An Undervalued Art: The Craft of Sound

An interview with Richard L. Anderson, Supervising Sound Editor of
Raiders of the Lost Ark

by Adam McDaniel

Color photos courtesy of

[Richard Anderson] It has been nearly twenty years since Steven Spielberg’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK thrilled audiences around the world with its heroic feats of derring-do and relentless action. An homage to the grand weekly B-serials of the 1930’s and 40’s, RAIDERS not only recaptured their adventurous spirit, but did so with incredible technical sophistication, and was spearheaded by two of the most celebrated filmmakers of the late twentieth century.

With five Oscars and eight nominations to its credit, as well as universal acceptance by generations of moviegoers, RAIDERS has achieved the status of Modern Classic. Harrison Ford became immortalized as the intrepid, bullwhipping hero Indiana Jones. Steven Spielberg solidified his status after treading shaky ground on 1941. George Lucas had developed another successful franchise outside of his STAR WARS universe. And EVERYONE still knows John Williams’ RAIDERS MARCH.

But it is somewhat ironic that today’s audiences are eager to recognize the music composers’ achievement, while at the same time turn a deaf ear -- or blind eye -- to the contributors behind almost everything else they hear during a movie. John Williams, James Horner, and Jerry Goldsmith are familiar names to even casual moviegoers, and certainly their popularity has been well deserved. Yet how many people know of Lon Bender, Ben Burtt, Dane Davis, Steve Flick, Per Hallberg, Mark Mangini, Walter Murch, Gary Rydstrom, or Wylie Stateman? They may not compose music, but their craft is every bit as skillful, as time consuming, as creative, as passionate...and as personal. For they work within music of a different realm: sound effects editing and design.

Sound effects -- from their design and editorial to the final mixing phase, in which all of the sonic elements are brought together -- can evoke as much emotion within a film as the characters, music, plot, and visual design. Audio doesn’t just amplify the moviegoing experience. It is a vital part of it.

Sadly with today’s motion pictures, sound is not only an undervalued art, but an ignored one. Most audiences, even self-proclaimed "film buffs", lack an appreciation for this particular craft. Usually people equate a great sounding film with one that is "loud" -- filled with ear-piercing explosions, gunshots, and the like. But volume alone does not a good sounding movie make. Another misconception is that most of the dialogue and sound effects within a film have been captured by an "all hearing" microphone during principal photography, capable of picking up every word, nuance, and noise with complete clarity. What they don't realize is that MOST of a film's sound -- including much (if not most) of the dialogue -- has been added long after the cameras have stopped rolling.

Here are some Sound 101 Classic Examples. Disney's THE BLACK HOLE required ALL of the film's dialogue to be re-recorded, due to a loud camera noise ruining the entire production track. (The studio apparently felt it would be less expensive to fix it all in post, rather than replacing the camera.) This process is known as “ADR” -- automated dialogue replacement. For Hugh Hudson’s GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES, actress Andie McDowell (who played Jane in her film debut) could not perfect the sophisticated English accent. The solution: replace her entire voice, word for word, with that of actress Glenn Close.

But post sound is not just about the question of look who’s talking. It is the post production sound team’s job to “reconstruct” the audio within a film, from hard effects within a scene (a door slamming), to foley, background noises, and ambiences.

And that’s just the first step. Creative design entails not merely recreating sounds that “should” be there, but exploring the wide range of audio possibilities --real or abstract -- that enhance a scene. To those uneducated in the field, explaining the process is akin to giving art lessons to a student who has never even seen a painting, much less created one.

And that is probably why sound is so easily taken for granted. It’s a painful reality, too -- particularly when sound designers and editors sometimes spend more cumulative time working on a picture than the cinematographer, electricians, and costume and makeup artists. Worse still, this apparent indifference towards sound (and to those artists behind it) is not just the mentality of audiences. The very film industry itself has all too often slighted the craft. With today’s rushed post production schedules, ever-changing technologies, extreme competitiveness, and more and more studios struggling to establish their own in-house post services, the plight of the sound editors is often lost in the shuffle. “Do it faster!”, “Do it cheaper!”, and the all-time classic “We’ll fix it in post!” are some of the ultimatums that ring like death knells within editing rooms and mixing stages.

