After earning a degree in classical guitar and finding that the world does not value classical guitarists as it should, Maurizio Argentieri retooled his education and fueled his passion for sound on the other side of the microphone. After a very educational three-year gig as the on-location sound mixer for a small documentary crew that filmed Greenpeace activities around the world he “dreamed of recording sound for movies.”
Twenty years later, it’s clear that his dream became a reality. Argentieri has recorded and mixed for directors such as Mario Monicelli, Marco Bellocchio, Barry Levinson, Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, and Michel Comte and more. Comte is the visionary behind The Girl From Nagasaki, and Argentieri used his Metric Halo ULN-8 to record and tweak almost every aspect of the trans-opera’s sound.
“When I have the opportunity, I always love working both as the recordist on location and as the post-production engineer,” said Argentieri. “On location, I get the benefit of hearing the director explain the motivations and feelings behind every scene. We shot The Girl From Nagasaki in some very peculiar locations, and I naturally became impressed by the real sounds in those locations.
“That inspired my post-production work and gave it a better connection than it would have otherwise had. Moreover, everything Michel said about sound on the set came back to me in post-production, which gave me an excellent starting point. My goal is always to lead the audience’s emotions in a specific direction with the sound. And I always want that direction to be the one that most naturally conveys the intentions of the director.”
Argentieri met Comte in Los Angeles before production on The Girl From Nagasaki began and had a long conversation about his vision for the soundtrack.
“It was his first feature film, and he was very well prepared,” said Argentieri. “He showed me a book with reference pictures for the movie, and we talked about sound. He was very precise about the imagery, but I found that when we actually got to shooting, the imagery we were capturing was even better!”
A self-described “trans opera,” the movie is surreal and combines elements of opera, film, and performance art that evoke emotions as much as they tell a story. As such, Argentieri had a great deal of freedom to create an intense soundtrack.
His roles were many. He recorded sound during production, he edited all the dialog and sound effects, and he recorded several of the musical tracks, including a number sung by Marianne Faithfull. He also collaborated with the music composers Alessandro Cipriani and Luigi Ceccarelli, helping them to mix and record the score to the film, and he performed the film’s final mix.
Argentieri recorded all of the production sound and music using his single-rack space, eight-channel Metric Halo ULN-8 combination mic preamp/converter.
“I also used it to record a couple of huge live performances, but I really can’t say much about them because they are to be a surprise,” he said, teasingly.
A few of the highlights that he is willing to divulge include the recording of the very active Stromboli volcano and a surround recording of some Puccini arias that are featured in the film.
Argentieri stepped up to the ULN-8 from the Metric Halo 2882 interface that he has had since 2004 (and continues to use when he needs more than eight channels), which he first used on HBO’s series, Rome.
“In my opinion, the Metric Halo ULN-8 is the very best portable interface,” he said. “It has fantastic preamps and fantastic converters.” Not only does Argentieri use the ULN-8 on location, he prefers it to all his other options as an AD/DA for his Pro Tools rig.