Yes, the cinematography is, above all, a visual art. However, the image alone no longer satisfies the spectators, who have become more demanding. For a film to become a masterpiece these days, the director must combine the image and sound duo perfectly. This sound, often placed in the background, is an essential element in the seventh art. How important is it in a movie? Keep reading to find out.
Film sound: What is it?
In cinema, film sound refers to the sound portion of a film. This term essentially includes music, dialogue, sound effects, and soundtrack. Each of these components has a particular and crucial role in the success of a cinematographic work. Moreover, the sound had already imposed itself on the film world in 1927, the year of glory for silent films.
Although silent, the cinema of this time used music and sound effects to accompany the image. Only the dialogues were missing. This mixture of image and music was popular among viewers of the time who experienced and understood the plot of the film better and better.
The film sound has never ceased to shine in the medium to become an essential element of modern cinema.
Three types of relationships between image and sound
One of the main functions of sound is to accompany the image. This relationship between the two manifests itself in three ways:
- Sound in: When you can see the source of the sound on the screen. Example: the sound of a guitar played by one of the characters visible on the screen.
- Off-screen sound: to indicate sound whose source is not visible on-screen but is assumed to be in the space-time of the fiction being shown. Example: The sequence shows two characters hiding in an underground shelter. From where they are, they hear the sounds of bombing on the surface of the Earth. Here, the bombing sounds to form the off-screen sound.
- Sound off: We talk about sound-off when the sound source is invisible on the screen—for example, background music.
Music: its importance in a film
Neglecting the music would be a fatal mistake. Would Titanic still have the same success if the song performed by Celine Dion was removed from the film? Likewise, if we took the soundtracks from our favorite movies, would they produce the same effects in us as before?
The music of a film accompanies the image, but above all, it is used to evoke specific reactions from your audience. They heighten emotions. Fear, anxiety, and joy are better felt by your audiences if the music is well chosen. Also, the music of a film makes the viewer travel with the characters. That, through time and space.
A series set in Cuba can be preceded by salsa music to prepare the viewer and immerse them in this atmosphere. You can also choose an old song for scenes in the 60s, etc.
The music also makes it possible to hide certain imperfections in the image. With music, the viewer will have difficulty seeing the moving camera. This will not be the case if “mute” is pressed. Good music and the transition between two consecutive scenes is less abrupt and less visible.
Why are dialogues so meaningful?
In a film, the image already conveys information well to viewers. Only, this is not always the case. When the image cannot fulfill this role, the dialogues act as reinforcement.
They transcribe the emotions according to the conversation.
The dialogues let the reader identify the psychology and sensitivity of each character.
They also let them know details about the characters: intonation, language register, etc. The dialogues of a film should be believable without imitating the sayings of everyday life conversations.
The importance of Sound Effects in Film
Sound effects are ambient sounds: screams, car horns, chatter, footsteps, the sound of a passing subway, etc. Together with an image, they increase the impression of realism of the sequence. They give a sense of reality to the viewers.
Sound effects require careful work because the minor details must be perfect. They provide a surplus of information that enables the viewers to understand what is happening and where it is happening. In this way, the director can easily immerse the viewers in an atmosphere he has defined in advance.
The sound effects elicit reactions from your audience. This explains our excitement at the roar of racing cars in “Fast and Furious” and our fears at the terrifying scream of King Kong.
To end this article on a high note, I leave you with this sentence that Ridley Scott said:
“In my view, the only way to see a film remains the way the filmmaker intended: inside a large movie theater with great sound and pristine picture”