Christopher Nolan says Sound in Interstellar is Just Fine

Christopher Nolan says Sound in Interstellar is Just Fine

Christopher Nolan 310x

"We made carefully considered creative decisions."

Have you seen Interstellar yet? I liked it more than the intrepid Bob Chipman, although it did feel a little discombobulated at times.

That disjointed feeling, while tied into how much of the film was likely left on the cutting room floor, might be tied to Interstellar's sound design as well. I saw Nolan's latest in IMAX last week, and there were several scenes or lines of dialogue that I didn't quite catch, thanks to the, um, substantial amount of bass during the feature presentation. The sound effects in Interstellar are top-notch, but when they drown out potentially crucial lines of dialogue? That's muddy water, for sure.

And I'm not the only one, as there are posts all over the place talking about sound design choices made by the Interstellar creative team.

According to Christopher Nolan himself, that was an intentional move during the sound editing/design process.

"Many of the filmmakers I've admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways," said Nolan in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions - I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal - picture and sound."

Nolan continued, saying he visited several theaters in Los Angeles and New York City to hear the sound mix for himself. "The theaters I have been at have been doing a terrific job in terms of presenting the film in the way I intended. Broadly speaking, there is no question when you mix a film in an unconventional way as this, you're bound to catch some people off guard, but hopefully people can appreciate the experience for what it's intended to be."

I'll likely find myself in a non-IMAX theater this week, watching Interstellar for a second time. Keeping Nolan's thoughts in mind, it will be interesting to see how the dialogue comes through in a standard 35mm/digital screening environment.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Devin Connors:
"I don't agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue."

Anyone else love the irony in that?

I liked the movie and I could understand it just fine, but Hans Zimmer was trying to destroy the theater. I had to laugh.

I more or less hated the movie, but can't say the audio bothered me at any point. (Although perhaps I'm biased due to finding the supposedly drowned out dialog to be rubbish anyways)

You are not Robert Altman.

Stop allowing your pretentiousness to antagonize your audience.

Anyone who heard Bane speaking and had to decipher what the hell he was saying knows exactly how much Chris Nolan cares about his sound design.

He cares a lot about his sound design. He just needs to remember that not everyone is watching his movies with high quality digital speakers.

His films have phenomenal sound design in my opinion, but the mix was all wrong where I saw it. Now I know it was mixed wrong on his end, it's a shame I will have to wait for Blu Ray to see it properly.

Artistic choices don't automatically mean great and brilliant choices.

Lono Shrugged:
He cares a lot about his sound design. He just needs to remember that not everyone is watching his movies with high quality digital speakers.

His films have phenomenal sound design in my opinion, but the mix was all wrong where I saw it. Now I know it was mixed wrong on his end, it's a shame I will have to wait for Blu Ray to see it properly.

High quality speakers are great for picking out fine details in sound and especially (well mixed, sad rarity though it is)music that lower quality speakers aren't capable of expressing. That has absolutely nothing to do with being able to hear dialogue, which is notable for not being terribly difficult for most humans to hear, except when it is mumbled or otherwise garbled by bad sound design. As it was with Bane's dialogue in TDKR. As it apparently is in Interstellar(haven't watched it yet, so I have to take people's word for it). I often like the sound in Nolan's films too. Inception was great that way. But a fault is a fault, and Nolan saying it was intentional doesn't make it less so. The Loudness Wars are a result of intentional design as well. Doesn't make it a good thing.

Scars Unseen:

Lono Shrugged:
He cares a lot about his sound design. He just needs to remember that not everyone is watching his movies with high quality digital speakers.

His films have phenomenal sound design in my opinion, but the mix was all wrong where I saw it. Now I know it was mixed wrong on his end, it's a shame I will have to wait for Blu Ray to see it properly.

High quality speakers are great for picking out fine details in sound and especially (well mixed, sad rarity though it is)music that lower quality speakers aren't capable of expressing. That has absolutely nothing to do with being able to hear dialogue, which is notable for not being terribly difficult for most humans to hear, except when it is mumbled or otherwise garbled by bad sound design. As it was with Bane's dialogue in TDKR. As it apparently is in Interstellar(haven't watched it yet, so I have to take people's word for it). I often like the sound in Nolan's films too. Inception was great that way. But a fault is a fault, and Nolan saying it was intentional doesn't make it less so. The Loudness Wars are a result of intentional design as well. Doesn't make it a good thing.

