Sound plays a vital role on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Epic battles, tense dramatic scenes, fiery dragon attacks, and the quiet chill beyond the Wall. The audio cues punctuating the loud and soft moments help to solidify the visceral impact of one of cable’s biggest sensations, and Recording Arts graduate Brett Voss is among the artists who have helped define its Emmy-winning soundtrack.
Brett is an accomplished Foley mixer in Los Angeles with over a decade of credits, and has worked on Thrones from its second season onwards. This weekend Brett will be fielding questions about his contributions to the show during an exclusive Ask Me Anything Facebook Chat, and we caught up with him beforehand to get a preview of what goes into a typical episode.
“With a TV series like Game of Thrones we’ll have about two to three days per episode to work, which isn’t much time when you have 50 minutes of screen material,” he says. “We cover everything that the production microphones on set didn’t pick up, and often things they did pick up, but need to make sound clearer. There’s so much happening on screen, and working on this show is all about augmenting each individual thing to make the sound scape feel very organic and natural.”
Foley is an art form itself, with Brett and his team at Happy Feet Foley working in their studio to create audio effects that match the action on screen. A typical day on the show begins at 7 a.m. with a discussion about their attack strategy, then the Foley artists will act out the movements with different props as Brett records and mixes the results. Their checklist often includes the Khaleesi’s dragons (their wing movement, footsteps, and claws), as well as the dynamic interactions of the weapons and armor.
“I actually love doing the armor, it’s very satisfying because it really sells who the character is,” Brett says. “On the show my favorite is probably Brienne, it just makes her sound so powerful. I feel like her armor and footsteps really sell that. Footsteps in general can also be extremely creative because there’s so many minute differences in how people walk. If they slide or scrape their feet, their pace, if they’re drunk – all these different nuances that really help create character.”
The dynamic nature of Game of Thrones has made the project a recent favorite for Brett, and he’s looking forward to continuing to push that creativity on the upcoming fifth season in 2015. While he promises he doesn’t have any spoilers, fans can learn more about his experience behind the scenes this Sunday, September 28 from 7 p.m to 10 p.m. EDT,
“Game of Thrones has been a dream show, HBO is an incredible company to work with, and I feel very blessed,” he says. “It’s just a really cool job. We’re not in a cubicle crunching numbers all day, we’re doing something that is going to effectively sell a great show. That’s a nice feeling for me.”