There are hundreds of ways that screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, production designers, and editors can shape their crafts so that sound design can be used more powerfully. This is the first in what I intend to be a long series of short suggestions along those lines.

Number One:

If you truly want a place or a thing to be a character in the story, then you must give it an occasional monologue. You have to arrange for it to “speak” without being masked by the speech of other characters. The human voice and the musical voice need to be absent or subordinated for a moment or a sequence so that the landscape, or the machines, or the creatures, or the air can be heard, and understood. Doing this effectively will often require a scene be photographed in a certain way. It’ll require actual collaboration: each craft being performed with regard to every other craft… a process that sound is usually excluded from.

Great Example:  The first time we encounter the T-Rex in Jurassic Park…  no human dialog and no music through long stretches of the sequence.

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks for this pearl, Randy. I was reminded of the T-Rex intro while watching Aladdin this weekend, when we see small pillars of curry-powder fall (among other things) from the deep resonance just before Prince Ali’s entourage arrives. It’s not a recurring theme or character-related per se, but sound was effectively driving the story in the sequence. Looking forward to more suggestions and examples.

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  2. I’d say atmospheric is the breathing rhythm. It should be sonic as much as graphic.
    Dialogue and even background talk adds a culture, or social meat, to the story. Yet character development does require good quotes. Does a character have to have sililoquial moments? Just saying. Again this ambience or scene of no comment is important.
    I’d say talk should occur in less than 50% of a movie or “episode” but not be so scant as to make the feature lifeless and unsocial/pointless.

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