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July 1995, Week 1


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knight iii a <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 5 Jul 1995 19:40:43 -0500
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I've found the postings on film and video very interesting and, in
making my cases for the merits of film to adminstrators, I'm sure
I'll find them useful, too.
This thread, along with some other recent threads on sound and along
with some of my recent experiences with "home theaters," has prompted
me to wonder about the current (possible) relations between image and
    For instance, recently someone demonstrated their home theater to
me.  They had a large tube TV--somewhere around 35" I'd guess--and an
amazing multi-channel sound system.  They used the buffalo hunt scene
from a video tape of Dances with Wolves to strut their system's stuff
for me.  The buffalo he(a)rd (sorry) galloped from left to right
across all the audio channels and seemed to completely fill the room.
On the unletterboxed screen the tiny buffalo entered, trotted a
couple feet, and disappeared.  On the one hand, the sound helped
create a sense of scale that seemed "cinematic"--it was better
(clearer, more dynamic) than the sound in most theaters I attend.  On
the other hand, the sound seemed to dwarf the image, making the
limitations of the video image very clear and emphasizing for me the
fact that I wasn't in a theater.
    In this context, it occurred to me that for many people--for me
anyway--my standards for image quality are set by cinema, by
theatrically exhibited film but my standards for sound are set by
high end home stereo.  Certainly, its much easier to approximate
decent theatrical sound at home (or in the video classroom) than it
is to approximate the theatrical image.
    Do these observations seem accurate to others?  If so, how are
these circumstances effecting our students' experiences of "film"
(broadly meant)?  And are they effecting filmmakers and the way they
make their films?  How do--or should--these circumstances effect our
teaching?  Do we need to--or should we--spend as much time on the
(non-narrative, non-textual) aspects of sound as we do with those
aspects of the image?
Arthur Knight
American Studies
The College of William & Mary
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