Sound designers from ‘Dune’ share secrets with CSU


Two sound designers from the upcoming film “Dune” spoke with students on Oct. 14 in a webinar presented by the CSU Entertainment Alliance.

Theo Green and Mark Mangini discuss their experience working on the film and information about their profession. 

“We as sound designers are charged with creating the sonic universe that we present to the audience,” Mangini said. 

“Dune” will be released in theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 22. Jeff Jacoby, professor of Media Arts at San Francisco State University, moderated the event. 

“It is impossible to overestimate the impact on students when they have a chance to see and hear from people who have made their way in show business,” Jacoby said. “It is a profound experience to hear directly from folks who have the talent and determination to succeed.” 

Green, supervising sound editor and composer of “Dune,” is also known for his role in “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) and “The Gambler” (2014). Green shared an Academy Award nomination for sound editing with Mangini for “Blade Runner 2049.”

During his 45 year career in Hollywood Mangini has been nominated for several academy awards and has received the 2015 Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing for his work on “Mad Max: Fury Road.” 

Mangini is known for his contributions to other famous sci-fi classics like: “Gremlins” (1984), “Star Trek IV” (1986), “Star Trek V” (1989) and “The Fifth Element” (1997).

Green and Mangini described their role in each film. Mangini explained how sound is advances the story of a film. 

Along with creating the film’s sonic universe, Mangini believes that sound designers play a crucial storytelling role that can begin as early as the script stage. This gives themthe ability to propose sound solutions during pre-production. 

Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet star in upcoming film “Dune” which will be in theaters and on HBO Max Oct. 22 Photo courtesy of Dune Official Photo Gallery

Green mentioned how ‘Dune’ differs from “Blade Runner 2049” regarding sound decisions. 

“‘Blade Runner 2049’ is such an atmospheric film. It made sense to color in the sonic backgrounds, just like you would on a painting and then start layering in the mid-grounds in the foreground. And ‘Dune’ is more action-oriented, and for that reason, it made sense to focus on the foreground items and the sort of big ticket items as we call them,” Green said.

Mangini admitted to being more organized and structured in the beginning stages of sound design. 

Mangini compared it to playing in a sandbox. 

“We can just go and make a lot of mess and sometimes we bring back a beautiful sandcastle and sometimes it’s just a hole in the sandbox, but we get the opportunity to make a lot of mistakes and that is a joy, a privilege and a rarity,” Mangini said. 

The panel agreed that sound is one of the less expensive entry routes into the film industry. An audio recorder and free software can open doors. 

But getting better requires growing your sound library, by recording anything you can in everyday life and adding to your library. 

A recording of the webinar will be available on-demand through the California State University Entertainment Alliance website

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.