Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes

Pulse Films

Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes

Dubbing Mix
Work by: Simon Hill

Directed by Kahlil Joseph (2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Short Films winner), The Reflektor Tapes is a feature documentary giving insight into the making of Arcade Fire’s famous album Reflektor.

The Reflektor Tapes showcases never before seen interviews and moments captured by the band as well as 15 minutes of exclusive unseen gig footage filmed specifically for cinema audiences.

My original approach for TRT was to treat it like a typical stylised documentary that blends true-to-life sounds with intricate abstract sounds designed to suit the picture. I was allowed to run free with the project to try and develop the soundscape without getting in the way of the story and I remember Kahlil coming into the theatre at the end of the first day to hear what I had been mixing. Without skipping a beat he told Stuart Morton (supervising sound editor) and myself to ignore all the ‘norms’ documentaries do and to take this documentary down a completely fresh road.

After we spent some time with Kahlil getting his vision of the film, we developed a sound for the film that made total use of the 5.1 JBL system we use in our Dolby Premiere theatre. Dialogue was not anchored to the centre channel and music was not anchored to any channel! There is one moment specifically in the film where Regine does a twirl on a brightly lit vacant disco stage as one of Arcade Fire’s Reflektor tracks is playing.. we ended up linking all the channels in our 5.1 music bus and panning them round the room in a 360 degree circle as if she threw the music round the audience.

Many similar moments in the film are crafted that way to create a bond between what you see and what you’re hearing, when you wouldn’t normally create one. The difficulty in the past with panning entire 5.1 music tracks would prove to be a technical challenge given the timescale of the project, but with the combination of an HDX2 ProTools 11 system and The Cargo Cult’s Spanner plug-in, we were able to easily develop the unique surround-sound ideas Kahlil had with his debut theatrical feature.

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