Picard_sound-3 Asbjoern Andersen


Need an escape from planet Earth? CBS All Access's Star Trek: Picard — starring Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard — delivers an engaging story that winds through distant worlds. The show's imaginative sound was created by Warner Bros. Sound's supervising sound editor Matt Taylor and sound designer Tim Farrell — who led the sound team on Star Trek: Discovery.
Interview by Jennifer Walden, photos courtesy of CBS Interactive, Inc
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Fans of Star Trek are very particular about how the franchise is represented. Their exacting standards are the benchmark for filmmakers and show creators who take on any Star Trek project. Please the Trekkies and you know you’re on course. That’s exactly what Alex Kurtzman has accomplished on CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks, and now Star Trek: Picard.

Picard sound designer Tim Farrell says, “One of my favorite moments in the season was getting to watch the fight in Picard’s study with a live audience during the premiere. After the scene ended, there was a huge cheer that erupted from the audience. Seeing them enjoy the scene on that level was very gratifying for us.” He and supervising sound editor Matt Taylor at Warner Bros. Sound in Burbank, CA have once again helmed the sound team on a Trekkie-pleasing series.

Here, Taylor and Farrell talk about the sonic differences between Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 — which they worked on last year — and Star Trek: Picard. They talk about creating new sounds for new locations and new technology while keeping to the canon. Plus, they share details on recording electromagnetic fields and other unique sounds and using a variety of fun audio tools to manipulate their source material.
 

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‘Star Trek: Picard’ trailer

How does the sound of Picard compare to Discovery?

Tim Farrell (TF): Picard is set in 2399 whereas Discovery is set in 2255, so we knew right off the bat that we would essentially be starting over with our sonic palette. And we did. Visually speaking, the show is noticeably different in color — Picard being very orange, while Discovery is very blue. I tried to take that as an inspiration to try to add a touch of warmth into the sounds I needed to create.

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Sound designer Tim Farrell

Technologically speaking, the first thing I really noticed when I began working on the show was how much holo technology has developed since Discovery. Characters are constantly interacting with holoscreens and holograms (for example, the La Sirena, owned by Captain Rios, is piloted completely by a holo) and I found myself needing to create a large variety of new material for all these new and different technologies. In Discovery, the screens on-set were practical, and all those amazing visuals are filmed on-set, whereas in Picard, we had to wait to see what VFX would come up with for us before we could dive too deep into many of the screen sound effects.

That said, I did pepper some Discovery sounds into the show when we’re on Mars. Mars to me was a rundown mining camp so I figured it could have some “older” Discovery era technology sounds in it for the shuttles/crafts. Also, in the Star Trek: Short Treks “Children of Mars” episode, I used a Discovery shuttle for that.

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Supervising sound editor Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor (MT): There was this school bus shuttle that was definitely recycled…

TF: …and maintained for almost 180 years. School buses are never new. So I thought it would be a small, inside-sound joke that the bus was essentially this ancient shuttle they’d repurposed.

But aside from that, everything else had to be created from the ground up. We looked a lot into The Next Generation and dissected the sound of that show. It’s obviously very different from the sound of the original series, but they also paid homage to it, so we tried to do something similar. As I did with Discovery, when something would come up that was established sonically, I’d research the original sound and use that as a jumping-off point. But I would also try to give my own unique take on it while still staying true to the original sound.

All the classic sounds, like the transporter and replicator, we put in as our base layer and then we’d build on them as the VFX changed and the image became more complex. We sprinkled in colors and details but it’s mainly grounded in the sound of The Next Generation.

MT: There are numerous elements in the show that were not from TNG. We’re not on Starships. We’re only at Starfleet for a short time, but it’s a new location for Starfleet. So there were tons of opportunities to create things we never heard before.

TF: Such as the new fast transporters.

MT: The transporters are different, particularly for the Tal Shiar. So, there’s the Romulan/Tal Shiar transporter and another one for the Federation. And then there are the fast transporters used by the Federation.

 

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In the soft open of Episode 1 ” Remembrance,” Dahj (Isa Briones) and her boyfriend are ambushed by black-clad assassins. Can you tell me about the design of their tech — how they appear, their weapons, the glasses they put on Dahj, and their cool vocal treatment?

