‘Crash. Bang. Wallop’ | The importance of Sound in Film

Last week, I had a lecture about the importance of Soundscapes and Sound Design in Films. Sound is often not focused upon, however is significant within films to portray particular meanings, emphasize emotion, connotations of characters, create an ambience and more. For example try watching a Horror Film without sound, doesn’t scare you right? Well how about the James Bond films without sound or music? Not the same right. This is because the James Bond soundtrack is iconic; people recognize his character and the film through this ‘Bond Track’. Without good, suitable sound used in the correct places could ruin the whole film.

Try watching this chase scene from ‘Drive’ by muting the Soundtrack.

Now try watching it with sound. It does not have the same impact. The sound literally adds the action, suspense and that enthralling edge.

Ben Burtt creates sound for Wall-E | Part 1

Ben Burtt creates sound for Wall-E | Part 2

The short Documentary of Ben Burtt creating the Sounds for Wall-E provided a great insight on how sound is heavily focused upon and how it is vital. The scenes where we were shown how sound was created right at the beginning was inspiring. They showed us how they created train tracks using wood tools, also by wobbling a special material to create thunder and more. It was amazing to see how hard people worked to perpetuate the perfect sound.

“It’s inspiring when a movie requires a whole new world of sound” ~ Ben Burtt

One of the most famous sounds we discussed was the ‘Wilhelm Scream’. The scream was first recorded in 1951 for the film ‘Distant Drums’ by Warner Brothers. The sound was tracked down by Ben Burtt, who thereafter archived the scream where it soon became a personal sound signature. After watching the clip below I was shocked at how many films used this scream in their films. It was quite hilarious and surprising at the fact that I didn’t recognise the scream, as it was used in most of the Films that I have watched.

After researching sound, I came to realise there was an episode of Phineas & Ferb – the animation (I know what your thinking. Still though, it was a great show) which spoke about sound used in animation. I searched for the clip and edited it to the scene where the anime character talks about how sound is created. It is great to see how they speak about a range of sounds created through small objects like a ‘balloon’. Thus, it is interesting to see how they bring this about it in a children’s, animation programme. Below is the clip.

I also found another short clip where a person physically imitates the foley sounds precisely to match the scene of a black and white film. Personally, I thought it was greatly done, as every sound happened at the exact correct time. It also emphasised how sound is vital, thus reinforcing the actions happening by the protagonists. For example, pouring wine from the bottle – the literal pour adds to the sound creating a particular ambience. You can find the video below.

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