‘Man of Steel’ Sound Design Featurette

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:55 pm,

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel may have already completed its task of introducing a brand new spin on Superman, Krypton, and Clark Kent, but anyone who’s seen the film knows that it wasn’t just the actors putting in long hours. And as wild as the action and spectacle were, Man of Steel was as intense an experience for the audience’s ears as it was for the inhabitants of Metropolis.

We’re not just referring to Hans Zimmer’s pulse-pounding score, but the work of the sound designers, mixers, and editors. How do you make an otherworldly society seem something other than alien? How do you bring something new to a classic American setting? And when the fighting starts, how do you construct sound to rival city-levelling destruction? Those are the questions answered in the latest featurette, focusing on the sounds of Man of Steel.

It’s easy to understand how sound design ends up getting the short end of the stick with mass audiences – they tend to be more interested in learning about Superman’s new powers or the challenges of updating the character for a new generation – but sound is half of the theatrical experience.

Man of Steel Russell Crowe Closeup Man of Steel Sound Design Featurette

The above featurette helps remind audiences just how many unique sounds needed to be created from scratch for the film. And while mimicking real world sounds is one thing, figuring out how an alien world sounds is something else entirely. Kryptonian weaponry, the strange interfaces of metallic balls, even the physical composition of Krypton’s buildings had to be realized sonically as well as visually.

Crumbling skyscrapers and groaning metal may be a bit closer to home for the sound designers, but given the scale of destruction in Man of Steel‘s third act, it’s a testament to the team’s talent that their work was even discernible amidst the carnage. As the featurette explains, that’s due largely to their decision to design the film to take full advantage of Dolby Surround 7.1 from the very beginning.

Most audiences will simply decide whether a film sounded good or not, but serious audiophiles will be glad to hear just how much the team used Dolby 7.1 (as opposed to the previous 5.1) to not only beef up the sound, but better express themselves as artists. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the delivery of Zimmer’s score, allowing the sound mixers to shape the music around the theater, giving the impression of hearing it in a cathedral, not directly from speakers.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man of Steel Man of Steel Sound Design Featurette

Besides offering even more evidence that having Christopher Nolan involved in a film means a chance to work with some of the industry’s finest, the featurette also confirms yet another Man of Steel easter egg. If any fans of the original George Reeves Adventures of Superman television series thought they heard an homage to the show in Snyder’s reboot, it wasn’t just wishful thinking.

The rushing wind sound effect used during the show’s flight scenes did find its way into Man of Steel, so even if John Williams’ iconic theme wasn’t adopted for the reboot, the filmmakers found another way to pay homage to the character’s history.

Did any of the sound design stick out in your mind while watching the film, or is this the kind of behind the scenes movie magic that can only be appreciated once the extra Blu-ray content is released?

Man of Steel is in theaters now.


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  1. The sonic landscape of this film was phenomenal.
    The weave of the score with sounds of the action
    may have been the most masterful stoke of the team.

    • +1

      • This sound team preserved clarity amongst grand complexity.
        The score is never sacrificed in the action and the action
        is supported by the score the best of any action movie.

        • Actually went out and bought Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Not usually into soundtracks though but Hans Zimmer definitely changed that with his Dark Knight score, then a few years later, he tops that with Man of Steel.

          The sound team were especially brilliant, sound effects that made everything happening in the movie out of this world but was still able to make it a bit grounded so it wouldn’t feel random and unbelievable.

          • I bought the soundtrack too and had it before the film opened.
            I waited until I saw the movie to play it later that night.
            Hans topped the Batman scores for sure and this
            is my favorite of his. Gladiator was before.

        • Action is supported by the score… absolutely.

          How about the gravity beam synced up with the score?

          Pretty wicked.

          • Wasn’t that galvanizing? It drew you right in, focused on the action.

    • Agreed. That and the casting.

      I’ll admit I teared up a bit the third time I saw it. No, not the Costner scene. No, not the Krypton scene…

      … his first flight.

      We get to witness Superman fly for the first time. The score that accompanies this scene, along with that joyful look of a child on Cavil’s face turned me into a happy little kid aswell.

      • The casting is critical to the film’s success.
        This is as close to perfect all-around as it gets.

        The scene you refer to, first flight, I get choked
        up seeing it myself and I think Zack & Co. knew
        how important it was and you feel the love
        put into its construction on every level.

  2. I didn’t particularly notice the sound design. To be honest I fell asleep halfway into this boring POS. It’s a shame so many people wasted so much time and effort working on building this movie up around a lousy script. I guess you really can’t polish a turd.

    • Besides the annoyingly mediocre score, I didn’t really pay much attention at all to the sound design.

      • The score was great, probably the best thing about the movie aside from the Costner/Crowe/Adams scenery chewing.

        • THIS IS MY FIRST COMMENT but I have been coming here for a cpl yrs now.
          Is there any CBM that you do like Dazz? OTHER than Nolans previous batshit movies!

          I usually read all of your comments beause you seem very knowledgable about CB characters in general, but you seem to b**** about every movie that comes out! Avengers, MOS, IM3, REALLY what other than TDK movies do you like? LET me guess (this is not a CBM) but I bet you are a fan of Blade Runner right? It just seems that you don’t like anything that is good so you must LOVE that POS movie!

