Film Sound
Film Theory and Principles
Bong S. Eliab
Humanities Division
Ateneo de Davao University
Assignment
 Read Montage, Mise-en-scene, Camera
Movement
 Study:
 Introduction to the Complete History of
Cinematograph...
Film SoundFilm Sound
 Introduction
 Brief History
 The Role of Film Sound
 Five (5) Types of Film Sound
 Creative Use...
Introduction 1/2Introduction 1/2
 The art of filmmaking does not depend
solely on the visual image.
 It was once believe...
Introduction 2/2Introduction 2/2
 In recent years, this approach has been
proven fallacious. Just imagine Jurrasic
Park o...
Brief HistoryBrief History
 From 1897 to 1927, films were silent.
 Word spoken: printed on the screen.
 Music: supplied...
Era of Silent FilmsEra of Silent Films
 The great advantage of of these
silent films: filmmakers had to
find visual ways ...
1927: Advent of Film Sound1927: Advent of Film Sound
 When sound came in 1927 with
Warner Bros.’ The Jazz Singer,
starrin...
Sound InfectionSound Infection
 Sound infected the movie, stifling
so many other visual methods of
expression that had be...
Principle of thePrinciple of the Art of Film SoundArt of Film Sound
 “Sound must fit within the total film
language and n...
Temptation of SoundTemptation of Sound
 Sound can be tempting – use it in order to distract.
 Distracting: to use sound ...
Types of Film SoundTypes of Film Sound
 Dialogue
 Voice Over/ Commentary
 Music
 Sound Effects
 Silence
DialogueDialogue
 Most familiar kind of film sound: expect this most
naturally from movies
 Dialogue: integral a part of...
DialogueDialogue
 In general, British films are heavy on
dialogue. Even the superb A Man for All
Seasons (Five Oscars) is...
Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary
 Basically a different from dialogue.
 Dialogue emerges from the very natur...
Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary
 An interruption into the basically visual
communication of the shots.
 Can...
Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary
 See Color Purple: While Whoopie
Goldberg is reading her sister’s letter
men...
MusicMusic
 A special problem in films
 Powerful tendency to overdo the use of
music
 In early 30’s films, loud swellin...
Music
 There are numerous ways in which music can be
integrated effectively with film:
 Movie Theme: a film can have two...
Music
 Sometimes two themes will merge at the
climax of a film, suggesting the merging
of separate or conflicting element...
Music
 In the same film, Richardson makes a brutal
comment by depicting the guards beating one of
the boys who tried esca...
Sound Effects (SFX)
 Two broad types of SFX:
 Atmospheric (atmos) Effect: background
effect
 Spot Effect: related to a ...
Atmos Effect
 Atmospheric: use of
natural sounds in a film
 Highly expressive element
and a major source of
dramatic eff...
Notes on Atmos
 Natural sounds, therefore, make movie
more realistic,
 Add to the suspense, the strength, the
beauty of ...
Notes on Atmos
 Background SFX are normally quite
straightforward.
 They can be obtrusive or unobtrusive.
 Sharp and id...
SilenceSilence
 This SFX (rather the absence of SFX) can
carry meanings and change feelings more
powerfully than any form...
SilenceSilence
 Silence frees the viewer and enables him to
experience a moment in a film without his feelings
being guid...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
 Common practice in filmmaking: add SFX
to cover almost everything seen on-screen
Example: ...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
 There are several ways of to enlarge and
enrich this standard use of SFX:
 Example: if th...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
 There are several ways of to enlarge and enrich
this standard use of SFX:
 If the purpose...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Extended Sound:Extended Sound:
 SFX can be used to extend the dimensions
of what is seen, j...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Extended Sound:Extended Sound:
 Example:
 On a lonely deserted street at dawn, the
off-scr...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Extended Sound:Extended Sound:
 Leo Hurwitz, in expanding a valid theory
of film sound, poi...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Extended Sound:Extended Sound:
 Example: a prison cell at night, we hear
only the wings of ...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Sound Metaphor:Sound Metaphor:
Example: In Citizen Kane, Kane’s empty-headed
second wife, Su...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Sound Metaphor:Sound Metaphor:
Example: In the satiric film Ballad of a
Whore, there is a we...
Creative Use of Sound Effects
Sound Montage:Sound Montage:
Although we use the same word “montage”
for sound combination a...
Visual Montage
Visual Montage:Visual Montage: A dialectical process that creates a third
meaning out of the original two m...
Creative Use of SFX
 There may be montage in the sense of
sound, like:
 In Stand By Me, the boy shouting “Traiiinn!”
is ...