Hollywood’s regard for the craft reached a considerable low point during the 2001 Academy Awards telecast. Mike Myers’ introductory speech for the Best Sound Editing Oscar -- slighting the “anonymity” of Sound Artists as a form of comic relief -- understandably infuriated many Academy members, and prompted a headline news article within The L.A. Times. Previous presenters, such as Chris Rock (who quipped, “Who am I gonna piss off, a foley artist?” after making a snide joke) have not fared well, either. Even noted film critic Roger Ebert seemed to belittle Sound Artists during the awards telecast, stating that the winners for Best Sound and Sound Effects Editing shouldn’t be allowed the same amount of time for their acceptance speeches as the other Oscar categories. (One would presume Ebert, of all people, had more regard towards their craft.)

As if its mocking-congratulatory ceremony wasn’t problematic enough, the Academy’s rules in selecting the nominees for Best Sound Effects Editing recently seem more like the result of big-wig studio politics than aesthetic achievement. Only members who attend an Academy “Bake Off” (whereby 10-minute excerpts from each of the seven finalists are screened and voted upon) can vote for the nominees; the ceremony is held within one location, on only one evening of the entire year -- thereby excluding the many other Academy members unable to attend. (And if they miss it, it’s very likely because they’re WORKING on another film!) Worse still, the Bake Off seems to emphasize only the achievement featured within each of the films’ 10 minute excerpts, rather than the works’ entirety.

But enough about Oscars. Enough about respect. Or lack of. We’ve said our piece, and can only hope others will listen. And learn.

Let’s get back to RAIDERS...and give due attention to an important player in its success.

Richard Anderson is one of the giants within the sound industry. And in my book, he is also one of the nicest. His love of the craft is obvious. His passion for movies is contagious. And -- best of all -- he never forgets to acknowledge the importance of his team. Rather than accepting all the kudos for his successes, he takes the initiative and pays regards to his collaborators and peers.

He won a Special Achievement Academy Award in 1982 as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’s Supervising Sound Editor (the honor was shared with sound designer Ben Burtt). He also earned Oscar nominations a year later for POLTERGEIST and in 1997 for DAYLIGHT (both films he supervised). Steven Spielberg’s episode of AMAZING STORIES, “THE MISSION” (starring a young Kevin Costner) brought Anderson an Emmy and Golden Reel Award in 1985. He also won Golden Reels for Feature Sound Effects Editing on RAIDERS, PREDATOR, and DAYLIGHT, and Feature Animation for THE LION KING.

I first met Mr. Anderson in August of 1997, during a lecture he gave on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’s sound, coinciding with a wonderful 70mm screening of the film. (The print was supplied by Bill Varney, and it was reportedly the only 70mm print of RAIDERS left in the United States.) At the time I was a fresh student of cinematography and production design, and though I had an academic appreciation of sound, I was oblivious to how elaborate -- indeed, crucial -- it was. I later met Mr. Anderson some months following while working as an assistant at Soundelux, another post production audio facility.

Mr. Anderson managed to take some time off from his busy schedule at Weddington Studios in North Hollywood, CA (where they’re currently involved with Tim Burton’s reimagining of PLANET OF THE APES), for an informal Q&A session reflecting on his career and his work on RAIDERS over twenty years ago...


[Richard Anderson] AM: Mr. Anderson, thanks for taking time out from your busy schedule for this Q&A session! As one of the supervising sound editors of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, how does it feel to be associated with a project that has remained so popular and celebrated after 20 years?

RA: It is quite an honor. We all thought it would be a hit when we were working the long hours to get it done, but I didn't foresee the picture being so popular as to spawn three sequels and 20 years. As to classics, I also worked on the original STAR WARS with Ben (Burtt), but only as an editor. I suspected that would be a hit also.

