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February 1995, Week 4


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MR BILL A TUSCHALL <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 24 Feb 1995 16:36:32 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
On 2/23/95 Leo Bankersen wrote:
message----------------------------On 10 Feb 1995 Don
Larsson wrote:>I'm curious to know what others might think
of a question that's been>bugging me for some time, to wit:
Does movie stereo "surround sound">work?>>It strikes me that
there's obvious justification for having noises come>from
all sides when you're in a huge-screen environment
(Cinerama,>Omnimax) but that it makes no sense and is just
distracting when in a>typical shoe-box theater.  Why, for
example, should forest or traffic>noises (let alone
footsteps or plot-related sound elements) be coming>from
anywhere other than in front of you if that is where the
image is? (...)>To hazard a guess at an answer to my own
question, could it be that our>highly-touted "visual
culture" is not as visually attuned as we like to>think, but
is much more attuned to audio cues?I completely agree with
the distracting effect mentioned above,but I would like to
try a guess in a different direction.Could it be that the
'off screen stereo' has something in commonwith other
curious effects like Sensurround or 3-D?Those effects were
all (probably) meant to heighten the feelingof realism of a
movie, yet they never became a generally appliedtechnique.
By leaving the screen and (so to speak) invading thetheater
they are indeed very realistically present, but they
areequally distracting from the story-telling that is going
on.I feel it shows that story-telling (isn't that what film
ismostly about?) is something quite different from just
imitatingreality.In the first place: by following the story
we are tuned to asingle source of information (the screen).
Everyting that fallsout of the source, falls out of the
story.Second: The cues from the screen (image and sound)
cause us toimagine a kind of 'story-reality' with
story-space, story-timeand story-events. This however, is a
'mental' reality. We neverexpect it to be physically present
around us, like in astage-performance.(Sorry for a bit late
reply)Leo Bankersen
Sorry for the lack of msg quoting marks, haven't figured out
how to do that on this system yet.
To the point, I have to strongly disagree with both of the
above authors. I feel sound is as much an artistic part of
a film as much as any other. Whether or not the filmmaker
tries to create a sense of realism, or uses the sound to
create something else, it is such an integral part.
For example, there is nothing like the complete sound of a
thunderstorm in surround sound, or THX. Or the sound of
bullets flying over one's head in the theater(or, in my
case, in my livingroom also). The music score usually fills
the theater as well, as differentiated by the dialog coming
only from the screen. This adds to the whole viewing
experience, adding to the "bigger than life" sensation that
films can imbue. As far as realism, I have yet to have an
experience where a complete orchestra plays in the
background as I ride off into the sunset with the heroine!
On that note, I also agree there is a time and a place for
added sounds going on in various places. That depends on the
effect the filmmaker is going for.
Yes we are beings with several senses, why should film be
limited to only the visual? Sound, unlike other sensory
gimmicks ie odorama, adds to the film experience.