Saturday, July 6, 2013


We went to the movies last night. It was an unpleasant experience. With volume cranked up to the level of canon fire, it was so loud that it echoed throughout the theater. In addition to being physically painful, the reverberating sound muddied the dialogue and we often missed what the actors were saying. We were not alone. We overheard several others comment on the same problem and age didn't seem to matter. In fact, two teens were among those saying their ears hurt. I wonder if the sustained decibel level was higher than is considered safe.

Movies are too loud in general and I always bring earplugs with me. However, I learned a long time ago that sound is frequently a substitute for quality. The worse the movie, the louder the volume.  Have you noticed? If the song, soundtrack, or actor's lines are good, they are just as good, if not better, at a slightly reduced volume. 

My feelings are supported by Randy Thom, CAS, at  You can read his article here. Thom briefly explains how digital sound works. Then he makes this key point. "Film makers who resort to screaming at the audience continuously for two reels are desperate film makers grasping at straws." 

It's the same as sending text or email in all caps. SHOUTING AT THE AUDIENCE DOES NOT HIDE POOR QUALITY.  Lack of character development or disjointed plot cannot be masked by thundering sound.

Attention directors. Your hearing may be marginalized but mine isn't. Louder isn't necessarily better. Scream at me all you want. What you are communicating is that you don't know how to make a good movie.

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