Sound Analysis

    This holliday i’ve been widening my view on music and audio in film.
    I’ve explored several angles of the screenmusic and i’ve done some research to hear the difference in sound.
    The hardest part was not how to listen to it but how to name the different sounds sometimes things have the most subtle effect in sound and you don’t really know what it adds to the movie until you analyse the sounds sepparately.
    The film Jarhead: Is a film based on a best-selling book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait.
    The director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) is currently working on his new film “Netherland” a great director which i love for his dramatic imagery. But the actual reason i wanted to see this film is because of their editor and sound specialistWalter Murch who impressed me with the usage of audio in the film Apocalypse Now.

The preparation was the most important because it sketches the studio or set in sounds.

    01. How many actors are in the scene, and what are they doing?
    02. Who is the main character?
    03. Is there music on the set?
    04. Casting: Can you understand what they are saying?
    05. Location: acoustics, materials, sound environment.
    06. Noise: airco’s, airplanes.
    07. Studio: are the actors aware of the sounds?
    08. Wardrobe: is the fabric fit for transmit?
    (meaning is it conceived in a way the transmitters can be hidden)
    09. Are the props making any noise?
    10. Special effects?
    11. What decoupage or camera(rolling)style?
    12. How many cameras?
    13. What kind of lighting?
    14. Film or video?
    15. Aspect ratio
    (note some scenes can be cut up in slides or split screen take this into account if it affects sounds or plays with the music or not.)
    16. Is there noise from the camera?
    17. Dynamics: the difference between loud and soft.
    18. What actions take place during the dialog?
    19. Is there period setting? (so dubbing is the only solution?)

There also various differences in music:

    01. Active offscreen:
    the sounds that are outside the “frame” that triggers you to listen or wonder what the source is.
    02. Offscreen
    the sounds that are outside the frame. (non interactive)
    03. Onscreen
    this should be clear the sounds that are interactive with the viewer or the main persona.
    04. Diagetic
    music that can be heard by the audiance and the actors in the film.
    as in Apocalypse Now when the helicopters are flying in they are playing the imperial march from speakers as they fly in.
    05. Non-diagetic
    music that can be heard by the audiance but not by the actors in the film.
    as in the Starwars the same imperial march can’t be heard by the startroopers.
    There also a bit more to tell about the off-screen sounds because ull start to notice pretty fast that there are different enviromental sounds.
    Like the reverb in a room can sound cold or warm and a sound from chickens is a surrounding effect but birds that are startled while you walk both give a different picture of a bird sound.

The differences are in the following categories:

    – atmosphere
    the sounds of room / environment it can be filled, empty, shallow, deep, warm, cold, echo’s and re-verbs can be the cause of slight alterations in the sound that give a better picture of the surroundings. a room can sound metallic or like the opening scene of “jarhead” it can be cold and empty.

    – species
    the sound of a typical species monkey’s in the back, or froggs and crickets or crows. all give us different picture of the enviroment, they are not an effect of the enviroment but are the filling of it like talking people in a crowd.

    – habitat
    Sounds that can be made by machines and or species in a way that is not meant for communication.
    Examples are the ringing of glasses and bottles at the bar, the machines in the factory.

    Thank you for reading my holliday post hope you learned from it as i did.
    I’ve spend a great deal of time in translating parts from dutch and making it more specific but i’m far from finished if anyone like to reply with serious comments please do maybe i can update my charts for my analysis to.
    Examples for good usage of sound in movies is welcome to.

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