Creative Use of SFX
 There may be montage in the sense of
sound, like:
 In the movie, The Life of Hitler, there is a
sce...
Creative Use of SFX
AsynchronismAsynchronism
A combination of sound and image that we
would not experience in real life.
E...
Creative Use of SFX
AsynchronismAsynchronism
A combination of sound and image that we would
not experience in real life.
....
Functions of Film Music
 Film music has traditionally been
used in the following ways:
 To accompany the main title of t...
Function of Film Music
 To give a sense of locale, like Paris or
London, or Africa or Manila
 To create or support pace ...
Functions of Film Music
 To identify the character qualities, like
in Dr. Zhivago.
 To predict things to come, like the
...
Functions of Film Music
• To establish, maintain and change the
mood of a scene, like the gracious
romantic theme accompan...
Functions of Film Music
 Although nothing changes on-screen, a
scene of joy and laughter can be
materially altered by a s...
Functions of Film Music
 Music, therefore, is an important factor
in the creation of motion picture.
 In itself, it is a...
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Session 8 film sound: Film Appreciation Course

  1. 1. Film Sound Film Theory and Principles Bong S. Eliab Humanities Division Ateneo de Davao University
  2. 2. Assignment  Read Montage, Mise-en-scene, Camera Movement  Study:  Introduction to the Complete History of Cinematography  Different kinds of SFX  Lines: diagonals, verticals, horizontals
  3. 3. Film SoundFilm Sound  Introduction  Brief History  The Role of Film Sound  Five (5) Types of Film Sound  Creative Use of Film Sound  Functions of Film Music
  4. 4. Introduction 1/2Introduction 1/2  The art of filmmaking does not depend solely on the visual image.  It was once believed that the quality of film could be measured in direct proportion to its dependence on visual elements.  The less sound used, the better the film.
  5. 5. Introduction 2/2Introduction 2/2  In recent years, this approach has been proven fallacious. Just imagine Jurrasic Park or Harry Potter or The Lord of Ring without the sound effects, or any movie for that matter.
  6. 6. Brief HistoryBrief History  From 1897 to 1927, films were silent.  Word spoken: printed on the screen.  Music: supplied by a piano player playing behind or beside the screen to accompany the action on the screen.
  7. 7. Era of Silent FilmsEra of Silent Films  The great advantage of of these silent films: filmmakers had to find visual ways of expressing themselves.  Some of the best film of silent era used few or no titles at all, and yet they were thoroughly understandable.  This was the golden age of silent films with Charlie Chaplin emerging as the best of all silent actors.
  8. 8. 1927: Advent of Film Sound1927: Advent of Film Sound  When sound came in 1927 with Warner Bros.’ The Jazz Singer, starring Al Johnson, almost overnight the silent films disappeared.  But the films of this period forgot the many things discovered during the silent film period.  Suddenly pictures became static, actors did not move around but stood and talked a lot.
  9. 9. Sound InfectionSound Infection  Sound infected the movie, stifling so many other visual methods of expression that had been learned during the silent film era.  Messianic complex of sound industry: Sound dominated the film and attempted to do all the work in film.  Film had to compete with radio which was just on the rise at the same time.
  10. 10. Principle of thePrinciple of the Art of Film SoundArt of Film Sound  “Sound must fit within the total film language and not attempt to be a language of its own.” (Fr. Nick Cruz, SJ)  All forms of film sound: must contribute to the total language of film.  Most often does not contribute but distract from the totality of film.
  11. 11. Temptation of SoundTemptation of Sound  Sound can be tempting – use it in order to distract.  Distracting: to use sound in order to make sure that message gets across the viewer no matter what.  Examples: the unnecessary statement “I feel sick” when the face of the actor can have expressed the same thing without saying anything.
  12. 12. Types of Film SoundTypes of Film Sound  Dialogue  Voice Over/ Commentary  Music  Sound Effects  Silence
  13. 13. DialogueDialogue  Most familiar kind of film sound: expect this most naturally from movies  Dialogue: integral a part of acted movies that it is difficult to distinguish between visual communication and the dialogue  Generally, heavy or prolonged dialogue slows down the movement in a picture and puts the whole work of communication on dialogue.
  14. 14. DialogueDialogue  In general, British films are heavy on dialogue. Even the superb A Man for All Seasons (Five Oscars) is marred by its great dependence upon dialogue, since the movie is based on the play verbatim.  Note: A film that uses a dialogue only when it has to will seem better that the film that uses dialogue as a crutch.
  15. 15. Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary  Basically a different from dialogue.  Dialogue emerges from the very nature of fiction film, namely, if there are actors it is only natural that they speak.  A voice-overvoice-over, no matter how well handled, will always be something of an intrusion.
