Categories Creative, Director, Film, Sound

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Watch with your ears

I recently discovered that it was Alfred Hitchcock’s original intention not to score the famous shower scene in Psycho. Now, how differently would we have viewed that piece of celluloid in silence? I’m not sure it would be the legendary cinematic moment it is without the searing, repetitive, violin stabs.

Same goes for the Audi R8 V10 commercial that’s presently enjoying plenty of air time. Forget about asking ‘have you seen it?’ It’s more appropriate to ask ‘have you heard it?’ As brilliant as it looks, it’s not the visual that excites and stirs – it’s the audio. It’s emotionally frickin’ turbocharged. The sound design of this commercial is up there with the best. You think you’re just listening to the noise of an engine, but if you really listen, you’ll appreciate that it’s been orchestrated like a classical symphony and scored for maximum impact. It’s highs, lows and building crescendo are precisely layered over the camera moves. Notes are held for just the right amount of time, … and then just a little bit longer. There’s even a few reprises to introduce the titling and some David Lynch inspired industrial atmos added for depth. It’s got to be one of the best ads I’ve heard this year.

To capture the sound, the recording process involved mics being placed around every mechanical component that mattered for optimum audio capture. It must have been more like a music recording session than a car shoot. Makes sense really, because some tunes stay with you a lifetime. So often it’s not what you’re looking at, but what you’re listening to. That’s what makes all the difference.

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