‘Venom’ Uses ATC Monitors and Subwoofers for Sound Design

by Victoria Wasylak • in
  • Supplier Scene
• Created: November 8, 2018

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Composer and sound designer Anthony Baldino recently created the sound design for the Marvel movie “Venom” with longtime friend and sound designer Chris Lane.

Baldino relied on his ATC SCM25A monitors and his Subwoofer Pros Studio Sub 12 subwoofers to hear and remove all of the elements and frequencies that are unnecessary in order to make plenty of room for all of the elements and frequencies that are essential.

“It took me a minute to wrap my head around the ATCs,” he said. “The midrange is hyper-detailed, and I found I was scooping too much out of the mids because I was used to thinking about my old monitors. But once I got that under control, things really improved because I was able to clearly hear all of the frequencies that needed to go. For example, I rely heavily on my modular synths for making a lot of the drums that give my music a lot of size and impact on most of my projects, and with the ATCs and Subwoofer Pros, I’m able to hear all of the harmonic content that I couldn’t hear before. I’m able to cut out all of these harmonics that don’t really support the key of the track and the frequencies that aren’t essential, which makes room for everything else. Now I think about all of my sounds like a music engineer might scoop frequencies from a piano to make room for a guitar, except that my sounds aren’t so traditionally defined. But the principle is the same. As a result, everything that remains is psychologically louder because it isn’t being cluttered by inessential harmonics. I’d be doing that in the dark without my ATCs and Subwoofer Pros.”

For “Venom,” composer Ludwig Göransson gave Baldino an interesting task. “Ludwig was using Digital Performer and Ableton,” Baldino said. “So instead of giving me a cue and rounding it out with traditional sound design, I was doing something more like ‘loopable gestures.’ Sometimes I was given a rhythm, and I made my own synth patches to that rhythm. I also did a lot of vocal processing, which ended up as the ghostly, alien swelling voices you hear in the film. That said, they’re still rhythmic. Finally, I also did a lot of orchestral processing and mangling. The ATCs let me do some creative distortion that made the brass especially menacing without making it sound like ‘brass through a distortion pedal.’ Again, the ATCs and Subwoofer Pros let me sculpt all of these sounds, which at times were really abrasive and full frequency range and deliver them in a state that really fit into the mix. For another example, I could really hear in great detail and dial in the release times of all my synth pulses. I know that sounds super nit-picky but reigning them in gave more room for everything else. Instead of banging my head against the desk wondering why other engineers can make things fit but I can’t, I can hear into the mix to make the right decisions that allow everything to fit.”

Baldino wasn’t alone in his use of ATC monitors on “Venom;” Lane and Göransson regularly use them as well. “My ATC SCM25As were so necessary in my writing for ‘Venom,’” Göransson said. “They were my mains throughout the whole writing process. The score was comprised of a hybrid backdrop that included dark synth textures, sharp electronic leads, heavy metal flourishes, and the super power of the orchestra. So, working within that wide sonic palette, I needed monitors that could reflect a clear representation of the full sonic spectrum. Time is always a factor with my projects, so it’s important that I hear what’s right and what’s wrong with a mix as quickly as possible. I’ve had my ATC’s for the last several years, and they have become integral tools in helping me write and produce music for my projects …and to do it quickly, accurately, and at a high quality.”

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