Movie sound and a big dose of passion with Jennifer Bränngren

By | April 5, 2021

elisophie_andree_red.thumb.jpg.9cd50650fa0a452e1b6b34def25a0fa6.jpgJennifer Bränngren at cinema Saga in Höganäs. Photo: EliSophie Andrée.

This spring, you can hear her sound in the short film Hilda änglamakerskan, which premieres later this year. With studies in film, sound technology and acoustics in her luggage, she also gives workshops in film sound at various film educations in the country.

How was your interest in sound aroused?
– Music has always had a central place in my life and my very first childhood memory is a pearl-red Hagström accordion that was my grandfather’s. He played guitar in a big band so I grew up surrounded by music and sound. As a kid, I used to watch a lot of black and white movies on TV. I was so impressed by the beautiful actors, their beautiful hair, the beautiful light and above all – their beautiful voices. In the afterwords I saw that it said “AGA-Baltic sound system” and it made a big impression. I did not understand as a child that it was something I could do myself. Modern technology has made equipment more accessible. When I was little, it was required that you worked at SVT or in Hollywood’s film company to get in touch with professional equipment, but today you as a private person with a little savings can afford to buy very good stuff.

– About 12-13 years ago, I myself started working with sound at the hobby level and acquired some recording techniques to experiment with. The interest in sound has always been there but escalated then and since then it has rolled on. Today, my main passion is to record dialogues – to capture the vision and the story from what the actor conveys with his voice and his facial expressions and make it go through the sound as well.

What would you say there are challenges in the profession?
– I usually joke sometimes and say that I wish I was a musician instead because then I would have been surrounded by people who understand that sound is important. In smaller productions, a big challenge can be that it is not planned properly for the sound right from the start. When this is the case, there is usually 4-5 times as much work in post production. You have to sound afterwards, which can be very time consuming. With that said, there is nothing wrong with sounding, unless it sounds sounding.

dashabarm_red.thumb.jpg.26983a7d299a2f64f62cc54ebf1d3c91.jpgJennifier Bränngren Photo: Dasha Barm.

– Another challenge for me who mainly works in smaller productions is that I am often the only one who handles the sound. Then you may miss someone to play ball with. That is why the film audio community is so important that, thanks to the internet, it makes it possible to get in touch with professional practitioners all over the world for support and community. If you compare with actors or musicians, we are quite a few who work with film sound, and even fewer women, so then it is extra important to have a network.

– Then it can also be challenging that you because the microphones are not allowed to be seen in the camera image can not place the microphones where they actually record the sound as best. But these challenges are also insanely fun – finding solutions and getting professional sound despite limitations.

Can you tell us about your most important tools for recording movie audio?
– Outdoors, I usually use the Sennheiser MKH 60 microphone with wind protection, which is a directional microphone. Indoors I use a microphone from the same series, a Sennheiser MKH 50 that takes up less reverb. I like to use microphones with the same character to get as even a sound image as possible. If I use them correctly, it does not sound like there are different microphones. Then have a few different portable Sound Device recorders.

– As for wireless microphones, I use the mosquitoes DPA 4060 and then I usually rent transmitters and receivers at the place where I make the recording. The rules about which frequency bands can be used for wireless audio transmission look different in different countries, even within the EU, so the equipment can get caught in customs if you have a transmitter that only transmits over a certain frequency range that is not legal to use in that particular country. Today, there are modern transmitters that can handle larger frequency bands and can look for a free frequency, but in order for it to be regular, you need a permit to transmit on most frequencies.

– The best purchase I have made is actually a K-tek Harness which is a waist belt and a splint that allows you to get the load on the waist instead of on the shoulders, which is much more ergonomic, not least when you make boom recordings. It is important to have the stuff fixed to the body, for example if you are going to run next to someone and pick up sound as it does not make a sound.

– For post production, I like to use Izotope RX. But perhaps the most important thing is warm and quiet clothes!

Do you have any good advice for others who want to start working with filming sound?
– I usually say that the heart is not driven by rationality but by passion and a large dose of passion is important for working with film sound. 70% of a film recording is a social project, so it is important to have good communication, to like teamwork and to make your voice heard. A basic film education is not wrong to have with you to be able to communicate with everyone in the team.

– The recording itself is not difficult in itself, but the difficult thing is not to record noise. Take time to locate these, such as refrigerators and fans, and turn off what is going on. Feel free to visit the recording location before if you have the opportunity to make test recordings.

– When recording for longer periods, it is good to record the room sound several times during the day when the environmental sound can be changed. Also record additional sounds directly on the recording location if possible so that it does not need to be done on another occasion later.

– Finally – get to know your equipment properly so you have full control of how it works and dare to try it out.

Products that Jennifer uses:
DPA 4060
Sennheiser MKH 60
Sennheiser MKH 50
K-tek Harness
iZotope RX

Monday’s interview is a series there @Lotta Fahlen interviews interesting people on various topics in music creation, and is published every other Monday.