<i>Ghostbusters</i> sound artists revisit a classic
Issue: August 1, 2016

Ghostbusters sound artists revisit a classic

Thirty years after the original movie took the world by storm, Ghostbusters returned to the screen this summer in an inspired reboot from Sony Pictures. Director Paul Feig brings a fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by a cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth.

The film’s innovative sound treatments were created at Sony Pictures Post Production Services by a team led by supervising sound editors Andrew DeCristofaro and Becky Sullivan (both pictured), sound designers Karen Vassar Triest and Tony Lamberti and Foley artist Gary Hecker.

The newGhostbusters is filled with electrical blasts from Proton Packs, the reverberating siren of the Ecto- 1 mobile and plenty of ghostly wails and screams, but the sounds this time around tend to be more complex and nuanced. “I’m a big fan of the original, which was very forward-thinking in many ways,” says DeCristofaro. “For the new Ghostbusters, we aimed for a more organic sound. It had to sound real.”

The sound team’s quest for realism extended all the way to the movie’s large cast of ghosts. “We asked ourselves, what would a ghost sound like?” DeCristofaro recalls. “Would it have vocal cords? Would it sound omnipresent? We had versions that sound very vague, like a voice coming from the ether, but for scary moments, we had to try something different, make it a little more focused.”

Sullivan held extensive casting sessions to find voices to fit various ghost temperaments, moods and emotions. “We needed men, women, gruff voices, people who could screech and scream…with personality,” she says. “When one ghost screams and projectile vomits all over Erin (Kristen Wiig), Paul wanted her to have a screechy scream, like a rock star. We ended up with a 22-year-old-girl who could really belt. Then our sound designer, Karen Triest, incorporated the vocals into her design tracks, making an otherworldly vocal.”

“One guy we brought in could make an awesome howl,” DeCristofaro adds. “We recorded him at a very high sample rate and bit depth— 192k, 24-bit—and with a high resolution microphone that picked up in the 50khz range so when we slowed it down, it maintained the detail and integrity. With some performers we didn’t need to alter much but we augmented their voices with animals — a camel or a pig squeal — to create the right emotional road map for the character.”

Work was completed at the Kim Novak Theater at Sony Studios (in Culver City, CA), which features a custom JBL-Sony Theatrical speaker system with five main-screen channels and three upper screen channels, 52 Surround speakers, 3 TS-24 Turbosound subwoofers and more than 66,000 watts RMS of amplification.
The team relied on a Harrison MPC4 480 channel console with Atmos panning, 3-layer panning for Auro 3D and both IMAX 12.0 and 6.0 managed by a 1792 I/o X-Range Madi Router. They also used ProTools recorders, playback systems, an Avid S3, Avid Artist Mix, software that includes Pro Tools version 12.5 and audio plug-ins including Altiverb7XL, Channel Strip, Fab Filter Pro Q2, Pro DS and Pro C2, Izotope RX4, Refuse- Lowender, DUY- Magic Spectrum, Avid Pro Limiter, Pro SubHarmonic, Neyrinck – Soundcode, Cargo Cult-Spanner and Waves – Gold pkg, UM226, WNS.