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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sounds like...

Today's new idea for film makers is not in fact Lionel Blair. It is about 'sound'. This new idea was fed to me by Professor Susan Hayward at Exeter University when I was there last week as a guest lecturer.

One student is doing a lot of work on ambient or background sound. Now I've done a lot of work with sound. For WaterMelon sound designer Gary Hayton started work on the sound before the shoot so we could capture the shots needed to accompany his innovative sounds. He also took on the challenge of creating all the sound for Hope which, as an animation, has no sync recorded sound of course.

But this student is asking us to think even deeper. To think about atmos sound. What does a city sound like? Does one city sound like another? How does that sound affect the film and how we feel? If this seems like an exaggeration of the importance of this element of film making my reply would be - you wouldn't so quickly dismiss these questions if they were about light. We all agree that the mood of the light (the visual setting) radically alters the film. But I'm as guilty as anyone of not always saying the same thing for the background sound (the audible setting).

Think about your favourite film and some of the sounds within it. It is indeed a forgotten art. Or at the least an art that we often dismiss as a routine task. "Hey, slap some atmos over that!".

In your next film bring sound to the fore!

extra note: You can now do a PhD in Film by Practice (as opposed to just theory or studies) at Exeter. If anyone fancies becoming a doctor of film and pushing the artform to the edge then get on down there.


JD said...

Totally agree-I'm working on sound design before I even shoot. I'm making layers upon layers of atmosphere to lay underneath the scenes.

Tim Clague said...

One bit of advice from making 'WaterMelon'. Take those sounds with you on set to listen to. Then you know straight away if it is all working together.