InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 34

34

www.incinematographer.com | Issue 3

Alien: Covenant
Katherine Waterston

(Picture: Mark Rogers)

Alien: Covenant - Astronauts
and Aliens Find Their Voices
DPA Microphones' d:screet™ Miniature and d:fine™ Headset Microphones were used to capture
dialogue for the film Alien: Covenant, which was released earlier this year...

A

ward-winning Production Sound Mixer Ben Osmo
is no stranger to DPA's microphone technology,
having used the company's d:screet™ Miniature
Microphones to great effect during the filming of Mad
Max: Fury Road. No surprise then, that he once again
chose DPA for his next major film project - recording
the audio for Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant.
"This film made unusual demands on the sound,
costume and props departments because the cast
not only had to wear radio mic transmitters but
also an in-ear/comms set up, which was part of the
storyline," Osmo explains. "We were predominantly
using DPA microphones for location sound recording,
so we chose d:screet 4060 and 4061 lavalier
microphones, which we hid in clothing and in space
suits. We also used d:fine Headset Microphones on
cast members as props - for example as talk back
mics in space helmets."
A sequel to Prometheus and the sixth instalment
overall in the Alien film series, Alien: Covenant stars
Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy
Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir. Location
filming took place at Milford Sound in Fiordland
National Park, New Zealand, and also at a disused
water reservoir near Sydney. Bodyworn microphones
for the film were supplied by DPA's Australian
distributor, Amber Technology.
Costume Complexity
In some scenes, the complexity of the spacesuit
costumes worn by the main cast members and the
need to remove space helmets to fit the storyline
meant that up to three microphones were needed to
capture the sound.
"We would put one d:screet 4061 in the front of
the space helmet with the cable inside the helmet's
foam supports and a small transmitter positioned in
a cavity in the helmet," Osmo says: "A second 4061
was placed below the locking ring in the space suit,
with the transmitter inside the suit, then a d:fine 66
Omnidirectional Headset Microphone was dressed
under a cap and in shot as a practical talk back prop.
The transmitter for that microphone was mounted
under the back pack, alongside the Lectrosonics IFB
R1a receiver.
"This set up allowed the cast to start the scene
with their helmets off and then put them on while

the camera was rolling without having to stop the
dialogue. Having the three body mic alternatives
gave post production the option of using whichever
microphone was most suitable. They also had the
sound from the boom mics. Once the cast had their
space helmets permanently on, we found that
the d:fine 66 Headset Microphones were the best
option."
Working alongside Osmo on Alien: Covenant were
Key Boom Operator Shanti Burn, Boom Operators
Tod Moore and Mark van Kool (also in charge of radio
mics) and Ben Yeadon, who was in charge of cable/
utility.
"Shanti did a great job in pre-production, liaising
with the costume department and getting them to
sew special pouches into the costumes for both the
Lectrosonics SMV and SMQV radio mic transmitters
and the IFB1Ra receivers," Osmo says. "Tod set the
transmitters, receivers, mics and in-ear pieces off set
with the costume department as the cast were being
dressed. Later, when Mark joined the sound crew, he
replicated the setting up of the radio mics but also
added his personal stamp on rigging the DPA mics in
the costumes."
Environment Encounters
"Milford Sound was a breath-taking location and
the acoustics for loud gunshots and explosions
were amazing because the sound bounced off the
mountains," Osmo explains. "However, the elements
were often against us and we had many days when
it was cold and rainy. Ridley loved the look, so we
kept filming and got around the problems caused
by the weather by waterproofing as much of the
equipment as we could. The d:screet 4060 and 4061
microphones worked well in these damp, windy
conditions and produced warm and even sound
for most of the cast. When using the high EQ cap,
they have a nice sparkle in the top end that lets the
dialogue come through clothing evenly. There were a
few occasions where we had to swap out mics when
they got too damp, but after drying them out, they
worked fine again."
According to Osmo, the cast of Alien: Covenant
were very patient with the sound crew and accepted
the need for some microphone tweaking between
takes. Interior scenes were filmed on a shooting

Production Sound
Mixer Ben Osmo

stage at Sydney's Fox Studios and in some of these
boom mics couldn't be used because the corridors in
the space ship were too tight.
"In those situations we worked with the camera
department and placed a d:screet 4060 with a
small transmitter on the Steadicam operator, or on
the camera itself," Osmo says. "This gave us prime
position when the camera tracked backwards with
the cast."
Alien Sounds
One unusual aspect of this film was that the crew
used sound cues for camera movements, props and
SFX. This meant that Osmo had to come up with
noises for the aliens - something he has great fun
delivering.
"I used some takes of our previous recordings of
yells and blood curdling screams and recorded some
guide yells from the actor who played the Alien," he
explains. "I also used the d:screet 4060 mic that I
used for my own comms/slate mic to record my own
weird voice making some unusual sounds.
"I imported a few takes into Pro Tools and edited a
few versions when I had a minute. Some were slowed
and pitched down and mixed into two versions
(young Neomorph and Alien). These were then
played back on set as a guide for the cast to react to,
via speakers or into their comms."
Thanks to the superior sound quality of the DPA
microphones and the fact that they could pick up
clean dialogue in trying conditions, very little ADR
was needed. "As in all films, it's the collaboration of
all departments that allows the sound department
to achieve a good result," Osmo says. "That was
certainly the case with Alien: Covenant."
www.dpamicrophones.com

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of InCinematographer - Issue 3

In This Issue
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - Intro
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - Cover1
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - Cover2
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - In This Issue
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 4
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 5
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 6
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 7
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 8
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 9
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 10
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 11
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 12
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 13
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 14
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 15
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 16
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 17
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 18
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 19
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 20
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 21
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 22
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 23
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 24
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 25
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 26
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 27
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 28
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 29
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 30
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 31
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 32
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 33
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 34
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 35
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 36
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 37
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 38
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 39
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 40
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 41
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 42
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 43
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 44
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 45
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 46
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 47
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 48
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 49
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 50
InCinematographer - Issue 3 - Cover4
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