TF: We don’t hear a Federation transporter sound until Episode 2, so we had to create a new Romulan transport ‘appear’ sound for them We also didn’t necessarily want to tip our hand right away they were Romulan, so we wanted to create a sound that was scary and abrupt, but also not entirely foreign or alien sounding.

I had recently picked up an ElektroUši electromagnetic microphone pair from LOM, so I started recording all sorts of electromagnetic fields anywhere I could find them. That became the basis for a lot of the holoscreens, and the hums and buzzes that the glasses make in particular.

Tonsturm had also recently reached out to me and asked if I could help them beta-test their new FRQ-Shift plug-in. As a result, much of the ‘assassins’ technology came from the electromagnetic recordings that I manipulated the heck out of with the FRQ-Shift plug-in.

For the replicator in Dahj’s room, that sound was from TNG and then I added in granular details of the material I found.

The sound of their blasters was made out of a number of weird animal noises and screams…plus the traditional Romulan hand-phaser sound.

The sound of their blasters was made out of a number of weird animal noises and screams. That one has an alpaca screaming and an Australian kookaburra in there, plus the traditional Romulan hand-phaser sound.

I love to take recordings of animals and pitch them way up or way down until they create a unique character or sound that can really cut through in a way that synthesized sounds don’t.

MT: For the transporter, the creatives had a note that the ‘assassins’ transporter should sound a bit more aggressive, more threatening. So we had a recording of a window fan that was powering down, but it was blowing into the mic and overmodulating it. I took that and put it through some distortion and frequency shifting plug-ins (not the Tonsturm one) and added that as an extra layer on the day we finished up that mix.

For the alien messages in the show, they script-out what they should say in English and that gets translated into Romulan (which is a new language that has been created for the show). We re-shoot all that dialogue, and then for the ‘assassins’ vocal processing I used some plug-ins from Soundtoys and zplane Elastique and rode the pitch on that a bit while trying to create this spaced-out, watery effect. The dialogue mixer Todd Grace added in the helmet futz sound on the day, because I knew we’d have to modify that for the executives and I didn’t want to tie Todd’s hands too much.

As I recall, I layered two to three different reads per line, to give it some separation.

 

At the end of that scene, Dahj has a vision of Picard. What did you do for the sound design on that sequence?

MT: Tim had done some awesome stuff and I ended up adding a few extra things at the end of the day. I sweetened it with a bunch of wave crash sounds that I recorded years ago that I ran through GRM Tools and layered that on top of Tim’s sounds.

I added a bunch of Dahj’s vocals from other episodes. You can’t make them out as dialogue; they’re more like slowed-down textures and drones.

I added a bunch of Dahj’s vocals from other episodes. You can’t make them out as dialogue; they’re more like slowed-down textures and drones.

TF: I had added a variety of different stingers and hits that I’ve collected over the years. There are exhales and breaths, weird screams, metal screeches, feedback sounds — all those classic sound designer tricks.

I also created granular material to create a sense of something digital in there, because Dahj has now become activated at this point. But we didn’t want to tip our hats that she’s a synth so I tried to just put some subtle, weird little sounds in there that might imply a robot powering on or maybe getting some kind of digital signal, without hopefully making it too obvious.

MT: The idea was that it’s not a flashback, but more like an activation protocol. It’s more like this information is hidden in her mind, and if she ran into these certain real-life circumstances then this knowledge would be revealed to help her survive. And that message was “find Picard.”

 

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Dahj does find Picard, but then runs away and calls her mom, who instructs Dahj to go back to Picard. Dahj looks for him by searching through a network of digital information, like a futuristic internet. How did you create those ‘digital information’ sounds for Dahj looking through her phone?

TF: We didn’t get a lot of those visuals until very late, so a lot of those sounds were created without picture. We were just trying to come up with any digital sounds that would help tell the story. I have a lot of source material from different libraries and sounds I’ve gathered and created over the years.

I try to give everything its own signature, so the Romulan tech sounds darker and scarier. The Borg tech I tried to make sound exotic and threatening. There’s no exact recipe for how to do it; it’s more of an emotional thing. You start manipulating sounds until they speak the right emotion to you and then you know you’re in the ballpark.

