The scene from π which I have chosen to create a case study for is the subway scene, which portrays disgust. It starts with our main character Max in the subway taking pills for his migraines, which uses Aronofsky’s iconic hip-hop montage. This is when we see a series of quick actions and sounds in quick succession, to highlight a series of events in a short period of time. In this instance we see Max open the pill bottle, pour a couple in his hands, eat them and then close the bottle, in under two seconds. We then see Max sitting in the subway, and begin to get a migraine, which is shown only through sound. We see Max toss and turn during his migraine until it succeeds a little and he looks across the platform. On the platform opposite he sees a jewish man holding a briefcase in one hand a blood dripping off his other hand. Max stands up from the bench and shouts at the man in anger, and then runs across the bridge being filmed on a snorricam to the other side. When he reaches the other side the man is gone, but the pool of blood he created is still there, this confuses our protagonist. He follows a trail of blood droplets slowly to the stairs of the station. He sees a brain sitting on the steps, and takes out a pen. He goes slowly to prod the brain, but when he does his migraine returns loudly and he spins around to look as the sound we hear is like a train, to highlight where he is, as in other points of the film his migraine does not make these train noises. He does this again. The third time he does it he pushes the pen in further, and the noise is even louder. This time when he turns around there is a train headed right for him and the lights engulf him into whiteness. I will include a youtube link for reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aulRoQTK5HY
The scene which I have decided to study to highlight the feeling of disgust is the amputation scene from 127 Hours. The scene has a guitar track underlaying the whole thing. The scene begins with James Franco’s character Aron figuring out what he must do to get out of where he is. He has been trapped in a ravine with his arm trapped between the side and a large boulder which he cannot move. He first of all realises he needs to break his own arm. So we see him begin to push on his arm the opposite direction that his elbow for a while, we see his face wince in pain as he is doing this, he is moaning and breathing heavily. The moment we see his arm break he throws his head back in pain and we hear a loud snap, which sounds like a large tree branch snapping. He moans in pain but does not scream when this happens and starts laughing angrily. He then slowly takes out a small knife from his leatherman with his free hand whilst looking at it. He then begins to cut into his forearm, and as he starts he moans a little in pain but also a distorted snare sound is heard when he makes the first incision. As he opens up the cut there is then a distorted drum track added to the guitar very subtlety. We then hear Aron breathing heavily as he wraps his arm with a climbing strap and carabiner to tighten it into a tourniquet. He cuts more and more into his arm whilst breathing heavily. Once he has cut a lot of the way into his arm we then see he has exposed a nerve that he has to cut through. He grabs a plier from his leatherman and pinches it and we hear a very loud, intense, metallic, distorted, static ringing and see him in very intense pain. The sound represents the pain he is feeling in his head as he grates his teeth and throws his head back. He then touches his nerve with his finger for longer and the sound is reintroduced for longer and he screams. There is then a tremolo of strings to match the shaking movement of the camera that is introduced as he is pushing his finger underneath the nerve, he is clenching his teeth and breathing very heavily through them. He stops for a second to compose and realises what he has to do and pulls the knife out. He places the sharp side on the knife under the nerve and begins pulling on it, and the noise is back and louder than before and continues the whole time. There is a cut to a shot of Aron’s face looking completely brain dead to highlight just how sore this actually is. The sound gets quieter and quieter the harder he pulls on the nerve until he snaps it. When he does finally snap it all the sound dissipates except from a very airy ambient sound. The reason I think this is so effective is because it coincides with what Aron must be feeling at that point, of complete nothingness due to the immense pain he is feeling. There is then tribal drumming introduced as he comes back to reality and breathes heavily and intensely through his teeth. There is flashes between him looking braindead and him screaming to show the difference between what he is feeling physically and mentally. Aron then starts hallucinating and begins to chop off the rest of his forearm, this is accompanied by music rather than sound effects although he is breathing heavily throughout. As Aron breaks loose from the rock and staggers backwards the music stops, it was a representation of the struggle he was in, from which he is now free. There is then very airy ambience as Aron looks down at his arm to finally realise what he has just done. He then staggers up to the boulder shakily in complete silence and proceeds to wrap up his stump of an arm to keep it clean. As he walks away he turns around and takes a photo of the boulder. I will include a youtube clip of the scene for reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chMGsi2QY68
