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watching film with no sound


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#1 richard staff

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 07:46 AM

Hello world of cinematographers,

Just a quick question really I dont post much on here I should really.

Has any one watched a film recently but instead of watching it sound and all just muted the sound and watched the film?

I am doing my dissertation on Vittorio Storaro and when he was young his father was a film projectionist (as most of you probably know) and he watched the films with out sound and I believe this culd be represented like looking at art in a gallery as nearly every frame is a masterpiece in most films cited and raved about on here.

I was just wondering your thoughts or if you have read any thing about this latlely, due to The Artist being a silent film (kinda) and what you believe cinematographers can gain from watching just the image like a painting at an art gallery. (also a thing that Storaro does with referencing art to his work)

Thank you for your time,

RIchard Staff
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Film Production student (cinematographer)
UCA Farnham
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#2 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 08:02 AM

I don't really know, I guess if you turn the sound off and follow the story, it's a strong testament to the visuals and editing.

But there's a rule someone once told me, sound is more than 50% of the movie. And I think to have a complete experience of what the filmmakers intended is to live up to a presentation they created. So to judge the picture properly, it should be seen the way they wanted it to be seen. That even includes a quality projection or a good transfer.
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#3 Rex Orwell

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 08:30 AM

I appreciate the method, and I do it I guess. I've got films running 24 hours a day when I'm at home and sometimes it gets muted as a matter of course. But taking it a stage further and pausing on each scene will allow you to get a lot more out of just the visual side of film. Then work it in your mind, try and understand why they've made the choices they have or try and work out how I would have improved a particular shot (in accordance with my own aesthetic preferences and obsessions) and have the time to do that (I've been doing it now for the past 15 mins for instance while I've been on the phone)

Edited by Rex Orwell, 14 February 2012 - 08:32 AM.

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#4 Frank Gollner

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 03:19 PM

There are two excellent educational sources I can recommend, which emphasize the importance of image over dialogue. The first is F W Murnau's, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, an American B & W Silent film released in 1927. Superb cinematography and a very moving story, told entirely in images. The other is the book, David Mamet;s On Directing. A short and sweet read where the playwrite turned Film Director, summarises a series of lectures he gave on film directing using Sergei Eisenstein's theories of juxtsapostion of images to move a story forward and only resorting to dialogue to add to the scene and not just for the sake of using it.

I have watched parts of film at home without sound to see if I could follow the plot still and found it difficult, unlike Sunrise. Also it made me realise how much sound and music add to the power of a scene. For me sound and music is the real third dimension that adds depth to a scene.
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:58 AM

Spielberg recommends it. I've done it BUT I tend to look at a film as a whole so I tend to want to experience the whole package. There was a doc on Halloween where a mundane scene was shown with out the iconic music then with it, effectively showing how sound could literally make the scene scary. I would recommend seeing a silent film clip with various styles of music and sound effects and see how it changes your perception of the image.

I feel watching a film without the sound is more of an exercise to allow one to concentrate on the image and the elements that make it up and make it effective, I.E. lighting, filters, camera angles and moves, production design, staging, blocking, lenses used, post elements and processing, costuming, make up and special effects make up, color pallet, locations, costuming, special effects, the progression of the images elements as the film unfolds. It's a great way to learn how to pay attention to the details of the image flickering in front of your eyes which translates into paying attention to details on a set.

In my opinion, the technique is like any other tool, it's useful if you can use it. There is no one way to create an artistic vision. IF seeing something with the sound off inspires creativity in you, it's a home run. IF you figure out how something was done that you can use later, ditto. Try it and take it for what it's worth. B)
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#6 Mei Lewis

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 05:04 AM

Related to this I've sometimes watched foreign language films without subtitles.
You still get the sound but the words don't help you follow what's going on - though the emphasis certainly does.

Another adjunct to your research maybe.
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 05:41 AM

Reminds me of a screening of 'Bad Day at Black Rock' at the NFT with French subtitles- it was the best print available- and they didn't detract a bit.
My problem with the no-subtitles thing would be trying not to follow the dialogue. Not a problem east of the Carpathians though.

Edited by Mark Dunn, 07 March 2012 - 05:41 AM.

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#8 Chris Clarke

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:41 AM

I'm reading a great book at the moment called 'The Conversations, Walter Murch and the art of film editing'. Walter Murch talks about how he edits scenes initially without the sound just to create a rhythm through the visuals and the cutting. Afterwards he tidies up the sound mistakes that have come about from the technique.
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#9 Tom Jensen

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:23 AM

When you watch a movie it isn't about cinematography, it's about watching everything the comes together to make a movie. We get caught up in the movie experience and our senses guide us as we watch it. You can specifically watch a movie to analyze the cinematography but sooner or later, you get wrapped up in the story. The method of watching a film with the sound muted was so you could isolate the cinematography. Not only that but editing, pacing, Now we have the luxury of the remote control and we can go back and look at something frame by frame which is a great addition in analyzing cinematography. It is however very painstaking to watch. Also the addition of commentary has been a great value in helping the student learn. Use all the tools available, this is just one of them but it is very effective
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