Just having seen Children of Men yesterday. I'd like to take this opportunity
to offer up a huge, gigantic bow of the head, honorific handshake and
kudos to Richard Beggs and the entire sound team of Children of Men. Is
there anyone out there who has the ability to shove an internet-connected
computer in front of Mr. Beggs so that he could talk about this project?
I'd love to hear
about how many choices originated from the sound team and how much originated
with Alfonso Cuaron and the screenplay?from the melding of tinnitus- ringing
with music to the barking dogs in the birth scene to just the marvelous
This is one film
I will be watching and listening to many times again in the future.
Finally got around to seeing Children of Men, and I agree with Andy
about the high quality of the sound work. Very fine work, Mr. Beggs.
I also can't resist
pointing out that the scenes in which the sound design shines are:
1) ones which
have little or no music
2) ones where dialog is sparse
would have filled these scenes with bombastic score and expositional dialog.
To their credit, Mr. Cuaron and the screenwriters resisted that temptation.
Score was used in moments when it could contribute something that sound
effects couldn't contribute. Hooray!
Not a great film
in my opinion, certainly not in the class of Blade Runner, which I've
seen it compared to, but my hat is off to the decision makers on Children
of Men who set it up for sound design to make a significant statement,
and to Beggs and his team who took good advantage of those opportunities.
How could I have
forgotten to mention #3?
3) The key sound
design sequences were shot in POV style, the shaky camera having been
placed and moved in ways that suggest the point of view of a human participant
in the action.
Any film sequence
with the holy trinity of sparse dialog, sparse music, and pov visuals
is almost guaranteed to be a sound design tour de force. In the hands
of a master like Beggs it is guaranteed.
And, the rather brilliant shot /sequence in the Fiat Multipla chase..
still figuring out how on earth they did that, since the cam almost never
leaves the car....
I saw CoM at some point in December, but I've been so busy with work that
I haven't had a chance to check in with the list here. This was easily
the best sounding film I saw all year. The design work was incredible,
and the mix was surprising at the very least. I couldn't believe how much
was going on in the surround, and I'm happy that they weren't afraid to
break the "exit sign rule."
what is the "exit sign rule"?
That you shouldn't put too much in the surrounds for fear that the listener
will stop focusing on the screen. I was told in school that it shouldn't
be broken. Then again, you know what they say about rules...
I think it refers to the generally accepted "rule" (which has never actually
been a rule) in film mixing that it's dangerous to put too much sound
or certain kinds of sound (like principal dialog) into the surrounds (where
the exit signs in the rear of the theater are), or at least exclusively
in the surrounds.
In my opinion,
whatever seems to serve a dramatic purpose for the scene and the film
should be considered, regardless of conventions and traditions. On the
other hand, if a certain technique calls too much attention to itself
then maybe it's not a good idea. But putting dialog heavily in the surrounds
has worked very effectively on some films whose stylized visuals have
opened the door for it. I'd put Strange Days and Children of Men near
the top of that list.
On the other hand, if a certain technique calls too much attention to
itself then maybe it's not a good idea.
In some instances it seems like
a 'chicken and egg' sort of thing. Imagine a scene where the actor on-screen
is looking at somebody placed directly 'behind' the audience.
Most of the time
that person 'behind us' would still have dialogue placed in the center,
albeit with some form of filtering. Putting the dialogue directly behind
the audience would draw attention to itself and away from the film--But
only because the audience isn't used to it.
If the scene is cut so that
there are alternating reverses that can be a problem. Having a character's
voice jumping back and forth between front and back (or left and right)
can seem cheesy, gimmicky, distracting, etc. But it depends on many factors,
the main one being how "experimental" the overall style of the film is.
If it's the kind of film that is breaking "rules" anyway, then anything
might be appropriate.
And I'm sitting right next to you, Dave. An excellent example would probably
be the "Oh, George" THX logo in which the THX repairman flies back to
do some tinkering behind the audience's heads. His dialog/ voice is only
heard before he flies back, but given that we are led to believe (by the
SFX) that he's back there doing something it would be shocking to hear
his voice emanating from the middle speaker when we know he's behind us.
I think since in everyday experience we are blinking with our eyes all
the time, so we are very used to edits/cuts in the/our picture. But if
some sound is jumping in direction it makes us feel very unconfortable,
because we do not know this experience in real life. Panning along with
POV shots is something closer to our normal experience, like the way the
sound changes when we turn our head, that is why it probably works best.
The panning in Children OF Men really works best when it was predicated
upon the POV camera movements . When ever we were following a pan about
the landscape , what was originally in the front of the audience could
then track the pan and move to the rear. This does happen many times throughout
the film, as many scenes were presented in a single take format . In these
moments the camera is acting as if it is the microphone as well as the
camera . This approach may be much easier for an audience to deal with
as it is predicated upon visuals that support the change in audio
The director from
very early on , wanted to experiment with the movement of sound within
the theatre . There was an intensive amount of evaluation and discussion
of each scene to determine if the panning was interfering with the telling
of the story . Throughout the entire post process the degree and frequency
of the panning was constantly de-evolving , starting out very extreme,
and ending where it is now in the finished track .
Men" thread started Jan 14, 2007 at Sound Design discussion list
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