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'Greyhound' audio crew explain how it sound-mixed the Apple TV+ drama

The Apple TV+ film "Greyhound" required some lateral thinking from its sound team, with a profile on how the audio mix during a key battle scene revealing the lengths the production went to make it dramatic.

Apple's acquisition of the Tom Hanks naval drama "Greyhound" for the Apple TV+ streaming service was well received by users and critics, with the film depicting the drama of the high-stakes mission. A large part of this was due to its audio mixing, which was a challenge for all involved.

In a profile of rerecording mixer Michael Minkler, supervising sound editor Warren Shaw and sound mixer David Wyman by Variety, the team revealed what went into putting the audience in the middle of the action.

During the third-act climactic scene featuring an attempt by USS Greyhound to avoid torpedoes, Minkler brings up the different elements at play, beyond dramatic music and dialog. "There are sound effects with the engines, the high seas, the explosions coming from both sides," said Minkler.

The audience has to "hear where it ramps up the speed and pulls down," Minkler said of the ship's noises. Sounds of torpedoes were hyper-dramatic, with their movements in the water meant to be heard to give the idea of the warheads heading to the boat.

As research, Minkler and Shaw visited the USS Kidd in Louisiana and talked to veterans about how a captain's orders are given and repeated throughout a crew. This was to get a better understanding of how communications worked in that sort of situation, to increase accuracy.

To give the actors an immersive experience, and to get around not being able to use a boom operator, microphones were placed throughout the ship to capture sound and dialog. "We had a lot of microphones in plain sight, and they were painted the same color as the inside of the ship," explained Shaw.

Playback speakers were also located throughout the vessel, to help the actors "feel the urgency and danger."

"Greyhound" is considered a successful purchase for Apple, as awards season continues. The film has already picked up two nominations for Special Visual Effects and Sound for the British Academy Film Awards, following previous nominations from the Visual Effects Society Awards and the Motion Picture Sound Editors.

The initial release did suffer from sound problems, with an audio-sync issue discovered roughly an hour into the movie in July 2020.

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