An exploration of the history, artistry, and emotional power of cinema sound, as revealed by legendary sound designers and visionary directors, via interviews, clips from movies, and a look at their actual process of creation and discovery.
Making Waves takes your through the journey of sound in film, from the days of the silent film to epic scores in modern day blockbusters. There are some really thought provoking moments, like when we get told about Alan Crosland’s ‘The Jazz Singer’ which was a huge success back in 1927. The film wasn’t a success because of Jolson’s singing, though that did have an impact, but more because the viewers were able to hear his voice in a cinema which was revolutionary for the time.
The documentary talks about how surround sound came to be, and how Dolby was the face of it and it wasn’t until Coppola did Apocalypse Now, where someone said ‘no, I want this type of sound format’ which is what’s now used in all modern theatres. There’s even a demo while they’re talking as the sound travels through the speakers around the room.
There were other nice comparison/demo moments throughout like a clip from Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, before sound editing was done. The scene shown had a huge, uncontrollable amount of background noise because the location was near a railway station. The scene then showed the difference of how the scene looked in the final film with the sound editing removing that background noise and adding an atmospheric sound bed. It were moments like these in the documentary, that made the whole thing flow nicely.
You’re left intrigued throughout as sound designers show how they made classic sounds from movies, from Chewbackas voice in Star Wars, to the jumps and ‘voice’ of Luxo Jr. in the Pixar Logo, and classic short.
Having said all this, I expected more. There wasn’t as much of the stuff listed above. The first part of the documentary took your through the history of sound in films while the second half predominantly broke down all the different aspects, from score to sound effects. Plus, Christopher Nolan appears on screen for like 30 seconds, so you should watch it for that alone.
Making Waves: The Art Of Cinematic Sound is an engaging piece of cinema, which makes you learn so much fascinating information and how sound is created in some classic films as well as reminding you, that films were never really silent. Naturally, this film has to be watched in the cinema for the sound experience.