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The Significance of Sound by Christine L. Pollock


At first it seemed like a perfect film to add to our film festival. The storyline engaged the audience and it had strong characterization. What it didn't have was good sound (and that had to go into my review). The dialogue was difficult to hear and the sound volume fluctuated so radically, I had to watch with a remote in hand. Music and sound in a film are often deciding factors in whether a title is acceptable for a film festival, general viewing, or if it will turn off a viewer.

"What happened to the sound?" producers might ask, scratching their heads in bewilderment. It sounded perfect on their machines. Jeff Kinder, audio director at Magick Lantern Digital Studio, states that this is a common problem. According to Kinder, producers don't realize that there are limitations to what TV can handle, and the key to getting professional copy is to take the completed film to a qualified studio for editing in an acoustically designed editing room with high definition professional tools. Specialists such as Kinder know the business. They know what specific mediums and programs can handle -- from Internet to Quick Time to DVD settings -- and they program for optimal audio resolution in these mediums.

Kinder was literally raised in a studio, working as an apprentice for his father, a composer. The family started the second advertising/film studio in Atlanta in 1968 and Kinder began his career transcribing scores. He received formal musical training at the University of Georgia and at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He has seen music evolve from bundles of handwritten sheets of music to computer-generated printouts of MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) files. As midi files became popular in the 1980s, Kinder saw the importance of keeping real emotion in music, and not losing feeling in computer generated sound. He keeps emotional connection of the viewer in mind in all his work: from advertising music and network promotions, to cartoon blocks for TNT, animated shorts for CDC in Atlanta, and the upcoming Little Mammoth Media Film, Big Aircraft Carriers.

Kinder's advice for producers of music for children's film is, "Don't underestimate the audience. Don't write down to them." Let the music create the sound environment; let the kids hear music as it is. Children are more connected to music than adults often realize. It is helpful if producers are award of how music affects children psychologically. Kinder recalls a recording he worked on with his father. For the recording, the Atlanta Symphony performed, and near the end of the recording, a bass played some low tones. A three-year-old in the audience started crying because he was scared of the low tones. This experience affected the way Kinder handled music for children's media in the future. He says, "I realize that children are an open conduit to the emotional impact of music, and I try not scare them anymore."

Getting a professional edit to a recording need not be a daunting task or one that will break the budget. According to Kinder, many independent producers work in Mac-based Final Cut Pro on their desktops. All these producers need to do is save their final work as an OMFI (Open Media File Interchange) in their general program. A professional could then take the file and work with it to suit whichever medium the client requires. If a project has been tweaked and adjusted by the client, it is possible to do all the editing in one eight-hour day for a thirty-minute film. A thirty-second clip, edited first by the client, can be done in one to two hours. In this case, the client should ask for a special rate.

For professional audio editors in the area, a producer can go online and check out sites such as As Kinder stresses, whoever you decide to use, professional sound editing will give your film a professional edge and make a better viewing experience for your young audience.



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