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Sound Editor Xinyue Yu takes audiences through space in award-winning film

Growing up in Nanjing, China, Xinyue Yu found a passion for music at an early age. She always had a good ear, but the more she immersed herself in the artform, the more she found she didn’t like performing as much as being behind-the-scenes. She always had a love for the movies and realized quickly that she could fuse these two passions, working in the sound department of film production.



Now, Yu is an industry leading sound editor in her home country and abroad, putting her touch on many acclaimed productions, from the hit Netflix anime show Ingress: The Animation to the new star-studded action flick Rogue Warfare. No matter the project, Yu shows audiences that she is an extraordinary talent, capable of transporting viewers to different places and time with her work.

Last year, Yu was approached by Director Grey Gowder to take part in his newest project, Songs From the Deep. Gowder had known of Yu’s skillful sound work and knew she would be the ideal sound editor to take his film to the next level. Once Yu heard the concept of the meaningful story, she instantly accepted.

Songs from the Deep tells the story of a NASA scientist who, after a lifetime of work, discovers the importance of Earth's other voices in his quest to communicate with alien life.

“I like that there’s only one character in this film. It’s rare. Also, the story makes me think a lot about communication between humans and the universe. It’s important that people have an open mind. The universe is huge, and anything can happen out there. Communication is the foundation for people to get to know new things,” she said.

Gowder was right to trust his instincts with Yu, because with her help, Songs from the Deep went on to great success at many film festivals around the world. Not only did it impress audiences, but it took home several awards, including Best Science Fiction Film at the 2018 15 Minutes of Fame Film Festival, the Award of Excellence at the 2018 Southern Shorts Awards Made In Georgia Category, and Best Directing at the same festival.


“I am so very proud to see how this project turned out. It’s great to know that people agree and appreciate how myself and the director decided to present this story,” said Yu.

As the supervising sound editor on the film, Yu was in charge of all aspects of the sound. She gathered a team, made the schedule, and supervised the entire sound process. Songs from the Deep was a two-month exploration of sound and communication in the science fiction genre. Yu’s sound team had four main tasks from the director. First, they needed to create the sounds of the world in which the character lived. They had an exterior and an interior environment where the transformation of the specific audible point-of-view of the protagonist helped to shape his world and his changing perspective of it. Second, they needed to represent the principle of communication empathy, where one being prioritizes and responds to forms of communication most similar to his or her own, between the protagonist, his artificial intelligence colleague, a mockingbird, and a brand-new alien voice based on the vocalizations of whales.

“Our protagonist’s relationship with each being, and how it communicated with him needed to feel authentic and to feel like a conversation. We pitch shifted the song of the mockingbird to match the note and tone of his whistle, and we developed a language for the aliens complete with rhythmic pulses, clicks, and melodic moans,” said Yu.

The last task Yu’s team had to complete was creating a sampling of the “sounds of space.” At the beginning of the film, the protagonist scans the electromagnetic frequencies of the cosmos, searching for forms of communication. Yu researched NASA’s massive libraries of sounds from planets, stars, and other celestial bodies to create a manic cacophony to represent the psychological turmoil of the protagonist in the opening scene.

On top of all of this, Yu was responsible for creating an original score that built off of a master track of Gustav Holst’s “Neptune: The Mystic” from the Planets Symphony. She was challenged with replicating the scale and the mood of the original piece while remaining true to the story and scale of the film, while the keys of the animal and alien vocalizations had to fit with the music. Yu’s essential work allowed for a beautifully told story.

“This project has some deep meaning which I think is important for making a film, so I like to contribute to this kind of project. My team members are professional and hard-working. I always enjoy working with them,” she concluded.

By Joyce Cameron
June 10, 2019

Sound Editor Xinyue Yu takes audiences through space in award-winning film Reviewed by JaamZIN on 6:54:00 PM Rating: 5
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