One of the most awesome characteristics of planet Earth is that it has an atmosphere. Thanks to it, we are able to communicate with each other verbally (sound requires a medium to propagate, which in this case is air). We evolved to develop ears only because there was air in the atmosphere.
Well, what if there was no air? How would we communicate? Most people would ask how we would survive without air in the first place. I am talking of a hypothetical situation where we would be able to survive without it. Who knows? Maybe there’s a planet out there with no air. Imagine a thunderstorm with no sound. Such a waste!
The first thing that comes to mind is sign language. I wonder how much further we would have advanced from simple signing. For example, with, sound, we began by making simple noises, then advanced to simple words, then sentences and so on. Now we have cell phones, voice recorders and Daft Punk. What if we had advanced the same way with something like sign language? I am guessing facial expressions would play a much greater role. The conveyance of feelings would be a thing? (anyone who watched The Arrival can relate). I can imagine a world full of professor Xs walking around in silence yet communicating with each other just fine.
The environment directly influences the way we evolve (perfect time to bring up environmental awareness but who gives a shit). What if there exists a planet with a completely different type of environment inhabited by completely different beings? How cool/nightmarish would that be?
Warning: This post will derail into several unrelated topics. Let the adventure begin!
Date: November 12th 2017
Time: 10:30 pm
Movie: Thor Ragnarok a.k.a. Rainbows
Audio configuration: Dolby Atmos
Depression level: mild
Popcorn: chilly cheese
Verdict: Meh. Auro 3D wins.
It was nice to see a good mix of loners and couples in the audience. Despite being a loner myself I was slightly uncomfortable with the close proximity that some of the other loners maintained with me. So I gently got up, went to the restroom, came back and sat in a completely different seat(like a man). It was interesting to see that all the loners had also left the hall, possibly to use the restroom. What was even more interesting to see was upon returning they looked around for me and sat right next to me again. I felt like a shepherd who came to watch Thor with a flock of sheep. I wasn’t threatened however. Most of them were nerds like me. Its easy to spot nerds and weirdos. Nerds keep checking their “notification-free” blank phone screens while weirdos secretly stare at people. I guess that makes me a weirdo too. Learning everyday! Back to the topic. I did not feel very enveloped in sound which is the whole point of ATMOS. The quality of audio I experienced does not justify the extensive use of expensive, high quality speakers. Maybe the audio was “too real”. I don’t know. I am aware that the audio in Thor is not great but I feel the whole ATMOS thing was overhyped. I guess movies need to be mixed properly to take full advantage of ATMOS system. I am obsessed with surround sound. It might be because I am a homebody. However I think it plays an important part in todays cinema.
My theory on why surround sound is important:
Movies are getting realer. That’s not a real word but its true. We like it when there are “real” emotions, real weather and obviously, real sound. And for sound to be real, it has to come from all directions. It has to envelope the listener and take them on a journey away from reality. Wait… that contradicts what I just said but you get the point. This might come as a surprise to many movie enthusiasts but natural sound is surround sound at its best. Yes, I am talking about the sounds that you hear everyday. Take a moment and think about the sounds you hear everyday. Replay them in your head. I’ll help with a few examples from my exciting life:
- The sound of the alarm that reminds you everyday that there’s no escape. Even with your eyes closed you are able to make out in which direction the sound from hell is coming from. All it takes is a little fumbling around with the hands on the table, making way through all the antidepressants, bills and maybe a drop of the cellphone until you finally feel the familiar snooze button.
- Annoying roommates ,their radio and their general happy mood. For some reason, your roommate thinks the only way to spread joy is to make sure that her favourite DJ’s voice reaches aliens clearly.
- Neighbourhood dogs
- Thunder- You might have noticed that these types of sounds create uneasiness in the mind. Other examples include tremors, storms, etc. Studies have revealed that we are pre-programmed to dislike or fear these type of sounds as they signal danger. Just another gift of evolution.
- Drunk people in the night
- Lovers whispering
- Occasional hip hop fan driving by with the windows wide open, spreading happiness in his own way
What all of these sounds have in common is that you can localize the source without having to actually see them. We need the same effect in movies. This is what Dolby, DTS, Auro 3D,etc. have been trying to replicate for years. Stay tuned for my next post- “Stereo, I don’t hate you”