MAKING WAVES: The Art of Cinematic Sound (Video)

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sixandnine

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I haven't seen Making Waves... it's on the list now. I see Walter Murch is among the interviewees. The guy is an outstanding editor & sound designer, literally and figuratively. I've watched his work, read his books and seen him talk at film festival about 5 years back. He truly understands the physical spatiality of an edit. This extends to his own practice, he insists on standing to edit, because he wants to feel the presence of his body as he works. He is feeling the visual rhythms alongside the audible ones. It's like dancing your work.
 

atrocity

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Watched this last night despite some reservations and thoroughly enjoyed it. The not-quite-explicitly-stated hint that there was no stereo prior to A Star Is Born thing was indeed frustrating, but in hindsight, I guess what they were really getting at was how that film coincided with sound finally routinely being taken at least as seriously as image. Yes, there were dozens (if not hundreds) of stereo films going back to the 1950s, but you could make a case that while they sounded good, they weren't as elaborately and meticulously mixed as what we started getting in the 1970s. Or at least that's the out I'm choosing to give them. :D A case could also be made that The Exorcist, while originally mono, also had plenty of attention given to its sound design.

Still, it was a little jarring to get that hint that stereo began in 1976 followed by an interview with someone who was in stereo in Hello Dolly! and a stereo clip from her even earlier Funny Girl. But I'm being mostly pedantic--I was fearing that it would be full of misinformation but it definitely was not.
 

Eggplant

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Still, it was a little jarring to get that hint that stereo began in 1976
It’s all about “the narrative” today, and the narrative here was that prior to the mid-70’s, nobody in Hollywood much cared about sound. Both The Godfather and The Exorcist — two of the most successful films ever releases, were both put out in glorious mono. Not just mono, but really lousy mono — noisy optical tracks with nothing over 8000 cps. Dolby Stereo fixed all three issues without requiring expensive magnetic tracks. The point was that after the success of Babs and Lucas, The Town started rethinking their assumptions about the value of film sound — quality, design, and dimension (stereo).

We went through a similar revolution in 1993 with dts digital sound. Everyone saw Jurassic Park, but what about The Paper? Also one of the first digital releases, but why waste it on a drama about a newspaper? Well let me tell you about one scene in the middle where an argument is stopped cold by someone shooting off a gun. It was LOUD. Like a bomb. The audience was jolted right along with Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei, and they laughed hard. The dramatic new sonic realism made the scene twice as funny.
 

dwight

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That 1975 film was nowhere near the first surround-sound release. As others have pointed out, LCRS had been around since the early 50’s — Raintree Country and Rebel Without a Cause are two notable examples.

But Tommy’s Quintaphonic sound was first in several respects: use of a 4-2-4 matrix (Sansui’s QS), and the first to have L and R surround tracks. Though a failure, this experiment did pave the way for matrix-encoded LCRS Dolby Stereo releases the following year (1976). 1977 saw many Dolby Stereo releases, including Star Wars.

I believe the first use of discrete L and R surrounds for a feature film was for the 70mm prints of Apocalypse Now, which I saw at Hollywood’s Cinerama Done in 1979. (This does not include such non-feature releases as those with Omnimax, which featured an 8-channel discrete format.)
Eggplant, Cinerama opened in NYC in 1952 with full 7 track magnetic sound...35 mm tape moving at almost 30 ips on a separate reel....5 up front and two discrete channels at the sides of the theater ...there had been a little give and take about weather there were 6 or seven channels on opening night, but it has been settled...it was seven. .....all Cinerama productions were 7 track. The great 70mm and TODD-A-O flicks like BEN HUR, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, OKLAHOMA, SPARTICUS, and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA were 6 track. The 6th track could be shuttled around the theater for certain directional effects. The movie sound world went from optical mono to full 7 track master quality sound in one evening.
Dwight
 

dwight

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Forgive me, I forgot the most important information about this sound history: Hazard Reeves was the audio pioneer responsible for the great audio transformation. He created Cinerama sound and made it possible to add mag stripes to CinemaScope 4 track prints. Millions of people heard high fidelity stereophonic surround sound in theaters and the push to get stereo in the home began. Pretty big historical events to ignore, and to imply it hadn't been done before. Rebels deserve credit, but from a historical perspective, the pioneers should get a little respect.
Dwight
 

Eggplant

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Eggplant, Cinerama opened in NYC in 1952 with full 7 track magnetic sound...35 mm tape moving at almost 30 ips on a separate reel....5 up front and two discrete channels at the sides of the theater ...there had been a little give and take about weather there were 6 or seven channels on opening night, but it has been settled...it was seven. .....all Cinerama productions were 7 track. The great 70mm and TODD-A-O flicks like BEN HUR, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, OKLAHOMA, SPARTICUS, and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA were 6 track. The 6th track could be shuttled around the theater for certain directional effects. The movie sound world went from optical mono to full 7 track master quality sound in one evening.
Dwight
Not sure what your point is, but nothing you mentioned contradicts what I said. None of the 70mm 6-track stereo presentations before Apocalypse ever had more than a single (mono) surround track. As for the 7-track Cinerama films, I don’t know for sure that they did NOT use two tracks for L and R rear, but I seriously doubt it. Nothing I’ve ever read on the subject indicates anyone was even thinking in that realm.

Of course you’re right that 70mm magnetic tracks represented the highest quality sound available in a theater right up until the digital sound of the 90’s.
 
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