AM: Both you and Ben Burtt received Special Achievement Academy Awards in 1982 for recognition toward the film's Sound Effects Editing. Of all the projects you've worked on, which are you the most proud?

RA: Certainly RAIDERS would be one of them. DAYLIGHT was another -- a real sound editor's dream project, with set piece after set piece. And THE COLOR PURPLE, even though it wasn't a heavy sound effects’ picture. I liked it as a movie, and I worked to get just the right sounds for each of the periods and locations. I went on location to record the local bugs and birds of the (American) southeast, which have a different feel than (those in) Southern California.

AM: In regard to the Academy Awards, there has often been much argument as to whether or not Sound and Sound Effects Editing should remain separate categories. The BAFTA's (British equivalent to America’s Oscars), for example, have both the mixers and the editors awarded in one general "sound" category. How do you feel about this, and why?

RA: I think that it should stay as two categories, even though the Academy would like to combine them to save a few statues, and have a few more minutes for "witty repartee" between two over or underdressed actors. RAIDERS won both categories in 1982, but often the two crafts do not always peak in the same film. The year that I was nominated for DAYLIGHT, the other nominees for Sound Effects Editing were THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS (which won for that year) and ERASER. None of these films were nominated for Best Sound (a category awarded for the project’s mixing teams), yet they showed off the sound editor's creativity. In the past, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) won the Best Sound (mixing) Oscar, with its layers of dialogue and great production set recording. Should the sound effects editor of that film have won also? With apologies, I'm sure he had plenty of work to do with the backgrounds!

AM: I'd like you to take a moment and briefly explain how you started out in sound. Is it something you always aspired to do, or did you "fall into it" while setting your ambitions elsewhere?

RA: I "fell" into it. I was interested in picture editing and started off as an assistant picture editor on very low budget films. I helped edit the sound effects and dialogue by assisting the sound editor, who often "moonlighted" on these projects. I was the full time guy who would get everything ready for him to cut at night and on weekends. Later, I began to do the rough editing, which was polished by the sound editor while I observed his technique, and finally I began cutting small projects, mainly trailers, by myself. In this business you get "pigeonholed" as doing one thing, so people thought of me as a sound effects guy, and I haven't been able to do anything else since! Moral of the story to people starting out in this business: make sure you work at something you want to do.

AM: I understand you studied film while a student at USC. What was that experience like?

RA: I graduated in '73 with a B.A. I met Ben Burtt there (we made a short together with space ships and a hungry dinosaur) and some other people that I still work with, but primarily I wanted to get a college degree to fall back on if the "movie thing" didn't work out. I couldn't wait to get started working on "real" films rather than stay in academia.

AM: What was your first professional sound job?

RA: I was the assistant to the picture editor and the producer on looping a Hong Kong kung-fu movie into English, BLOOD ON THE SUN (1973). I had “lip synced” wild lines on a student film that we didn't have the equipment to shoot sync sound with, and this producer, actor James Hong (who would go on to star in such films as CHINATOWN, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, and BLADE RUNNER) saw the short and figured that I could sync the English ADR to match the lips of the Chinese actors. This was when the TV show Kung Fu was hot. We spent time trying to write English to match the lip movements and made sure that there were always the same amounts of syllables on each! The real long shots were our favorite, as we could fit in all the exposition where the lips were too small to see. I got paid very little, but I met people that led to the next job, and the next one. This is a business based on contacts. Even now for me, this is the secret to success.

AM: From your experience, how much of a film's sound comes to life through post, and what was it like on RAIDERS in particular?

RA: George Lucas said -- I'm paraphrasing -- that a film is made in the editing. I think the same applies to the sound track. Due to noisy backgrounds and practical special effects on the set, we looped over half the film. The truck chase was shot completely silent, except for the few lines of dialogue in the cab. Much of (the acting) was done by stunt doubles, so they couldn't shoot sync dialogue and decided not to have a sound crew go with the second unit. The German staff car and the submarine were mock ups, so we had to get sounds of actual period autos to make them sound correct. And of course, the “magical” sounds couldn't be recorded on set as they didn't exist until we created them.

