Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hooray for Darla Edin!

I've had the pleasure of working with makeup and special effects artist Darla Edin on a couple of projects recently; it's been a lot of fun making her creations audible on the anthology horror feature Solitude and the macabre Roomba-gone-rogue short film Clean Cut.

Everyone who's worked with Darla knows her craft, attitude and collaborative skills are first rate. What a thrill, then, not only to cheer her on as a contestant on SyFy's creature makeup reality show Face Off, but to see her quite deservedly emerge as champion of Season 8!

The show pits contestants against each other to conceive humanoid creatures at home in the realms of horror, sci fi or fantasy. Luminaries in the field make up (as it were) a core team of judges-- augmented by guests that even I've heard of, like Rick Baker. (Holy crap, Rick Baker!) One contestant is eliminated each week; in the finale, the three remaining participants duke it out to win $100,000, a Fiat, and I believe a bunch of free high-end makeup.

Through it all, Darla worked meticulously to craft an aesthetic that eschewed "big" statements in favor of an understated, elegant simplicity. Closer examination revealed an abundance of detail and nuance, earning no end of admiration from the judges. Here's a gallery of her designs on the show:

One highlight of the season: the Miss Intergalactic Pageant, which Darla won by summoning a being from the Sculptor Galaxy (yes, the Sculptor Galaxy is apparently a thing):

Reality shows, of course, thrive on conflict and melodrama. But there was none of this to be had from Darla, who evinced a quiet and measured determination as she worked her way through design after design. The "Deadly Doll" challenge yielded one of her most celebrated creations of the season, an apparition I think you'll agree can be described as nothing less than chilling:

Despite the estimable talent of her competitors, Darla eventually became one of the three remaining participants slated to compete in the final round. In a surprise twist, all the previous contestants were brought back to help the remaining artists generate four characters apiece. Genres were assigned randomly. Darla was fortunate to receive Fantasy, which played to her strengths. Not surprisingly, then, her team's evocation of the "four elements" as fantasy characters made a good showing indeed. (I was especially impressed with the mushroom being representing Earth.) The judges found her team's work the strongest, and that was that. Victory!

It's always a treat to see a talented colleague rewarded for great work. It's even better when that person embodies the sort of kindness and consideration that Darla does. For the run of the series, she gathered friends and family for viewings of each episode. She was a very gracious host, and it's been a blast to share the experience and to celebrate her triumph. Here's to her further achievement and prosperity-- she's earned it. Hooray for Darla Edin!

Mike Hallenbeck home page

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Clean Cut": Sound Design and Musical Score for Short Film

Clean Cut is a macabre yet whimsical short film about a Roomba gone rogue, written and directed by Andrew Hunt. I provided sound design and an original musical score. The film won Best of Fest and Audience Favorite at Minneapolis' Z-Fest in 2015, and is headed out for further screenings on the festival circuit.

View the short in its entirety here:

My work earned Z-Fest nominations for Best Audio/ Sound Design and Best Musical Score. The film also won Best Comedy, Screenplay, Lighting, Prop, and Best Hero, and received additional nominations for Best Direction, Editing, Visual Effects, Production Design, and Ending Credits.

The small crew on this project can be described quite accurately as a dream team: I felt fortunate to collaborate with Hunt, actors Scott Jorgensen and Charles Hubbell, cinematographer Ben Enke, animator Josh Stifter, makeup/ practical effects artist Darla Edin, editor/ VFX artist/ colorist Jeremy Wanek and producer Jason Wallace to put this piece together.

The film's audio is almost entirely post sound; even the (sparse) dialog is mostly wild sound recorded by Hunt. I followed the Roomba around my house with a field recorder to provide the bot's engine whir; the rest of the sound design was accomplished with a combo of original Foley and library sound effects.

Here's the trailer (which doubles as a credit sequence for the film), animated by Josh Stifter:

And here's a sample of my original music used in the score. I tailored this piece to fit the mechanical, workmanlike feel of the Roomba going about its business:

Here's a blog entry dedicated exclusively to Clean Cut festival updates, as there have turned out to have been so many:

Clean Cut Festival Updates

Subscribe to my email list, follow this blog or my Twitter feed for more info.

More film sound by Mike Hallenbeck

More film music by Mike Hallenbeck

Mike Hallenbeck home page