About the sound of Café de Flore

Café de Flore is still warm out of the oven, it reaches this week our screens after exciting Premieres in Venice, Toronto, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Québec, Ste-Adèle and others!

2 films in one ::: The two stories of the film evolve independantly which allows for a different sound aesthetic. Then, they tend to bleed in each other, but the emotion persists, the pace is accelerating, the music spins and  the magic works.

Work in progress ::: Personally and passionately edited for more than 10 months by Jean-Marc Vallée, and gradually reaching the sound editorial crew as the version evolved, the film was built to the end… yesterday!  That defined the post production process.  As editor, Jean-Marc was very much involved in sound editing and mix.  Dialogue editor Mireille Morin digged down the sources with numerous additions and alternatives to clear the dialog to a very mediculous level. Sound effects editing was done using mostly original recordings.  We premixed and conformed before final mix, always aiming to improve  to the maximum potential of our sources and our resources, still ready for new ideas and picture changes… before the official deadline, Venice! Music is obviously a very important theme with Jean-Marc Vallée’s films.  Working closely with DJ/sound editor Luc Raymond to tweek and adjust the soundtrack to the end.  The entire sound process was a real and true team work.

The Evolution of technology ::: Work in progress needs control of all the elements to the end, not always easy to follow with picture changes. I discovered new applications and web tools during Café de Flore that helped to deal with the situations : DropBox, SoundCloud, WordPress, Google Apps, Evernote, and other sound related applications Edimarker, Edicue,Pro Remote, idisplay, Lockstep!  These apps are very promissing to help us achieve the tasks of film sound.  There are new solutions close at hand. First, should we adopt them collectively.

Exterior foley ::: We did a significant portion of the foley track, 4 days, in an old Ontarian house of the 1850’s, especially for the Parisian interiors of the film.  Have’nt you noticed our work?

Real and mono = ::: the spirit of the Nouvelle Vague of French Cinema and Quebec Cinema Vérité convinced us to keep the film almost entirely mono in Paris, Montreal is more actual and lively, there we used surrounds and subs,  trying to remain rigourously plausible, true and not fake at all time.  Compression and EQ’s were generally applied to Paris sound, low pass on dialog at 9K while 8K on sound effects, and a high pass at 120hz to help convey that idea.  As a general film sound aesthetic, one of our inspiration was Fish Tank, from UK director, Andrea Arnold ! Give the impression that no sound was added to synchronous sound. Jump cuts are used extensively. It gives it a european look.  Several long silences come from nowhere (as Antoine says in the film, I like to cut sound! It gives more punch to what’s coming!) Jean-Marc could say the same thing. They help to feel the lack, to drop the viewer into a state of fragility that will be filled with what’s coming… Truer than true … Less is more … We were constantly seeking to remove imperfections and exageration.  Where does it end?

Sound recordings ::: Sound engineer Jean Minondo has captured with passion and discipline the privacy and dynamics of breathings and yellings, kissing and crying. Ambiences were recorded on set in MS for groups.  A recording session was made in Paris for the film by Blaise Blanchier, traveling old subways and walking streets of Montmartre to ensure the authentic sound of the place. I took care of the Plateau Mont-Royal day and night.

Other unique souvenirs:

The Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal humming the melody of Café de Flore, recorded in the crypt of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.

Cafe de Flore – Petits Chanteurs by martin pinsonnault
Here is a sound design and music montage that I did for the DVD.

Foley team in action, Jocelyn Caron recording, Foley artist and assistant, Simon Meilleur and Maxime Potvin.  I have been dreaming about doing this for very long,  it is definitely  something to redo.

Partners of the Mix, from left to right, me, Louis Gignac, Gavin Fernandes and Vincent Riendeau.

A film that touches the human and family emotions inside, in a spin that only Jean-Marc Vallée knows when it ends.

The whole sound team of the film has been very active with tact, intelligence and perseverance to the sound design of the film, hopefully the result can attest.


Country: Canada, France
Production Company: Item 7, CRAZY Films and Monkey Pack
Year: 2011
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Producer: Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin
Supervising sound editing: Martin Pinsonnault
Sound Designer: Martin Pinsonnault
Sound effects editor: Luc Raymond, Blaise Blanchier
Sound: Jean Minondo
Boom:Malo Thouément
Dialogue Editor: Mireille Morin, Natalie Fleurant
Technical Supervisor: Jean-Philippe Savard
Assistant: Stéphanie Essiambre
Foley Artist: Simon Meilleur
Assistant foley artist: Maxime Potvin
Foley recordist: Jo Caron
Technical assistant: Michel Marchant
ADR recordists: Benoit Leduc, Jo Caron, Shaun-Nicholas Gallagher
ADR supervisor: Mireille Morin
Re-recording Mixer: Gavin Fernandes, Louis Gignac
Assistant Mixer: Vincent Riendeau

One Response to “About the sound of Café de Flore

  • Jonathan Hoare
    7 years ago

    Dear Martin

    When I first saw this film I was totally blown away and every time I have watched it since, it has left me emotionally raw. It also seems truly amazing that the complete soundtrack has not been released on CD as yet, because it really is exceptional.

    I fell in love with Mathew Herberts’ Cafe De Flore long before seeing the film and it is my wife’s and my song. A tune that is totally symbiotic with our very beings.

    The film is such a wonderful combination of outstanding imagery and beautiful music. The Petit Chanteurs version of cafe de flore is also visionary.

    Thank you and best wishes


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.