The Sound and the Fury

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Anyone who has touched video or film production (and even if they haven’t) will testify to the absolute crucial nature of sound in an audio-visual project. Sound is often neglected by independent productions for a variety of reasons, but very often it is due to an overemphasis on the visual aspect of a film or video. Leaving sound to chance is a surefire way to condemn your film to life in amateur hell.

Sound is unseen but it is absolutely crucial to spacial awareness of human beings. Vibrations affect us to a great degree because we are essentially walking water bags. Visually a film can commit many crimes before alienating its audience, but a couple of jarring sound effects, unclear dialogue, or a bad accompanying score may drive them to burn down the theater your film is playing in.

Scientists are only beginning to unveil the tremendous influence that sound has on the human brain, but we don’t need medical journals to tell us how profoundly we need that sensory input to understand our environment. In quality filmmaking sound should be seen as the means by which you can truly bring your audience into the story. It is the gateway to successful audience immersion.

Clever use of sound is the big studio filmmaker’s surgical scalpel, and independent filmmaker’s saving grace. You can create entire events or atmospheres off-camera if you are crafty. You can amplify scenes that may be visually limited due to budget and raise them to a whole new level of complexity.

Sound can in many instances be just as compelling if not more than any emotional dolly shot or closeup. It has incredible applications for suspense, horror, action, and even comedy. If nothing else, make sure to listen to you final cut several times without the image before releasing your material and ask yourself some honest quality-related questions.

And If you still don’t believe that sound is paramount in film, just play the Battle of Helm’s Deep on mute for the fun of it.

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5 thoughts on “The Sound and the Fury

  1. kelvingrove2013 says:

    “If you still don’t believe that sound is paramount in film”

    Sound can be important, but paramount? No.

    Try watching Buster Keaton’s The General with the sound down.
    Then watch it with your eyes closed.

    Which is paramount – sound or picture?

    • wolfsenior says:

      The views expressed in The Sound and the Fury were clearly directed at modern-day cinema, not the pioneer work of the silent era. Also, while Keaton and Melies’ works (for instance) were silent, this was due to technical limitations rather than an arbitrary refusal of sound. Silent films were in fact often accompanied by live music and foley to “complete” the experience.

      • kelvingrove2013 says:

        But my point is still valid – if sound was paramount then the pictures would be secondary.

        I think they are equally valued parts of the art form.

      • wolfsenior says:

        Perhaps paramount is too strong a word, I agree. The intention was certainly not to suggest that image is less important, but rather that the sound department needs greater emphasis in filmmaking as it is often neglected in independent (and sometimes big budget) cinema. Thanks for your insight.

      • kelvingrove2013 says:

        You are correct, sound is often the poor relation, which can have a seriously detrimental effect on the finished product.
        Which is sad.

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