Sounding It Out with Jo Osborne | Behind the Scenes on Not2Bad.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed Anthill Films’ big budget, Trek-filled film Not2Bad. We’re all familiar with behind the scenes reels, but have you ever considered how the sounds are captured?

Jo Osborne, the film’s sound engineer, was on hand to grab the sounds way beyond what the camera normally picks up. Fake sheep, tree-climbing and burying microphones were all in a day’s work on this month-long project.

Photos by Jo Osborne unless otherwise stated.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
The man himself, Mr. Jo Osborne. Photo by Dillon Osborne.

Month of craziness.

Being the follow up to Not Bad, I kind of new what was in store for this. 1 month of craziness to be captured on film. My job was to run around placing microphones everywhere I could to try capture the true sound of these world class athletes. I was involved early on for this film right from planning. I then met up with the crew in Malaga, Spain in late January to begin filming.

Anthill allowed me to really push the boundary on sounds for this film. I was able to get right into the filming and capture all the original audio at high quality to then be used in the film. So every berm, jump and fly by was the actual sound.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Photo by Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi.

That corner.

Even the ultra slo-mo shots. This is something I have really worked hard on and goes back to that Matt Hunter corner. I really enjoy working on slow motion video. Everything has its own unique space when things are moving so slowly. The possibility for detail is very rewarding. When you have riders of this calibre its so important to capture that audio at the highest quality. Even going through all the audio at the end of each days filming was crazy.

After each day we go through all the takes. Naming and sorting each one so that they can be retrieved later. Listening back to the sound of just raw speed. This was truly a month of fun. We were all based in a villa just outside of Malaga. That was all the riders, film crew and builders.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Photo by Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi.

Herding cats.

Diana the production coordinator somehow manages to organise everyone and where they have to be. There was usually a plan to what we needed to achieve for each day but it was determent a lot by wind. There was a few locations and they all peaked at different times of the day. With so much going on all of the riding locations had to be perfect and the set up on this was incredible.

There is a serious amount of pressure on the builders. To have multiple locations all with huge flowing jumps built before the riders even arrive. Everyday the guys were out perfecting the jumps. They really nailed it.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Photo by Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi.

Wet Irish fields.

The whole experience is amazing. I usually spend a lot of time recording sounds in a wet field in Ireland or designing them in my studio. So to be up close to this and get an idea of how the film might look when its being filmed gives me a huge head start. To have an array of microphones set up to capture the exact audio as Dan Atherton rips past you on a quiet dusty hillside in the coast of southern Spain in incredible.

Darcy Wittenburg is an expert tree climber and managed to get a cable cam running anywhere there are trees. The cable camera does make quite a loud whizz although an interesting sound for the library. Then just when I think I am safe as there are no trees around.. Colin Jones has the drone up and running. Getting clean audio when these filming techniques were being used really pushed me to get microphones close to the riders and explore whole new techniques to cut down on ambient recording.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Brandon Semenuk in full flight. Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi

Hiding mics.

This was the section filmed in some old abandoned houses. The builders did an amazing job linking all the houses together with roof jumps and house drops. They all led down to a dirt bowl with flowing berms and huge dirt quarters. It was really tricky to get anywhere near the riders here as there were so many cameras all rolling at one. So if you move in to get close your going to get into someones shot.

With so many options for the riders it was tricky to select the features I wanted to mic up. When scouting this location I looked for some key points to mic up this house jump. Then late one evening Semenuk and Rheeder started playing on this roof jump and the whole crew just new it was going to turn into an insane session.

I got a radio mic in the house attached to the underside of the roof. I set up one on the kicker and then hid in at the side of the house to capture the rider in the air and the landing.

Ryan Howard, Cam McCaul and Casey Brown kicking up dust. Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi

RAW.

This was a DH run set on a steep hillside the some locals told us about. There was a lot of glass around and it was quite noisy with animals and city sound even though it was quite far off in the distance. With this there are a lot of shots filmed up close. Which is great for me as I can get right in there to get all that dirt being kicked up as tyres rip by.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Brandon Semenuk, Ryan Howard, Cam McCaul and Casey Brown. Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi

MX Jumps.

These were some big jumps and hips. When you first see them they look like they are built for MX bikes. It was quite a show to get to watch everyone ride these. The riders were traveling such a distance it was tricky to get the full take off and landing audio in one go. I had microphones placed on that huge landing and then in the take off as well, all dug into the jumps.

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I then managed to find a little spot dug into the ground where I was able to follow the riders in the air. It was impressive to see Casey Brown on these. She arrived a few days after everyone else. She was not long off the plane, took one roll in to check for speed and then pinned the huge hip.

Brandon Semenuk, Ryan Howard, Cam McCaul and Casey Brown Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi
Brett Rheeder throwing down. Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi

Blending in.

