Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019) Poster

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8/10
Informative and deeply passionate
carrythe29 October 2019
Making Waves is both an informative, friendly introduction to the world of film sound and a passionate advocation of the art. There are in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in Hollywood sound design - Ben Burtt, Skip Livesay, Randy Thom, Gary Rydstrom and the industry's superstar, the always-entertaining Walter Murch - and in directing - George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, David Lynch, as well as a great many others.

There's an entertaining history of film sound and a breakdown of all the elements that go into the finished whole. In a concise 90 minutes it manages to include most of the major technological innovations and pioneering films and figures. It also manages to give a strong voice to the many women who have worked at the highest level on blockbuster films (e.g. Cecilia Hall on Top Gun, Anna Belhmer on Braveheart).

On the downside, it is very Hollywood-centric (or perhaps California-centric - at one point George Lucas says "so we relocated to San Francisco" like it was some giant leap for filmmaker kind). But to be fair, the filmmakers did admit in the post-screening Q&A that they wanted it to be much more of an international story but they already had over 200 hours of transcripts just from the US and didn't have the funds to travel for interviews.

That aside, it would be hard to ask for a better film about this fascinating but obscure subject.
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6/10
great gaps in an otherwide entertaining film
grumpy-323 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
So looked forward to this and by and large it was mostly good. But what really irked me was that they implied Barbara Striesand was responisble for bring stereo sound into cinemas in 1976 with A Star is Born. what nonsense the missed out so much, Disney was the first to use Stereo with Fantasia in 1940, Fox then made it much wider with their 4 track stereo staring with the Robe in 1954, thereafter all big road show films could be shown in big theatres in stereo.as early as the graduate stereo was being used more often, its a shame that such an important part of cinema sound was completly left out, cannot believe they did this
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6/10
talking heads promotion
paleolith22 January 2020
I was disappointed. Instead of going into the depths of sound, the film mostly focuses on talking heads, including directors as well as sound pros. There's a short history of sound in films (not just speech), and a short segment about the categories of sound production. These were good but far too short and shallow. I felt like I'd seen a promo, hagiography even, for the sound professions instead of a doc. Those professions deserve a much deeper and more detailed documentary.
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8/10
Did you hear that?
ferguson-625 October 2019
Greetings again from the darkness. Did you hear that? While watching a movie, you are likely aware of explosions and spoken dialogue, but it's quite astounding how many other sounds can make up a movie-watching experience. While it's true that we think of movies as a visual medium, it's not a complete description. Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg said, "Our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives."

Midge Costin was a noted Sound Editor from 1986 through 1998 on such films as CRIMSON TIDE, CON AIR, and ARMAGEDDON. She then transitioned to education and has spent 20 years at the renowned USC Film School, holding the Kay Rose endowed chair in the Art of Dialogue and Sound Editing. She is truly a sound expert, and in this, her directorial debut, she beautifully lays out the art form of sound that takes place within the art form of cinema.

Ms. Costin structures the film with an historical timeline, personal profiles of some of the most important figures in sound, and a breakdown of sound segments and technology. Along the way she includes film clips to provide specific examples, and interviews for industry insight. The film takes us back to 1877 and Edison's phonograph, and on to 1927 when THE JAZZ SINGER delivered Al Jolson's voice. 1933's KING KONG mesmerized with the first true sound effects, and we learn the direct connection between movie sound and radio. We really get the inside scoop on the breakthroughs of American Zoetrope (founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas), and the importance of Barbra Sreisand's demands for A STAR IS BORN (1976), Robert Altman's multi-track NASHVILLE, and the "Wookie" sounds of STAR WARS. Of course, many other films and filmmakers (including Stanley Kubrick) are singled out for moving sound forward.

Some of the most interesting data comes courtesy of the "nerds" known as Sound Designers. Walter Murch (APOCALYPSE NOW), Ben Burtt (STAR WARS), Gary Rydstrom (JURASSIC PARK), and Lora Hirschberg (INCEPTION) are all Oscar winners, and their insight is fascinating along with that of Cece Hall, Bobby Banks, and Anna Behlmer - the latter of whom recounts her experience as a woman doing the fighter jet sounds for TOP GUN.

Cinema sound is divided into Music, sound effects, and voice, with each of these sections have sub-categories. Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR), digital layers (through Pixar), ambience, and the custom effects of the Foley are all parts of the circle of talent delivering puzzle pieces to the Sound Mixer for assembly. If all of this hits you as a bit too technical, you should know that it's presented in a manner that makes it easy to follow. Sound is what pushes cinema into an immersive experience for viewers, and you'll likely walk away from Ms. Costin's film with an appreciation of just how many elements go into what you hear during a movie - and that's worth listening to.
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8/10
Informative, But Lacking
Fredtimbo2 March 2020
If you're a fan of cinema and audio, Making Waves: The Art Of Cinematic Sound is a fascinating and informative documentary movie.

