of these disparate parts and blending them together to make one soundtrack really speaks to me in a fulfilling way. It’s unique. It’s really special.
Gat retains a similar enthusiasm for his work, particularly in what he learns from the filmmakers he collaborates with. “They are truly inspiring people,” he said. “I learn a lot from them and admire their ability to write, direct, work with actors…it never gets old.” Another thing that never gets old for Gat is the technology he uses in his work. “Plugin makers keep releasing new plugins and we need to use them,” he said. “There are always new toys to try. I always find the knobs of my console beautiful. It’s basically programming a computer to create something and tell a story. I’m always amazed by the faders moving on their own and the computer doing what I taught it to do. I’ve been doing this for quite a while, but it’s magic every time. —Jim Hemphill