My favourite location for sound capture for the shoot. Its an olive grove cut into the hillside of a secret location near Malaga. The combination of huge jumps near thick bushy olive trees meant that for once I was able to move around with ease and stay out of shot with a hiding spot always available. There were some really inquisitive horses that spent a lot of time walking on the jumps at night time to give the builders some extra work.

Spending some time listening to how these sounded you could hear a real resonance coming from the dirt. The whole jump was working nicely as an instrument so I ended up close micing the dirt instead of the riders. And it ended up leading to some real interesting differences in tyre sound. I was also able to hide radio mics in the trees and dig them into the sets.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Colin Jones get the many, many POV cams ready, moustaches and everything. Photo: Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi.

Capture everything.

CJ and Darren have Sony action cams attached to just about everything. For me that another way to capture sound. They accept a 3.5mm jack so I can just plug a mic in whenever needed and boom I have a close up mic source that I can use. I also fashioned some hairstyles for the cameras. They have built in wind reduction but I wanted every last bit of sound I could get.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Jo doing his best to blend in. Photo: Sterling Lorence.

Into a warzone.

So there is that crazy paint ball war scene. Which broke out after a long day of filming. The wind started to pick up at the end of the day so paint ball guns came out. It ended up with the C3 team turning on the crew and then Cam McCaul took one for the team and got that amazing finishing shot getting peppered by paint balls as the sun sets.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Gee Atherton and Darcy Wittenburg try to work out which Call of Duty Jo’s outfit is from. Photo by Sterling Lorence.

Camo’d up.

It also meant there were a few extra camo suits lying around which I made use of. This was this last location which was in Granada. All of the riding in this section was on the new Trek Remedy. The team seemed to be having so much fun on these and it was really cool to see Rachel Atherton and Casey Brown ripping up the track together.

Another new location and this time it was with Gee Atherton. This was like thick beach sand that then started to level out to some sandy gravel patches. It was out in the middle of nowhere and so really empty and quiet. I got some really great sound here and Gee was impressively fast, even cornering the thick sand that was difficult even to walk through.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
This is Cam using the glide cam wire, to shoot a rake as far as he can…

Shooting… Rakes?

This is Cam using the glide cam wire, to shoot a rake as far as he can. This is one of the amazing thing about shooting with this team. The riders are always up for having a laugh. They ride hard and play hard. And when its too windy to ride instead of getting pissed off about it everyone just has a bit of fun. The atmosphere between the C3 team and Anthill is awesome. Its just fun and riding.Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag

Listening trees.

This was shooting one of the early downhill sections in the film. Filming with Rdog, Semenuk and Rheeder.

It was fairly well executed shoot working our way down the mountain pretty fast. The foliage was quite dense and so I was able to place a few radio mics around to get some extra sounds. I wanted to build up that forest riding sound that you get but still be able to achieve the power and detail the riders were providing.Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag

There were some handy olive trees a few meters back from the jumps which allowed me to put some radio mics in. In the mix I combined them with mics I had dug into the dirt to give a more natural sound of what you actually hear when you are there with your friends watching them hit jumps. For the trick sounds I had to get in between the jumps when I could to try and get up close.

Post Production

Not2Bad was mixed in 5.1 surround sound. Having control over each individual sound was so important in the mix to allow a clean audio image. I spent a few months going through all of the original audio. Removing and reducing background noise of cities, animals or near by roads. Bringing the sound of the tyres ripping through the dirt to the forefront of the audio. The camera equipment can also be quite noisy. The cable cam and the drone both kick out quite a sound and so its important to try and reduce this where possible.

Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag
Photo by Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi.

A lot of consideration was taking into the recording techniques when this equipment was being used but with such sensitive microphones there is always the possibility of picking up some sound. At the same time most of the locations were out in the forest or mountain side where there is very little sound pollution. All of the sound from the original shots were used in the final mix. It was really exiting to be using so much original audio for this type of project. Even the ultra slo-mo shots. They were tracked separately at high sample rates and then used in the edit.

Mix window.

I was able to work on each section of the film individually. I worked closely with Darren McCullough on the edit. Hes like some sort of an editing machine, working non-stop to get the perfect edit. As soon as one section was locked I would get it and then start placing and editing the sound. So we had about 6 individual projects being edited at the same time. I was able to then go through and minimise the amount of channels needed for the final mix.Not2Bad Trek Bikes Anthill Films Jo Osborne Sterling Lorence Gee Atherton Wideopenmag

Then when the full picture was locked I combined these projects all into one main session. I usually work in pro tools for film mixes, but with so much slo motion sound editing needed I kept all the sections and final mix inside logic 9 which is fantastic for working with sound in this way.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you properly record sound for a bike film. Big thanks to Jo Osborne for documenting his side of the process for us, and to Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi and Sterling Lorence for the bangers.

Haven’t seen Not2Bad yet? Check it out here.


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