I am due to begin a course very soon and part of the content I’ll be teaching is critical listening. One of the ways that I would like to teach this is buy having students listen to film clips and spot the errors. I have a couple of examples already, but I was wondering if you could suggest any more.
They might be stereo imaging errors, incorrect sound effects errors or anything else.
Thanks for any help.
I remember watching Public Enemies once and thinking that there was some weird stuff happening in some of the dialog edits. I’ve heard that working on Michael Mann films can be stressful and chaotic, and that certainly can have an effect on an editor’s ability to smooth those things out…especially if the director wants lines cobbled together in a certain way.
“Errors” are difficult to come across as they are sometimes aesthetic choices and certainly in modern big budget productions problems they normally get caught before release. Having said that in the UK in the last couple of years there have been viewer complaints about the sound on a couple of TV programs. Off the top of my head I think one was the nature programmer Planet Earth and the other was Downton Abby. I’ve not seen either and can’t remember what the issues were, but sure Google News will unearth.
Having said that, I use some examples from early Sergie Leon westerns (Dollars Trilogy). At the time it was common practice for all the actors to deliver their lines in their native language. Then lines were overdubbed in post by voice actors for the various different language releases. As a result, the lip-sync often does not match the visuals I also use some examples from A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) as some of the sound effects standout.
I also use some examples from the film The Inglorious Bastards (1978) and I’m sure you could find some examples from early Bruce Lee martial arts movies.
I’m not sure what kind of course you’ll be teaching or/and within which context, but as a student I wasn’t interested in what went wrong in other peoples workflows/processes. I learned most what I did ‘wrong’ myself and what was the result. It could either be bad or good on story telling level.. I discovered that there is no one right way to do it.
Critical listening is a bit of an abstract term, but it boils down to trying to 3 listening modes (according to a lot of people but Schaeffer and Chion in particular)
- Causal: understand what you hear (a clock ticking),
- Semantic convey it’s meaning in the context (time is passing/running out),
- Reduced: how it was created/recorded (directional microphone or contact mic?).
Other than that anything can go wrong when you listen in one of those 3 listening modes, but that can be the result of a lot of other factors.. (budget, distribution, format etc etc).