Sound Masters: Whiplash - Audio Design Desk

Sound Masters: Whiplash

Audio Design Desk Team
Wednesday September 9, 2020

In 2014, Damien Chazelle wrote and directed his breakout picture (based on his short film of the same name), Whiplash. Premiering in January of 2014 at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash would go on to receive several accolades before being bought and distributed by Sony in October of that year. The film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards—including Best Picture—and won for Editing, Sound Editing, and Supporting Actor.


When it comes to film, we always say sound is half the story—but if the film in question is about a burgeoning music conservatory student and jazz drummer, sound is the story. The result in Whiplash is a raw and explosive sonic narrative. The sound team builds tension throughout the story by juxtaposing noise with quiet—stringing the audience along before disrupting the soundscape with negative space.


In the clip we show you today, notice how anxiety-ridden the sound is just before it suddenly cuts out for the car crash. Then, when Andrew (Miles Teller) exits the car, the sound slowly works its way back in as the character reorients himself. Next, the sound becomes anxious again as Andrew starts running off. The audio manages to perfectly follow the action, and it’s no surprise it earned an Oscar.

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