There’s no exact recipe for how to do it; it’s more of an emotional thing. You start manipulating sounds until they speak the right emotion to you and then you know you’re in the ballpark.

The assassins’ tech sound needed to feel threatening, like “who are these crazy assassins?” But Dahj’s tech sounds needed to sound more like information gathering.

And on top of that, things have to sound super cool. That’s the showrunners’ M.O. coming down.

MT: Cool, and more aggressive. Or scarier. Those are the adjectives that we hear.

TF: And we like to have emotional cues to what we work on, because so much of what we do is to help people feel and understand the story from an emotional context. Although, there’s also a lot of literal storytelling happening in our sounds as well.

Another thing we do to make sure the tech sounds different is to have different sound editors cut different similar material that needs to sound different. We have a great sound effects editor Michael Schapiro, who handled the Federation technology while I did the Borg technology, for instance. By the sheer nature that different editors have different tastes and tools, have different libraries and approaches, that translates to it having a different feel and sound for similar technologies like screen beeps and boops. When I need something to sound very different, if the budget allows, it’s great to simply get someone else to cut it and use that as a starting point.

MT: It’s always nice to have more minds solving the problem. Mike was with us last year on Discovery as well. Harry Cohen is on this show as well.

TF: There are different locations in the show that each needed their own identity. Freecloud, for example, features a whole bunch of new phasers and tech. I had Harry handle a lot of the weapons in that episode. I had created so many weapons in other episodes that I wanted him to bring a unique sound to it. He did a great job; he knocked it out of the park.

Harry was my mentor actually, and to have him be a part of this show was a real honor.

 

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Picard and Dahj are attacked by the assassins outside of the Starfleet Archives Museum. And later, the assassins show up at Picard’s home for another attack. Can you tell me about your design for those attack scenes?

TF: The fight with the Romulan assassins in Picard’s study was a blessing from a sound standpoint because there is no music. From the get-go, Alex (Kurtzman) and Michael (Chabon) told us the scene would rely completely on sound effects to tell the story. That gave us the room to sell all of our sounds with complete impact without having to fight the music for space. So much of the storytelling in that fight came from us, which is a rare and blessed opportunity to have. When I found that out during our spotting session, I went to work getting in as many sonic details as I could.

There were a lot of spatial events in both fights, like the teleport ins and outs. Those cues helped Dahj to hear someone coming so she’d know where to aim and where to kick and where to run. So, I’d create those sounds and we had to decide where they went. Then our amazing effects re-recording mixer Ed Carr would place them in the space and around the room to help sell the scene. He really did a magnificent job.

So much of the storytelling in that fight came from us, which is a rare and blessed opportunity to have.

MT: Especially for the rooftop fight, which is such a frantic scene. There is a lot to communicate in a short amount of time.

TF: Design-wise, we tried to keep everything tight. The punches needed to be large, but we did our best to get in and get out of them quickly, to move onto the next storypoint.

MT: My favorite sound moment from the rooftop scene was when one of the assassins is flipped over the rail and you hear his back break. We had to dial that back at one point, but it was nice to hear it loud and proud.

TF: I love the metal softly ringing out as he falls over it. Those details are really fun.

MT: On the rooftop fight, we dropped that voice processing for the Romulan assassins; it just didn’t come through. We tried it and you couldn’t tell it was there, so we took it out and chose to focus on clarity. Since the assassins weren’t speaking in that scene, the processing was being applied to effort sounds and it wasn’t reading. It was also detracting from the sound of the efforts.

TF: One of my favorite moments in the season was getting to watch the fight in Picard’s study with a live audience during the premiere. After the scene ended, there was a huge cheer that erupted from the audience. Seeing them enjoy the scene on that level was very gratifying for us.

The showrunners wanted to juxtapose the quietness of the study with the loudness of the fight. They had this concept in mind already in their picture cut and it was a blessing to get to play with those dynamics.

Having that scene play without music makes the punches feel like they hit a bit harder. It brings a certain reality and scariness to it.

Having that scene play without music makes the punches feel like they hit a bit harder. It brings a certain reality and scariness to it. It’s an opportunity you don’t often get working in television.

