Chennai to LA: how the sounds of Pi were recorded

Some of the soundtracks of the Oscar-nominated film had their origins in a studio in Adyar

January 12, 2013 01:51 am | Updated November 26, 2021 10:28 pm IST - CHENNAI:  

Sai Shravanam of Resound India recorded the Indian percussion segment here while the music was simultaneously matched to the visuals in Los Angeles — Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Sai Shravanam of Resound India recorded the Indian percussion segment here while the music was simultaneously matched to the visuals in Los Angeles — Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Some of the soundtracks used in ‘Life of Pi’, now being celebrated for 11 Oscar nominations, had their origins in a Chennai studio.

A stable IP address, a software licence from Fox Music and some intense and quick learning is all that took Sai Shravanam to ready Resound India, his studio in Adyar, to meet the requirements of the Hollywood project.

As one thing led to another, Sai ended up recording not one song, but the entire Indian percussion segment for the film, in Chennai.

“It was all very sudden. One day, Bombay Jayashri said she needed to record something for ‘Life of Pi’ and asked me if I could do it. I was more than happy to.” The two have collaborated for a decade, and many of Bombay Jayashri’s albums were recorded at his studio.

“After recording the lullaby in September, Fox Music was happy with my work and the quality of the sound we recorded here. So, I got the opportunity to record far more than what I was originally roped in for,” says Sai, who has recorded many top artistes in India.

But this experience was considerably new for him. He, along with the musician, was sitting in Chennai, while the composer Mychael Danna and director Ang Lee were in Los Angeles, communicating with them as they were recording.

“We used this technology called source-connect that enables such remote-recording. It is like a very advanced variant of Skype, but is rarely used here,” he says.

This meant that the sounds were recorded, just as the director was matching the music to the visuals on his screen in LA. “There is a small time lag between the moment we press a key here, and the moment when the music is heard in LA and that required immense precision,” adds Sai.

Kanjira artiste Selva Ganesh played a range of instruments for the Indian percussion segment. “For projects abroad, we usually travel to those countries and play at their studios. In some cases, we record here and transfer the files later. But the possibility of a live recording from Chennai, coordinating with a studio in LA is remarkable,” says Selva Ganesh. Evidently impressed with the quality of recording, he says: “The acoustics at the studio and quality of sound that Sai recorded were amazing.”

Sai, like everyone else who worked on ‘Life of Pi’, is excited. Particularly so after receiving an e-mail from Rebecca Morellato, vice-president (film music production), Fox Entertainment. “Take a moment today and just be proud of yourself,” said her message that came on Thursday.

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