The scene from The Babadook which I have chosen to do my case study on is called the first encounter scene. The scene begins on a shot of a tree outside the window in the evening light, and we hear the mother reading to the son from a storybook. It then cuts to the two of them as the book is finished and the son is asleep. The light then starts to flicker next to the bed as the mother closes the book. There is then some passing of time as we see different shots of the house and it cuts to the mother in bed unable to sleep, rolling around. She then hears scratching at the door followed by silence, and then a dog barking showing that the scratching was the dog trying to enter the room, so she gets up and lets it in. She then gets back into bed and almost immediately the exact same scratching noise is heard at the door, which then opens by itself. We then see something enter and the ‘Babadook sound’ is introduced, which sounds like a swarm of bugs. The mother then hides under the covers and we hear a scurrying and the Babadook begins to talk to her. We then hear no sound so she uncovers her face and looks at the ceiling. The Babadook scurries into sight and we hear a ‘Ching’ noise almost like someone unsheathing a dagger. The Babadook noise then gets louder and we see it jump into the womans mouth to possess her with an increasing volume as this happens. A youtube clip of the video will be linked for reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ9PwIkrf-M
The scene in which I will be analysing from The Blair Witch Project is the scene in which the tent is attacked by the ‘children’. This happens about halfway through the movie, the situation is that the three teens are setting up tent for the night and decide not to light a fire as they have been followed/attacked every time they do; they also turn off the lights. In the darkness there is a passing of time as when the lights are turned back on all three of them are in the tent. When they turn the light back on they are in panic as they hear something and after a short moment we then hear the cries of children in the distance. Their tent then gets shaken from the outside and they run away in terror. As they are running Heather begins screaming as she has seen something but obviously all we see is the shaky camera of someone running. After running some distance they hide behind a bush of some sorts with their lights off, and begin whispering about what just happened. I will include a youtube clip of the scene for reference.
Here is the list of books again for the literature review but this time with a short description by each to explain the books a little better.
Film Sound: Theory and Practice – Elisabeth Weis and John Belton (1985): A collection of essays about both the theory and practical uses of sound within film, ranging from why to use particular microphones to sound art within cinema.
Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen – Michel Chion (1994): The excellent book in which Chion assesses the audiovisual relationship between sound and visuals in modern cinema using new concepts and ideas coined by Chion himself.
Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, voice and Sound Effects in Cinema – David Sonnenschien (2001): A more exercise based take on sound design, offering starting points to help beginning sound designers on a particular sound design topic.
Audio in Media – Stanley R. Alten (2007): Stanley Alten delivers a range of necessary audio techniques and principles to get people started in todays’ production based media industry.
Film Music – Peter Larsen (2007): Larsen dissects many aspects of the film soundtrack, with specific focus on two film case studies; Metropolis and The Graduate.
Sound Effects Bible – Ric Viers (2008): A comprehensive guide for recording and editing particular sound effects.
Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound – David Lewis Lewdall (2011): A collection of real-life data, based on experience from the author, which embrace the topic of sound for movies.
Electronic Music and Musique Concrète – F.C. Judd (2013): A book highlighting the author’s personal journeys and experiences through electronic music throughout the 50s and 60s.
Hopefully this extra knowledge will inform my dissertation more, and contribute towards the success of my honours project.
The next port of call after handing in the project proposal document is to start finishing the work of the concept development document. The concept development document is my own personal analysis of existing works, relating to my project proposal. It will feature the main milestones of sound design over the years, which have led up to my project now. I will exhibit my case studies and why I chose them for my project, which aims to exploit the emotions that your sound design can create. At the time of writing this blog post I am currently looking to discuss the ways to evoke 4 emotions: Happiness, Sadness, Fear and Discomfort. I feel like these are the 4 emotions that I have been trying to narrow in on subconsciously when watching films for case studies.
Our first hand in for this year was on 23rd November, and this was for our project proposal. In this document we had to outline a lot of things about our dissertation and project. The main aim was to successfully vocalise the reason that we want to do the project that we are proposing. If we can easily explain the reason why we desire to do the project, and the reason why the project is necessary, then we have done a successful proposal. The contents we needed to include within the proposal are the the project aim, the timeline, the actual project details, the references we have done in preparation for the project, the methodology and processes of the project we will take. We also had to do a literature review, and a contextual review for the document. We also had to create a conclusion to make sure that we are aware of the viability and necessity of doing this project. And obviously just like every other document we create for university we had to include a full bibliography for each document. I started this document slightly later than I would have liked to so I feel like if I had a longer time to finish it I could have produced a better document, nevertheless I am happy with the final outcome.