Does sound need more respect?

I have just read an article on Filmsound.org about designing for sound by Randy Thom, and something he covered in this article is how some people within the industry aren’t giving the amount of focus they should be on sound, and that the expectation is that sound can simply be saved in the post production process with little thought to what went on before. “Many directors who like to think they appreciate sounds still have a pretty narrow idea of the potential for sound in storytelling” (Film sound.org, Thom, 1999) The main question appears to be, are people within the same industry regarding one of the most important aspects as a last minute resort.

During my time studying sound at University I have had moments where people questioned my wanting to specialise in Radio. The amount of times I heard “But what are you going to do with a degree in Radio?” or the “Oh so you want to do sound so you’ll just get a job at a radio station” NO!!!!! I don’t think people quite understand the amount of opportunities and the many ways you can experiment with sound. Just look at BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a whole department dedicated to experimental sound. So instead of a long angry post moaning about the lack of respect regarding my choice of working in sound, I am going to show you two scenes that will prove to you how important and essential sound is when telling a story.

Blackadder

Taken from BBCWorldwide on Youtube

So our first scene which would seem like an odd choice is from Blackadder, where they are going over the top. Yes this is a comedy programme, but let’s focus on the exact moment where they do go over the top. As far as visuals go it’s simple and to the point, and what makes this scene emotional is the sound behind it. The theme music for this show is iconic. The music is dramatically slowed down and it uses a higher pitch, in contrast to the bellowing lower pitched bomb sound. The brief use of the men screaming is enough, making the sound of the scene very simple and to the point. This scene gradually becomes a field of poppies, with a gentle calming countryside ambience. The sound very much makes the point that this is now a place of peace. Not half bad for a comedy programme.

Doctor Who

This taken from Doctor Who on Youtube.

So yes, I couldn’t write something like this and not use Doctor Who. It’s my favourite scene in all of Doctor Who, the scene where Rose and the Doctor say goodbye. Even at 14 and not being into sound at the time, even I could say back then it was the sound of the scene that makes and tells the story. Well, with a greater ability to analyse sound I can tell you exactly why. First of all we have the very simple atmosphere of a cold beach. It rises in volume to match when music lowers in volume. Now the music has been created and edited in such a way that changes of melody match the change of conversation between the characters. Part of the importance of this scene is the way in which the lines are delivered. Another thing worthy of mention is the attention to detail. This is a sci fi programme and everything must have a standout sound effect to it, even including the vanishing of the Doctor. As far as scenes and sound details go this will always be my favourite.

So I think I have proved my point. Two different scenes, with varied ways of using sound to convey a message and to tell a story. Now come on film makers, let’s make sound just as important as the visual.

Reference

Filmsound.org (1999). Designing A Movie For Sound. Retrieved 27th October, 2014, from http://filmsound.org/articles/designing_for_sound.htm

 

Star Wars and Ben Burrt

Taken from Coltsrock56 on Youtube.

Sound Design is something that I haven’t massively looked into until recently. After some research in this area for a project I am currently working on, I began to realise the many opportunities in this area.  In the bid to get some ideas for some foley work, I obviously went to the faithful and always reliable Youtube for some tutorials, mainly expecting freelancers providing information. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Star Wars Documentary.

I am a massive sci fi geek, and growing up with the old Star Wars films it seemed well worth a watch. I am so amazed by the amount of detail of the smallest thing.   My personal favourite was squeezing a grapefruit for the sound of an insect. After watching this it seemed well worth researching Ben Burtt, seeing as he is clearly a genius in the area.

Obviously he is an extremely successful man and the list of the work he has done is extensive, with his work for Star Wars being of particular interest to me. I believe the first time I saw Star Wars I must have been around 5.  I certainly loved the sounds of the lightsaber and the theme music has always been a favourite of mine.  However as a 5 year old you’re not massively capable of sitting there and thinking how every sound has been created.  Well Ben Burtt was capable, “Ben Burtt was a film sound buff as a child (he recorded and replayed the sound tracks of his favorite movies).” (Film sound.org, 2014). I suppose when I was growing up somewhere in my head I wanted to know.  Well it wasn’t until a week ago I found out.  All the ways they created these sounds is incredibly interesting.  Rather than listing them all,  here is how they created the Ewokese language and Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder. The Ewokese language “A language created by altering and layering Tibetan, Mongolian, and Nepali languages” (Film sound.org, 2014).  Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder – “the whoosh of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder was achieved by recording the roar of the Los Angeles Harbor Freeway through a vacuum-cleaner pipe” (Film sound.org).  I think what has stood out for me the most is taking something and looking at ways to merge it or find new ways of recording it.  I strongly suggest looking at this link http://filmsound.org/starwars/.

