Oppenheimer: Christopher Nolan speaks about the sometimes hard-to-hear dialogue in the film

Christopher Nolan’s sound mixing in his movies is unique with his signature bombastic soundtrack and naturally recorded dialogue.

While Christopher Nolan has an impressive filmography, many are hailing his latest film, Oppenheimer, as his most stunning and effective achievement. It definitely sports his bombastic style, as he has shown a love for a booming soundtrack and unique editing fashion. The filmmaker applied a very tense and forward-moving method to his prior historical drama, Dunkirk; however, Nolan stunningly gives this three-hour film, sporting almost nothing but talking scenes, a similar pace that never leaves the viewer dwelling on any scene.

For his last film, the time-bending sci-fi, Tenet, Nolan worked with a new composer, Ludwig Göransson, forgoing working with his normal collaborator, Hans Zimmer. The auteur indulged in dousing scenes with Göransson’s score, which led many to complain about it overbearing the dialogue, making key lines hard to hear. The same complaints are cropping up for Oppenheimer. However, Nolan explains that other factors may have had an effect on the dialogue being audible. According to Insider, Nolan used no ADR, which involves actors re-dubbing their lines in post-production for clearer audio.

Using exclusive on-set sound for dialogue would prove to be challenging due to his use of IMAX cameras, which are big and noisy. But one of the newest technological innovations Nolan has utilized is the filtering out of camera noise. “There are certain mechanical improvements. And actually, Imax is building new cameras right now which are going to be even quieter. But the real breakthrough is in software technology that allows you to filter out the camera noise. That has improved massively in the 15 or so years that I’ve been using these cameras. Which opens up for you to do more intimate scenes that you would not have been able to do in the past,” Nolan expounded.

He also admitted that he still has to “choose your moments” when it comes to using IMAX cameras. Nolan, then, explains why he chooses not to incorporate ADR in his movies when he can, “I like to use the performance that was given in the moment rather than the actor revoice it later. Which is an artistic choice that some people disagree with, and that’s their right.” In the past, Nolan faced complaints with the original sound edit of Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises when the actor was speaking muffled lines behind his mask. The early IMAX preview of the first scene in the movie prior to release had audiences complain they couldn’t understand him and the mix was redone for the final cut to make it louder and clearer.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/oppenheimer-christopher-nolan-hard-to-hear-dialogue/

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