The importance of location sound is undeniably important, why? It’s a great way to hide a dirty recording, transition between audio clips, it also sets the location of the area, transporting the audience into the universe. That being said it seems strange to me that this is the only possibility for location sound. Couldn’t it be so much more? After all if I follow in the works of Chion he pronounces that every sound or audio byte is as valuable and precious than any before or after.
Searching ‘location sound in film’ online gathers me many results, unfortunately they seem to follow the same path. The importance of location sound, amateur guide to location sound, location sound the do’s and don’ts. All of which are useful but do not help me in my question, what else can they do?
In Andrews film A Journey To Paradise I wanted to start looking into ways of bringing the location sound into the narrative, already I have begun adding it the mixing pot, in hope my audio plays an important role to the structure of the story.
Sound and Space
One important factor I wished to play around with was space, and how you go about selling it. By this I want to create the idea of being there, that’s all well and good but how does this develop story. For A Journey To Paradise I looked at creating extreme opposites, location sound was no different. If you take a look at the scene in the stasis module, also refered to as the mother’s womb. I tried to rid any reverberation from Bea her self and any other noise. The only noise that travels is the noise from the outside, smashing and resonating of the ship. The reason behind this is I really wanted to create a feeling of isolation, that of being alone.
A film that I took heavy reference from was Das Boot (Das Boot, 1981), the sound design for when the ship submerges produces the feeling of leaving the world behind and embarking in an underworld, void of outside life and sound. The waves started loud and burst full of life, once the ship has gone under, the waves become quiet, dead. Distant memories of the life above them.
I tried to do the same for A Journey To Paradise, in doing this it would set up for what would follow, a discovery of herself, going out in the world.
Once out in the world I really tried to create a living world (to a degree). I wanted the birds to sing, producing a blanket of life other Bea’s head. One regret I have and wish to correct is getting rid of the river sound. I felt that maybe it would hinder the vocals but now I feel the scene losses that ‘life’. I stated that I wanted to create life to a degree, what do I mean by this?
This is where I feel I have tried to use location sound more than just a simple filler. When we are finally met with Bea’s mirror image (human) we only then start to hear the birds, I wanted to try to find a way of Bea trying to connect to life. We have it in the visuals with the inserting of the screwdriver in the ear, I can’t help that in fact this is losing the idea of life and only showing it in a brutal manner. I tried to create something that was a lot less mechanical and tried to create life with the chirping of birds. This worked and didn’t work, partly down to my mixing and mastering which I am still working on.
Although it is still early days on the film I have some brilliant ideas I want to try out, one being the fixing of the river sounds as I really feel we lose out of that connection as an audience. Another idea I have is for the end scene. Bea submerges herself into the water, evidentially killing herself whilst all the same setting herself free. visually she submerges herself and the sea becomes space. For the audio I wish to oppose this, as she descends I which to ascend with the audio. From birds flying, to space craft to eventually heavenly sounds. I have already discussed this with Andrew and he seems keen to try this. The idea came from watching 2001: A Space Odessy (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968). I was fixated on how Kubrick managed to show evolution with one single shot, I wish to try this but from an audio perspective, weather not evolution is to be shown through sound, music or both is yet to be seen.
Although its minor to the grand scheme of the film I feel that this small building block will only help and strengthen an already promising film. I have a lot to show and contend with visually and I will not let the audio fall on its face as it has so many times before.
2001: A Space Odyssey. (1968). [film] USA, United Kingdom: Stanley Kubrick.
Das Boot. (1981). [film] West Germany: Wolfgang Petersen.