If the BAFTA Awards are any indication, things are looking good for Niv Adiri, the only Israeli nominated for an Oscar in 2014 and part of the team responsible for the groundbreaking sound work on the blockbuster “Gravity.”
Adiri, who was born and raised in Kfar Vitkin in central Israel, picked up a trophy Sunday night from the British Academy of Film and Television, alongside Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro and Glenn Freemantle, for their work producing the sound for the deep space thriller. (Lievsay, Benstead and Munro also share in Oscar nomination in the category of sound mixing, while Freemantle is nominated separately in the category of sound editing).
“Gravity,” in which Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut lost in space, has been hailed for its sound quality, and the ability of its production team to dream up an audio palette that is both realistic and stirring, despite the fact that in space, there literally is no sound.
Adiri, who is married with two small children, has made his home in England for more than a decade, so the BAFTA win, while not as high-profile as an Academy Award, is no doubt extra sweet.
The sound work for “Gravity,” a film set in space — where there is no sound — was built from vibrations, teased out from the high frequencies that humans hear and parsed down to their barest components. Bullock’s heartbeat, and the strange, almost “Star Wars”-like effect of her breath in a space suit, are so pure and spot-on that for the first time, film critics of “Gravity” found themselves focusing first on its sound and second on its acting.
“You never really expect it,” Adiri has said of the flurry of accolades. “Sound is always such a big part of a film, but from very early on, it was obvious that the film would be big and we knew it would be pushed, because it is sort of breaking new ground.”
“I was born in a little village and used to milk the cows before school. This is all surreal for me,” he says. “You just do what you love doing and keep on doing it.”