  16. 16. Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary  An interruption into the basically visual communication of the shots.  Can accompany images; can illustrate, support, exist in counterpoint or contrast to what is visually communicated.  Absolutely necessary intrusion: generally we would not understand what the film is saying without it.
  17. 17. Voice-Over/ CommentaryVoice-Over/ Commentary  See Color Purple: While Whoopie Goldberg is reading her sister’s letter mentally, her sister’s voice is heard over.  Some of the best examples of film in which commentary is kept to a minimum are the well-made commercials.
  18. 18. MusicMusic  A special problem in films  Powerful tendency to overdo the use of music  In early 30’s films, loud swelling of violins would accompany every kiss  If music is used too much, it will lose its special appeal
  19. 19. Music  There are numerous ways in which music can be integrated effectively with film:  Movie Theme: a film can have two to three themes running through the film which correspond to different people or key experiences.  Example: Lara’s Theme in Dr. Zhivago: the theme is heard the first time we meet Lara and is repeated with the appearance of Dr. Zhivago’s thoughts about Lara throughout the film.
  20. 20. Music  Sometimes two themes will merge at the climax of a film, suggesting the merging of separate or conflicting elements like in Moment to Moment.  In the movie The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner, the director Ralph Richardson uses jazz with shots of the young man running at dawn. Jazz conveys a sense of freedom.
  21. 21. Music  In the same film, Richardson makes a brutal comment by depicting the guards beating one of the boys who tried escape from the reformatory with the background of other boys singing Jerusalem, a song of stirring hope.  Note: Music, therefore, need not always reflect the spirit of what is happening, it can comment on the visual expression by contrasting it.
  22. 22. Sound Effects (SFX)  Two broad types of SFX:  Atmospheric (atmos) Effect: background effect  Spot Effect: related to a particular on-screen action
  23. 23. Atmos Effect  Atmospheric: use of natural sounds in a film  Highly expressive element and a major source of dramatic effect.  A variety of off-screen sounds that heighten a sense of place or add mood or atmosphere to the film. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  24. 24. Notes on Atmos  Natural sounds, therefore, make movie more realistic,  Add to the suspense, the strength, the beauty of a movie if they are used with sensitivity and care
  25. 25. Notes on Atmos  Background SFX are normally quite straightforward.  They can be obtrusive or unobtrusive.  Sharp and identifiable sounds in the background can draw unnecessary attention to them and therefore, they should be avoided for ordinary general effects.
  26. 26. SilenceSilence  This SFX (rather the absence of SFX) can carry meanings and change feelings more powerfully than any forms of sound can do.  Silence can sharpen our attention and encourage us to concentrate on the picture.  Ex.: a silent grim face; a wordless moment when men drop their weapons.
  27. 27. SilenceSilence  Silence frees the viewer and enables him to experience a moment in a film without his feelings being guided by a musical theme or an actor’s line.  If skillfully used, absolute silence can carry more impact than a dozen tympani crashing in unison.  Ex.: from the movie Alive, after the plane crashed on the snowy mountain top, there was a long period of silence that was chilling and foreboding.
  28. 28. Creative Use of Sound Effects  Common practice in filmmaking: add SFX to cover almost everything seen on-screen Example: A long shot (LS) of a city street at early dawn; the lid of the garbage pail falls to a pavement and the SFX of CRASH is heard (spot effect). In this way, a sense of reality of place is heightened. It is a direct use of SFX, usually designated to get the audience to believe the mise-en-scene.
  29. 29. Creative Use of Sound Effects  There are several ways of to enlarge and enrich this standard use of SFX:  Example: if the previous scene takes place at dusk and it seeks to convey a mood of mystery, foreboding and gloom, the SFX of lid hitting the pavement can be given a slight echo or reverberation.
  30. 30. Creative Use of Sound Effects  There are several ways of to enlarge and enrich this standard use of SFX:  If the purpose of the scene is to startle or frighten the audience, the volume can be added beyond normal reality. In The Natural, the loud SFX of the ball hitting the gloves or the bat hitting the ball heightens the impact.
  31. 31. Creative Use of Sound Effects Extended Sound:Extended Sound:  SFX can be used to extend the dimensions of what is seen, just like extended images, which removes the constrictive boundaries of the screen.  The filmmaker simply adds sounds that originate from elements not contained in the frame.
  32. 32. Creative Use of Sound Effects Extended Sound:Extended Sound:  Example:  On a lonely deserted street at dawn, the off-screen sound of a dog barking heightens the isolation of the place.  At the same time, it enlarges the boundaries of the frame: we can imagine a mangy, half-starved cur just out of range.
