In Netflix’s Trinkets, three teenage girls find themselves in the same mandated Shoplifters Anonymous meeting, where they form an unlikely friendship. The show stars grieving misfit Elodie (Brianna Hildebrand), mysterious outsider Moe (Kiana Madeira) and Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell), who find strength in each other as they negotiate the complicated dilemma of trying to fit in while dreaming of breaking out.
Produced by AwesomenessTV, Trinkets is based on the young adult novel by screenwriter Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith (Legally Blonde,
10 Things I Hate About You,
She’s the Man), who serves as creator and executive producer.
Re-recording mixer James Parnell (pictured) was nominated for his work on Season 2 of the series and recently took some time to share details about his work on its soundtrack, which took place at Monkeyland Audio (www.monkeylandaudio.com) in Glendale, CA.
What was your role on Trinkets?
“While working on Trinkets (S2), I was the supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer. As the supervising sound editor, my job was to liaise with the clients — AwesomenessTV & Netflix — to gather their creative ideas regarding the show’s sound. I would then relay that information to our sound editors and help steer each episode in the right direction so when the dialogue, sound effects, sound design and Foley ended up on the dub stage, we delivered exactly what the clients were wanting to hear. As the re-recording mixer, I was directly responsible for blending and mixing all of the wonderful sound editorial together to create one homogenous soundtrack. The team and I are extremely grateful and excited to have received an Emmy nomination!”
Can you talk about the tools you employ for this series?
“There were a couple of really cool aspects to the sound tech on Trinkets. Firstly, Trinkets was mixed in Dolby Atmos, which is the most immersive format to listen to a film or television show in. Dolby Atmos takes a traditional, linear-plane 5.1 or 7.1 listening experience, and quite literally elevates it, allowing the listener to not only benefit from a rich 7.1 surround listening experience, but by adding height channels (speakers on the ceiling), the re-recording mixer can envelope the audience in sound three-dimensionally.
“Dramatic scene shot in the rain? We can add rain in the height channels to make it sound as though the rain is falling from above you. Helicopter flying overhead? We can circle the helicopter around the characters and in turn, the listener. It was really interesting to utilize Atmos when mixing Trinkets and give both the sound of Portland and the sound design the added height dimension that Atmos allows.
“Secondly, I mixed Trinkets on the new Avid S6 console, which was perfect both in its physical size within the listening space and in its flexibility for the show’s demands. The S6 is well integrated for Atmos mixing and being able to customize my fader layouts for the show’s many tracks of background ambiences, sound effects and Atmos audio objects made for easy mixing.
“Finally, because the show was shot in Portland, there was often quite a bit of noise on the production sound recordings. I’m a huge fan and big user of Izotope software. Their new Izotope 8 Post Production Suite was completely invaluable to the dialogue mixing process. Izotope 8 includes several staple plug-ins, like Dialogue Isolate, De-Plosive, De-Rustle and Spectral De-Noise, which I relied heavily on throughout the show. I can't say enough good things about how amazing Izotope’s software is.”
Does the show have unique needs?
“As mentioned, Trinkets is set in Portland. There was a large focus on faithfully re-creating the city atmosphere. Everything from the sounds of the city, to the types of birds we used in the soundscapes were considered. We gave the neighborhoods specific attention. The three main characters of the show — Elodie, Tabitha, and Moe (played by Briana Hildebrand, Quintessa Swindell, and Kiana Madeira respectively — are all from different socio-economic backgrounds. Tabitha’s family is affluent. Elodie’s family is middle-class and Moe is being raised by a single mother. The neighborhood's ambiences were designed to reflect this discrepancy.
“The characters are linked in that they’re all in Shoplifters Anonymous, and although they make efforts in their recovery, often steal things in very interestingly-shot set-piece sequences. We added sound design to their movements and accentuated their shoplifting with closely-mic’d Foley.
“At one point in the show, we also venture to a school robotics competition, where Moe’s team is competing against other schools and their robots. There was a large amount of sound design that went into creating these robots and articulating their movements around the arena. While the competition is taking place, Elodie and Tabitha are digitally hacking into a teacher's laptop to steal a test. This scene was very technical from a mix standpoint. It was important to gradually increase the intensity and anxiety of the situation every time we cut back on laptop hacking.”
What were some of the challenges?
“Sound is a very powerful tool in storytelling, and there are a lot of times where the desire to utilize sound for everything within a shot/scene gets in the way of the story. A lot of challenges in mixing usually come down to creative differences. On Trinkets, I’d have a day to mix the show without the clients being present, taking the time to clean the dialogue, balance the music, mix the sound effects, etc. I’d get the show dialed in and ready for playback with the clients. Typically, most of the notes (whether about dialogue, music or sound effects) would be focused around story points and clearing sonic space to let story points feature.
“Usually, the theft sequences were difficult to mix. There was a lot of temptation to throw the kitchen sink into the mix; design, loop group and music, but oftentimes the solution was to play a select few items that provided for the most effective storytelling.
“The show was also on a very ambitious schedule, meaning that we’d often be editing and mixing to pictures that had a temporary VFX place within it. Usually on the morning of the playback, we’d receive the final picture and would have to quickly re-time sounds that were dependent on the movement of the final VFX (cell phone sounds, design elements, etc.). This challenge took careful attention to resolve.”