Sound Cloud

Oscar-winning sound engineer Simon Hayes celebrates the return of live singing on screen and hopes to do a full-length Bollywood film

Written by Rohan Swamy | Published: April 25, 2013 3:19 am

Oscar-winning sound engineer Simon Hayes celebrates the return of live singing on screen and hopes to do a full-length Bollywood film

Dressed in a pair of shorts,a T-shirt and dusty sneakers,Oscar-winning sound engineer Simon Hayes could easily qualify for a bodybuilding competition with his beefy looks. A giant grin and a joke about the heat is his way of breaking the ice. Humming a tune,a signature in his profession,Hayes sits down to talk about life after the Oscar award. While Les Miserables has won top honours in Europe and the US for the seamless syncing of live sound,Hayes is celebrating the fact that films are going back to the ’30s when actors sang live in front of the camera and then it synced with minimal dubbing. He says one of the best ways to work as a sound engineer is to ensure that there is minimal dubbing in the post-production phase.

“That has always been my idea and style of work. I like to ensure that the original emotions during the shoot are kept intact as much as possible. That,combined with the soundtracks,helps when the director comes in for post-production. There are very few changes made to the original emotions filmed and it reflects on screen. That is what we did with Les Miserables,” he says.

While the Oscar and BAFTA awards definitely bring recognition to his work,it is also a driving factor to do better. “Good sound is usually not appreciated but bad sound definitely pulls down a film and we have to tread the line carefully,” adds the man behind sound scores of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,Snatch,Mean Machine and X-Men-First Class.

In the city to conduct a master class at the ongoing National Students Film Awards and Students Film Festival of India,which is on at Film and Television Institute of India,Hayes is also shooting a film with the students of sound engineering department. The film will combine the various outdoor sounds that engineers encounter and the manner in which they can be synced. “We will combine sounds from various parts of the city and try and make a small film on it,” he says.

Hayes,in fact,is no stranger to India. While he doesn’t reveal any names,he says,“I have done commercials in India before.” He is all praise for the technicians here. “They are very precise and they look after the equipment very well. That is what struck me on my first visit to India in the ’90s. I shot a commercial in Ooty and the experience was very nice. I am hoping that I’ll work on a full-length feature film in India some day,” he says.

Observing Hollywood from close quarters,Hayes says that the superhero genre is coming back in a big way. “Even the one that I am working on,right now,is a big-budget superhero flick and the potential that these films have is enormous. Films are changing globally — in terms of genres,ideas,style and sounds. And in a very good manner. These are interesting times to be a filmmaker or a sound engineer,” he says.

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