The Making of Senna part 4: ‘You’ve never heard F1 sound like this’


Ayrton Senna, Nicola Larini, TI Aida, 1994

Ayrton Senna, Nicola Larini, TI Aida, 1994

Watching F1 in the cinema will be an unusual experience for fans who go to see the Senna film.

The makers of Senna have gone to considerable lengths to ensure the sights – and sounds – do justice to the sport.

Here’s how they did it.

Cleaning up the sound

The sounds heard during the Senna movie are not always those which were originally recorded. But an exhaustive process of sound editing means they are authentic and deliver greater impact.

The splashes of rain at Monaco, Alessandro Nannini locking his wheels as Senna passes him at Suzuka, and the gut-wrenching booms as cars strike barriers in Imola, have all been painstakingly re-touched for maximum clarity.

The film’s writer Manish Pandey explains: “The whole film [sound] was remixed at Twickenham studio by an unbelievably talented bunch of guys. They’re obsessive-compulsive, and brilliantly so.”

He gives an example of the changes made to the onboard camera footage of Senna driving during the race at Imola:

“When you are in the Williams for the last time, all the gear changes are correct, all the noises you’re hearing are correct, but what we’ve had to do is take it from the previous lap, because it was a cleaner sound.

“We transposed it, but of course the laps were slightly different lengths, so they had to do little cuts. The idea was to bring up the edited noise and bring down the crowd noise when we needed to.”

In other cases the sounds was edited to remove details that might sound confusing to the ear: “When [Rubens] Barrichello crashes, originally there was a sound like glass breaking.

“But as I explained to them there’s no glass in Formula 1 cars, it’s all carbon fibre and Kevlar, so it would be a much more plasticky noise. They managed to change it, so it’s very authentic.

“The sound design is a whole other thing for this film – you won’t have heard Formula 1 sound like this before.”

“How did he do that? That’s him”

The remixed sound is accompanied by a musical score written by Antonio Pinto, the composer best known for his work on City of God.

A committed Senna fan, Pinto got in touch with Pandey as soon as he heard about the project: “He literally got his agent to contact us and said ‘I want to do the music’.

“He sent us three tracks – the first one is the theme, and they’re all in the film.

“I remember listening to it and my jaw dropped and I went ‘That is Senna. How did he do that? That’s him’”.

However some parts of the score were intentionally left out during the editing process:

“One piece that came from another film that he’d done, which we used to use when Roland Ratzenberger died, we removed.

“We wanted to have a section without any music, which would give more impact on Sunday when the music starts.

“That piece of music was just unbelievably good.”

Cutting the film to length gave the filmmakers some of their biggest challenges. The next part of “The making of Senna” will explain why some of the most pivotal moments in his F1 career did not make it into the film.

“The Making of Senna” continues tomorrow.

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Senna opens in the UK on June 3rd. See the official website for more information.

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55 comments on The Making of Senna part 4: ‘You’ve never heard F1 sound like this’

  1. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 1st June 2011, 18:38

    My biggest concern with regard to this film is where it’s showing.

    I live in Bath and so far the closest cinema I have found that will be showing it is in London.

    • shakey5691 said on 1st June 2011, 21:32

      i live in bath to and i think the little cinema is showing it at nine

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st June 2011, 22:00

      Clearly the film industry of this country doesn’t consider anywhere but London worthy! Frustrating.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 2nd June 2011, 2:03

      Contact your local cinemas.

      It didnt look like anywhere near me (exeter) was showing it either but I emailed the local Picture House and it turns out they are showing it, just a few weeks after the release date.
      Could be a similar situation in Bath,

    • It is on at Bristol’s Watershed for 2 weeks. Not very far away.

  2. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st June 2011, 21:59

    The sound is one thing i’m really looking forward to. We have a 2.1 system at home for sound and while it’s not great you do get a slight rumble and Rosberg’s crash sounded great (good job he was OK of course).

    Still struggling to find where I can watch the film though! Suggestions for West Yorkshire?

    • hcw said on 1st June 2011, 23:26

      I’m pretty sure you can find something in Leeds. Failing that, it is on in Showroom Sheffield. (I think even Odeon is having it here in sheffield…)

  3. cbriddon (@cbriddon) said on 2nd June 2011, 8:31

    I have to admit to downloading the 2 hour 45 min version of the film from the internet. I just couldn’t wait. It is stunning. I thought the sound was amazing and didn’t notice any issues with it syncing with the video. I was memorised for the entire running time though!

    I have tickets booked for Saturday at my local cinema and can’t wait to see it on the big screen. I will then be waiting for the Blu-Ray to be released. :-) I hope it has the longer version on the disc.

    • “I thought the sound was amazing and didn’t notice any issues with it syncing with the video” – wow, you are a real deal then…

  4. Mike said on 2nd June 2011, 14:28

    On the sound effects – Quite often the same sound is used for a crash, and the sound in question is the crash sound from rFactor. It sounds fine if you don’t play that game (and aren’t very good and crash a lot), but it sticks out like a sore thumb if you do.

  5. Free21 said on 3rd June 2011, 1:54

    Guys you are really going to be let down by the sound. Keith Collantine has obviously not seen the Senna movie or knows nothing about Formula 1.

    The onboard sounds in the Mclarens are plainly wrongly synchronised. You hear him brake when he accelerates, gearchanges where there visually aren’t any. It’s just a complete mess. The sound does not match the video.

    The only person that would not notice this is someone with 0 knowledge of F1 or someone’s grandmother.

    If you go and view the same laps on youtube the sounds are perfect.

    The sound actually kills the whole experience unlike what this blog is claiming. I have no idea why the producers made the movie like this, the onboard footage is (apart from politics, or love or character development, etc) the only thing that SHOWS what the SUBJECT MATTER of this movie is. Driving cars very very very fast.

    The fact that the producers cared not to bring this across leads me to think they do not care about the subject matter and are in it to make a quick buck

    • Agree, mate. Jerez and Monaco onboards are complete mess. My girlfriend didn’t notice that, but I did. Jerez sounds like he had only 2 or 3 gears, and McLaren was powerless. And Interlagos? My god, he had only 6th gear, so why on earth anybody would’ve done the sound where you can hear gear changes? :(

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