07/24/2003 11:00PM

Local boy makes good in 'Seabiscuit'

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - By now you probably know that "Seabiscuit" the movie is going to be a blockbuster hit.

But did you know somebody from Winnipeg did the sound for the racing scenes?

Pay special attention to the sounds the jockeys hear during the race - the explosion of the gate, the pounding hooves, and the dynamic breathing of the horses - and think of 33-year-old Rob Nokes.

The son of former Assiniboia Downs steward Bob Nokes, Rob Nokes grew up in Winnipeg. He worked as a runner in the Assiniboia Downs press box before he was 10 years old.

After a stint at Mendelson Films he took a course in audio engineering at the Ontario Institute of Recording and Technology and eventually went to work for a Toronto sound editing and design company.

In 1995, Nokes moved to Los Angeles and co-founded the sound company Sound Dogs Inc., where he served in many capacities.

The company became one of the leading sound companies in Hollywood, and during Nokes's tenure, which ended in November 2001, the company worked on 35 major feature films.

Nokes is now a sound-effects recordist and supervising sound editor for feature films, based out of Santa Monica, Calif.

He knew from the beginning that "Seabiscuit" would be something special.

"It was an exceptional story," he said. "And it had a highly regarded director, a superb film editor, great producers, one of the best sound teams around."

But how did Nokes get the chance to work on the film? His connection came through playing hockey on the same team as Billy Goldenberg, film editor of "Seabiscuit."

"We were discussing the movie last year during our annual Vegas hockey tournament," said Nokes. "I had read the book already, imparted some of my extensive racing knowledge, and excitedly offered to contribute to the film.

"I later met with Per Hallberg, the supervising sound editor on the film, and he hired me to record racehorses.

"I could die happy around horses," Nokes continued. "So having the opportunity to wire a bunch up was a lot of fun. I'm not sure that they liked me taping microphones into their tails, or hanging mikes next to their nostrils, but it was exciting."