SOUND DESIGN

The three following movie clips have had the entirety of their original sound and music removed and reconstructed. Brief descriptions of each clip are found below their respective videos. For educational use only.

Blade Runner
(Dir. Ridley Scott, 1982. Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young)

• The combined music and sound of this clip match the cyberpunk aesthetic that Ridley Scott depicts so well with his images. The ambient music at the start of the clip subtly calls attention to the mystery that is slowly unraveling as Decker (Harrison Ford) learns more about renegade replicants (it’s also a tip of the hat to the original and excellent Vangelis soundtrack). The playful, gamelan-inspired music towards the end of the scene expresses the mix of amusement and intrigue that Decker experiences as he walks through the exotic bazaar. This theme also correlates to the Asiatic features that inform the film’s set and costume design.

• It was important to capture the dilapidation of the urban setting. Thus, as well as selecting appropriate environmental ambiance and other less present foley, I considered the smaller details on foreground sounds, such as the grittiness of the tone of the television used for tissue analysis. These textural elements enhance the believability of the scene.

• The content of the dialogue is an exact reproduction of the original with an attempt to remain as true as possible to the voice modulations, inflections and timbres of the actors. There was a minor overdub error in a single word of the original dialogue (1:13-1:14). I have attempted to mask it by placing the word slightly further down the timeline.
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Apocalypse Now
(Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979. Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Larry Fishburne)

• The music, a disfigured variation on the Latin-influenced music of many American westerns, draws associations to the cowboy shoot-outs of Eastwood and Wayne while foreshadowing that things will go horribly wrong both in the immediate and distant future. Particular points of musical climax match with visual counterparts (ex. the death of Clean Miller, Laurence Fishburne’s character) to add greater gravity to the scene.

• I used a large library of effects to express the chaos of the firefight. Attaining clarity of the disparate sonic elements during the battle required careful frequency distribution, panning and volume control so that minor effects, such as the sound of shell casings hitting the boat floor, would be audible when placed beside elements that are more prominent. In the brief period before the gun battle, it was important to convey a sense of claustrophobia on the boat. Thus, effects like the sound of the gas canister were important to reproduce accurately because they add an aural spatial characteristic that highlights the limited space within which the 5 soldiers have to move.

• There was a voice/image synchronization problem with the original dialogue (00:40). I have modified the placement of the voice-over to conceal the problem as best as possible.
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The Night of the Hunter
(Dir. Charles Laughton, 1955. Starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters)

• With this clip, I composed music that captures Harry Powell’s (Robert Mitchum) dichotomous persona: one part seething and brooding, the other self-righteous and pious. A dark opening theme gives way to a brief ethereal motif that slowly descends back to the cold earth, as the response to Powell’s requests for guidance from the Heavens leave him with only one course of action. The foley, kept sparse to convey the stark environment, is limited to the sound of a few ominous footsteps, a window shade, the rustle of clothing, a rusty bedspring, a vicious slap and a sharp knife blade. Combined, these elements communicate a tense and foreboding atmosphere.

• There were some interesting challenges in creating accurate and believable voice tracks. For example, a large portion of Willa Harper’s (Shelley Winters) original monologue was poorly overdubbed, creating terrible voice/image synchronization (00:25-00:53). I addressed this problem by changing the delivery of the original speech to match points at which the actor’s mouth moved. While not perfect, due to disparate proportions between dialogue and mouth movements, the modifications do effectively mask the original inconsistencies.

• The voices have been equalized to possess a thin, reedy timbre representative of the films of that era (‘50s).
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