Not only is The Boy & The World taking on some giants in the Oscar 2016 nominations for best animated feature film with the likes of Disney's Inside Out as well as the Shaun The Sheep Movie. The Boys & The World had a budget 360 times smaller than Inside Out and what's more two community members - Marcelo Cyro and Pedro Lima were 50% of the sound team for this very clever film.
The Boy & The World is about young boy Cuca who despite his family's poverty, lives a satisfying life, full of wonder at his rural surroundings, until his father goes on a train trip and disappears. While searching for his father, Cuca meets a wide variety of people as he journeys from a farming camp to the ocean and a large factory and then back to the big city.
This is a very clever Brazilian animation that demonstrates the power of imagery and sound design as a combination that has more than enough to portray a powerful and deep message that clearly touched the Oscars judges. It shows an adventurous quest that illustrates the issues of the modern world through the eyes of a child.
We asked Marcelo what were the special challenges in the sound track for The Boy & The World?
Marcelo: Everything in this movie was created, recorded and edited not to be a realistic sound. This movie has no dialog other than a few words of a very weird language, so the narrative for the entire movie is told only with sound design, foley and sound tracks.
PTE: How big was the sound team for The Boy & The World?
Marcelo: There were just 4 people covering all the audio post production of this movie. We The Re-recording mixer was Pedro Lima who also doubled as foley artist and sound designer, I was a sound designer and music mixer, then we had another music mixer - Ariel Henrique and Teo Oliver was the sound editor.
PTE: What was the sound brief for this film from the director?
Marcelo: The director Alê Abreu wanted all the sound to be created, nothing was to be real, after all it was the boy's imagination. So a horse is not a horse, a bird is not a bird, a frog is not a frog, everything is Cuca discovering a new world. For example, we used some music instruments to create sounds in the movie like Didgeridoo for the horse’s sound as well as some flutes and vocalisations for the birds.
We recorded the sounds from things like whistles, tools, and toys, and then use the computer software and plug-ins to twist, distort, and reshape to create movement or action and also to show the character ‘s personality as well as the world that he is discovering. All the ambiences was created and so e built up a library for each character, with a range of “emotions” and “moods.” For example, some crickets bothering them when the father’s boy left his home. which we made with some analog synths. Every sound was designed for a specific scene, We needed in this movie to a help a lot the story. It was very important not to use a usual sound ut to find an “emotional sound” a sound that portrayed the emotions rather than being literally correct. Showing how Cuca felt about the world, meant that sometimes sounds are larger than life, to perhaps illustrate the boy's fear about something that he don’t know about or hadn't experienced before. All of this makes the soundtrack an integral part of the identity of this picture, that can provide even more life to this art. Absolutely yes, tell stories with sounds especially in this movie, where you can create a unreal world, emotion and feelings. We have been able to simply change the meaning of a scene just with use of the sound or silence or create a boy’s world.
PTE: How did you start out in the audio business?
Marcelo: I am a native of São Paulo, Brazil, having graduated from the SAE Institute, in the Netherlands with an emphasis on mixing and mastering for surround. I have also studied in Koln and Paris and worked for a decade doing post-production audio for advertising, with clients such as Visa, Mastercard, Pepsi, GM, and Volkswagen.
Back in São Paulo I teamed up with Pedro Lima to set up a high-profile audio post-production facility WeCanDo Audio Post. At WeCanDo we handle editing, ADR, sound design, foley creation & editing, mixing, and mastering. Our credits include the Brazilian movies Chatô (o rei do Brasil), Apnéia, Farewell, and Jonas. Then there are cartoon series such as Gemini 8 which was Brazil’s first Disney production, Luna's Show (Discovery Kids) and other projects, such as Sitio do Pica-Pau Amarelo (Brazil’s first 5.1 cartoon); Angie, and Cidade-cinza.
PTE: I also understand that you have a passion for teaching the next generation too?
Marcelo: Twice a month, I create a new video designed to help budding professionals with a different aspect of sound for picture. Although most of the lessons focus in on the technical details of working with sound, the underlying broader focus is always on storytelling. So questions like "What is the most important aspect of a movie, a TV show, or a animation?” I believe it’s always about telling a good story. That’s what we do; we use sound to create real or unreal worlds. We use sound to make the scene believable or unbelievable. As George Lucas said, sound is 50% of a movie. We need to teach students how post-production audio works behind the scenes, but we always bring it back to the all-important goal of story telling. I also spend time with budding audio professionals at MusicBit.
PTE: Here is the first video from Marcelo on The Boy & The World...
PTE: Thank you for sharing this with us and we all wish you well for the Ocsar Awards coming up.
Marcelo has also offered to share some of his experience in more detail with the whole Pro Tools community so we look forward to that.