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Lecture 5

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Film Studies
Sandra Annett

Lecture 5 Sound History:  Silent films were never silent: they always had live music and sometimes dialogue performed in-theatre  Quality of music was extremely variable from town to town  Record Talkies: A phonograph record played at the same time as the film  1 sound-synched feature film: The Jazz Singer (Alan, Crosland, 1927)  1928-30 there was a shift to optical soundtrack instead of records  Optical Soundtrack: soundtrack printed ON film  1 synchronized optical sound cartoon: “Steamboat Willie” (Disney, 1928)  Late 1930s-early 40s: shift from direct sound recording on location to re-recording, where effects and dialogue are added in post-production  Direct Sound: sound recorded on a set, on location, or for a documentary film, at an actual real-world event, as opposed to dubbed in post-production through ADR or looping  Re-recording: Sound:  Plays critical role in how audiences react to images  A film soundtrack is composed of 3 elements: dialogue, music, and sound effects  These components are recorded separately from the images and from one another  Mixing: the process of combining the 3 elements of film into one soundtrack Freeing Sound from Image:  Filmmakers can use sound to go w/ and enhance the image, or sounds that contrast the image for emotional or comical impact  if a technical glitch mars the delivery of a particular line recorded on camera, the line can be replaced using ADR  Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR): A technique for recording synchronized dialogue in post-production, using a machine the runs forward and backward. Also called “looping” b/c it’s achieved by cutting several lengths of developed film and having the actors record the dialogue repeatedly  Music is often freed from the image- recorded separately Freeing Sound from Image:  When filmmakers construct a soundtrack they consider what audience will hear and whether dialogue, music or sound effects, gets the most emphasis  Filmmakers can choose to create contrast between: - Onscreen space & off-screen space - Objective images & subjective sounds - Diegetic details & non-diegetic sound - Image time & sound time - Image mood & sound mood *pg 235-238 3 Components of Film Sound Dialogue:  Dialogue forwards the narrative, giving voice to the characters’’ aspirations, thoughts and emotions, often making conflict among characters evident in the process  Important role in establishing a character  Can be used to emphasize setting, or a character’s cultural background, relationship to others (age, authority, class), character’s level of education, emotional engagement with the story events  In addition to actor/actress’ lines of dialogue, the 4 characteristics of her voice contribute to film’s overall impact  Volume, pitch, speech characteristics, and acoustic qualities Volume: reflects the level and the type of a person’s engagement with her surroundings (e.g. the louder the person’s speaks the more emotion they are feeling). The emotional vigor of dialogue Pitch: Refers to a sound’s frequency, or its position on the musical scale. (E.g. deeper voices=power/authority or high pitched voices=weakness) Speech Characteristics: The way a character speaks defines his/her individual persona perhaps more than any other characteristic of the human voice. Can be an accent, diction, vocal tics, etc. Acoustic Qualities: Manipulating the acoustic qualities of the human voice can help filmmakers convey perspective and details about the surrounding environment (e.g. distance, mood ambience) Sound Effects:  Can contribute to the emotional and intell
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