There were so many great details in that scene that we could hang sound on — all the wood splintering, and glass breaking. There were a lot of details to fill in so it didn’t sound like an old kung fu film — just punch, punch, kick, kick, and then a blaster. And it was there on-screen, so we didn’t have to make a lot of it up to add extra energy to the scene either.

 

 

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Let’s look at some of the locations in the series. What went into the sound the Romulan Reclamation Site?

TF: I spent many days coming up with textures to build a palette of sounds for this location. In the first episode, there is a big shot where we pull out and see this site from an exterior POV. Even though this place has been abandoned by the Borg, it needed to feel alive and a bit creepy — almost like a haunted house but not in the way that everything was creaking and groaning and falling apart. I wanted it to sound like alien organic-digital life was still permeating throughout it.

I used a lot of sounds from the Animal Hyperrealism library on A Sound Effect. I had so much fun going through all those high-quality animal recordings, and slowing them down or pitching them way up to get some cool, weird, unexpected results.

MT: What we see in the Borg cube evolves as well. There are parts inside the cube where the walls are moving and morphing. Tim did a bunch of domino work for that. Then, on the day, we added some sweeteners. My mom has this old bread cupboard with a shelf on top that opened and closed and it made this weird wood resonance-type sound but with a metallic quality too. So we used that to sweeten the sound of the tiles settling in.

I recorded a bunch of loop group lines, like “We will re-assimilate you. Resistance is futile,” and other Borg phrases and slowed those way down. Those became part of the background texture of the Borg cube. You can’t recognize them as language; they’re just there as part of the world.

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“The End Is The Beginning” — Episode #103 — Pictured: (l-r): Rebecca Wisocky as Ramdha; Isa Briones as Soji; Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh; of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

They wrote Romulan security protocol announcements. This is where we experience a lot of the Romulan language.

TF: I had visited Italy over the summer and captured recordings inside the Sistine Chapel and inside St. Peter’s Church. I slowed those down and put them in to add a weird, rumbly, spiritual vibe. There are animals in there too, like a cat purr, a guinea pig, a wolf — all slowed and extended to create tones and air pressure.

There are lots of drones flying around and Romulan ships landing and taking off. There are different tones and beeps as they’re being scanned. There are the sounds of people moving around and talking. All this adds a feeling of life to this place.

I did a deep dive into my collection of sounds. I was a child actor and I was in an IMAX movie called The Journey Inside, which was basically a big ad for the new Pentium Chip they were developing. The film’s working title was Squids. If you go into the Odyssey collection and search “Squid,” some sounds from that film show up. There is “squid vision” and some sounds for flying over the Pentium Chip. So I put a few of those all throughout the Borg Cube.

I added some contact mic recordings of different sounds, and those electromagnetic recordings that I told you about earlier. Anything I could do to get a weird perspective and to convey the emotional impact that we were going for.

 

Can you tell me about your electromagnet mics and recordings?

TF: There are quite a few electromagnetic sound libraries that I’ve seen and that inspired me to capture my own recordings. I was looking to buy an Uši mic and then saw they had an electromagnetic one, and ended up purchasing both.

 

Can you tell me about the sound of Mars in the show? How does the sound of Mars compare to the Borg cube?

MT: The original discussion about Mars was to think of it as a resource mining facility; that’s all it was for our intents and purposes. The showrunners wanted it to sound industrial-ish, in that era. It was future mining.

TF: One of the key sounds in the location was when F8 uses that tool to kill the other people in the room. It’s not a phaser; it’s not a gun. It’s more like a future hammer in a weird way. It wasn’t supposed to sound anything like a real weapon.

MT: It was like a nail gun, essentially.

TF: You can seriously damage someone with it but it wasn’t intended to be a weapon.

Much of what happens on Mars takes place in this one room, which was yet another location that needed its own unique set of beeps and boops. We just tried to make it different and had a lot of help from the visuals in that environment.

MT: The idea was that it has this blue-collar mining colony vibe before all the destruction and pandemonium.

Much of it was about selling the activity of what is happening outside of this little enclave of workers who have to work on a holiday.

