Why Hollywood Sound Directors Should Be Fired!

How often have you strained to understand what an actor is saying under the BLARE of the movie soundtrack? How often do you wish you had a volume control in your hand when you went to the cinema? Answer yes to one of these questions and you are among many who are getting fed up with the movie industry.

"What Did He Say?"

My wife and I are firm film lovers, but sadly so disillusioned at the music levels in movies over the past decade or so, that whenever we watch one at home, be it on DVD or a TV channel,  we need to constantly have the volume control in one hand. We listen to two actors having a conversation but are suddenly deafened when the music cuts in. We make a grab for the volume control to turn down the volume, and then put it back up again when the actors say something again!

Many times, when you have both music and speech, you cannot understand a word of what is said because the voices are drowned out by the music. What ever happened to the good old days when conversations were crystal clear and the soundtrack was at a level not inducing headaches and tinitus?

It seems that today, the music is far more important than the script, and we might just as well go back to the days when actors and actresses didn’t say a word. Why should an actor bother learning a script if no-one can hear it?

It is time for the film industry to take a long deep look at itself and sort out which is more important, the spoken word or the music. Considering that every film is watched from beginning to end by the director before release someone surely should notice that the music drowns out the script.

The Sound Man

It would seem film and sound directors have forgotten that for a cinema audience to have full enjoyment of the film, they need to understand clearly what is being said. Otherwise, what’s the point? How can you follow the plot of a movie when you can’t hear the voices? They seem to have forgotten what the word ‘balance’ means, i.e. the correct volume level between music and speech that makes the movie experience a pleasurable one.

John Wayne - Always Crystal Clear!

Watch an old movie from the 50’s or 60’s and every word spoken is clearly understood while the music does what it is intended to do, provide atmosphere and background. Not today, and I have to ask why!

The technical ability of today’s sound engineers is incalculably better than the rudimentary systems in use 50 years ago, but it seems while technology has advanced, the minds have gone backwards.

These days movies are all about sensationalism, but I guess its just the times we live in. But whether people are watching a period drama or an action movie, I think if you asked them, they would prefer to hear the actors and actresses once in a while. It does help when trying to follow the plot. How often has your partner turned to you and asked, “What did he say?” Its not unusual to rewind a DVD a little and repeat something in an effort to make out what was said, often in vain. In most films you may catch only snatches of any conversation taking place on the screen and trying to piece it all together is tiresome.

The Director Not Doing His Job?

Perhaps it’s just coincidental that when this phenomena first started, studios began complaining about dropping cinema audiences, hence the loud blockbuster, action-packed movies of today which is Hollywood’s attempt to lure people back. I guess it could also be to do with disco’s, clubs, and some shops today having music so loud that you need to shout in the ear of the person you are talking to.

The Name Says It All

Hollywood, if you want people to continue watching your movies try more ‘balance’! Going to the cinema, or watching a film in the comfort of your own home, should be a pleasurable experience – not a quiz show! “What did she say?????? Hell, I missed that!!!!!”


5 Responses to “Why Hollywood Sound Directors Should Be Fired!”

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