Shalom Life | March 04, 2014

Niv Adiri: 2014’s Only Israeli Oscar Nominee

Adiri is one of a team of four sound engineers nominated for 'Gravity'

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: February 28th, 2014 in Culture » Film » News

Niv Adiri, Israel's only Oscar nominee this year, grew up in Kfar Vitkinm and would often deejay at the village disco after school. He lived a ‘pastoral’ childhood, but would soon obsess over sound and music, an obsession that would eventually lead him to become one of the four sound engineers to produced the audio for the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney starring film, Gravity.

Now, the group of sound engineers are up for an Academy Award.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, Adiri said that “I had this thing when I was younger that I wanted to know how to do one thing properly. Everyone should know how to do one thing properly, rather than just going through life knowing things sort of."

Heading to Tel Aviv after his time in the army had ended, Adiri worked as a DJ and sound mixer until he was 25. Before working on Gravity, he had previously worked on a number of other Oscar-nominated films, including 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire.

Gravity, which deals with a stranded astronaut, sees Adiri and his team tasked with creating audio that would be realistic, but also stirring to the viewer. This was complicated by the fact that, in space, there is no sound. To solve this, Adiri said the sound would have to be parsed to its barest levels.

“First we had to create the background to space, where there is no sound, but we had to fill it up with something. It’s a sound that you hear but you don’t know you’re hearing it.” Next were the heavy vibrations, which, along with such tiny details as Sandra Bullock’s breath and heartbeat, led many critics of the film to first focus on sound before Bullock’s performance.

Adiri spoke warmly of the attention the team received. “You never really expect it. 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."

Adiri and his team’s next films include the Holocaust-set The Book Thief and Black Sea, which will star Jude Law. Adiri is happy to have the accolades, but is trying to take things slowly.

“I was born in a little village and used to milk the cows before school. This is all surreal for me. You just do what you love doing and keep doing it.”

We wish him the best of luck at the 86th Academy Awards airing this Sunday, March 2nd.

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