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Great old film sound.

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Great old film sound.

Postby shufflebeat » Mon May 17, 2021 9:47 pm

Just been watching Breakthrough with Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum and Rod Steiger. The sound has very limited bandwidth, Hertz-wise but the sound is incredibly clear and musical. All great voices and talent, of course.

https://youtu.be/YgEOdUicvPI

Anybody care to invest a couple of minutes and comment?
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon May 17, 2021 11:00 pm

Yes - the film itself sucks!
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Frank Rideau » Mon May 17, 2021 11:50 pm

Not sure how faithful the audio track of the Youtube stream is to original theatrical soundtrack... It sounds like a few generations away.

Apart from that, I'd point out that the (rather dull) soundtrack is composed by the unsung german library music composer Peter Thomas.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue May 18, 2021 2:42 am

shufflebeat wrote:Just been watching Breakthrough with Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum and Rod Steiger. The sound has very limited bandwidth, Hertz-wise but the sound is incredibly clear and musical. All great voices and talent, of course.

https://youtu.be/YgEOdUicvPI

Anybody care to invest a couple of minutes and comment?

Yes the dialogue is very clear, perhaps too clear. Good for a listener with high tone hearing loss as we used to call it. For the general listener it's crying out for some balancing EQ - less treble and more bass - and centring of the mono track, IMO.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby shufflebeat » Tue May 18, 2021 7:13 am

All very valid observations.

The unrealistic nature of the track is my point though. It's cartoon-like in it's lack of realism, which could also be said of the plot and screenplay, but as far as the sound is concerned I found this to be very vivid.

I take the point about the YouTube character but the essential character does translate.

Perhaps I'm beholding wrong, again, but it did stand out enough for me to forget the crap storyline and enjoy the experience.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue May 18, 2021 10:15 am

It seems a well produced track in other ways but I doubt the sound presented in this YT clip is quite the way the director intended it, or even how it would have or could have been presented in a premier 1979 cinema. It's just too tinny, too bass light.

On YT, any one film, or excerpts from it, can be uploaded by ten different people with vastly different sounding audio on each one. YT may alter the audio a little but compared to the potpourri of audio quality uploaded from who knows where, its effect seems minor.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby shufflebeat » Tue May 18, 2021 11:40 am

Point taken.

Fwiw I saw the film on DigiTV where I was stuck by the character of the audio. When I went to YT for the link I found the audio to be fairly similar in the relevant respects.

Realistic it is definitely not and compared to modern films it's extremely bass light as you say but compared to a lot of current TV the content, such as it was, came across brilliantly and to my ear very musically.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 18, 2021 11:47 am

Whoever transferred it probably didn't know about the Academy Curve. This was a crude attempt at noise reduction introduced in the 1930's where, on recording high frequencies were increased and on playback those frequencies were reduced.

https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_9_2/ ... -2002.html

While I can't find any references at the moment, I've noticed that US films and TV programs often reduce the low end on dialogue in order to improve intelligibility.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Frank Rideau » Tue May 18, 2021 10:09 pm

In this scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu0eEYEzsow

Starting at the 2:00 min bar...

Tension built with ambiant sounds
Wind, silence
Locust sound come and go
Birds flight
gun shot
Silence, wind, the girl is falling down
Man shout
More gun shot
more dead
More gun shot
Quails
Kid is running out through a corridor
Ennio Morricone electric guitar is kicking off with great effect
Music

In my book this is what I call "great old film sound" :thumbup: 8-) ;)
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed May 19, 2021 12:52 am

James Perrett wrote:
While I can't find any references at the moment, I've noticed that US films and TV programs often reduce the low end on dialogue in order to improve intelligibility.

Yes and this film seems a classic example of that. The bass/baritone voice over at the start of the movie has had his fundamentals removed (painful operation I believe ;) ) because his VO is important to set up the context of the war story and the audience cant afford to to miss it especially with the noisy battle mix going on.

With so much bass reduced in this upload the importance of this filtering not as obvious. I heavily boosted the bass to hear what else might be down there and even with that big boost the voiceover is still very clear, as well as the dialogue throughout the movie. On the other hand now you can hear more depth in the soundtrack. At 2:45 there is the sound of an explosion which RX8 Spectrum Analyzer shows as around 40 Hz. As you say they intelligently reduced the bass in the speech but didnt do the same to FX such as bomb explosions. By this time (1979) some theatres were set up with serious sub woofers and specially coded sound tracks triggered them for sometimes gut shaking bass effects in movies such as Earthquake.

These guys really knew their stuff as do the top soundies today. I read that the Sound Mixer on this film and many others was David Hildyard (1916-2008), one of the best. A shame here to hear his work messed up and sounding so much less vivid than it actually is. But of course listening to the proper track on any playback system which cant reproduce the bass well will have a similar throttling effect.
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed May 19, 2021 10:38 am

Frank Rideau wrote:In this scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu0eEYEzsow

Starting at the 2:00 min bar...

Tension built with ambiant sounds
Wind, silence
Locust sound come and go
Birds flight
gun shot
Silence, wind, the girl is falling down
Man shout
More gun shot
more dead
More gun shot
Quails
Kid is running out through a corridor
Ennio Morricone electric guitar is kicking off with great effect
Music

In my book this is what I call "great old film sound" :thumbup: 8-) ;)

Apart from the ADR at the beginning, I absolutely agree. That whole film is a masterpiece and is studied to this day by film students and great filmmakers alike! I was online with a famous cinematographer a while back and he said that at least once a year he sits down and watches Once Upon a Time. But many films have dreadful sound and not just back then - budgets are getting squeezed and most directors and producers are forced to save on sound design and the score first in the mistaken idea that the visuals are more important. You need both to be perfect.

Most moviemakers on the other hand go to great efforts to give you great sound design. Unfortunately, most people watch films on a TV set via a broadcaster or streamer - and they both do their level best to ruin the sound by reducing the bass and compressing and leveling the sound into abject submission!

Best sound design and score for any film in the past 20 years (IMO of course!) Blade Runner 2049. But please don't watch these films on a TV set and in stereo - worst of all is to watch a movie as it is broadcast on regular TV (inc. streaming).
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Re: Great old film sound.

Postby Arpangel » Thu May 20, 2021 8:23 am

I think Jacques Tati was a genius, no regular dialogue, but extremely powerful sound effects used to emphasise a scene, some of the funniest films ever for me.
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That would be an ecumenical matter.