AM: You've worked with many celebrated directors/producers, including Ron Howard (APOLLO 13), Tim Burton (SLEEPY HOLLOW, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, BATMAN RETURNS, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), Rob Cohen (DAYLIGHT, DRAGONHEART), Bob Wise (STAR TREK I), as well as Steven Spielberg. What were some of your other memorable collaborations?

RA: I worked briefly on APOLLO 13 -- Steve Flick helmed that one, but I supervised Ron's first film as a director, GRAND THEFT AUTO, a Roger Corman production of eight reels, filled with non-stop cars chasing and smashing. I worked with the late Alan Splet, the Oscar winner of THE BLACK STALLION fame. Ron, Alan, and I all went on to bigger things. I regret I've lost touch with Roger Corman.

AM: In addition to a wide range of live-action feature films, you've worked on several major animated films, including ANTZ, ANASTASIA, THE LION KING, and (my personal favorite) THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. What special challenges does animation present to sound editorial, as opposed to live-action?

RA: Animation is the same as live action fantasy films. They demand creative, non-real world sounds that one can't just go out and record. In NIGHTMARE, I remember we had a cat whose tail was cranked to make a siren, a walking bathtub, and other visuals that made you ask, "What would that sound like?" Also, characters move differently in animation. They walk at odd gaits, which is especially hard for foley artists and the editors that have to sync it afterwards. ANASTASIA was more realistic, as it was rotoscoped from real actors, but we still had the magical sequences such as Rasputin's Minions, and the climax on the Paris bridge at the end to deal with.

AM: Having worked with a post-production facility, I know that there are often many conflicts -- if not all-out arguments -- between the sound crew and the music composer over how a scene should play. You have worked on films with music by some of the most successful composers in cinema: Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen, James Horner, and, of course, John Williams. How would you describe your relationship with the composer during a film?

RA: Usually we don't collaborate. I occasionally meet the composer, but only briefly. Most composers do not come to the dub. Jerry Goldsmith used to not come to the final dub, then tell the director afterwards that the music was done wrong and get some dub time with only he and the director present. I did a few pictures where the final sound track sounded different, and I was informed that this had happened. I don't mind if the director wants it that way, but I wish the composer would come to the main dub and fight for his music then, with the sound effects editor present. I worked with Danny Elfman on NIGHTMARE because he was one of the producers and came to the dub. However, if it were up to him, there would be no sound effects to get in the way of his music. He told me that his approach to musical numbers was the old movies of the 1930's, when everything stopped except for the music -- only “taps” were permitted of course at times, but if you notice in those old films, the taps on the shoes miraculously disappear when the dancers start waltzing.

AM: How was it working with John Williams on RAIDERS in that regard?

RA: I've only met Mr. Williams afterwards at the Academy Governor’s Ball, after the Oscars when were all nominees. He did his thing and we did ours, and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided what would predominate in any area during the final dub. I remember that Ben Burtt called the now famous Raiders’ March theme the "NFL Highlights." Sure enough, the tune ended up being used in sports compilations of scenes from a game or past season! I also remember that the music was transferred to magnetic film at the NAB curve instead of the English (it was recorded in London) CCIR curve. This caused the music tracks to be extra “bright”, and music mixer Steve Maslow had to correct this all the way through. We only discovered this at the last moment, when a reprint of one cut was ordered and it didn't match the others, as the new one had been transferred correctly. By then, we were almost done and the track sounded great (Thanks, Steve), so it seemed silly to go back with all new transfers.

AM: NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and LION KING were not only animated films, but musicals. Do musicals present special challenges?

