“Have you heard the news?”
“I can’t wait to see IT.”
“DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT?”
“YOU SHOULD SEE THIS.”
When someone asks, Have you heard the news? what they’re really asking is whether or not certain information has been received. Today, news is mostly read or seen: televised news reports, talk shows, Government addresses, weather reports — all experienced on a television, computer, tablet, or smartphone screen, yet we still use the antiquated phrase.
Have you heard? used to make sense. With the invention of the radio in the early 1900s, most news was transmitted aurally. Everything from Little Orphan Annie to the state of the union was predominantly consumed via radio. Media existed in sound waves and people tuned in.
In 2015, things are a bit different. According to stateofthemedia.org, less than 13% of Americans over the age of 12 are getting their news from radio. We’re no longer solely hearing the news–we are experiencing it in the form of screens that can fit in our pockets and in the palm of our hands.
Podcast listening is up, but still the majority of the media we consume on a daily basis is displayed on a screen. People are no longer sitting down at the kitchen table and tuning the radio to hear the news and the latest juicy gossip. With the rise and evolution of technology, the ability to get everything via cell phone has taken over the world. And that includes the news.
“I can’t wait to see that”
Often the speaker of this phrase is referring to a movie, TV show, or concert. All things that would be completely futile without sound.
Think about the two senses you are using when experiencing any of this media: sight and sound. The one that hits me hardest is concerts. When people say “I can’t wait to see that show”, they are only further placing sound as a secondary device in what is otherwise an incredibly aural experience. Which in all honestly, is the main reason why people attend concerts. For the artists and music, right?
The content makers aren’t helping either. We’re being overloaded by visuals, which in all honesty are very creative, innovative and multifunctional. Yet sound is still rooted in this supplementary technical position. The “dog barks and wind blows” as I like to say. Even Mick Jagger looks ridiculous without proper audio.
Sound isn’t here to support visuals, it’s here to collaborate with them.
For every visual device that exists, there is a sonic equivalent.
1. Bright Light = High Frequency
2. Dark Light = Low Frequency
3. Busy Visuals/Lots of movement = Percussion, fast tempo, busy sounds.
4. Calmserene landscape = legato, strings and slow movement.
5. Introspective/Internal point of view = muffled sound, rounded low and high frequencies, reverberant, spacial.
A crazy thing happens when I shoot 3D Audio on my iPhone. We are all so used to the look of iPhone video, yet 9 times of 10 people tell me the iPhone video they are watching seems to be clearer and higher resolution when paired with 3D Audio. Watch the video below to see what I mean. Notice how when I switch to 2D Audio the image quality feels poorer.
Media has been a sight and sound experience for over 75 years now. It’s time we started thinking about it this way. These days we experience media.
Do we hear the news or read it? Did we see the show or hear it? Does it really matter if in the end all we’re doing is sharing it?
With any kind of experience partnered with “I can’t wait to see that,” people seem to forget about their ability to hear. Anything regarding sound almost always happens later in the conversation, almost as an afterthought. Sight and sound are our two most important senses, but sound seems to take a backseat when people start talking about seeing a concert or the next big movie blockbuster. But in all honesty, when you’re buying concert or movie tickets, aren’t you buying those tickets because of the sounds?
Sight and sound go hand in hand. They are hardly one without the other, and often only enhance each other when used together. That’s why visual albums and musicals are so successful, because instead of just imagining a story to go with the album, it has already gone through the process of being produced so that we can watch it along with our favorite songs. So yes, you are seeing a movie or watching a concert, but think about the sounds that make it so important. The rain in the background, the crescendo of the instruments as a chase scene happens, the broken piano as the heartbreak unfolds onscreen. Sight and sound go hand in hand, no matter what we are doing. They only enhance each other, so what can you enhance with better sound?
Think about it next time you’re shooting your feature film, music video or television show.
From One Ear To Another,