November 27, 2020

Audio class creates soundtrack for SyFy movie

Professor Adam Frick watches as Chris Juppier, senior audio production major, plays a scene from a sci-fi movie. Frick’s class is working on the film’s audio. They recorded sounds, which they placed in the appropriate scene of the movie. For example, they recorded feet stomping on gravel for a scene. PHOTO BY MEGAN FAVIGNANO

The sounds of killer worms taking over an entire body, squirting blood and running footsteps upon gravel can all be heard throughout the halls of the Sverdrup building at Webster University during Adam Frick’s soundtracks for visual media class. Frick, an adjunct audio professor, and the students are currently working on soundtracks for a film to be aired on the SyFy channel called “The Pandora Project.”

The students have been working on the film for approximately four weeks. At the beginning of the semester Tori Meyer, chair and professor of the audio aesthetics and technology department, approached them with the project.

“It is amazing to watch a film come together from nothing more than a video track and stereo mix,” said Corey Tarrant, a senior audio production major in Frick’s class.

Meyer lived in Los Angeles for 15 years while working on a reality TV series called “Smile… You’re Under Arrest!” where she met producer Diana Terranova. Recently, Terranova contacted Meyer about playing an informercial host in “The Pandora Experiment.” During the production of the film, post budgets were cut. Meyer suggested the soundtracks for visual media class as a solution for the completion of the audio.

“They get to work on professional films and get professional credit,” Meyer said.

Diana Terranova, director and producer of “The Pandora Project,” sends Frick a few scenes at a time for the students to edit for the soundtracks. In the first six weeks of the course, they have completed between 25-30 out of a total 100 tracks that will need to be edited. To prepare for the film, the students had to observe other films and listen to exactly how the sound was synchronized into each film.

According to the film’s page on Facebook, “The Pandora Experiment” is a science-fiction horror film that is due to release on Halloween. The film is about five women who were enjoying New Years on the Las Vegas Strip. The night suddenly took a horrific turn after the women were kidnapped by scientists and taken to an underground laboratory. The film will tell the story of how these women attempt to escape being the lab rats for the scientists.

“The most exciting parts are coming up with the gorey, squishy and gooey sound effects,” said Chris Juppier, a senior audio production major in the class. “In this film, most of the sound effects deal with worms and blood.”

The class recently began designing the sounds for each scene of “The Pandora Project.” The process of making the soundtrack and audio that goes with a film can be more complex than it seems. As a group, the students watch the scenes, then decide what audio the scene needs.

“It’s kind of a group effort, even though we each have our own individual parts that we are responsible for,” Juppier said.

In audio production for a film, there are several components that are included in the final project. The main components in this film are background sounds and sound effects. All of the visuals that are displayed on screen also need to be heard as well. The sound of worms squirming and cars driving are elements that are seen but also heard.

Frick assigned specific students to editing dialogue and others to music. All of the students participate in “Foley”, which is the recording of everyday sounds, such as footsteps, movements and clapping.

“This time around, I think the kids are excited because they get the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) credit, which is big, but then their stuff will be on TV as well,” Frick said.

Frick taught the class in the spring, but is teaching it again this semester. In past classes, Frick and University of Missouri film professor Jeffrey Omen have collaborated.

University of Missouri has a co-production department where Webster audio students partner with film students of the university to complete film work. These collaborations allow the students to receive an IMDb credit. The students’ work on “The Pandora Experiment” will provide students with the same credentials while their work will be aired on the SyFy network.

Tarrant said there are various steps to complete in the audio aspect before a film is ready for the big screen.

“I can’t help but tell all my friends and co-workers about the film,” Tarrant said.  “I’m sure they are sick of hearing about it now, but I get so excited after working on it or coming from class.”

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