CINEMA: A new documentary seeks to give insight into and credit to those unsung heroes responsible for the sound of contemporary cinema as we know it.
Steve Rickinson
Steve is the Communications Manager for Modern Times review. He is based in Amsterdam.
Published date: November 11, 2019

Since the beginnings of the motion picture, understanding and acknowledgment of film sound has often been overshadowed by its visual counterpart. With Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (screened at DokuArts 2019), director & co-producer Midge Costin looks to rectify this ill, informing along the way, with a comprehensive and entertaining documentary tracing both the history of sound design, as well as providing an informative breakdown of the teams that make up a film’s final audio output – The Circle of Talent.

The current Chair of Sound Design at the University of Southern California (USC), and with a decades-long career in Hollywood (credits include Crimson Tide, Days of Thunder, Armageddon, and Hocus Pocus), Costin is able to gather a highly reputable collection of prominent filmmakers and sound designers to provide insight and context on the topic. Directing titans like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Ryan Coogler, Robert Redford, David Lynch, Barbara Streisand, and Sofia Coppola joins a who’s who of cinema‘s most prominent sound professionals in sharing first-hand experience from the sets of some of sound’s most watershed cinematic moments.

The foundations of Making Waves deal with the simple idea that sound and storytelling have always been intricately related. From the first moments of life, sound acts as the premiere sense we, as humans, are cognitive toward. Thus, a vital aspect of our psychological relationship with cinema. Growing from this central thesis, Making Waves then follows a linear trajectory in making its case, stopping at some of cinema’s most known, loved, and seminal moments in sound history.

A new roar

The film’s first half deals with the history of sound design and recording techniques. Naturally, this starts with The Jazz Singer and the beginnings of cinematic sound, including Tarzan and The Tin Man. Also amongst them is the revolutionary approach of Murray Spivack, who’s rebellion against stock sound produced the innovative roars of 1939’s King Kong.

a who’s who of cinema’s most prominent sound professionals in sharing first-hand experience from the sets of some of sound’s most …

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