If you have a set up with a good dynamic range you will find that Bane's voice is not really a huge problem. When the bass bleeds into the dialogue it is because there is not enough dynamic range on the speakers. (Or the mix is wrong) The human ear is actually very adept at separating frequencys. That's why you can have a conversation in a crowded loud nightclub. There is music blasting, hundreds of voices, but we can focus in and isolate the sounds we want to hear. I may be in the minority of people who feel that way though. When I saw The Dark Knight Rises in cinema it was murky. But I recently watched it on blu ray and it was super crisp.

I actually can't have a conversation in a nightclub. I can pick out details in (well mixed) music, but when a lot of random sounds are competing with each other, it becomes harder for me to pick out a single strand of communication. It's why I don't like crowds much, despite not actually being antisocial.

That said, Bane's voice is about the only instance I can recall in a movie where I couldn't make out what was being said, so it's not my ears' fault. And I use Beyerdynamic DT880s with a little Dot mkIII amp for movies(small apartment, so headphones are king), so my speakers are just fine. Could be the mix, but again, it's only the one movie I have a problem with, so I still say that the movie is the problem, not me.

The Last of Us is a groundbreaking narrative achievement. Central to that effort is the fact that you can HEAR THE DIALOGUE!!! That and it's not cut together slap-dash.

I can't believe Nolan used the "you just don't get my art because it's so edgy" defense when he's spending millions and has an entire team of artists, sound designers, and cinematographers working under him. I bet those professional sound mixers are either really pissed or really grateful that he's basically put a target on his own back for it.

Reminds me of an older yahtzee review where he says something along the lines of 'just because you're doing it ironically doesn't make it any less of a bad design.'

captcha: "floor tile" I think I may have had the most boring captcha ever.

Lono Shrugged:

Scars Unseen:

Lono Shrugged:
He cares a lot about his sound design. He just needs to remember that not everyone is watching his movies with high quality digital speakers.

His films have phenomenal sound design in my opinion, but the mix was all wrong where I saw it. Now I know it was mixed wrong on his end, it's a shame I will have to wait for Blu Ray to see it properly.

High quality speakers are great for picking out fine details in sound and especially (well mixed, sad rarity though it is)music that lower quality speakers aren't capable of expressing. That has absolutely nothing to do with being able to hear dialogue, which is notable for not being terribly difficult for most humans to hear, except when it is mumbled or otherwise garbled by bad sound design. As it was with Bane's dialogue in TDKR. As it apparently is in Interstellar(haven't watched it yet, so I have to take people's word for it). I often like the sound in Nolan's films too. Inception was great that way. But a fault is a fault, and Nolan saying it was intentional doesn't make it less so. The Loudness Wars are a result of intentional design as well. Doesn't make it a good thing.

If you have a set up with a good dynamic range you will find that Bane's voice is not really a huge problem. When the bass bleeds into the dialogue it is because there is not enough dynamic range on the speakers. (Or the mix is wrong) The human ear is actually very adept at separating frequencys. That's why you can have a conversation in a crowded loud nightclub. There is music blasting, hundreds of voices, but we can focus in and isolate the sounds we want to hear. I may be in the minority of people who feel that way though. When I saw The Dark Knight Rises in cinema it was murky. But I recently watched it on blu ray and it was super crisp.

They aren't talking about Bane from the theatrical and home release. They are talking about Bane when first shown to be in the movie. Despite Nolan claiming it was perfectly fine and people were idiots for not accepting the garbled mess of a tone that was the original voice, he went on to change it so Bane was much clearer to understand.

I didn't mind Interstellar's sound design too much, but it did sound like Nikola Tesla was trying to bring the whole building down at some places. Maybe if the roof had a different resonant frequency it would have been perfect, but I don't see the point of music shaking me out of my seat in a movie where there are space ships making noise that shakes me out of my seat.

And yet, I understood every bit of dialog.

Not that I'm discounting anyone's claim that they couldn't, it's just that I had no issue at all hearing what was being said at the particularly loud moments.

My only issue, with my own viewing, was that the theater had boosted the lower frequencies on top of the already loud bass in the film. They had done the same thing when I had gone there to see The Hobbit in IMAX.

