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Les Miserables

'Les Miserables:' The Audio Mastery in Mixing A 'Live' Musical Feature

Director Tom Hooper came up with an audacious idea for the film version of the smash hit musical Les Misérables. “In my first meeting with Tom, he said, ‘I don’t think we can make this movie unless we record the actors singing live,’” recounts production sound mixer Simon Hayes. “He made it very clear that he wanted the movie sung completely through from start to finish because he felt it would be very difficult for the audience to connect with mimed performances for two and a half hours.

'Les Miserables:' The Audio Mastery in Mixing A 'Live' Musical Feature

Slide text: 
<p>Director Tom Hooper came up with an audacious idea for the film version of the smash hit musical Les Mis&eacute;rables. &ldquo;In my first meeting with Tom, he said, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t think we can make this movie unless we record the actors singing live,&rsquo;&rdquo; recounts production sound mixer Simon Hayes. &ldquo;He made it very clear that he wanted the movie sung completely through from start to finish because he felt it would be very difficult for the audience to connect with mimed performances for two and a half hours.</p>

Director Tom Hooper came up with an audacious idea for the film version of the smash hit musical Les Misérables. “In my first meeting with Tom, he said, ‘I don’t think we can make this movie unless we record the actors singing live,’” recounts production sound mixer Simon Hayes. “He made it very clear that he wanted the movie sung completely through from start to finish because he felt it would be very difficult for the audience to connect with mimed performances for two and a half hours.

DPA Mics Record 'Les Misérables'

Vocals for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables were recorded live on set, with the cast singing to a live piano accompaniment played to them through earpieces. When the orchestra was recorded later in postproduction, the musicians took their lead from the performances.

Creating the Skies of 'Les Misérables'

Les Misérables' compositing supervisor Greg Spencer talks about the visual effects done for the movie, including realizing Tom Hooper's direction to make the skies into another character in the film.

Says Spencer, "We needed to get a solid idea of what each sky looked like before we started. We knew there would be a lot of roto involved so while that was getting done, myself and the VFX Supervisor began taking single frames from what we considered 'hero' shots and began throwing as many skies into them as possible. That way we could see what did and didn't work. It was a quick way of getting a strong visual idea of how things would look. When we had narrowed it down to two or three skies, we chose a few key shots from each of the scenes and did rough versions to see if they would work on the move. We also did a couple of matte paintings of the city."

'Anna Karenina,' 'Les Miserables,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall' Earn ASC Award Nominations

Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC (Anna Karenina), Danny Cohen, BSC (Les Miserables), Claudio Miranda, ASC (Life of Pi), Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln) and Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (Skyfall) have been nominated in the feature film category of the 27th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The winner will be announced at the ASC Awards celebration on February 10 at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom.
 

Les Miserables: Lighting a Dark Tale

Cinematographer Danny Cohen tells the story of the challenges of lighting and shooting the epic musical Les Miserables, which included live singing in every take and multiple cameras to capture each one. He says, "You make a judgment on how far you can just let things happen and create an atmosphere in the room to tell the story. The actors were already under a lot of pressure -- they had the pianist playing in their ear, they had to deliver songs take after take, and I felt it wasn't fair to make absolute demands on how and where they could move. Smart actors can feel the light and know where to go. I wanted to give them the freedom to make it work, and I think having them moving in and out of light and shadows has given it a more period look that works for this dark story."

Read more here on ARRI's site.

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