Steven Morrow Interview: ‘A Star is Born’ sound mixer
“A Star is Born” sound mixer Steven Morrow reveals, “This was the first time that a movie was recorded in this way.” Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this drama about a fading musician who helps propel a young singer (Lady Gaga) to stardom, and for the film’s many concert sequences Cooper wanted to create the sense that “everything was live” — no small task. Watch our exclusive video interview with Morrow above.
Cooper wanted to give the audience the feeling that they’re onstage, backstage and in the crowd during the performance scenes. Morrow, who earned a Best Sound Mixing Oscar nomination for “La La Land” (2016), needed to “come up with a system that could record their vocals and have everybody play along, but also record what that room might sound like.” To achieve this, “we recorded 61 tracks of audio,” six times the normal amount.
“We spent a lot of time in pre-production making a plan of how to capture everything,” he adds. That included mapping out each concert venue to ensure they had “the proper size and distance.” That way, “in post-production, they could add that reverb, and add that room sound. So it gives the audience the feeling that they’re right there, on-set with them.”
By placing the viewer in the middle of the action sonically, Morrow hoped to “match what the camera was doing. The camera was staying onstage with the actors the whole time, and I think it’s a unique perspective that not a lot of people have, being able to be onstage at a rock concert.” To give that impression to the audience, he needed to “track everything that all the musicians did on-set,” whether it was the electric guitarist to your left or the bass guitarist to your right, or the drummer right behind you. This helped “to make sure we delivered the accurate sound” for the theater.