With a history of over 35 years in the film industry as a professional of audio, Carlos Abbate is one of Argentina’s most respected audio professionals in the film sector. He has also taught courses and workshops in various institutions such as the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts of Argentina (INCAA); Higher Institute of Music of National University of Litoral, Argentina; the Syndicate of Film Industry, Argentina, among several other respected institutions.
Today, he is responsible for the general coordination of Sound Careers at the School of Cinema Dependent of the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts of Argentina.
He has also recently written a book dedicated to collecting work methods for everything related to the production of a film soundtrack.
For his work has been honored with several awards, among which include the “Cóndor de Plata”, Best Sound 2005 for “Luna de Avellaneda”, directed by Juan José Campanella; “Coral”, Best Sound at the International Festival of Havana 2005 for the same movie, and “Coral”, Best Sound at the International Festival of Havana 2000 for “Plata Quemada”, directed by Marcelo Pineyro, among others.
There are so many films where Carlos was in charge of audio, and we can just mention:
“The Son of the Bride”, directed by Juan José Campanella
“Luna de Avellaneda”, directed by Juan José Campanella
“Kamchatka”, directed by Marcelo Pineyro
“Man Facing Southeast,” directed by Eliseo Subiela
“Ashes of Paradise”, directed by Marcelo Pineyro
In this interview, Carlos shares his experience in a simple and direct way about the tasks performed by an audio professional for movies in Argentina and other details of work related tosound production.
ZioGiorgio.es: How did you start working on recording for films?
Carlos Abbate: I began to study films in 1975, and my sound teacher, Abelardo Kuschnir, gave me the possibility of working with him as his assistant. The film was “La isla” by Alejandro Doria. And this is how I started working with sound; which has always interested me, but that was not all as I was also studying photography at school.
ZioGiorgio.es: Can you explain what tasks you perform as a professional of audio?
Carlos Abbate: A professional of sound for films in Argentina is in charge of everything related to the sounds in a film. Everything is everything, and that goes from shooting and previous organization right up to the copy that arrives at the cinema.
ZioGiorgio.es: What tasks do the Sound Director and Sound Designer carry out?
Carlos Abbate: Taking care of sound work is really important. Being responsible for the sound is comprehensive enough for the profession, also considering that the results of the work are always much, much more transcendent than titles.
ZioGiorgio.es: What are the most difficult situations to record sound?
Carlos Abbate: Our work depends not only on us but on the conditions that the film production provide to do it in the best way. Anyway, recording outdoors is always the most problematic.
ZioGiorgio.es: What features should microphones have to capture sound in outdoor scenes?
Carlos Abbate: Microphones must always be sensitive, I mean not hard, since what needs to be recorded is people talking and they are not so near to the capsules; our sources have little pressure. Obviously, windscreens are vital and essential outdoors.
ZioGiorgio.es: Do you have microphones and preamps that you find yourself constantly using?
Carlos Abbate: For a long time I have been using the German brands Schoeps for recording live sound and Neumann for studying. I don’t have a preamp in front, however, the one I use has to be silent and not add ‘coloring’.
ZioGiorgio.es: Are there traditional locations for microphones or does every situation require a special solution? Can you provide examples?
Carlos Abbate: In movies, the microphone is mounted on a rod that is placed over the heads of the actors, capturing both speaking and actions. This should be in correspondence with the image plane. It is a very difficult and complex technique, but the result, when done well, is without rival.
ZioGiorgio.es: Even considering that some dialogs will be replaced by other studio recordings, is it important to capture the direct sound in speech during recording of the scene?
Carlos Abbate: Yes, it is important to have a good live sound. But we could also think about the dubbing not only to correct errors but also to take it into account for reasons of style. For example, making a space film and shooting with live sound in Barracas (one of the barrios from Buenos Aires) may not be the best solution for the film.
ZioGiorgio.es: What aspects of your job have changed with the use of digital technology?
Carlos Abbate: Many things have changed in technology. We can now be much more precise and deep in our editing decisions, and also, if needed, we can be faster. The immediacy of digital technology should be taken into account to make room for reflection on the task.
ZioGiorgio.es: Do you often make several shots, other than how the actors peform?
Carlos Abbate: When we are at work we may suggest to do some more takes in case the finished material obtained does not cover all the needs that it should contain.
ZioGiorgio.es: What systems or editing tools do you use?
Carlos Abbate: Protools is the most widespread tool.
ZioGiorgio.es: What was your motivation in writing your recent book “Cómo hacer el sonido de una película” (How to make the sound of a movie?)
Carlos Abbate: The need to leave a working method, a way of thinking and working, methods that control our tasks on paper. Digitization broke the chain of knowledge transmission that our industry had as it atomized certain steps and ways. However, these methods that I wrote are currently in use and can always be compared to each other, which I think is enriching.
ZioGiorgio.es: Do you have a story that can illustrate some complicated recording session?
Carlos Abbate: The truth, I think, is there is always something complicated or complex to solve in a recording. With regards to sound for films, it can be a catastrophe if the director decides to change a simple movement of the actor with another at the last moment.
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