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The art of Randy Thom

 Sound designer (FW35)

Beyond The POV
Beyond The POV: Gustavo Costantini explains how the ability to play around with point of view and point of hearing are crucial to creative sound design

Point of View = Point of Hearing?
In order to determine what is the right effect or processing for Film Sound, it is very important to start separating the point of view from the point of hearing, and to try to relate to the latter. Most student’s short films or early projects lack this independence of what is seen and what is heard.
Let’s take an example from Alan Parker’s Angel Heart: after the interview with De Niro’s character - Louis Cypher - private detective Harold Angel - Mickey Rourke - is traveling by car trying to find clues about the disappeared singer Johnny Favorite. This short sequence is composed of a few shots of the car; long shot of the car on the road, a closer shot showing Harold Angel through the windscreen, another longer shot until the car arrives to an isolated building by the road (the institution where Johnny Favorite might be hospitalized).

When we see the long shot of the car along the road, we hear the car engine, a whistle (Harold Angel whistling what eventually will be recognized as the leitmotif of Johnny Favorite), some ambient (a barely perceived wind), and the music score (Courtney Pine’s saxophone playing the same Johnny Favoritea’s leitmotif, arranged by composer Trevor Jones). When we see the approaching shot of the car, we still hear the whistle (at the same level of the previous shot), the car engine (a little bit louder), and subjective sounds of Harold Angel (a sort of a sound flashback of the interview of previous sequence).

Why the sound of the whistle does not change while the one of the car does? Because the sound of the car engine is attached to the point of view of the camera while the whistle is related to an independent point of hearing.