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Ideas in Sound Design: Deprivation and Barriers – Part 2


This article is the follow up to Part 1 of Ideas in Sound Design: Deprivation and Barriers. I’ve gathered a selection of media to discuss the ideas presented in the original article. I will focus on three films and one video game trailer: Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Fight Club and Mass Effect 3′s Take Earth Back (extended version). I’d first like to state that the interpretations I’ll be outlining simply reflect my personal perspectives on the films and/or scenes in question. I do not present the single interpretation, merely a single interpretation. If you have an alternative view that adds to or diverges from mine, then I encourage you to say so and share with the rest of the community. Second, I do not mean to exclude mediums beyond the linear cinematic (hence my attempt, perhaps a weak one, to include games by the inclusion of the Mass Effect trailer). My selections were based on pieces with which I was familiar enough with to allow me to coalesce my thoughts in an expedient manner.

Finally, the ideas of “deprivation” and “barriers” are not exclusively the purview of sound editing or design. They belong to the mix as well. And beyond that, the director, the DP, the scriptwriter, etc…but that broad a swath is beyond the scope of this article. The point is that contributions to a piece’s depth come from many places. So, I credit the below examples to all of their respective principal sound artists (Supervising Sound Editor, Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixers), to the best accuracy that I can.

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Ideas in Sound Design: Deprivation and Barriers – Part 1


I’ve had two ideas take obsessive root in my brain recently. They’re not new concepts, nor are they new to me. My first introduction to them was 8 years ago now, but I find myself pondering them with the regularity that my dog wants food. [Now? Now?! ………..Nooooow?] They’re worth talking about in a public space, because I hope they’ll stimulate some engaging conversation in our community. There’s also the hope that said conversation will filter and focus these ideas into greater resolution for myself. If it helps others in the process, so much the better. These two concepts, as spoiled in the title, are deprivation and barriers.

I plan to cover these ideas over two articles. In this, the first, I’ll lay out my thoughts and musings on concepts introduced to me through the writings of Walter Murch and Michel Chion. They are two different arguments, yet I feel they are closely related and augment one another. In the second article, I’ll examine several scenes under the frameworks I present here.

The concepts (paraphrased):

  1. Deprivation of sensory information causes the viewer to extract greater meaning from art. (Murch)
  2. The Voice defines the barriers it transcends. (Chion)

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