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The Groundbreaking Sounds from Under The Skin – Exclusive Interview

A first teaser of  the Sci-Fi feature Under the Skin has been released. Directed by Jonathan Glazer (Birth, Sexy Beast) based on the novel by Michel Faber, starring Scarlett Johansson ( Her, The Avengers). Johansson plays Laura, an alien in human form.

The trailer gives very little away, but is very disturbing and the sounds dominate creating a very atmospheric vibe. It’s no surprise as these sounds were captured in a very groundbreaking way. We had an exclusive interview with sound engineer Nigel Albermaniche, one of the members of the team responsible for these haunting sounds.

Watch the trailer below:


Under the Skin has a very unique sound. How did this come about and can you tell us more about director Jonathan Glazer’s vision?

Nigel Albermaniche: Jonathan Glazer’s idea of sound in the film is to have its own signature, its own incredible soundscape with original sounds that are recorded in sync as much as possible.When I first came on this project Jonathan wanted to know how we can capture sound in a hidden camera environment. Johnnie Burn (Supervising Sound Editor) and I devised a plan on how this could be achieved and how filming in the real world could be captured sound wise like never before!

My team and I not only had to get the dialog, but also find a way to bring the wonderful atmosphere of the world out, whilst also picking up the footsteps, the movements and so on. Not only just in stereo but in surround sound as well.

How did you manage to capture these new and unique sounds?

Nigel Albermaniche: With hardly any conventional filming setups, and hardly any actors barring Scarlett Johansson as she deals with real people in real scenarios that can be anywhere, we found a way of capturing these incredible real world sounds by building mics in various props –  and using ourselves as tripods to stand and capture various sounds in the scenes. This is also while we were all “dressed up” so that we didn’t look like a normal filming crew.

For example, I had special bags made so that we can get my mixer in and looked like a normal bag or sports bag.We mic’d Scarlett in various ways to not only capture her dialog but also her moves and footsteps as well as the dialog of any interaction she had.

Jonathan Glazer wanted only sounds that we had captured to be used on the film, so I made sure that we gave Johnnie Burn as much as we can so that he could build an exciting library that could be used throughout the film.Have a listen to what Johnnie does with the winds that you hear in the trailer and the film- simply sensational! 

You mention Johnnie Burn, what was it like working with the rest of the sound department?

Nigel Albermaniche: I loved working with Johnnie Burn, he was involved from the beginning and was incredible in coming to set and doing some recording with me. We were in constant dialog and kept bouncing ideas – also his outside of the box thinking is brilliant, and he came out with some outstanding ways to get mics in interesting props. What was also exciting was the brilliant way that Post production Sound and Location Sound came together.

We had a motto for sound on the film and it was “To Be The Best You Must Endure The Unexpected!” And boy did we! We gave JG a T-Shirt with that on at the end! 

What were the biggest challenges when capturing sound on location?

Nigel Albermaniche: I have to say you have to watch the film. There is one location I remember in particular, a real life nightclub where we filmed in – to get the dialog and the atmosphere without the music was a challenge and a half !
How was it like working with Scarlett Johansson? 

Nigel Albermaniche: Scarlett is brilliant! She has a great presence on set and her professionalism shines through. Her strong drive and determination to give the film everything it needs makes her a perfect fit for the role and she is always going above and beyond. Upmost respect! 

Did you enjoy working with Jonathan Glazer?

Nigel Albermaniche: Working with Jonathan Glazer was phenomenal. His passion and desire is second to none – his drive carries the set.You never want to let him down, and you want to give him everything he wants and more! His innovation and thought process is incredible to witness.

I want to thank Jonathan Glazer for allowing Johnnie Burn and I the freedom to express ourselves with sound in Under The Skin.With that freedom guided by his amazing vision has led to a mesmerizing sound scape recorded,designed & mixed into a world that I hope you all enjoy. Welcome to the incredible mind of Jonathan Glazer! 

Will you be using this sound-recording technique in future projects?

Nigel Albermaniche:  Recording sound this way does have its advantages, and I have done it on a couple of things but never to the level of Under The Skin. It helps getting the moves, breaths and footsteps. I believe a performance from an actor is not just their dialog,but also there breaths, sighs, shrugs and so on. Hearing all of that originality, can make you feel that you are part of their journey.

Which projects are you currently working on?

Nigel Albermaniche: I’m working on an exciting Ealing Studios come back feature Co-produced with Londinium. Directed by Future award winning & incredibly talented first timer Christopher Foggin. Starring the phenomenal Will Poulter & the elegantly wonderful Alma Jodorowsky.

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