RA: Usually, they don't want anything during the song except for the most up front, impact sounds. If re do have any effects, they must match the pitch and rhythm of the song. Examples would be whistles and bells, or anything else that has a tonal quality. In ANASTASIA, there was a scene where the characters waltz during a dance lesson while on a steam ship deck. They start with just vocal "1,2,3"s and then the music gradually comes in. At the end, the music eases out as the potential lovers gaze at each other. I took steam engine sounds and created a waltz time three stroke engine and matched it to the music, so that the song comes out of a steam engine "rhythm" track and returns to it in the end. In the middle, they went entirely to the music, but I was ready with the steam engine in sync throughout the whole song.

AM: I understand you served as sound consultant for the 1989 restoration of David Lean's classic LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Could you describe that experience -- particularly working with the late David Lean?

RA: We did most of the sound restoring of the film to it's originally released form without him being present, except for looping some of the actors in London. Then he arrived and cut the film to his own version. Remember that he originally had little editing time to meet the release date, so now he could play with the film a bit more. That is why it is more correct to call the 1989 release "the director's cut" rather than a "restoration" since he trimmed some things out that we had put back in. Personally, he was a gentleman and a pleasure to work with. I was a bit intimidated by being such august company, but both Sir David and Anne Coates, the original film editor, were open to ideas about minor changes in the picture cutting to accommodate the problems of trying to make a sound track without "all the pieces" still available. I'm quite proud of being a part (however small) of this epic film and working on a picture that so awed me when I originally saw it while in junior high school. I now meet younger people who have that same feeling of awe towards RAIDERS, so I guess it has come full circle.

AM: How much of a timeframe were you given to work on RAIDERS?

RA: Ben Burtt worked on it for a year of so, off and on, as he was George Lucas' in-house sound guy. He made certain signature sound effects (Indy's whip and gun) before we L.A. guys started the show. I worked with Stephen Flick, Mark Mangini, and John Dunn, who was our assistant, as well as cut sound effects on part of reel 2 (his first effort as a sound editor). All of us now own sound editing companies of our own. The dialogue and ADR was cut by Curt Schulkey, whom I am currently working with on PLANET OF THE APES. Ben stayed in Marin County and worked at Sprocket Effects, Lucas' editing company before “the ranch” (Skywalker Sound) in downtown San Anselmo. Since it was Ben's "home turf", he decided to work on the Mayan temple sequence at the beginning, the flying wing fight, and the opening of the Ark at the end. We handled the bulk of the picture, including the all the dialogue editing and foley, for Ben's scenes. John Roesch and Joan Rowe walked the foley at the old Ryder Sound on Vine Street. The L.A. team started just after the new year holiday, and we started pre-dubbing in March, 1981. We finished dubbing and subsequent print checking (I watched over fifty 70mm prints to make sure the sound was good on each one) the week before it opened in June.

AM: Quite often, films are test screened with preview audiences in order to fine-tune the cut and see what the moviegoers like and dislike. Were there such test screenings for RAIDERS, and how was it initially received?

RA: George Lucas didn't do all the previews like they do now. We dubbed the whole movie for real with the actual score, then they ran the movie on a Sunday morning at the Northpoint Theater in San Francisco (a Lucasfilm tradition) for an audience. A few minor changes were made -- mainly sound level changes -- and then it was done. We didn't temp the thing into the ground like they do now. I remember that Ben had done a "temp dub" the first time I saw it at a screening for George and Steven Spielberg to see a cut. He did what we used to call a "temp" dub -- cut a few key effects that were necessary to tell the story and mixed them with the temp music that Michael Kahn (the picture editor) cut against to help determine the pace with all the silent material. The truck chase had only a few gun shots and crash impacts with a lot music. But the film worked! Now directors want everything foleyed and sound-effected like a final for every screening, which drives up the cost of post production. (Gosh I sound like a old curmudgeon, don't I?)

[Submarine] AM: Not at all. I know for a fact that many studios and directors insist on a refined “temp” dub for the preview audiences. They want as favorable a reaction as possible. Speaking of which, do you remember any missing scenes from RAIDERS that didn't make the final cut?