TF: But most of that we got out of once we got into the scene. There were a couple key moments of design and then we let the story speak for itself.

MT: There was a bit of liberty taken with processing F8’s (Alex Diehl) voice. Todd Grace, our music and dialogue re-recording mixer, wanted to make F8 stand out a bit from the other synths. F8 is the reason we’re here telling this story after all. So, Todd dialed in a nice subtle sound for his voice during the dub.

TF: Data (Brent Spiner) was the most advanced synth of all time, so the synths on Mars should not have been up to his level of humanity.

 

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Looking at Vashti, can you compare the sound of this location in Picard’s flashback to how it sounds in present-day?

MT: The original idea we got from Alex and Michael was that in Picard’s flashback Vashti should sound vibrant and active. It’s an active refugee site during the Romulan evacuation. There is life. There is hope.

But when we go back, hope is gone. It’s more like this encampment of survivors who have decided, “Well, this is my life now.” So it needed to feel rundown. The economy is not robust.

TF: I create all of the insect and bird life for Vashti. No bird or insect sound is ever a raw, true recording of something that exists in nature. I always changed, pitched, manipulated, or processed my source in some way to give it a completely unique sound, though hopefully, in the vein of something that’s familiar to us.

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“Absolute Candor” — Episode #104 — Pictured: Patrick Stewart as Picard of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For the bustling direction of the flashback, I had more chirping birds and sounds that emulated birds. But in the present day, I played more sounds reminiscent of cicadas and desert insects to help sell the difference. I thought of it as doing a ghost town background — old and rundown with more creaks and groans — to help sell the change.

Seven years ago, I went to India for four months and found a gold mine of things to record that are old, broken, or rundown. I made so many recordings of creaking, squeaking, and broken things. That was fun for me to go back to those recordings and create new locations out of them.

MT: In the flashback, part of the vibrancy is feeling a lot of human activity. There were 64 pages of scripted Romulan phrases and callouts, and 35 of those pages were for this flashback sequence. The others were for when Picard returned to Vashti. Those sounds helped to sell the Romulan market.

When we go back to present day, Tim had all these great sounds that sold the rundown nature of this place, and also, we pulled a lot of sound back. It was a less-is-more situation. We think of Vashti as vibrant and active because of the flashback, but when we come back there is a distinct difference.

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TF: So those chirpy birds were replaced with my alien crow emulations. I played a lot more of the wind and dust and insects.

The flashbacks were filled with ‘wind in trees’ but in the present day it’s more ‘sand blowing.’ Those two sounds tell a completely different story.

MT: You can hear the mood change in the group. That was important, too. Even though you don’t actively register it, there is a change. They just sound angry.

TF: Matt does a great job when he works with the group and ADR. He talks to the actors and tells them the emotional state of what is going on to help them get to that place to sell that in their voices.

Emotion is a big part of what we do and how we come up with sounds. How does one feel in this environment? What cues can we give someone subconsciously to make them feel whatever emotion the filmmakers want them to feel?

MT: I’m told that people translate these alien languages once they have a dictionary of it. I’m interested to see how people translate the Romulan language because there are some hidden gems in there (that I will not disclose).

 

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“Remembrance” — Episode #101 — Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Matt Kennedy/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We talked about some of the unique recordings you did for the show, but were there any other ones you’d like to mention?

TF: Yes! First, I recorded my dog, who is a rescued pitbull. Every sound designer tries to put their dog in every show, and I didn’t even have to hide it. Every single vocalization from Picard’s dog, named Number One, was done by my dog. I was so excited when I found out there would be a pitbull on the show. I love the pitbull breed and since I have a rescue, this was really meaningful for me and I was so happy to help bring this dog to life. I hope the show will help to change people’s perception of this very wonderful and loving breed of animal.

MT: In the episode “The Impossible Box,” Harry Cohen did some really cool design work for this Romulan Rubik’s cube. I also went out and recorded some wooden, springy elements for the box which I knew we’d probably need once some of the VFX were final. My wife is a speech therapist and has a ton of unique toys that happen to be wooden. They have latches, doors, and springs on them. So I built this big wooden Rubik’s cube out of the sounds of a wire-fingered head massager and deconstructed doors from children’s puzzles. It was all to help add a bit more minute detail when we saw final VFX of the tiny wood parts of the box.

