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By Patient 39, Feb 19 2014 11:33AM

The soundscape in PATIENT 39, designed by Film Editor Richard Wilkinson and Sound Mixer John Rogerson, helps to convey the evolution of Dr Moran’s character through the film.

When we meet Dr Moran his cold, clinical outlook on life is reflected in quieter, more muted sound. However, as the film progresses, and Dr Moran begins to change, this sound world begins to open and feel more generous. In keeping with this, Composer Andy Hopkins moved away from a traditional film score to create a score with a modernist feel – one that lends an internal, psychological quality to the film, reflecting its themes.

In making the film, we realised that the ‘Music Perception Test’ was a key moment; that where Moran sees the piece of music as no more than the means to a scientific experiment, the patient is moved deeply by it. He can barely understand his reaction and can only connect to his underlying sense of beauty, something almost beyond words.

“The writing of the music perception test' rendered most of the thematic material for the rest of the film; it's slow flowering from an insistent, mathematical motif into a romantic melody and progression became the backbone of the musical elements in parallel with the sonic progression created by moving from synths/samples to acoustic instruments,” explained Andy. “As the detached Moran becomes more attuned to his own emotional experience, acoustic instruments replace the samples making the themes more personal, more human,” he said.

By Patient 39, Feb 19 2014 11:32AM

At the heart of PATIENT 39 is a character whose brain injury has left him with a shattered sense of self and of the world around him. The Patient’s experience, as he tries to piece together who he is, invites the audience to contemplate their own consciousness. It is therefore important that the patient’s fragmented internal point of view is conveyed, and the sound design and music are central to this.

Film Editor Richard Wilkinson and Sound Mixer John Rogerson worked on the sound design to create a compelling soundscape. “Sound-wise, there was a delicate balance to strike between the real, hyper-real and the completely unreal,” says Sound Mixer John Rogerson. ‘The contrast between the patient’s aural POV and the ‘outside’ world needed to be recognisable to the viewer and as such needed to reflect an aural experience we have all known, for example, that of being underwater - the resultant loss of high frequency perfectly conveys the sense of the Patient having suffered significant cognitive impairment due to his injury.”

In sequences from the Patient’s Point of View, these muffled ‘underwater’ tones are then intercut with sharper textures - the voice of the Nurse, the noise of a fan. This contrast is designed to produce a heightened, almost hallucinatory feeling as the patient regains consciousness and wakes. “These movements (both sonic and visual) helped to create a sense of confusion, damage and vulnerability in the patient,” says John.

This soundscape was complemented by Andy Hopkins’s original score – his clever use of music, such as looped music samples, helping to build on the suggestion of fragmented memory. “The biggest challenge was to create a sonic backdrop which was true to the films themes yet avoided period cliches, ” says Hopkins. “The looped samples suggest insistent fragmented memories and the synths create intense amorphous emotions (yet cold and detached) but the musical structure/narrative is only clear in key moments where characters are able to integrate their realities.”

NEXT: Dr Moran’s Awakening

By Patient 39, Oct 5 2013 07:03PM

The last few weeks have been a frenzy of activity as we rush to get the film through final post ready to hit a few key festival deadlines. Making a short film, it’s often a case of fitting in round people’s timetables but in the final stages of finishing PATIENT 39 I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the generosity of two key individuals: sound mixer John Rogerson of Halo Post and composer Andy Hopkins.

Andy’s process has been fascinating to watch, as he’s faced the challenge of producing a psychological score in keeping with the film’s preoccupations (a future post will record Andy’s thoughts about the music).

And when that is done, comes the final mix. I find it a challenging moment as a director, because the range of choices with sound is frankly vast and it is difficult, in the moment, to know which is the right way to go. But with my documentary background we tend to do quite a lot of the sound design during the edit, and Film Editor Richard Wilkinson has done some magnificent work on key sections to enhance the internal, point-of-view quality of Patient 39’s journey (that, an the inspired addition of a purring spitfire engine roaring through the sky which helps sell it as WW2).

Halo’s Ross Baker was on the dials for the grade, taking Oliver Schofield’s cinematography to develop a kind of distinctive WW2 palette of blues and greens. The sequences of Sylvie have also been given a saturated, sun-drenched feel to enhance their dream-like quality.

Throughout I have been fortunate to benefit from the cool head of Halo’s Post Production Producer Carolynne Philpott and her tremendous experience of finishing a film with a digital workflow and that is intended for digital projection. I am grateful to her and everyone at Halo for supporting the project.

By Patient 39, Jul 4 2013 10:25AM

Had a great ADR session with the brilliant Mark Bazeley yesterday at Halo Post, who are very kindly supporting the final post for the film. It's great to see how the final touches can bring improvements, even at this late stage in the process.

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