No Country for Old Men (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2007)
Must be rented or streamed (from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube Movies, etc.)
After reading the textbook chapter and two articles related to sound design, watch No Country for Old Men, paying particularly close attention to the use of sound and silence throughout the film. Then choose one scene in the film* and, in a discussion of at least 250 words, describe its “sonic spectrum.” Your discussion must
1) identify the beginning and ending times of your scene,
2) describe the sounds in order of their occurrence within the scene, and
3) address all of the following elements:
sound effects, from the most obvious to the barely perceptible;
silence (true silence, or can you hear an added sound?).
After describing the use of these elements, briefly answer the following questions:
If you had to sum up the overall sound design of your chosen scene in one sentence, what would it be?
Why is this design concept appropriate for the scene?
How does this scene move the film’s plot forward?
- *Do NOT choose the hotel scene discussed on the last page of Lim’s article. You are free to choose any other scene in the movie.
- The Beautiful Lies of Sound Design
- FIRST ARTICLE ON SOUND DESIGN
Sound Editing vs. Sound Mixing
- Feb. 22, 2013
- Chris Knight
- Oscars 2013: Sound Editing vs. Sound Mixing at the 2013 Academy Awards
What’s the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, again?
This year, the nominees for best sound editing (once known as best sound effects or best sound effects editing) are Argo, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty. In the running for best sound mixing is a similar group: Argo, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Lincoln and Les Misérables.
The two categories sound similar, and the Academy fosters that by always presenting one award after the one. Also, the winners in four of the past five years have been the same film. But in fact they reward very different skills.
Sound editing is the process by which sounds are sourced, created and captured. If you need the noise of a distressed zebra for Life of Pi, the sound editor gets it, either by recording a zebra or combining other sounds — an angry horse, a peeved weasel and producer Harvey Weinstein, for instance. Gunshot sounds for Skyfall, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty also fall into this realm.
Sound mixing, on the other hand, refers to the process of putting the sounds together for the film’s final track. In Life of Pi, the zebra’s wails may coexist with Pi’s voice-over, the lapping of water on the lifeboat, the sound of wind, the film’s score and more. Combining these elements so that nothing gets lost — especially the dialogue — is the sound mixer’s job.
The difference explains why the list of nominees varies. Les Mis has a vital sound mix, with background noises and voices raised in song, plus the powerful score. Django Unchained requires such unusual sound effects as the noise of an empty skull being crushed by a hammer, a man being whipped, or a guy falling off a horse (cue the Wilhelm scream). Skyfall, with its myriad explosions and battles, plus some vital bad-guy exposition, require excellence in both categories.
The best metaphor I ever heard for the difference is a culinary one. The sound editor gathers the ingredients; the sound mixer makes the soup. It wouldn’t be good if the components were off, but too much salt would also ruin the taste.
SECOND ARTICLE ON SOUND DESIGN