Detritus 415

▶ beautiful obituary for sound legend Richard Portman – “his hundreds of film credits include Star Wars, The Godfather, Nashville and his favorite, Harold and Maude. He was the first in Hollywood to mix a film entirely by himself – typically there are three or four mixers – a practice he perfected and preferred. When he retired in 1995, he’d spent more than 90,000 hours behind the panel in a dark room….”

I love his advice offered at the end of the obituary… must read his book: They Wanted a Louder Gun…. also: an interview at

CAS – You pioneered “one-man” mixing in Hollywood. What are the advantages and disadvantages of that style?

RP – The advantage was that it was my mix – I knew where every sound was – I built my pre-dubbs very carefully combining those sounds I knew would stand up and keeping separate those I knew would not. Because it was my mix I was able to build it in any order I saw fit and that order was completing a double reel before I went on to the next. I was able to record the reels backwards — that is to say I did the background sound effects first, the dialog second (the reason for this is the principle of masking), hard effects third, and lastly the music. However, there were those occasions when I would make a temporary music mix that I would play along whenever I wanted to see how some balance would work with all the elements. On other occasions I would do the foley feet after the reel was completed — only using those foley items which were needed for the domestic and when I did the foreign I would put the rest of the foley in. Another advantage was that I was working all the time with the director or whoever else was to say “yes” or “no” about my efforts and this really speeded up the mix — there was no waiting around. Communication was supreme and the result of good communication is a happy mix. This method had no dis-advantages as far as I was concerned — we were able to make the best mix we could in the shortest practical time. The key to this style is that everything be ready — not a condition that rerecording mixers find very often these days, and the primary reason why mixes sometimes resemble a fist fight.

CAS – Do you think that one-man mixing is still practical, given the huge number of tracks of today’s shows and the limited amount of time to mix them in?

RP – No and Yes. Mainstream movies are vastly over-built and now require more hands. I believe that a Master Mixer working with a good second is the way to go. Now in the low-budget movie world, where things are more or less like they were a number of years ago with a lot less material provided, the one mixer concept is still the way to go.


▶ this is cute, kids would love it: a whalesynth in your browser
via Kottke


▶ Master blaster: the woman making Björk, Aphex Twin and Eno sound so good


▶ interview with La La Lands female sound team


▶ love this photo project: Salaryman Blues by Yusuke Sakai


▶ via Collossal


▶ an infinite drum machine in your browser



▶ a euclidean drum machine in your browser


▶ sound recordists ready when you are… #woollymammoth


▶ Max Richter: Composing with new colors


▶ Listen to the sounds from the deepest hole ever dug


▶ warning: NSFW, if you’re not allowed to swear loudly at work…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.