General Question

ubersiren's avatar

Why do some movies have extremely quiet dialogue, but the sound effects blast your eardrums out of your skull?

Asked by ubersiren (15046 points ) June 17th, 2009

Is that intentional? Don’t they know that it’s annoying to have to adjust the volume for each individual scene? I watched Slumdog Millionaire which ended up being one of those movies. I thought about writing a letter. I still may.

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17 Answers

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Because of Michael Bay.

Darwin's avatar

Nobody listens to the dialog, man! Words are for sissies.

Zaku's avatar

Please do write the letter. Different people have different experiences of volume levels both for mental and physical reasons. Some film makers, TV producers and restaurant and bar owners think noise is desirable or exciting to patrons, and for some it is, though I’m with you. My peeves are more with films/TV and bars and restaurants where the incidental music is so loud I can’t here what people are saying, and people can’t hear what I’m saying unless I feel like I’m shouting.

marinelife's avatar

I feel your pain, literally. Lately, whenever we watch a DVD, we find we are constantly having to adjust the voume from scene to scene or preview to preview.

jrpowell's avatar

OMFG.. This was such a huge problem at the theater. People would complain that it was too quite so I would turn it up and then 10 minutes later the walls would shake. And then people in the next auditorium would complain that they could hear what was in the next one.

This back and forth completely fucked up my naps. My solution was do drop the audio into “bypass” in movies that did it. That is pretty much mono. Actually, it is worse than mono.

ubersiren's avatar

@johnpowell : Hahaha… sorry to interrupt the snooze-fest, man.

jrpowell's avatar

It was a good job. Work for 40 minutes starting movies. Sleep for 2 hours. Repeat that a few times and go home and get drunk. The pay was shit but we found a lot of cash on the floors.

Ha. When I first started I noticed a 20 on the floor. So I used the broom and dust-pan with a long handle to sweep the cash up. Then I went into the ushers closet to remove the money. I think I made more from finding money/stealing then I did from my paycheck.

ubersiren's avatar

@johnpowell : hey did that 20 have a picture of Andrew Jackson on it? If so, then it’s mine.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

This is caused by poor speaker calibration in a home theater setup. The center channel speaker is either missing or the volume isn’t adequately calibrated so you can hear the dialog in balance with the sound effects. Most home theater receivers have individual volume controls for the center, rear, and side speakers, as well as for the subwoofer. Some DVD players also have a stereo downmix option in the sound setup to reduce problems like this.

hearkat's avatar

This is a huge problem for people who have hearing loss too, because the dialog is often inaudible to them, but the sound effects are overwhelming to their auditorynervous system.

Our society has an odd relationship with sound and noise, and it does bother me (even though I could look at it as job security).

@Zaku: Mysician’s earplugs are special filters that give even attenuation across the frequencies, so it’s like turning the volume down a few clicks. I have the custom molded ones, and I wear them whenever the noise levels are too high. See your friendly neighborhood Audiologist for more information. :-)

augustlan's avatar

I hate this. It’s even becoming a problem on some TV channels…notably AMC, where the movie volume is so low you have to turn the volume nearly all the way up and then a commercial comes on and blasts you out of your seat. It makes me very cross.

Darwin's avatar

That’s why I love the mute button.

marinelife's avatar

@augustlan But, of course, they tell us over and over that the commercials are not louder/ Do they think we are stupid? (Rhetorical, of course they do, marketing slime!)~

Zaku's avatar

@hearkat – Interesting; thanks!
@augustlan – Yeah the commercial blasting is awful!

Lxs's avatar

Movies are mixed in a studio to be heard in settings similar to a cinema. Compared to material produced for television, movies expect a particularly attentive audience and perhaps take two hours to finish.

DVD players often have the option to reduce how big the volume jumps in movies are. This option would be under the player’s on-screen menu, in a sound section. It might be called DRC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range_compression

augustlan's avatar

@Lxs Welcome to Fluther!

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