Thursday, August 29, 2013

From | Art Direction and Sound as Collaborators


Art Direction and Sound as Collaborators

Let’s say we’re writing a character for a movie we’re making. This guy is out of money, angry, desperate. We need, obviously, to design the place where he lives. Maybe it’s a run-down apartment in the middle of a big city. The way that place looks will tell us (the audience) enormous amounts about who the character is and how he is feeling. And if we take sound into account when we do the visual design then we have the potential for hearing through his ears this terrible place he inhabits. Maybe water and sewage pipes are visible on the ceiling and walls.

If we establish one of those pipes in a close-up it will do wonders for the sound designer’s ability to create the sounds of stuff running through and vibrating all the pipes. Without seeing the pipes we can still put "pipe sounds" into the track, but it will be much more difficult to communicate to the audience what those sounds are. One close-up of a pipe, accompanied by grotesque sewage pipe sounds, is all we need to clearly tell the audience how sonically ugly this place is. After that, we only need to hear those sounds and audience will make the connection to the pipes without even having to show them.

It’s wonderful when a movie gives you the sense that you really know the places in it. That each place is alive, has character and moods. A great actor will find ways to use the place in which he finds himself in order to reveal more about the person he plays. We need to hear the sounds that place makes in order to know it. We need to hear the actor’s voice reverberating there. And when he is quiet we need to hear the way that place will be without him.

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