Singin’ In The Rain, 60 Years Later

The 1952 classic, “Singin’ in the Rain” tells the story of the transformation of film from consisting only of moving images with no supporting sound outside of thematic music, to the voice over gold standard that it is today. It follows the story of two famous actors, Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont, who the public perceives as a couple madly in love. However, behind closed doors Don’s attention is focused on someone else.

This film takes place during a time where the era of talking films was about to take the world by storm. This wasn’t a seamless transition though. Watching this movie showed me the many difficulties that filmmakers and actors faced during the early stages switching from just music to full voice over. One of the earlier issues that the director was met with was trying to get the audio to record clearly, but Lena has tremendous difficulty speaking into the mic. He tries to solve this using several different methods. Initially, he embedded a wired microphone into a flower on Lena’s dress as a way to better pick up her voice. Because of the positioning of the flower over her chest, this unintentionally picked up the sound of Lena’s heart beating, ruining the recording. He sought to correct this by repositioning the microphone on her left shoulder. This seemed to be the fix everyone was hoping for but as it is later revealed this placement only recorded good quality sound while Lena spoke in the direction of the mic. Whenever Lena would shift her head and speak in the opposite direction (as she often did) her speech was inaudible. Using the equipment that we have available today, this issue would be easily fixed using either a shotgun, or lavalier mic.

This was only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the difficulty with adding audio to motion picture. Post production, the first film that they produced was an embarrassment. First off, this was before the age of Foley. During the movie, voice and sound effects were constantly interfering with one another (such as when Lena tries do deliver lines while fiddling with a set of pearls) make the audio sound sloppy and unprofessional. As this was the first film, it was obvious that there was little thought but into developing an interesting script. The worst issue came when the audio fell out of sync with the video. All of the issues combined turned the movie into a laughing stock.

Overall, I enjoyed the picture which came as a great surprise to me as I’ve never been a fan of musicals. It was also good to see the art of motion picture production in it’s infancy. The film industry has come a mighty long way.

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Deaf Poets?

This article is about dangerous noise levels and how vulnerable artists in the music industry are to damaging their hearing, and suffering from afflictions such as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is described as “a neurological problem that originates in the brain, involving miscommunication between noise-damaged sensory cells; the result is a continuous ringing sound in the ears.” Basically this is a never ending ringing sensation in your ears that results from prolonged listening to dangerous frequencies of music, or other noises that are loud enough. Even riding the subway (something I’m sure we all do regularly) is something that can cause hearing loss to some degree.

Later in the article, the author wrote…

“When properly inserted, foam earplugs block out dangerous frequencies . . . Most agree that if earplugs are going to “cut out” any important sounds, it’ll be vocals, which sit on the high end of the mix and are hardest to capture because of the artist’s distance from the mic and the fact that they are constantly moving. Audiologists, however, agree that vocals aren’t loud enough to be blocked out even from cheap earplugs, which are designed to cut out only the dangerous frequencies.”

I conducted some light research and found out that normal conversation typically registers around 60 decibels or higher. Anything at or around the 75-80 decibel range (which is comparable to city traffic) is unlikely to cause any permanent or extensive hearing loss. So the “dangerous frequencies” that the author was referring to must lie within the 90 db range and above. Noises such as fireworks going off, motorcycles whizzing right by, or the sound of gunfire- which all lie within the 120-140 db range will all cause permanent damage to the sensitive hairs that pick up sound inside your ear.

Most venues tend to blast loud music in the frequency range of 98 to 115 db, which is recognized as 20 db higher than necessary for hearing damage to occur after sustained listening. They apparently do this for no reason other than they simple want it to be loud. This puts the artist, and people who regularly attend these extremely noisy concerts at the greatest level of risk. In my opinion, I feel that if it is common knowledge that if these music events are loud enough to cause hearing damage to the point of having full blow tinnitus, it should be mandatory to wear some form of ear protection, exactly how its mandatory to wear a hard hat at a construction site. Either that, or make it illegal to play music so harmfully loud. I honestly don’t think people will notice the difference.

52 Blue

This article is about an anomaly in the marine world; a whale that naturally communicates using sound waves at a much higher frequency than ever recorded. With this case serving as the lone exception, blue whales in general are known to emit sounds in a frequency range between 15-20 hertz, so it was very common for hydrophone equipment to pick them up sometimes in packs. However this particular whale always appeared to be alone. Experts believed it was because this particular whale “sang” at a frequency that was to high pitch for others to acknowledge, and therefore respond to. This is the story of the Loneliest Whale.

Over the years since its discovery, this creature began to receive a large amount of public sympathy. Researchers started getting letters from whale fanatics and deaf people who speculated that the mammal might share a similar disability. This quickly got out of control however as the whale started receiving attention from heartbroken individuals, other people having trouble with their love lives; artists and musicians began to create elaborate songs and pieces of art in dedication to this one animal. Someone even set up a Twitter account to speak on the whale’s behalf. This all happened because it was a figure that many people easily identified with.

Later in the article the author wrote…

“One of the themes of Zeman’s film is modern loneliness, that people are particularly responsive to the story of 52 in the digital era—when the Internet promises connectivity but can actually deliver us even deeper into isolation.”

My interpretation of this is that the author recognizes that internet is marketed as a place where individuals are constantly interacting with one another, meeting new people and where you will develop more as part of a group rather than as one person who is alone. The reality of the situation is that meeting up with someone in a chat room, or through social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram is not the same as going out in the world and actually experiencing what it is like to meet up with someone amazing and do something that is unforgettable. I believe that the digital age has forced many people to fall out of touch with what it truly means to be a part of something, and I do agree with the idea that many people unwittingly favor isolation.

Week 9 Audio Clips

Right here are the three sound clips that we worked on last week. I Say three because I was never able to edit the last clip with the parking lot using the Audio Suite in ProTools. At first I believed it was because of problems editing tracks formatted in stereo, but converting the track into stereo didn’t make things go any better…the best I was able to do was to divide the audio and pan them left and right.

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