Film Sound Studies

One of the ongoing projects I had originally thought of specifically for the interns but in hindsight realised it is better suited to wider involvement, is to select a movie from the list of everyone’s 5 favourite films for sound (which I will continue to update) and discuss the soundtrack to the film – both generally/thematically but also specifically, based on a timeline… I don’t plan to dominate with my opinions at all (although of course I will surely participate) but to elicit specific input from the people who voted for the film as to what is it that made them select it, and to then work through the soundtrack studying it. I can imagine watching the film again in a continuous run, paying specific attention to the soundtrack and then skipping through sections and scenes, being even more specific….

So which film to start this project? Wall E was the most popular film, so I guess we should start with it. And the first, most important thing is to insure we are all watching the same version of each film so I will start each new Film Sound study post specifying the version I am watching, the running time etc…
As far as Wall E goes, I first saw/heard it in a picture theatre so my first impressions & general comments are based on that experience, but I bought the 2 DVD set (primarily because it has a Ben Burtt interview) so I could enjoy it again later and also reference specific sequences…

So to verify, the DVD version of WallE I will be watching has 32 chapters, and chapter 32 (the credits) starts at 01.26.41 – before I start doing some basic timeline setup for this, could someone in another territory/DVD Region zone verify that? My DVD is PAL Region 4 so I’d be interested to know what the NTSC time is for the last chapter start. Thanks!

21 thoughts on “Film Sound Studies

    1. admin Post author

      I think its interesting from a few different angles;
      – the first half has little, if any dialogue
      – its contemporary scifi (without being OTT transforminator-style film making)

      but I also think, inevitably some films will appeal to some people & some won’t & it shouldnt be a problem in the grander scheme of things eg if we did one film every two weeks, then six months from now we will have discussed all of these films (based on voting)

      Wall-E
      Star Wars IV
      Apocalypse Now
      The Matrix
      Eraserhead
      No Country For Old Men
      Saving Private Ryan
      Delicatessen
      Lord of the Rings
      The Conversation
      Children of Men
      Das Boot

      So there are definitely films on that list that I don’t care to watch again,
      but I would still learn something from (even if its just that I definitely
      don’t like them, but can be more specific about what I don’t like!)

      But I’m open to input – suggest an alternative approach?
      Should I just be dictatorial & choose films that I personally
      want to study (eg Bela Tarrs – Damnation or PT Andersons
      – Punch Drunk Love)

  1. Enos Desjardins

    I like the idea of going through these films and tearing them to pieces! Most of those films are the more known ones but are all great films!
    I know there are many more less known films out there with great use of sound that most of us would not even know of! However, all the films on that list are films we will all know and relate to so analyzing them will be great because we will discover all the extra depth that is hidden within the soundtracks of those films we know so well!

    Regarding Wall-E, I actually never went to watch it in the theatre so I have only watched it on TV! I will get the DVD tomorrow and watch it in the dubbing stage I´m working from! Can´t wait to watch it as it has been a while! As soon as I get the DVD I will confirm we are talking about the same version!

    1. admin Post author

      re the timeline, I didnt expect them to be the same (NSTC dvd vs PAL)
      as they are playing at different speeds… PAL = 25fps and NTSC = 23.976

      so Wall E PAL = 1.26.41 = 86.68minutes @ 25 fps
      and Wall E NTSC 1.30.27 = 90.45 @ 23.976 fps

      86.68 x 25/23.976 = 90.38

      I’ll nut out how to make this work for timeline commenting…
      I guess its just another great feature of region zoning ie marketing #WIN technical #FAIL

      1. Gustavo

        Yes Tim, it the sistem differece. Here´s an idea to deal with it:

        – the dvd can count from the beginning of the chapeter instead of the beginning of the film.
        – so, we could referece moments in the scene with it´s own time (chapter time). I think this way the NTSC/Pal difference will be smaller.

        Let´s try it. Here´s the duration of the longest chapter of WallE:

        chapter 16
        running time: 7:38

        Let me know what happend

  2. Chris

    I was always impressed by the vocalizations of all the characters, Ben Burtt has always been able to give that human touch to robotic sounds.

    ps Punch Drunk Love!!!! im going to go dig out a copy that film was great, its nice to see Adam Sandler in a role that isn’t Billy Madison for the umpteenth time

  3. Enos Desjardins

    PAL will always run 4% faster than NTSC if I´m not mistaken. Also, isn´t NTSC 29.97FPS or is there something different when talkng about DVDs?

    1. admin Post author

      if depends how the pictures are derived from the film speed (24fps) original footage,
      on a case by case basis…. presume anything & you are probably wrong!

      in my experience the NTSC soundtrack usually goes through a NTSC 24 -> 23.976 pull down
      whereas the PAL soundtrack goes through a 24-> 25 speed up….

      Needless to say neither is ‘perfect’

  4. Enos Desjardins

    Yea! I was really surprised the first time I found out that we are actually seeing films slightly faster than intended when regarding film shot at 24FPS!

    Anyways, that’s another crazy issue in the world of post production! The whole world of pull-up, drop, non-drop, etc…Its not too bad once you understand it but it can get a bit confusing at first!

  5. Tom

    “I’ll nut out how to make this work for timeline commenting…”

    I wouldn’t get to hung on exact timings Tim… at least not to begin with … we’ll probably all be able to keep up with specific moments, as they may, initially, be being discussed within a broader Sc or Sc transition context.

    Now… where’s my Video Ezy card… is THAT how much I owe! Dang childrens overdue’s!!!!

    1. admin Post author

      ignore this, am just testing threaded comments (so individual comments can be replied to & it displays as a thread, rather than a linear list of text)

      1. admin Post author

        you can also choose to not display a thread of text using the little minus icon beside the ‘Comment by..’ text

  6. admin Post author

    i’ll stop testing comments in here & once I set up a few more things I will do a test Film Study post, and verify everything is working…

  7. Enos Desjardins

    I bought the Wall-E Special Edition DVD yesterday with Ben Burtt’s interview! I had not watched the film on a big screen yet so it was great to sit down and enjoy it in its glorious surround sound at our dubbing stage!

    By the way, Chapter 32 (The Credits) does start exactly at 01.26.41 so we’ve got the exact same copy 🙂

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