Earache My Eye

Posted on July 20, 2007. Filed under: 80s movies, 90s movies, Bose, Boston, Bruce Willis, Cambridge Soundworks, Die Hard, DVD, indie films, movie marketing, movie promotion, movie sound, movie trailer, movies, OnDemand, Robin Williams, sound editing, Toni Collete, tv ad, tv remote |

Dear Hollywood,
When I view the credits at the end of your movies I’m impressed on the number of people working on the film. One thing I wonder about though is the sound crew. Are they really necessary? From the perpective of a rabid movie watcher it seems like they’ve been severely underutilized. I recently watched the Robin Williams, Toni Collete film Night Listener. A good movie by all accounts. I enjoyed watching it. I did not, however, enjoy listening to it. 

Because I’m a bit of a multimedia geek, I have my tuner plugged into an amp powering a set of Cambridge Soundworks speakers and a pair of 80’s Bose home theater speakers as well as using my built in tv speakers.

This set up means I can control my tv speakers with one remote and have another for my stereo system. During the Night Listener I found my self on the couch playing Wyatt Earp. I had a control in each hand. I had to increase the volume to hear dialogue and decrease it every time excitable music or a loud truck came on the screen.

This isn’t the first instance of this I’ve run into. I could complain for days that network commercials and station IDs are considerably louder than their shows. I’m in marketing, I know why they do it. I also understand that networks can control volume levels in commercials and their own station IDs but not in the movies they broadcast. These films are in the hands of the producers just as DVDs and OnDemand features are.

Why then must I double fist all of the movies I watch? I know that directors and producers want to make an impact with loud noises to create a more dynamic movie. I get it. But does their need to be such a contrast between quiet moments and action sequences? In a Die Hard movie, it’s all loud. I can make one adjustment and enjoy the movie. But try watching a drama with some dynamics… it goes from whisper to nuclear blast.

Not only am I in advertising but I’m also a motion graphics artist and animator as well as a long time musician. I understand audio dynamics. I understand dynamics in a story. I understand that using audio or music in particular to enhance scenes is important. What I don’t understand is why it has to be SO dynamic.

I’ve been looking online for a compressor that will work with my setup to reduce the level jumps. I wish I didn’t have to spend hundreds of additional dollars on top of my cable, pay-per-view and DVD costs to be able to enjoy a movie in my home. So, Hollywood, could you either stop editing sound like a bad stock chart or send me a compressor? 

Thanks,
Avid Movie Watcher

p.s. If you want to hear it done right, try some movies from the 90s and previous.

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2 Responses to “Earache My Eye”

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It’s really gotten bad lately. I found your site searching for a solution to this problem. Have you figured out a good solution?

the only solution I’ve found is to watch movies with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other. As a musician I’ve used compressors and limiters but I don’t think they’d work well.
I do remember a TV that came out a few years ago but it never took off.
I think the issue is that movie sound is made for theaters not living rooms. I’d like to see some consideration for this. With all of the work put into DVDs you’d think they could do a bit of EQ work to get the audio in a good place for home viewers.
Of course it’s probably a ploy by the studios to force people into theaters. It’s a little late for those of us with big LCDs and Bose surround sound!


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