Sound Design & Science Fiction

Sound Design & Science Fiction

Sound Design & Science Fiction

Sound Design & Science Fiction

Synopsis

Sound is half the picture, and since the 1960s, film sound not only has rivalled the innovative imagery of contemporary Hollywood cinema, but in some ways has surpassed it in status and privilege because of the emergence of sound design. This in-depth study by William Whittington considers the evolution of sound design not only through cultural and technological developments during the last four decades, but also through the attitudes and expectations of filmgoers. Fans of recent blockbuster films, in particular science fiction films, have come to expect a more advanced and refined degree of film sound use, which has changed the way they experience and understand spectacle and storytelling in contemporary cinema. The book covers recent science fiction cinema in rich and compelling detail, providing a new sounding of familiar films, while offering insights into the constructed nature of cinematic sound design. This is accomplished by examining the formal elements and historical context of sound production in movies to better appreciate how a film sound track is conceived and presented. Whittington focuses on seminal science fiction films that have made specific advances in film sound, including2001: A Space Odyssey, THX 1138, Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner(original version and director's cut),Terminator 2: Judgment Dayand The Matrix trilogy and games--milestones of the entertainment industry's technological and aesthetic advancements with sound. Setting itself apart from other works, the book illustrates through accessible detail and compelling examples how swiftly such advancements in film sound aesthetics and technology have influenced recent science fiction cinema, and examines how these changes correlate to the history, theory, and practice of contemporary Hollywood filmmaking.

Excerpt

IN THIS AGE OF VISUAL CULTURE, it is important to remember that “sound is half the picture.” Since the 1960s, sound production, technology, and aesthetics have fundamentally changed contemporary Hollywood cinema and the filmgoing experience. In the field of audio technology, for instance, portable sound recorders have encouraged the collection of all types of “raw materials” used to produce innovative sound effects from dinosaur roars to the clash of light sabers; digital audio workstations have allowed for the creation of multilayered montages of dialogue, music, and effects without any loss of quality or buildup of noise; and new exhibition formats from Dolby Stereo to Dolby Digital have expanded the dynamic range of the film sound track and allowed for multichannel (or surround sound) deployment in the majority of motion picture theaters today. More important, though, a new attitude toward sound has arisen. In contrast to the classical period of Hollywood cinema, filmmakers and filmgoers today do not just hear movies in a new way; they listen to movies in a new way, and what they are listening to is sound design.

Over the past forty years, film sound has not only rivaled the innovative imagery of contemporary Hollywood cinema, which is replete with visual spectacles and special effects, but in some ways sound has surpassed it in status and privilege because of emergence of sound design. The concept of sound design has proven mutable, metaphoric, and, at times, elusive in terms of its analysis, having transformed from an experimental stylistic movement in film form to a unique model of production and critical evaluation. It has also quietly spread beyond the borders of cinema into home theaters and new media. In this book, I trace the rise and transformation of sound design by examining the intersection of cultural . . .

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