Sound

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In 2015, I attended my first screening party as an actress. I was there due to appearing as a featured extra in a small independent project. While there, I overheard one of the other guests in attendance, answering a question asked of him:

What makes a good film?

Interestingly enough, his answer had nothing to do with the script, the actors, or the direction. His answer was purely technical….

“The film has to have good sound. If the sound is bad, it ruins the entire film.”

Sound advice if you ask me (pardon the pun.)

Having previously studied film and television production, along with currently working at an art house movie theatre, sound really can make or break the film!

I’m in a constant battle with the volume knob of the sound board every time I’m working as a projectionist. A couple of issues that I have with the films are, 1) too loud music but too low speaking volume. Or 2) too low/too loud altogether.

The second one seems simple enough. Just turn the volume up or down. It’s a little trickier than that. Too low volume is a combination of both low music and mumble acting (actors who speak with poor enunciation. It drives me up a wall.) If the volume is too high, the sound has a weird blown out effect to it, which also makes it hard to hear the actors even when the volume is at a reasonable level.

How can a filmmaker combat this?

Part of me suspects that low speaking volume, but high music volume, may be to mask a shit story. In which case the filmmakers are just going to have to own it and make the sound level across the the board. Special effects sounds should be louder, but only by a few decibels (we are not trying to destroy our patrons’ ear drums.) And please tell the actors to stop mumbling!

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