Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2014

  • Understanding Film Sound

    140 | CCN: 31696

    Mark Berger

    4 Units

    This course will explore the nature, evolution, use, and abuse of sound in cinema. From the first silent films, which weren’t presented in silence at all, to current action films, the relation between sound and image will be analyzed in detail. While there is a high degree of visual sophistication in audiences and academic analysis, there is an almost equal naiveté when it comes to sound. Starting with the physics of sound, the neurophysiology of hearing, and how our perception influences our emotional reactions, we will consider the three main categories of film sound – dialogue, music, and effects – from the perspectives of the writer, the director, and the audience, looking at the artistic and technical factors that guide and constrain the creative process, as well as how changes in presentation have affected audience response. Examples will be shown from foreign and domestic feature, documentary, and animated films. Depending on schedules, there will be two guest lectures by directors, composers, or editors currently working on the soundtracks of their films. Emphasis is on the real-time, aural perception and analysis of film sound. At the end of the course, students should be able to bring an increased sophistication and depth to their understanding of how sound contributes to (or diminishes!) the filmic experience.
    Requirements: Attendance and consciousness at class lectures and film screenings are mandatory. Midterm Exam, final exam, 2 quizzes, several short analyses of assigned films, and small group creation and presentation of audio scenes illustrating concepts covered in class.