I certainly believe we can learn a thing or two from Ben Burrt, and I am certainly looking forward to the next Star Wars film.

Reference

Filmsound.org (2014).  Sound Design of Star Wars. Retrieved 21st October, 2014, from http://filmsound.org/starwars/

Doctor Who Blog

As you know I am incredibly interested in Doctor Who. The main reason for this blog, because I have run out of people who are willing to listen to me discuss this. Here is a little more about why I am doing this.

 It’s the 24th of August 2014, 11:00 am. I have only just finished discussing the latest episode of Doctor Who featuring the new Doctor, but this isn’t where the Doctor Who obsession began. For you to understand why I want to do this blog, then you need to know how my love of it began, back in 2005.

 13, an interesting time, just becoming a teenager and the want and need to become more grown up. When I was 13 in 2005 it was the return of Doctor Who. I recall being younger and seeing the blue box and an odd robot. Years later I would find out that it was the TARDIS and a Dalek. My parents were both fans when they were younger and they told me it’s back and I must watch it. Well, at 13 if something your parents think is “cool” you are hardly going to want to watch it. Which I didn’t. It wasn’t until the next week at a friend’s house, with it on in the background, I heard Britney Spears’ Toxic, it got my attention. Before I realised I was watching it. Seeing Billie Piper, my favourite pop star back in the day, helped to encourage me in continuing to watch the episode. When I went back home the next day I told my parents it wasn’t half bad. I had been converted. I liked Doctor Who.

 Well I watched the whole series and loved it, every single moment. Looking back on it the powerful element was that I was in Rose’s shoes. Everything she was seeing for the first time and experiencing, well it was my first time too. I distinctly remember my mum saying how scared she was to see a Dalek and not really understanding how she felt. Rose, being the kind-hearted character she was, can’t accept this is a horrible character. I guess for people like me it wasn’t until the last episode of the first series that we realised just how evil Daleks were. Rose will forever be my favourite assistant. Her exit is something I will never forget and for me will always be one of the most moving moments in Doctor Who history.

 As much as I loved Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, I only had a series with him. He was loveable but with a dark side and would do just about anything to keep Rose happy and safe. Even doing the impossible and taking her to her dead father. Maybe the reason why my teenage self loved the show so much was that the Doctor was always going to help and make me feel better. Whatever was happening in real life it all stopped for a while and the Doctor and his magical box would take me on an exciting adventure.

 Well, David Tennant will forever and ever be my Doctor. He was funny, vulnerable, had the best catch phrase and well it didn’t half help that he is bloody gorgeous. Putting his looks aside, he showed a hurt and heartbroken Doctor who could never replace Rose, but he would keep on traveling in her name. His last moments on the show, those 10 minutes…….. well let’s just say a box of tissues is always needed. Ending his time as the Doctor with the beautiful words “I don’t want to go” – I think it is safe to say that’s exactly what the audience was thinking too.

 Now for the GENIUS, THE MASTER, THE GOD, THE AMAZING………………………. Russell T Davies. Well, if it wasn’t for him the show wouldn’t have its Class A rating. I think that what he has produced and written, along with the support of his fantastic team, have been some of the most powerful episodes. They somehow came up with these massive storylines, such as Bad Wolf, yet delivered them in such simple ways. I am sure that when everyone realised the meaning behind Bad Wolf, they thought how the heck didn’t I get that. The same goes for Doctor Donna as well as Rose returning. His episodes will always have a place in my heart and will be ones I watch forever without getting bored, making me feel just as emotional or scared as the first time I viewed them.

 Well as you can tell, the Russell T Davies and David Tennant years are my favourite. Not to say I don’t like Steven Moffat and Matt Smith. They’re just not the same. I agree that Steven Moffat is an absolute genius and has a clear and intelligent vision. But, after some episodes I am left thinking what the heck just happened, I don’t get it, why do that? I think something simple and well made is sometimes just more enjoyable to watch. I understand that as a creator you want to show off your talent, but you have to make something the audience will enjoy and love. I think Moffat was fortunate that Matt’s Doctor, along with Amy and Rory had such brilliant chemistry on screen. While some episodes left me completely confused, I always knew that they were going to make me laugh. I will say Moffat did create some simple and beautiful moments. At the end of Matt’s first series, during Amy’s wedding, well just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. It’s just the power of words bringing the sound of the TARDIS and her saying ‘Raggedy man’. Blimey spectacular. And not to forget the Doctor’s ‘Dad dancing’. Is it odd that I had a tiny crush on him after watching that? My point being simple is always far more powerful. Well that’s my belief.

 This has now turned into a rather long post but I think you get my point. I love Doctor Who. It’s magic.   I would just like it to take a more simple and well balanced approach.

Doctor Who blog