Bay Area sound engineer nominated for Oscar in Hobbit film

ABC7 News reporter Jonathan Bloom sat down with a Bay Area sound engineer who has been nominated for an Oscar for The Hobbit.
February 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Besides the Oscars for acting, directing, cinematography, and visual effects, there are also awards for a few things you can't actually see.

ABC7 News reporter Jonathan Bloom sat down with a four-time Oscar winner who is nominated again this year for making movie magic by using sound.

"In a perfect world, you'd be able to close your eyes and you'd be able to follow the story completely just by listening to the film," sound-mixing Oscar nominee Christopher Boyes said. No sound is by accident in the second movie of the Hobbit series.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned an Oscar nomination for mixing by a man who was practically born to do it.

"I had always recorded sounds since I was a little kid. I took pictures and I recorded sounds," Boyes said.

Boyes first studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, but wound up studying film at San Francisco State University.

And his first job out of school?

"They'd say hey we need to record this old truck, or we need to find a windmill. And having grown up in the Bay Area, I knew where everything could be found," Boyes said.

Even today, he weaves the magic of Hollywood with the sounds of the Bay Area.

"What was that giant creak sound in Titanic?

"At the San Francisco Maritime Museum, It was actually one of the old ships just tied up to a dock," Boyes said.

At Boyes' alma mater, film students are just learning the intricacies of sound.

"Its' fascinating to see what happens when they realize that 'oh sound really is more than 50 percent of the movie,"' San Francisco State Associate Professor Pat Jackson said.

Jackson is both a colleague and a fan of Boyes'. Now, she's creating Oscar hopefuls.

"I think it's everyone's, like every filmmaker's dream, but I think it'd be great just to make a movie that people remember," San Francisco State University student Ariel Sinelnikoff said.

And for Boyes, that starts with sounds you remember.

"The sound of King Kong swatting away these planes," Boyes said.

Or buzzing sounds that you might not want a musician to make, but that's the kind of sounds Boyes would make and record it. He feeds the sounds into a 1970s sampling machine.

It's no wonder he's won four Oscars, but it never gets old.

"You're really kind of floating on a cloud when you get nominated," Boyes said.


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