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Expanding Space Beyond The Frame with Sound

An audio post team can take a scene and give it gravity and realism, making what you see what you hear, too. Sometimes that’s by enhancing production sound or adding lost sounds like a swish of hair. They can further suspend disbelief with sound design or firmly root us in a location with ambiences. They can add clarity and sparkle to dialogue. Audio teams can also provide context, sonically, for visuals and feelings that aren’t captured within the frame. We’re talking through how Flavorlab Sound did this on two of our films this year, Alien Intervention and Rare Objects, with our head of audio post, Brian Quill, sharing his insights along the way.

Alien Intervention (2023)

Much of Alien Intervention is set in the expansive New Mexican desert. The time of day plays a key role in creating new and distinctive settings. We played up these shifts with the sounds of the wildlife, specifically insects.


As the sun rises, you can hear the constant drone of crickets under the shifting wind give way to bird calls.


During the heat of the day, the crickets take on a slower, more rhythmic chirp and the bird calls become more sporadic. But with heat comes cicadas! A bed of cicadas choruses in constant drone.


Our ensemble of insects grows soft and constant. It blends with a crackling camp fire and trades bird calls for the howls of coyotes.

“When mixing, if I want the audience to feel a character internalizing a moment, I will often do that with absence of ambient sounds.”

Brian Quill, Head of Audio Post

Rare Objects (2023)

Without wide open spaces, expanding the space beyond the frame means combining the little worlds within a room’s walls and the separate, but not far off, sounds of the world beyond – without pulling attention from the dialogue. “I tend to record a lot of sounds in the field and use those,” says Brian. “Rare Objects takes place in New York City, so I used a lot of backgrounds that we’ve recorded over the years to add to the texture.”

Antique Shop

Set during a busy city day, traffic rolls past in an ever present rumble. We define the space of the antique shop with a cacophony of grandfather clocks echoing off the walls. The clink of tea cups pulls us into this corner of the shop.


In a busy area like the psych wing, there are a wide and dynamic range of ambiences and effects. However, since our main characters are fully engaged in a private conversation, some sounds remain constant and some simply fill in gaps so not to pull attention from the dialogue.

“In general, I like less rumble and more specifics placed in between dialogue to fill in the holes,” says Brian. “If you think about a conversation, you seldom notice the other sounds in the background unless they are distracting you or they happen when you aren’t engaged in conversation. I like the sounds to serve those purposes, even if in real life the specifics are happening all the time.”

In The Park

Out and about, the textures much of our team hears every day are the backdrop for our characters, too. We can keep the focus on the conversation by having the dogs barking, trucks backing up, and trains halting weave into the constant wash of teaming traffic.


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