Ben Osmo on location sound recording for Ridley Scott’s Alien:Covenant

Award-winning production sound mixer Ben Osmo has described the audio recording process behind Ridley Scott’s Alien:Covenant, explaining that the “film made unusual demands on the sound, costume and props departments”.

“The cast not only had to wear radio mic transmitters but also an in-ear/comms set up, which was part of the storyline,” he said.

In May, Audio Media International interviewed Pete Cobbin, Kirsty Whalley and Tony Lewis about teaming up with Ridley Scott to piece together the score for the sci-fi horror film.

To solve the audio recording challenge, Osmo made use of DPA’s d:screet miniature microphones, having also used them for the filming of Mad Max: Fury Road.

“We were predominantly using DPA microphones for location sound recording, so we chose d:screet 4060 and 4061 lavalier microphones, which we hid in clothing and in space suits," he explained. "We also used d:fine headset microphones on cast members as props – for example as talk back mics in space helmets.

“We would put one d:screet 4061 in the front of the space helmet with the cable inside the helmet’s foam supports and a small transmitter positioned in a cavity in the helmet.

"A second 4061 was placed below the locking ring in the space suit, with the transmitter inside the suit, then a d:fine 66 Omnidirectional Headset Microphone was dressed under a cap and in shot as a practical talk back prop. The transmitter for that microphone was mounted under the back pack, alongside the Lectrosonics IFB R1a receiver.

“This set up allowed the cast to start the scene with their helmets off and then put them on while the camera was rolling without having to stop the dialogue. Having the three body mic alternatives gave post production the option of using whichever microphone was most suitable. They also had the sound from the boom mics. Once the cast had their space helmets permanently on, we found that the d:fine 66 Headset Microphones were the best option.”