1. Clown Train utilises many different types of sound to create the soundscape that informs the genre of the film and the general mood. The use of silence between atmos sounds creates tension and draws the audience in – this is done in many horror or thriller films, where sometimes the complete absence of sound is more tense than the moments where there are sound. The eeriness of the train and the isolation the protagonist is supposed to feel is alluded to through synth drones, high-pitched drones and other features in the soundtrack. These drones and high-pitched notes reach a crescendo at points of ultimate tension (for example, before the Clown gives the punchline of the last joke). The foley of the train noises is altered through post production to enhance the reverb and create an eerie, echoey feel so we are at once given a sense of place and context as well as creating a mood. The same is done with the foley of the fluorescent lights flickering – they become exaggerated and enhance the sense of desolation and tension. These are all typical of a horror or thriller genre and the audience immediately connects with a genre and an expectation for the film. Another genre film which uses sound to inform the space it is in is the horror/thriller film The Ring, particularly in this scene where the girl comes out of the television. There is a distinction between the two ‘spaces’ depicted on screen – in the room of the character who is about to be attacked, the eerie drone as well as television static (which would not be that audible in real life) give a sense of unease and the room itself is made to sound cavernous and therefore isolated. This is done through the resonance of the telephone as it rings, the amount of noise made when the character throws down the television remote and the echoes of his footsteps. In contrast, the scene with Naomi Watts that it is intercut with has a very different soundscape and sounds just like any other normal room. There is not a lot of echoing or reverb and her lines sound dull or natural. Like in Clown Train, the atmos track and eerie sounding music comes to a crescendo when the big moment of tension is about to occur.
2. In the week 3 reading “Creating the Sound Design” there was much exploration into what makes a good sound designer. The reading defined the difference between ‘listening’ and ‘hearing’ which is something I never considered before – the point that was offered is that if you’re not truly focusing on listening then sound merely becomes a part of the environment or background noise. If you’re listening to your iPod on the tram but aren’t focusing on it intently then the music that is coming through your headphones isn’t truly registering with you. There is a difference between listening to a record in a quiet room whilst doing nothing else but engulfing yourself in the sound than listening to music or sounds purely as background noise. This point was so important because a good sound designer is perceptive of this and understands how to properly listen – isolating particular sounds, taking stock of all of the sounds that surround them in an environment, ‘selecting’ what the are hearing and having the ability to separate these sounds. If you are unable to properly listen then you are unable to create an authentic and believable soundscape with layers, distance and dynamics like in a real environment.
The reading also touched on the fact that sound designers very often have distinct styles, motifs and techniques that may be resonant through their different work. I thought this was interesting and I wondered how sound designers can maintain their distinctive style when crossing genres or briefs – for example, how can a sound designer create the soundscape for a romantic comedy and then a horror whilst still maintaining their distinctive style, artistic license and individual flair? If you look at the work of directors such as Tim Burton or Baz Luhrman it is easy to recognise the distinct style that carries through all of their films in how they appear visually or the ‘vibe’ they create. It never occurred to me that this might be the same with sound designers and the reading points out that there are many ways in which sound designers make choices which are completely up to their own creative license (for example, some sound designers choose to have quieter background noise so they can bring this to a crescendo in a moment of tension).
4. Aside from some unrealistic plot components, Rolling was a light-hearted and enjoyable short film. The first thing I noticed about the film (which is a device that always captures my interest) was the fact that the reveal or big ‘plot event’ is at the beginning of the film – you are shown the protagonist’s house full of toilet paper and made to wonder what were the events that led up to it. Generally, films that implement this device are successful in engaging the audience’s interest and attention from the onset. The casting of the male character was well done and the direction for his timing and delivery of lines helped the character to come across as authentically awkward (and somewhat hilarious). The dialogue written into the script for his character was believable and the way he delivered the lines didn’t seem acted or contrived. On the other hand, the script for the female character was lacking some authenticity or believability, coupled with the delivery of some of her lines (particularly when she says something to the effect of “did you want me?”). Immediately I was made to be aware I was watching an actress delivering lines, pulling me out of being engrossed or lost in the story. I liked that the plot was fairly simplistic and light-hearted, although the resolve seemed very far fetched (would the girl really turn up to this stranger’s house with the remaining toilet paper and then invite herself in) and at the same time fairly predictable for a romantic-comedy style of film. The production design for both scenes were authentic though this is perhaps because the locations were well chosen, rather than having a lot of thought put into specific design components.