Friday, September 5, 2014

Do You Hear the People Sing? Oh Wait...I Can't Over the Buzzing Speakers.

Not only is sound an under appreciated aspect of cinema production, but completely disregarded when films reach exhibition in theaters.  How often is it that the volume of a film is too loud, it is too difficult to hear the dialogue over the sound effects, or the sound  quality of the dialogue is just bad?  Unsatisfactory sound makes for a very frustrating theater experience.  Sound quality in theaters is often not paid any attention to unless a customer complains.  Theater chains such as AMC Entertainment Inc., Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark Theatres should be working to pay attention to sound mixing within their theaters in order to enhance the movie going experience.  Disregarding sound during the exhibition of a film ruins the artistic effects that the filmmakers have worked so hard to achieve.

For the most part, films are produced with clear and effective sound.  The dialogue can be heard and the sound effects advance the plot.  No matter how well the film’s mixing and sound editing is done in the studio, however, there is always a risk of losing the perfect sound once the film is released into theaters.  The studios and professionals no longer have control over the way the movie sounds.  This responsibility is now given to whoever is working in the sound booth at the theater: most likely someone with no experience in sound mixing or technology.  I cannot count how many times I have gone to see a movie and the sound is either not in sync with the picture, too loud, or mixed poorly over the speakers.  Audio is one of the most important aspects of film.  It is possible to sit through a film that is out of focus as long as the sound can convey the plot.  The story will still make sense even if the image is out of focus.  It is much more difficult, however, to focus on and understand a movie with sketchy sound. 
Subwoofer Speakers

One piece of technology over utilized in theaters today is the subwoofer speaker.  These speakers produce very low, bass sounds used predominantly in action films.  When balanced correctly the subwoofer speaker can make the audience feel as if they are a part of the action.  The depth of the sound coming from the subwoofer speakers allows the audience to physically feel the sound throughout their bodies.  It is as if they are feeling the bombs from the film going off around them.  When used incorrectly, however, a speaker can easily be blown out, causing an irksome ratting sound that will be produced from the speakers for the rest of the film.  Everything coming from this speaker, including dialogue, will now be ratted out as well.  The dialogue becomes difficult to understand and the constant buzzing from the speaker can be frustrating. 

A change needs to be made in film exhibition in order to preserve the sound, and therefore the integrity of the film when it reaches theaters.

In order to maintain a movie’s artistry, keep customers happy, and ensure the best possible viewing experience, movie theaters need to change the way they deal with sound, for if the sound scape that was created during the film’s post-production is ruined, the effort and artistry put into the film by the filmmakers is lost.

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