Roku’s Weird is a satirical biopic about the life of Al Yankovic. Directed by Eric Appel, the feature stars Daniel Radcliffe and Evan Rachel Wood, and received eight Emmy nominations, including those for Lead Actor, Picture Editing, Music Composition, Original Music and Lyrics and Sound Mixing.
Tony Solis (pictured) served as re-recording mixer on the Roku Original and recently shared insight into the feature’s soundtrack.
Hi Tony. How would you describe the needs of the film’s soundtrack?
“Over the top. That was one of the main directions given by Eric and Al to the sound crew. We knew from the very beginning that we couldn't treat this as a normal, single-genre movie. We had the liberty to be as weird as we wanted to be while keeping everything cohesive in the linear narrative. Mixing in Dolby Atmos, I had an even bigger playground to put sound in, and many sequences throughout the movie benefited from the 3D space. The other large requirement was the authenticity of the musical performances throughout the film. Al re-recorded his music to allow me to have stems to mix the songs in a surround sound space. Both Eric and Al tasked me with making each individual performance sound like it was coming from the actors on-screen.”
What where some of the challenges you encountered?
“The biggest challenge that I encountered was keeping everything cohesive in such a diverse, complicated and dense soundtrack. We spanned many genres in this movie, and my goal was to anchor the audience in the dialog tone. As the different genres and crazy sound sequences flew by, the dialog would stay consistent to keep you engaged in the story being told. All the musical performances proved to be a fun challenge since I had to creatively use compression, EQ and reverbs to fit the music to the locations. From PA systems to outdoor spaces, all the way to bus station bathrooms, I had to recreate these spaces in a believable way that wouldn't distract the audience from the narrative.”
Do you have a favorite scene?
“The LSD sequence was my favorite scene to mix in the entire movie. It happened to also be the loudest and most sonically-dense part of the movie as well. I had to juggle about two dozen 7.1 music score stems, futzed and heavily processed dialog, and about seven food groups of sound effects for that whole sequence. Naturally, the main direction was, ‘Tony, make sure we can hear all the dialog, but also all the sound effect hits, but also all the score.’ I absolutely loved the challenge of keeping the sonic chaos constant while still being able to hear everything clearly. Thanks to some creative sidechaining to multiband compressors and dynamic EQs, as well as panning, I hoped I was able to carve out a cohesive soundscape that was impactful and not confusing.”
Can you talk about some of the gear you used?
“I mixed the movie in Dolby Atmos exclusively in the box in Pro Tools. I used both a D-Command console, as well as an Avid S6 console. Inside Pro Tools I used an assortment of FabFilter plug-ins (Pro-DS, Pro-Q3, Pro-C2, Pro-MB, Pro-R), McDSP FutzBox and SA-2, Exponential Audio Stratus and Symphony reverbs, LiquidSonics Cinematic Rooms, The Cargo Cult Spanner and Slapper, and the Avid Pro series plug-in suite. Al Yankovic and other crew members were connected to us daily through Evercast, which allowed for a seamless integration to our mix workflow.”