MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: MIDGE COSTIN / SCREENPLAY: BOBETTE BUSTER / STARRING: ERIK AADAHL, IOAN ALLEN, RICHARD L. ANDERSON / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 1ST
In order to create a film that explores the technical side of things, while also tying it to the individual stories of the people who make the work happen, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound goes beyond the scope of the usual behind the scenes movie documentaries. ‘Cinematic sound’ is a big umbrella to fit some things under, and it's to the credit of director Midge Costin that it feels as though there's been very little left out, despite its compact running time.
Making Waves explores the sonic world of cinema in a way that makes the technological something immediate and personal. Costin's first bit of brilliance is having the film tell the story of sound in cinema overall before she even starts putting terms to things, allowing any viewer to see and hear how movies went from live music to synched music to talking to moving and talking to stereo to surround sound and more.
It's a natural progression, interspersed with stories from technical people and directors, wherein they explain why how a movie sounds is just as important as how it looks. Given the myriad components involved, there's a visual aid present throughout Making Waves, called the circle of talent. It divides sound in cinema into the three subsets - voice, sound effects, and music - and then further divide those categories into their component parts, such as production recording, dialogue editing, and ADR for voice.
As with the history, one sees just how one development flows into the next, and the circle analogy is perfect for explaining how all of this is connected. The viewer and listener are given so many examples of just how effective certain things are when viewing in connection with the others. Sometimes, music and voice work in conjunction, whereas other times, the music and voice are gone completely to focus entirely on some Foley work from sound effects. The faders are literally going up and down in front of one's eyes as they make their way through Making Waves, seeing how one thing can be compensated for or complemented by the aspect of something else.
Midge Costin's film could easily have become a morass of technological terminology and talking heads, but the intimate stories of the sound men and women involved in the industry bring their individual connections to the forefront and make the picture very relatable. By film's end, it's been less a documentary experience, and more like having some new, talented friends telling war stories about what they do for a living.