TF: I had asked Harry to focus more on the mechanisms and springs and ratcheting. Matt brought in the wood texture of the little pieces on the outside of the box.

MT: It was one of those last minute things where we needed little details.

TF: Anytime I hear something interesting, I try to record it. There is a lot of new material in this show. Sometimes it’s easier to grab a mic and record the right sound then it is to process an existing library sound.

I’ve recorded so much material over the years — anytime I travel, like to India and Italy. There was a floor in one hotel we stayed in that was making this great ratcheting and scratchy squeaky sound as I walked along it. I recorded myself rubbing my flip-flop over it and created a whole alien language. You never know what you have until you sit down to work with it.

We always try to put in as much original material as we can. But given our time schedules, which are tight, we also turn to library recordings as well.

 

Picard_sound-17

“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” — Episode #110 — Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Did you have any favorite audio tools that were used on Star Trek: Picard?

TF: There was Tonsturm’s FRQ Shift. It does some really fun stuff. Since I’m creating so many screens and scanners, boops and beeps that was a very helpful plug-in for creating those sound.

Michael Schapiro I know uses a lot of Kilohearts plug-ins, like their new Phase Plant). He’s also a huge proponent of their Multipass plug-in and the Snap Heap framework in which you can combine different Kilohearts plug-ins.

(Want to check out Kilohearts Snap Heap virtual rack? They offer it and 6 plug-ins for free in their Kilohearts Toolbox Free!)

I’m a huge fan of Soundminer V5 Pro with Radium. I use that a ton. Justin Drury, Owner/Lead Developer at Soundminer, is constantly innovating that product and making it better and better. I love using the Soundminer environment.

I used a granular effects plug-in called PORTAL by Output to create a lot of weird, fun, granular-yet-musical sounds. This plug-in has so many crazy, wacky presets you can click through and it creates crazy, new sounds. We had a lot of fun with that!

MT: I’ve been so busy with group and ADR. I created a processing chain, which I used for the voice of Control in Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, and that was a starting point for a Borg voice that comes later in Picard. I wanted to match what they did in the TNG series for the Borg voices.

I’ve been using my Sound Devices 788 to playback voices I recorded, but I’m rewinding the digital recorder so the voices sound digital and backwards. There are sequences in Episodes 8, 9, and 10 where we see some flashbacks and I used the 788 to playback the group voices in that way. Then I used Soundminer to slow it down, and it was this whole data-frequency signal.

TF: That’s a great point, that you don’t need a million plug-ins to make great sounds. You capture sounds around you and work with it. People ask, “What are the plug-ins I need to make the coolest sounds?” And the answer is, “A microphone.”

MT: It’s funny because I see new things and I want to get it and try it out, but given our timeline, I feel like I don’t have much time to buy new plug-ins and explore what they can do. I should just focus on the ones I have!

TF: When you get a new plug-in, sometimes it can take you a full day to get anything useful out of it. You have to learn it and figure it out. You need time to really play with it. At the end of the day, we do our best to create feature-quality work but we’re still on a TV schedule. That’s always a challenge. At some point, you have to stop playing and start putting sounds to picture. For us, that’s yesterday. It’s always a crunch.

MT: With all the tools we have, Soundminer V5 Pro deserves a real shout out.

With all the tools we have, Soundminer V5 Pro deserves a real shout out.

TF: For Discovery, I used Kontakt quite a bit to make instruments. But now I’m using Soundminer’s Radium sampler instead to make instruments. It’s so great to take a sample and put it right into the sampler directly. It’s so fast. I was spending a lot of time building the instruments in Kontakt, but Radium has taken that time-consuming aspect away.

It’s worth noting that many sounds for TNG were made on a Synclavier. Arturia makes a Synclavier V softsynth. It’s fun to explore that because they have a lot of classic patches. Sometimes there’s a real sound to it, so let’s say I need something very TNG, I can play around with that and get the laser/phaser sound I’m looking for. It has a certain quality that says TNG.

 

Picard_sound-13

 

What was your most challenging episode for sound on Picard?

