Creating the Soundscape for The Invisible Red Thread

Kyle records ambient sound

Our doc following international adoptee Vivian back to China had its interviews and sounds recorded in speeding trains, noisy village markets, a busy orphanage and a bustling rural house filled with the sounds of family and sizzle of hot cooking pans. Our sound designers are taking all these noises, voices and music and weaving an immersive world of sound for the film.

“What we see when we watch a film is only half the experience,” says sound editor Andreas Mendritzki, who along with Kyle Stanfield, is bringing together all the sound to form the final soundscape of The Invisible Red Thread.

Andreas and Kyle are from GreenGround Productions, a production company in Montreal. Over the next three weeks, they will be seamlessly combining all the sound that was recorded in the field in China and Toronto with music, voices, narration and sound effects from a library.

“Sound design is about creating everything that you hear when you go to see, or go to hear, a film,” says Andreas.

For a sound designer, a documentary like The Invisible Red Thread poses different challenges than a fiction film.  “Documentary in general needs a lot of cleaning,” he says. “The conditions out in the field aren’t always ideal for recording sound, like they could be in a studio.”

This means combing through the recordings to find the  “pops, hisses, and clicks,” small blemishes in the sound created by the recording equipment, or the rustling of clothing or wind on the microphones. It takes time and patience, but clean sound is essential for allowing the audience to feel a part of the world on screen.

“It’s a lot of detailed work, but audiences are very sensitive,” he says. Distracting sound, even if it’s subtle, can pull the audience away from the story.  “Sound is a huge part of film making, and I think it’s sometimes undervalued,” he says.

“It has a lot to do with how we evolved as human beings- we think very visually, but sound engages us differently.  Emotionally, sound has a different impact.  In a film, visuals tell us about the world outside of us, and tell us what to think.  But sound goes more directly to our inner world. It tells us how to feel.”

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