  33. 33. Creative Use of Sound Effects Extended Sound:Extended Sound:  Leo Hurwitz, in expanding a valid theory of film sound, pointed out that many of the sounds we hear everyday originate from unseen sources (police siren, ambulance siren heard from a distance).  Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was the early exponent of the use of off- screen SFX to heighten the terror of his suspense sequence.
  34. 34. Creative Use of Sound Effects Extended Sound:Extended Sound:  Example: a prison cell at night, we hear only the wings of a bat beating a furious rhythm against its body. Where? Somewhere nearby. This sound itself makes the cell more gloomy and dank.
  35. 35. Creative Use of Sound Effects Sound Metaphor:Sound Metaphor: Example: In Citizen Kane, Kane’s empty-headed second wife, Susan Alexander leaves the room after a silly quarrel, a parrot screeches loud, making a pointed comment on her character. In Robert Mulligan’s Love with a Proper Stranger, a rejected suitor goes out of the door, pursued by the pistol shots of a TV program in the room behind him.
  36. 36. Creative Use of Sound Effects Sound Metaphor:Sound Metaphor: Example: In the satiric film Ballad of a Whore, there is a wedding between an old hag and a dim-witted fellow, in which we can hardly hear the official reading our of the words of the ceremony because of the noise of the pile driver on a neighboring building site – the discordant note matched the incongruous couple.
  37. 37. Creative Use of Sound Effects Sound Montage:Sound Montage: Although we use the same word “montage” for sound combination and image combination, there is a fundamental difference between the two. The essence of visual montage is we see one single image after another and mentally combine or contrast them (like the baptismal sequence in The Godfather).
  38. 38. Visual Montage Visual Montage:Visual Montage: A dialectical process that creates a third meaning out of the original two meanings of the adjacent shots (editing thus has only two fundamental methods: cut and overlap).  A process in which a number of short shots are woven together in order to communicate a great deal of information in a short period of time.
  39. 39. Creative Use of SFX  There may be montage in the sense of sound, like:  In Stand By Me, the boy shouting “Traiiinn!” is picked up by the sound of a coming train.  In Cinema Paradiso, the sound of the small bell inside the theater is swallowed by the sound of the bigger church bells.  In Color Purple, the sound of rain water dripping is followed by sound of African natives beating bamboo poles.
  40. 40. Creative Use of SFX  There may be montage in the sense of sound, like:  In the movie, The Life of Hitler, there is a scene of a military parade in Berlin with a loud military band playing “Deutchland” immediately followed by an explosion of guns in the Russian front with rugged German soldiers retreating and surrendering. The ironic contrast of visuals is strongly reinforced by the ironic contrast of the music
  41. 41. Creative Use of SFX AsynchronismAsynchronism A combination of sound and image that we would not experience in real life. Example: In Cinema Paradiso, there is a scene where Salvatore, the lead character visiting the soon-to-be-demolished theater which he frequented as a boy, he sees piled-up seats in empty orchestra and he hears the sounds of whistling and laughter of bygone days.
  42. 42. Creative Use of SFX AsynchronismAsynchronism A combination of sound and image that we would not experience in real life. . All That Jazz: during the script-reading session, we see people talking and laughing but we don’t hear them, just as Roy Scheider has shut them off his mind.
  43. 43. Functions of Film Music  Film music has traditionally been used in the following ways:  To accompany the main title of the film and the credits  To heighten the dramatic effect of a scene: like the very moving farewell in E.T.
  44. 44. Function of Film Music  To give a sense of locale, like Paris or London, or Africa or Manila  To create or support pace and movement: a fast moving piece of music or SFX that accompanies a car chase sequence, like in Speed that certainly enhances the suspense and excitement of the scene.
  45. 45. Functions of Film Music  To identify the character qualities, like in Dr. Zhivago.  To predict things to come, like the music used in The Natural, whenever Roy Hobbs is going to hit home.
  46. 46. Functions of Film Music • To establish, maintain and change the mood of a scene, like the gracious romantic theme accompanying a love scene may suddenly give way to ominous music, thereby changing the mood of a scene.
  47. 47. Functions of Film Music  Although nothing changes on-screen, a scene of joy and laughter can be materially altered by a sad, foreboding musical accompaniment.  Music, in effect, warns the audience not to be deceived by what is seen on the screen.
  48. 48. Functions of Film Music  Music, therefore, is an important factor in the creation of motion picture.  In itself, it is a major art and it has its own complexities.  When added to the art of cinema, it becomes film music and can contribute as a vital element to the already rich tapestry of film.

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