TF: Definitely the final episode! And Episode 6 was a very creative episode. Picard visits the Borg cube and we introduce more Borg technology. There are flashbacks with Soji trying to remember a dream she has, which is the key to her figuring out that she’s a synth. Harry Cohen did a lot of sound work on those flashbacks; he did a fantastic job.

MT: In my opinion, Episode 6 was the most challenging.

TF: The Romulan assassin fight on the rooftop was probably the hardest scene because we were starting from absolute zero. That was the first thing I started on the show. I had to jump right in and roll up my sleeves.

Also, creating the Borg cube atmosphere — creating that living breathing entity that is completely inorganic and sterile and terrifying, a place that’s dead but still alive — was a huge challenge.

The other big challenge was trying to get all of the technology to sound different and have its own sense of personality. It was hard to make it all feel the same but different; that was definitely a big challenge.

This series isn’t as action-packed as Discovery was but it’s very deep. The challenges become a lot less about making a specific monster and more about adhering to the canon and pleasing the fans. The sounds had to feel like they all belonged but were also new and unique. The sounds had to tell the story and be emotional and give detail. There was a lot of subtlety.

There is a far larger variety of alien worlds we had to create for the show. Those have to sound different and distinct. In Picard, they spend more time on the surface of planets than they do in a spaceship. Creating those environments was a big challenge.

At the end of the day, if you care about doing a good job then everything is challenging.

At the end of the day, if you care about doing a good job then everything is challenging. It’s easy to phone it in, to find the first sound that comes to you and put that in. But if you care about what you’re doing then you’re going to look at what you’re making sound for — like, how heavy is this door and how hard is the impact it makes. Even a door closing can be challenging. It depends on how much effort and time you want to put into something, how much care you want to give it. Explosions can be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult depending on the effort you want to put in. There are a ton of great explosions you can just grab and cut in. But the more care you give it, the more time it takes.

After we finished with Discovery, I worked on the Apple+ series See. So I literally went from a futuristic space series to a primitive world where everyone is blind and there is no technology. It was honestly so hard to go from high-tech digital to natural and organic, where every sound needed the right texture and timbre. So it doesn’t really matter what you are working on; everything is challenging if you’re giving it your full attention.

 

Picard_sound-16

“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1” — Episode #109 — Pictured: Isa Briones as Sutra of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Aaron Epstein/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In terms of sound, what are you most proud of on Star Trek: Picard?

MT: That’s a tough question and it’s hard to point to any one thing. However, I think overall the opening to Episode 9 “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1” is my proudest moment, but proud for everyone involved. The sound effects are great; Todd and Ed killed it on the mix; the music is fantastic. I feel it’s a true representation of a team effort.

TF: Getting my dog into the show. Whenever I hear my dog it just makes me so happy.

Picard_sound-4

 

One of the most rewarding experiences of working on the show was going to the premiere and watching it with the fans and seeing how much the show means to them. The fact that I helped to create this makes me feel very proud. People were in tears watching the show and it makes me so happy to help bring this show to life for them in a way that is believable and up to their expectations. It’s such an honor and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

MT: Yeah, definitely. Thinking back to that screening and watching the fans in costume being pleased with the show was great.

Also, on behalf of the team, I’d like to say how fantastic it is to be part of an iconic series. It really is a team effort all around. We’re incredibly thankful to Alex, Michael, April and all those at Secret Hideout for asking us to contribute to their show. I want to give thanks and recognition to the entire sound crew; without them, we’d be nothing:

Todd Grace (music and dialogue re-recording mixer)
Ed Carr (sound effects re-recording mixer)
Sean Heissinger (dialogue and ADR editor)
Harry Cohen (sound design and editorial)
Michael Schapiro (sound design and editorial)
Clay Weber (sound editor)
Alyson Dee Moore (Foley artist)
Chris Moriana (Foley artist)
Darrin Mann (Foley mixer)
Moira Marquis (music editor)
Deron Street (lead sound assistant)
Damon Cohoon (sound assistant)
And the entire WB family!

 

A big thanks to Matt Taylor and Tim Farrell for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the sound of Star Trek: Picard and to Jennifer Walden for the interview!

 

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