Lono Shrugged:

If you have a set up with a good dynamic range you will find that Bane's voice is not really a huge problem. When the bass bleeds into the dialogue it is because there is not enough dynamic range on the speakers. (Or the mix is wrong) The human ear is actually very adept at separating frequencys. That's why you can have a conversation in a crowded loud nightclub. There is music blasting, hundreds of voices, but we can focus in and isolate the sounds we want to hear. I may be in the minority of people who feel that way though. When I saw The Dark Knight Rises in cinema it was murky. But I recently watched it on blu ray and it was super crisp.

I have tonal issues in my right ear but my left ear picks up things my right won't and apparently compensates for it well. I never had a problem with Bane's dialogue or any movie really as long as the sound system wasn't total crap. At home I've got well made speakers and a solid amplifier so sounds don't get jumbled.
Its all relative to the setup one uses, not necessarily due to poor mixing. Hell it could be a loose wire in a theater causing issues as one poorly connected wire can flub a whole channel. I also worked for a theater before and had to nag the GM to get the sound fixed in a couple of our screen rooms because they were way out of whack and he was either tone deaf or stubborn (turned out I was right, they were wired incorrectly).

I thought the sound was fine, the best of it was that space was actually silent.

I liked the movie overall, but I feel they could have done better with one scene in particular...

Mr Nolan, might I suggest you get over yourself already? Either that or take a seat between Mr Shayamalan and Mr Schumacher. They look lonely.

Jadak:
I more or less hated the movie, but can't say the audio bothered me at any point. (Although perhaps I'm biased due to finding the supposedly drowned out dialog to be rubbish anyways)

I loved it minus two parts. SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY.

The "love" monologue from whatshername and everything that happened after whatshisname fell into the black hole.

Other than that, the movie was pretty awesome, but it fell COMPLETELY apart in the end.

It's very clear what's really going on here. allow me to rephrase the good Mr Nolan:

"We made carefully considered creative decisions."

The entity known as Hans Zimmer has allowed us to reconsider our creative decisions.
as a group it was decided that we needed more Zimmer

"Many of the filmmakers I've admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways,"

Zimmer tells me that Filmmakers use sound design to alter the fabric of reality all the time and not to worry about it.

"I don't agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue.

Human language is outdated and outmatched, it lacks sufficient magnitude. we must accept our new ways of sound.

"Clarity of story, clarity of emotions - I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal - picture and sound."

The narrative threads of your lives, your very thoughts and feelings. these dance on the many strings of Zimmer. he has many tools at his disposal. he tugs at our disjointed existence. pushes with his mighty waves.

"The theaters I have been at have been doing a terrific job in terms of presenting the film in the way I intended."

The theaters tremble at his terrific might! I present his splendor in all it's glorious amplification! I am the vessel of Zimmer and through me he speaks his terrible voice!

Broadly speaking, there is no question when you mix a film in an unconventional way as this, you're bound to catch some people off guard,

But some resist the works of the great Zimmer and his kings! they do not accept his splendor. I pity such people. they are not prepared.

but hopefully people can appreciate the experience for what it's intended to be."

But they will submit.

Funny how when a director someone don't like tries something new it's pretentious and awful and he should get over himself, and when a director when that same director doesn't try something new he's still pretentious and should get over himself, and omg please just give us more films about spandex riders that don't even pretend to challenge their audience. >_>

So, this is basically the filmmaking equivalent of "It's not a bug, it's a FEATURE!"...

So his statement in short "Here is some cleverly written bullshit to make you think we didn't botch it."
And this is the perfect time for me to re-iterate movies should come with a fully featured option menu much like games do, which would include a multitude of volume sliders.

The movie is OK and the robots are AWESOME! But the sound...

I was actually angry at the theater where I saw it thinking their shitty sound system muffled the dialogues under the earthquake inducing bass. Because, certainly, the professionals working in the movie wouldn't screw the movie's sound this badly, right?

Guess what...

To my mind it may be a deliberate creative choice, but if it is detrimental to the experience of people viewing the film then that doesn't mean it qualifies as "Just Fine". Even a deliberate decision can, on reflection, still be a poor one.

The sound was find, except a few little bits of Matty McConaugheys raspy voice. Otherwise, I understood it fine.

I'd focus more on the fact that the film was boring and slow, not nit picking on the music and sound.....

Could have toned down the Bass, it kept waking me up...

Jandau:
So, this is basically the film making equivalent of "It's not a bug, it's a FEATURE!"...

Exactly or he is supporting literacy by making us use close captions.

 

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