We gestate in Sound, and are born into Sight
Cinema gestated in Sight, and was born into Sound. – Walter Murch
In the last post I touched upon added value, I now want to take the time in explaining some of the reasonings behind my sounds choices in A Journey To Paradise. When thinking about sound for the film I wanted to cover two basis.
- Creating a real universe through using sound, making ships, location and character to be believable.
- Using sound to progress, fortify or create narrative throughout the film.
I wish to talk about the later, understanding that I could play a part in the films direction allowed me to become deeply involved within the story and I had soon lost any notion of being disconnected from the project, previous to this I felt I was going through the motions of slapping sound on where it needed to go, throw in a few Zimmer ‘brammmmm!’ and be on my way, I am glad to say this wasn’t the case.
This did mean I had to go through the story again, instead of making notes on sound design I really wanted to find out what this film was about. reading through a couple of times, as well as speaking with Andrew I found the film to have the idea of birth. Bea being a cyborg was created by man, it’s not until she crashes to earth that Bea discovers who she is.
Finding this theme unlocked a whirlpool of ideas, it allowed me to start creating what I call ‘intellectual sound’. so where should I start, I decided to start at the beginning. We first come into contact with Bea, lying in her stasis module. From this the ship she is travelling in gets hit and is forced to eject her capsule to earth. With my theme in mind I tried to incorporate sound to strengthen this. I decided on treating the stasis module inside the ship as a womb, with the mother ship carrying it. I was fond of this idea and with my reading of Chion I came across text that played an important part of my work, with ideas and allowing me to feel confident in what I was doing.
The text was by the editor Walter Murch, Murch is known for a wide range of films, notably his work on Apocalypse now, (Apocalypse Now, 1979) in which he combined sound and image perfectly.
In the pre face of Michel Chions book, Audio Vision, (Chion, Gorbman and Murch, 1994) Murch writes
We begin to hear before we are born, four and a half months after conception. From then on, we develop in a continuous and luxurious bath of sounds: the song of our mother’s voice, the swash of her breathing, the trumpeting of her intestines, the timpani of her heart. Throughout the second four-and-a-half months, Sound rules as solitary Queen of our senses: the close and liquid world of uterine darkness makes sight and smell impossible, Taste monochromatic and touch a dim and generalized hint of what’s to come.
In this I was convinced that not only would this work in the story, it also held reasoning in my given topic for the Moving Narrative module.
When thinking about birth in film my mind kept on wandering back to Alien, (Alien, 1979) in this we are met visually with a scene that has birth themes written all over it, the whitness of the walls, the sterilised chambers. I wanted to create the same, just from an audio perspective
I decided to use sounds that connected to giving birth, as well as this I would try to create these sounds myself. I looked at child-birth and was met with a ton of women crying in pain, it was safe to say that for an hour I was met with some very visual/audible responses that will take a while to leave my mind. Instead of using such sounds I looked at the surroundings, the hospital. This is where my decision was made to use hospital sounds.
The first sound I tried to replicate was the breathing apparatus, to do this I recorded a aerosol can spraying. Once in Audition I added reverb and attached a filter increasing the high-end. The alarm was to resemble that of a heart monitor, for this I used microwave buttons. Then again added filters to get the sound I wanted. The only sound I had to obtain from an online source was the heart sound.
With all of these sounds I wanted them to be somewhat muffled and then to slowly get clearer as time went on, just before Bea is ejected. In completion of these sounds I really feel I achieved what I set out to do, driving the idea of birth thus driving narrative through sound. Not only this I believe the sounds do not sound out-of-place for the enviroment, they seem attached to the location and therefore do not standout in a negative way.
Once ejected she leaves the body, we hear a ferocious sound of Bea plummeting to earth. She is now seperated from her mother and will find out who she is.
One sound that wasn’t both included and talked about was computers voice within the stasis module, the reasoning behind this is I will include this in a separate blog that addresses the voice.
I was happy with my results and felt that what I created fitted with the story and the location perfectly, now I had made a start it was time to get to the next scene
Alien. (1979). [film] USA: Ridley Scott.
Apocalypse Now. (1979). [film] USA: Francis Ford Coppola.
Chion, M., Gorbman, C. and Murch, W. (1994). Audio-vision. 1st ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
Porter, G. (2012). The Inception Sound EVERYWHERE NOW!. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=830I9w7I7wM [Accessed 4 Jun. 2014].