RA: There was to be a scene where Indy has lashed himself to the submarine periscope with his whip, and it is cutting through the water keeping our hero above. The script called for a shark fin to be circling about (an homage to Steven's JAWS) to keep Indy on his toes. I recall a rough version of this scene without the shark, but they cut it out as it looked too comic. We wondered how Indy could stay on the outside of a small submarine without being spotted by the crew, but by that point in the story he had done so many other heroic feats, amazingly, audiences just accepted that he did it somehow. Also, how does he get inside the submarine pen (soaking wet) before the sub pulls in?

AM: My guess would be that he used “the force”...or at least a good stunt double to do it for him! Seriously, though, what else do you remember?

RA: The only other I can remember was a short piece of the scene where Indy and Marion escape from being buried alive with the snakes. They push out a stone and climb out from an adjacent tomb. There was an Arab worker who sees the stone fall and faints when someone whom he thinks is a ghost starts to exit the ancient burial site. Perhaps it was thought to be too much like a Steppin Fetchit bit, so it was cut. But if you look carefully behind our heroes as they walk away from the tomb, you'll see what looks like an Arab "sleeping" by their exit point. Michael Kahn told me that he doesn't worry about matching everything perfectly from cut to cut. It is the overall flow and pace of the picture that matters and he is right because most people never notice the "sleeping" Arab.

AM: I remember a Q&A session you held at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the summer of 1997, coinciding with a screening of RAIDERS. You spoke a great deal about the truck chase, and how manipulated animal sounds, such as lion and tiger growls, were incorporated with military truck recordings.

RA: Yes, I added tiger roars to the big truck “revs” when it would swerve to the side and attack one of the other vehicles. I saw this giant truck as a beast. I mentioned that the truck chase was shot completely MOS (“mit Ott sound”, or without sound) except for the interior cab grunts of the stars fighting. The vehicles themselves were not available for recording, as they were in England and the German Mercedes staff car was a mock up. Obviously, no one was going to let a classic 1936 Mercedes touring car (if it still existed) be crashed into by a truck for a movie! So they built a fiberglass “shell”, based on a car in the British Imperial War Museum, and placed it on a truck chassis. We found a that the original would be a six cylinder engine with a manual transmission, so with the help of the Mercedes Association, we found a car in Southern California that would double sonicly. I remember that the owner required me to remove my shoes when riding on the interior while recording the constants. The truck was easier to locate, in that there are a number of period army trucks available in this area for use in motion pictures. We ended up recording about five different ones, putting microphones all over them to duplicate the feel of being on the back or underneath hanging onto the chassis as Indy does in the picture. I didn't like any of the trucks by themselves, so the truck in the picture was “double cut” using a '42 Dodge radio truck that had a nice high end gear whine, and a '40's ten-ton truck for the low end rumble. I had to match the gear shift points on both tracks, so that as the truck accelerated or downshifted, it gave the illusion of a single drive train that had both highs and lows. We also rolled some of the vehicles on a dirt and rocky road so we got the sound of the wheels rolling with rattles and shaking separately from the motor.

AM: Perhaps it’s less complex a topic, but we’re still curious: tell us about the “voice” of the monkey, “Snuff”.

RA: The monkey was done by (a very much human) voice expert, Frank Welker. We played with real monkey recordings, but we couldn't get a real monkey to make a sound like "Heil Hitler", and they weren't "directable", so we brought in Frank. He is very famous for doing creature voices now, but at the time he was just doing cartoon voices. As I recall, his involvement was a bonus of Mark Mangini's background at Hanna Barbera. We have some very funny outtakes of Frank doing all the voices and sound effects in a scene.

AM: It’d be interesting to hear them somehow, someday... Perhaps some supplementary material on a DVD? This, of course, begs the question asked so very often: As RAIDERS' anniversary approaches, do you know of any tentative plans to re-release the film theatrically or on DVD?

