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Channel 4 and Honda Chronicle the Evolution of Hollywood Stunts

Words by Paul Sumpter, Tuesday 6 Dec 2016

 

We’ve just wrapped sound-design and full audio-post broadcast mix delivery on an ambitious short film recreating some of cinema’s classic stunts in one continuous take, all with the use of a 30 foot surround projection system and an enormous treadmill.

Working for our good friends at Wake The Town and in close conjunction with director Chris Turner and producer Hal Arnold at Little Lab Studios, the film commissioned by Story Lab partnered Channel4 once again with Honda and sees Hollywood stuntman Damien Walters pay tribute to some of the most memorable movie stunts including those from North By Northwest, Indiana Jones, Terminator 2, The Matrix and 300.

If you’ve seen a Hollywood blockbuster in the last ten years, chances are you’ve seen Damien Walters in action. He's a British freerunner, former gymnast, and stunt performer who worked on films like Skyfall, Kick-Ass, Captain America: The First Avenger, Kingsman: The Secret Service and standing in for Michael Fassbender in next month’s Assassin’s Creed. He’s even performed the biggest free-fall stunt in 35 years – a stomach-churning 125-foot jump.

Our task was to bring each of the vignettes to life sonically with equally epic cinematic sound-design whilst smoothly helping the film transition from one scene to the next. There were some unique challenges to this project, not least creating a full and impressive sound for Damien’s movement’s on the huge treadmill or ‘tumbleator’. Obviously, not having a gigantic treadmill to hand in the studio to perform Foley on, we had to get imaginative...

We needed something that had a softness and sponginess to it, that mimicked the bounce in the plastic conveyor surface whilst still retaining a sense of size, weight and without feeling cheap in any way of course. We found that blending some sound designed synth tones to create a solid undulating whirr and hum of the big belt coupled with some processed vacuum cleaner sounds worked well for the general tumbleator running sound. Now we had to find a suitable way of creating the footsteps and falls on top. Enter our trusty props box. After some experimentation, we found that by close-micing our fingertips tapping on top of a silicon baking cake tin, gave us a nice meaty sound via the intended proximity effect, which we could then perform the various running, walking, scuffs and falls whilst watching the film back. Nice!

The Evolution of Stunts launched on All 4 on Saturday 26th November receiving an exclusive linear broadcast the same day during the entirety of first ad break of The Fast and the Furious 6 on Channel 4. We also delivered audio post for the in-depth behind-the-scenes, making-of film Little Dot produced detailing some of the technical challenges the crew had to overcome to create this innovative piece of work, already receiving wide acclaim, including a 5 star reviews from ad site David Reviews. Our work was also nominated for Best Sound Design in Advertising at the Music & Sound Awards.

See if you can spot all the different films (answers below. No peeking now….)

The full list of movie stunts that inspired the series are: 1. Safety Last – Clock Dangle 2. Steamboat Bill Jr. – House Fall 3. Dodge City – Bar Fight 4. North by Northwest – Crop Duster Dodge 5. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Truck Drag 6. Terminator 2 – Motorbike Chase 7. The Matrix – Timeslice High Kick 8. 300 – Sword Fight 9. Thing From Another World – Explosion and Burn

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Paul Sumpter

Founder & Creative Director

Tuesday 6 Dec 2016