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Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Year: 2019
Production Co: Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet Corp
Director: Midge Costin
Writer: Bobette Buster
Cast: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Hans Zimmer, Ben Burtt, Sofia Coppola, Ryan Coogler, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Chris Nolan, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Gary Rydstrom, Peter Weir, John Lasseter

If you saw Score: A Film Music Documentary from 2017, this movie is very similar in approach and intent and you'll enjoy it to the same degree. It aims to lift the lid not just on how sounds are created and recorded for movies, but lay out a bit of the history of how it became one of the medium's many unsung arts.

It collects together some of the biggest names in the business (George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Hans Zimmer, Ben Burtt, Sofia Coppola, Ryan Coogler, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Chris Nolan, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Gary Rydstrom, Peter Weir and – unfortunately and rather embarrassingly – John Lasseter, as well as countless sound editors and engineers) to comment on what sound does not just for the experience of cinema but what kind of effect it had on them as viewers and artists as well, much of it incredibly inspiring.

There's a rough structure that breaks the proceedings into chapters covering sound editing, effects, ADR, foley, music and more, but it seems apparent director Midge Costin finds certain areas far more interesting than others, giving some of them little more than a slight once over.

On one level it will further your education about the technical arts so you can explain to less cineliterate friends what all those titles in the credits mean. On another plane entirely, it'll reaffirm your faith in the collective power of expertise behind the screen to move people and change lives, especially when you hear from Sound Editor Bobbi Banks how much it meant to her and other crew members to be involved in Ava Duvernay's Selma.

But there's also a funfair dimension in all the cool trivia you'll be able to put straight in your most important mental filing cabinets. Any movie geek can tell you how the sounds of the Jurassic Park dinosaurs were blends of anything from walruses and lions to elephants, but did you know that when sound editor Cece Hall visited military airstrips to research Top Gun she found the sounds of the engines slightly 'wimpy', adding animal roars to them in certain sequences in the movie to amp up the sense of power in certain scenes?

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