Hello and welcome to A Sound Analysis. This series is dedicated to analyzing sound design and mixing in the world of TV and film. Before we dive into things let’s look at the general goals of sound design in film and how we can think about them while analyzing various work.
The Goals of Film Audio
The most important aspect of analyzing a finished product it’s important to remember that simply listing off what works and what doesn’t work is fundamentally useless without understanding the reasoning behind why. It is also important that we establish consistent method of analysis so that we have a clear understanding of how we reach our conclusions. Also keep in mind that our conclusions are not set in stone. This is a very subjective field, and even though there are precedents and “rules” set throughout decades of experimentation and discovery, it doesn’t mean that these rules must always be followed. That being the case, let’s look at the general goals of post-production audio:
– To enhance the storyline/narrative by establishing mood, time, and location
– To add pace, excitement, and impact to the storyline and visuals
– To complete the illusion of reality and unreality (fantasy)
– To preserve or intentionally break the illusion of continuity through scenes
There are a few additional goals for sound engineers to consider (fixing problems with location sound, editing/replacing dialogue, delivery formats, etc.) that are equally important, however we will not be looking at them and instead focusing on the creative decisions regarding sound design and mixing.
There are many decisions that are made throughout the production of a film. While we will never know every aspect and every decision made, but we can ask questions such as the following:
– What “decision” are we analyzing?
– How does this decision compliment the goals of post-production audio?
– What are the alternative decisions that could have been made?
– How would these alternative decisions reflect the goals of post-production audio?
– Would these alternatives serve the work better?
These are the questions that we shall be asking throughout this series. It provides a consistent path of analysis for us while pushing us to think critically about how each decision is determined and influenced by our four primary goals.
Get on with it!
Ok, ok! Now that we have established the thought process behind the analysis we can begin looking at work, right? Absolutely, just not in this article! These articles will be quite long on their own, and I wouldn’t want to tack it on to this article. Stay tuned though! Here are a few examples of what you’ll be seeing in the future: