“The whole aspiration for the show was to kind of open up the audiences’ senses to the wonders of the world,” explains “Welcome to Earth” sound designer Jay Price about the mission of the National Geographic series that follows Will Smith to the ends of the Earth to experience the planet in ways he never has before. That includes remarkable sounds throughout nature. We talked with Price as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV sound editors and mixers panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Among the adventures that Smith undertakes throughout the series are journeys to the top of an active volcano, down to the bottom of the ocean, across the Serengeti and white water rafting in Iceland. The first episode is focused entirely on sound, paying special attention to the rumblings of that volcano, the communication of the ocean’s loudest whales and the resonance of ice skate blades on a frozen lake.
It’s “a celebration of authentic sounds in nature,” Price says, but he wasn’t “limited by that either. So although we were kind of presented with this incredible array of different sounds, we still had the freedom to play with some design within that to kind of help tell the story … To be given this palette of sounds to play with, it was just incredible.”
But it’s not just the noise nature makes that’s incredible. The series “also explores silence” — as when they explore caves so quiet you can record the sound of the Earth itself being pulled by the tidal gravity of the moon. All the while, it’s Price’s job as sound designer to “deliver the authentic sound,” but he’s also there “to deliver the experience of the people in these situations.” Which means Price, in no small part, is there to communicate awe.
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