But I had a few issues with the film. 1. Even though Ioan Allen was interviewed, Making Waves neglected to mention other major contributions of Dolby Laboratories to surround sound in movies, like Dolby Stereo and Atmos.

2. They hardly mentioned anything about Jack Foley--you know, the man they named foley sound effects after.

3. Making Waves featured so many legends in the movie industry, so how can you talk about film scores and not interview John Williams!?!

4. And what about Lucasfilm THX, who helped elevate presentation quality standards for movies in cinema and home?

Granted, there's a lot to cover in the history of cinema sound, but the film overlooked some of the most significant contributions.
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6/10
in tune
kevin c3 May 2020
Lockdown movie evening with Iris.

This is more than the art of cinematic sound, this is about how Hollywood changed in the early 70s. Lucas, Coppola and Murch transform the landscape from American Zoetrope's base in San Francisco.

Making Waves is about the evolution of film technology, yet the key to its appeal is that it revels in the technology, but technology as an expression of something human. From 1930s King Kong, there is only minimal advances. But Dolby and the spirit of adventure accelerates everything from the mid 70s. It's all in here. Lots of props to Murch, but also Burtt's Star Wars, Rydstrom's Pixar achievements; not forgetting Orson Welles as the supreme cinema magician.

Making Waves is a brisk 90 minutes, the last half hour of which is a quick-study primer on the categories of movie sound. The film is educational. I had no idea that a Foley refers to a highly specific sound that was named after Jack Foley.
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8/10
A movie lover's delight from start to finish
paul-allaer10 January 2020
"Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound" (2019 release; 94 min.) is a documentary about the importance of sound in movies. As the movie opens, we get a quick introduction and we then dive straight into some notorious sound designed movies such as the original Star Wars and Saving Private Ryan.

Couple of comments: the is the directing debut of Midge Costin, himself a veteran and well-accomplished sound editor and designer. While we get a chronological recap of the advance of sound in movie history (going from silent movies to "talkies", etc.), the documentary really focuses on three big names in the movie sound universe: Walter Murch (Francis Ford Coppola's sound guy), Ben Burtt (George Lucas' sound guy), and Gary Rydstrom (Steven Spielberg's sound guy). Of course a LOT of other people pipe in as well. For us movie lovers, the main fun and enjoyment is to see how sound is not just merely recording what happens on a movie set, but that in fact sound is built up from the ground in its many different aspects (voice, sound effects, music), and that there is indeed a "sound script" just like you have a "movie script". The documentary is chock full of movie clips, one more enjoyable than the other, but with the extensive looks at how Star Wars and Apocalypse Now were sound designed stealing the limelight (for me anyway).

"Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound" showed up last week out of the blue for what turned out to be a one week run at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Wednesday evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (6 people in total), but enjoyed immensely but the small crowd. If you are a movie lover in any way, shape of form, I would readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you happen to get the chance), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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8/10
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
jboothmillard15 February 2021
Warning: Spoilers
I have always been fascinated by what goes on behind-the-scenes of films, and sound recording, production and design in one of the most interesting components, so this documentary film was just what I was looking for. This film examines the history of sound design in cinema, from its origins in the early 20th century to modern day moviemaking. Motion pictures came along in the 1890s, with no sound, with recognisable features like The Great Train Robbery (1903) and Wings (1927). Originally, silent films were accompanied by live orchestras, musicians and stage performers who would accompany with music and implements to match images onscreen. The first successful "talkie" that changed the future of cinema was The Jazz Singer, released in 1927, which included the iconic Al Jolson line "Wait a wait, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet!" (it won an Honorary Oscar). Since then, advances in sound have been made to films throughout the years. Among the many clips shown, it sees how the roars of King Kong (1933) were captured, the contributions from Orson Welles during Citizen Kane (1941) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Alfred Hitchcock and the squawks of The Birds (1963), the clanging of armour in Spartacus (1960), the sounds in assassination scene in The Godfather (1972) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), the music and splashes of the shark by John Williams in Jaws (1975) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), the live singing in A Star Is Born (1976) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), the laser blasts and spaceships in Star Wars (1977) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), the helicopters and weapons in Apocalypse Now (1979) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), the punches in Raging Bull (1980) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), the speeding jets of Top Gun (1986) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), the bullets and explosions on Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan (1998) (Oscar winner for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing), the digital sounds of The Matrix (1999) (Oscar winner for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing), and the noises in the world of Wakanda in Black Panther (2018) (Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing). It explains all components and processes that go into making and editing sounds in a film. In the "Circle of Talent" there is production recording (the actors and objects on set), dialogue editing (increasing actor voices and removing unwanted noises in backgrounds), ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) (actors re-recording dialogue and making noises to be added), SFX (Sound effects), Foley (sound artists in a recording studio creating sounds, in synchrony with the picture), and finally Ambience (adding the little touches to make a scene authentic, i.e. background sounds, e.g. busy cities, windy landscapes). Other popular movies and their sounds seen and discussed included: Dracula (1931), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Singin' in the Rain (1952) (which itself paid tribute to the introduction of sound to cinema), The War of the Worlds (1953) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Forbidden Planet (1956), The Ten Commandments (1956) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), The Seventh Seal (1957), North by Northwest (1959), Breathless (1960), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Funny Girl (1968) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Easy Rider (1969), THX 1138 (1971), The Conversation (1974) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Nashville (1975), All the President's Men (1976) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), Eraserhead (1977), The Shining (1980), The Elephant Man (1980), Raging Bull (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (Oscar winner for Best Sound), Yentl (1983), Luxo Jr. (1986), Do the Right Thing (1989), Dead Poets Society (1989), A League of Their Own (1992), Braveheart (1995) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Toy Story (1995), Titanic (1997) (Oscar winner for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Road to Perdition (2002) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound), Lost in Translation (2003), Monster (2003), Brokeback Mountain (2005), WALL·E (2008) (Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing), The Hurt Locker (2008) (Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing), Inception (2010) (Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing), Argo (2012) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing), Life of Pi (2012) (Oscar nominee for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing), Wild (2014), Selma (2014), Wonder Woman (2017), and Roma (2018) (Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing). This film really goes into a lot of detail about the technical stuff into making those recognisable and often iconic sounds, and the emotional impact and reaction they create when heard in films. It really does make you realise the artistry and the importance sound has been to the industry, with interviews from great filmmakers and the sound creators themselves, many who have had award-winning success, this is perfect viewing for any cinephile (huge film fan and buff) like me, a most interesting documentary. With contributions from Erik Aadahl (sound designer and editor), Richard L. Anderson (sound effects editor), Karen Baker Landers (sound editor), Bobbi Banks (ADR and dialogue supervisor), Richard Beggs (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), Anna Behlmer (re-recording mixer), Mark Berger (supervising re-recording mixer), Christopher Boyes (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), Ben Burtt (sound designer and editor), Ryan Coogler (director of Black Panther), Sofia Coppola, Alfonso Cuarón, Dane A. Davis (sound designer and editor), Peter J. Devlin (sound mixer), Teri E. Dorman (dialogue editor), Teresa Eckton (sound effect editor), Jessica Gallavan (ADR supervisor), Eugene Gearty (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), Ludwig Göransson (composer), Cecelia Hall (sound effects editor), Greg Hedgepath (sound effects editor), Lora Hirschberg (re-recording mixer), Richard Hymns (sound editor), Pat Jackson (sound editor), Richard King (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), John Lasseter, Ang Lee, Ai-Ling Lee (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), Skip Lievsay (re-recording mixer and sound editor), George Lucas, David Lynch, David MacMillan (sound mixer), Mark A. Mangini (sound editor and re-recording mixer), Alyson Dee Moore (foley artist), Walter Murch (re-recording mixer), Christopher Nolan, Lee Orloff (sound mixer), Robert Redford, John Roesch (foley artist), Gary Rydstrom (sound designer), Victoria Rose Sampson (sound designer, editor, and mixer), Steven Spielberg, Andrew Stanton (screenwriter), Barbra Streisand, Randy Thom (sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer), Douglas Vaughan (boom operator), James E. Webb (production sound mixer), Peter Weir, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle (sound editor), and Hans Zimmer. Very good!
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10/10
A perfect beginners guide to sound!
benbhodgson20 October 2020
Currently embarking on a film production course and sound was this weeks topic and I can tell you that after watching this I feel like I will never take sound for granted again. We hear things everyday, but do we really listen to what is happening around us? I know I barely did until watching this.

So thank you for allowing me to listen and hear clearly again !
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10/10
A love letter to the unsung heroes of movies
santiagofdec29 January 2020
A must watch for anyone who wants to make films it is a reminder of how all the things you don't see in movies are so important and actually compose the medium, which is about emotion. An inspiration that challenges one to exploit all resources to one's disposal in pushing the art forward and to utilize sound in a profound way in telling your story.
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10/10
My middle name is sound.
imhd-936-24037010 May 2020
Fantastic history of cinematic sound. Excellent presentation of clips. Reminds me of why I got into Home Theatre, opened a video store, and championed sound. Guess I need to switch gears again.
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