RA: No. Paramount doesn't fill me in on these matters, but I'd buy a DVD, and I think a few others would be sold also if the title was made available.

AM: I also remember you elaborating on the "God's Wind" sound effects used throughout the film -- you can hear them in such scenes as Marion’s bar and the Well of Souls. How were they created?

RA: They were a variety of material mixed together. One element was wind blowing through my backdoor that was cracked open a bit. This was the realistic wind part, though it had a spooky "haunted house" feel to it. Mark Mangini (who’s still my partner at Weddington) came up with recording screaming at piano strings to get them vibrating, and then just using the ring off for the “angelic voices” element. With all this, we added a recording of chanting from a traditional village ceremony recorded in Bali, and performed only once every hundred years! (I'm not making this up!) This was slowed way down to become an otherworldly drone. We mixed all these down on a small 4 track mixer we had at the time, and that is what is in the final film. Sometimes you can do very creative work with the simplest of equipment. The Pro-tools we have today are so much more sophisticated.

AM: On a related subject, I read somewhere that a project you supervised -- the horror film NEEDFUL THINGS (1993) -- was the first feature to have been entirely edited on an AVID digital editing system. There's an ongoing joke that if you were to ask someone what an "Avid" was back then, they'd probably say, "diet pill."

RA: It was also the first film that I worked on that was cut digitally on Pro-tools. Film editor, Rob Kobrin (who now works for the Avid company) was instrumental in making it all happen. We at Weddington were moving towards digital editing at the same time, so it was a pleasure to meet Rob who had similar ideas. It was a bit scary for me to be devoid of magnetic film (except for the dub masters -- we still mixed to film), but exciting as well.

AM: The technologies used for sound recording, design, and presentation seem to be changing on a daily basis. Many leading sound editorial houses are scrambling to accommodate so many different digital systems and hardware. In looking ahead to the future of cinema, what would you hope for most of all in relation to your line of work?

RA: There is a tendency to think that because we work on computers now, everything can be accelerated. Schedules are much shorter today, and it often seems as if each picture is like an athletic event in which the object is to beat the time of the old record. While it is true that some editorial functions do go faster digitally, creativity takes time. The earlier we get started, the better -- even if it means one guy recording things (seldom does the production mixer get the time to do this on the set, and they don't deal with the editing and therefore know what we need) or making sounds for the special events in the picture. What if the director doesn't like the approach to the sound? Then a little time to go back and do another version would be useful. As I mentioned earlier, we made sounds for RAIDERS on what is now very primitive equipment (there was no automation on the mixing consoles and dubbing to separate stems for dialogue, music, and sound effects was relatively new also). It is the brain of the creator, not the technology that is important now, and always will be.

AM: Mr. Anderson, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us! I for one am really looking forward to PLANET OF THE APES, and hope that everything goes well in it’s final stages. In closing, are there any final comments you'd like to add -- something that we haven't asked you?

[The End] RA: Just to let you know, Bill Varney, the head re-recording mixer on RAIDERS, just retired this month from his job as Vice President of Sound at Universal Studios. I'm indebted to him as well as to Greg Landaker (sound effects) and Steve Maslow (music) for the final mix of all the tracks we created. I've often described the relationship between sound editor and rerecording mixer as being like that of composer and musician. The composer starts with an unlimited canvas and decides what to include and where it goes, but the musician takes these arrangements, adds his ideas, and makes them sparkle while adding something special that makes the performance his own. In the end, each needs the other and neither is more important than the other. I'd also like to thank again, all the other people who worked on the sound track for RAIDERS. Everyone was inspired by the creative opportunities of the film to go a little further, work a little harder -- even if it meant staying late or on a weekend. We all grew up with the adventure films on which RAIDERS was based, and we wanted to do our version of the classic Hollywood movie. I think we succeeded.

AM: And so do we. Thank you once again, Mr. Anderson! And best of luck on your future endeavors! Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Adam McDaniel
Created: May 19, 2001
Last modified: May 19, 2001