          • Oh God, the Superman fanboys are now proclaiming Man of Steel to be better than Blade Runner. What next, trying to say Green Lantern is better than A Clockwork Orange?

            • Would we rather listen to the haters who think it it’s worse than Stalkerman Returns?

    • Well that’s your problem, not ours. Movie was great and the work put into it was absolutely phenomenal.

    • How about you get some sleep before going to the movies.

    • So you fell asleep halfway through. Meaning you miss some things. Did you see the film again, as a whole?

      I am not attacking your opinion, but rather question your credit/support to that opinion.

    • It surely doesn’t seem that way. I mean the movie is doing great, very great and you’re the only seem to think, so when everyone else loves it and it’s still going strong.

  3. Hmm memorable sounds, the atomic neck snapping sound

  4. I want to know how did Clarks suit get on a ship that was on earth for 18 thousand years before Kal’el was born.

    • I dont it was a suit particularly for him. The ship was piloted my kara-el, id assume it was a scout ship for the house of el, it was probably the suit of someone on the ship related to kal

      • Nice try…

        Also how come the dead krypton in the ship was all decayed mummified along with its spacesuit, but Supes suit is in mint condition…

        • You’re rather desperately trying to find something to nitpick about, aren’t you?

          The suit was made of inorganic matter. When sealed in an airtight container it wouldn’t rot like the bodies on board.

    • read te comic precuel…

    • It was a suit from the house of El that crashed while they were scouting for Krypton outposts. The latter thing (the outposts and colonization) was mentioned pretty early into the movie.

    • the suit wasn’t on the ship the entire time, i don’t think…probably something to do with kal-el putting in the command key and activating it, allowing the ship to create the suit using whatever krypton technology the command key was created from (when it was being made in the beginning, it looked like some of the codex he put into the baby also went it to the key’s creation)…

  5. As always the comments are ‘Love it’ or ‘Hate it’. And as usual the ‘hate it’ guys are always louder on the internet even if they’re a minority.

  6. The sound was not particularly memorable with this film, neither was Zimmer’s score unfortunately.

    Why the big deal about 7.1? That’s been happening since Toy Story 3.

  7. I’m going to pioneer 12.1 sound design!!

  8. I really thought that the sound work on the film was incredible both times I saw it. I can hear everything loud and clear without it being toture on my ears. Anyone else heard the snap? The score was mixed in quite well too.

    I cannot comment on the video yet, but from my experience in the film I say an Oscar nod is up for grabs in this film for the technical awards on sound. I will also add in the score.

    The music had me intranced throughout the film. It was great, powerful, and moving. I love it as a whole but one scene that stood out due to the music (and visuals) is his first flight and when he musters all his strength against the gravity beam.

    Sound and score was incredible in the film.

  9. I listened to all the samples of the new score for this movie, and I swear, intentional or not, the last two minutes of one of the tracks contains a slower subdued version of the old iconic superman theme, in a lower key. I thought this was going to mention it…it was prob accidental but they had to have noticed it was the same melody and pattern and just kept it in .

  10. Hahaha. Most of the time people tend to be rational, but when they are on the net ist like rationality doesn’t exist. I’m not flaming anyone, just saying.
    But coming back on topic, Hans Zimmer is an amazingly talented man. I have loved all his work (at least the ones I’m familiar with). And I loved this one too.
    Now, maybe I’m just a fanboy, but you know what, I really loved this movie. I think that this generation needed a Superman like this one. It talks to me, which is to say I relate to it.
    Anyone else find the church scene funny? And also, after seeying the movie 3 times already, I don’t understand what people find so boring about the movie. I mean if you find this boring, then what did you think of Avatar? I loved the movie, but my friend didn’t. Just a question, not bashing or anything (it’s easy tobe misunderstood).

  11. I did notice the wind fx as Kal flew. Im sure with more viewings that i plan on, more will be apparent.

  12. great job!

  13. The sound design was quite underwhelming. I was annoyed at how all the sounds were competing with the music. It just kept getting louder and louder. It was like Green Lantern all over again.

  14. IMO Man of Steel has raised the bar on what fans should expect when paying $12-$20 for not just a Superhero movie but any action/adventure/Sci-Fi film they pay their hard earned money to see.
    Obviously I loved the movie but even if you didn’t like it I think it’s hard to deny the fantastic job done on effects, sound and production design.
    Even though it’s mind blowing to think that movie budgets have ballooned over $200 million and we don’t even blink an eye anymore, when you see a movie like MoS you can at least say the money was well spent.

    • +1

    • Yes. Man Of Steel sets the new standard.

    • Absolutely!

  15. I absolutely love the soundtrack to this film! What’s everyone’s favorite tracks so far?

    I love (in no particular order):

    Track 17: What are you going to do
    Track 16: Flight
    Track 1: Look to the Stars
    Track 5: Goodbye my Son (reminds me of a Doctor Who song)
    Track 14: This is Clark Kent

    Heck, the entire soundtrack is really good! If you haven’t bought it already, I highly recommend it.

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