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In one particular Bridgerton season two sequence, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton confesses — right before an intimately breathy, yet maddeningly nearly touchless tangle — that Kate Sharma is dually the “bane” of his existence and the “object” of all his desire.
The line easily whipped up a frenzy among fans of the couple, the utterance seemingly capturing the entire energy of the duo’s push-pull love story. But there is, in fact, another moment that may speak to the nature of Kate and Anthony’s love story better; a rare exhibit of emotional vulnerability under an outdoor canopy that sees Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) admitting that when it comes to Kate (Simone Ashley), “all I find myself being able to breathe for is you.”
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And breathe for her he does with the help of the show’s sound team, who delivered all those exquisitely panty moments that defined the couple’s romantic journey across eight episodes. It was a different sound journey than season one, supervising sound editor Ulrika Akander and rerecording mixer Deb Adair tell The Hollywood Reporter.
“Their relationship was steamier in a different way — it took up a bigger place earlier on in the season,” Akander said of the Duke of Hastings and Daphne Bridgerton’s story. “With Kate and Anthony, it takes pretty much the entire season for them to finally connect.”
That meant much of the season two couple’s romantic desire played out through the growing interest and decreasing distance between them, portrayed through the bated (and otherwise) breath performances of Bailey and Simone. To capture their slow-building entanglement, the sound team relied on a number of audio elements, including mics, music and sound effects — like added heartbeats, breaths, swooshing and the buzzing of a bee — which could increase the intensity of a scene or intensify as the episodes went on.
“One thing that definitely played a huge part was Kris Bowers’ music,” Adair said. “When they first meet on horseback, it’s kind of flirty, but then it gets more intense over time through all these scenes where they end up in the same room together. And as [their relationship] gets more and more intense, the music gets more and more intense.”
That was one among several ideas about how to capture the duo’s romantic arc. Another was an aural bubble around the couple created through the editing and mixing process. While the sound theme for the Bridgerton family features a wild track (or an audio recording synchronized with the film but recorded separately) of laughs, banter and joking so “they’re always alive in the background,” the sound supervisor said, the team stifled background noise in Kate and Anthony’s moments.
Using audio tracks from actors’ personal lavalier mics as the foundation, the team either brought up or down specific effects or the score, allowing scenes to zero in on the emotion the characters were flaming in each other as “every bit of reality goes away behind them and it just becomes their own world,” Adair said.
“The scene in the last episode where Anthony and Kate dance together — that at one point became just music. The crowd falls away, the footsteps fall away, everything falls away and it’s just the two of them,” Akander explained. “When Anthony is walking in [to meet the Queen with Edwina] and Kate is standing there and their hands nearly brush, it’s pretty stripped away, too, and again it’s to create a kind of bubble. Then the moment right after the pinky scene, we’re back to reality.”
That final dance was among a series of trickier sound efforts involving the duo. Bailey and Ashley’s whispered exchange was one of the few moments the season required rerecording dialogue during postproduction, as the actors’ voices were fighting against the sheer number of people in the scene and the motor spinning the orchestra’s stage.
The team applied its bubble technique to a wide range of moments, emphasizing sound details as subtle as when Kate walks by Anthony and “he has like a little sniff,” the supervising sound editor said. For their love scenes, music was elevated while their mic audio and sound effects were brought down. “The choice typically and more often was to have the music driving it. They didn’t want to do it too breathy because then it could be a fine line with where you put it.”
Capturing all this and more was a multi-department effort, beginning on set in England with the production sound crew, led by Tim Surrey, production sound mixer, who were grabbing “all the little details,” according to Akander. To get the best sound while filming inside buildings with audible floor creeks or outside scenes set against a line of windows or near water with Heathrow Airport air traffic overhead, the team used multiple microphones, including booms as well as small radio mics on every single actor.
If filming conditions made lavs impossible, like a soaked Anthony after he fell into the water, the sound crew relied on boom mics. In scenes involving several actors, the post team could pull from one character’s captured audio if the primary speaker’s sound quality happened to be poor.
“We have actors who actually are projecting and pronouncing things. They are not mumbly actors,” Akander said, describing it as a “dream” scenario that helped them emphasize all those sighs and gasps and the intimate dialogue.
Having audio tracks from each ensemble member became particularly important in scenes where Bailey and Ashley were physically close, like their steamy confessions in the library at Aubrey Hall and Lady Dunbury’s estate.
“The women’s lavalier mics have a little more exposure because of their costume. They could just stick it in because they all have cleavage. It’s kind of safe there,” the sound supervisor said. “But with Anthony’s costume, his mic was always under all of his clothes, so it was challenging to pull his voice out.”
Like that initial antagonistic tension between Anthony and Kate, Adair and Akander also noted that as the actors got closer, their separate mics could experience phasing or diminished sound, the result of each track’s sound waves not working together. While the team used plug-in program Auto-Align Post to help address some of that, Akander also tried “to use as little of two lavs at the same time” in the editing process. That meant that there were times when Bailey’s Anthony lost out to Kate’s track or was literally breathing for Ashley’s microphone.
“In the scene in the forest, we used boom and individual mics all separate until Anthony is sitting behind her and his mic is covered. So even if Anthony is speaking, Kate’s mic is in a better position at that point,” Akander explained, noting that Adair’s mixing became important in outdoor scenes where natural sounds like leaves crunching or modern sounds like sirens could impact the sound work. “The bee scene we had them on their separate lavs, eliminating one of them sometimes — most often Anthony — if that sounded better. [There’s] no boom in this scene due to traffic and airplane noise [and] when he starts breathing heavily towards the end of the scene, it is her mic we are using.”
Many of the decisions around shaping the “bubble” would happen during the spotting sessions and multiple playbacks, which could include notes from the director, picture editor, music editor, producers and showrunner on how to get Anthony and Kate’s love story just right.
“Sometimes it would be let’s have music carry the scene more or let’s lower the sound effects — or vice versa, let’s have the sound effects really play a role here,” Akander said of the process. “With Kate and Anthony, it’s let’s have half a breath take over. Let’s pinpoint that bee. Let’s make sure we hear that horse whinny in the background, interrupting them in the middle of the whole thing, bringing us back to reality. And as we bring it back to reality, we hear people talking coming back up because now that magic is broken.”
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