Sam Spoons wrote:Slightly off topic but I have wondered (and, IIRC, asked the question before) about the content of the centre speaker signal. I assume it is mostly dialogue? I'm 66 and my hearing is undergoing age related deterioration, Many films and TV drama's have the background, ambience and music set at levels that make the dialogue difficult to hear if you no longer have 20 year old ears, would mixing the centre speaker signal into the stereo mix (I have no desire to adopt surround sound at home) increase the relative level of the dialogue?
A fascinating question!
I am right now as we speak, adapting a series of short stories to a screenplay. Most of the page-space is taken up by direction. The first three pages are almost totally direction - i.e. no dialogue!
I take the view that dialogue is just vague noise. It's part of the sound design and not necessary to tell the story at all! The characters may speak a bit, but what they say is just the usual social noises people make "Come in!" "There you are!" "Hello!" Goodbye!" "Why does it hurt when I pee?" stuff like that.
Yes, the dialogue usually comes from the centre speaker and I personally take the view that you should be able to switch off the centre speaker and still be able to follow the film. If you have to lay a load of pipe (create the plot) through dialogue, then there is something wrong with your story.
Obviously, you sometimes have to give some pipe-laying to the dialogue in the same way that they had to occasionally use 'intertitle' text frames in silent movies. In those cases, it should be clear and underscored by the action.
That's all fine and dandy for a movie. We usually have a wide 'Cinemascope' format and the whole story should be more like a dream or a piece of music. A movie should be like a visual poem (IMO).
TV ain't like that and the people who make TV dramas do not (usually) think like that. TV sets are often nasty little things and the audio is stereo at best. Most TV is little better than radio with pictures. And because budgets are constrained and TV is really a 9-5 daily grind, you can't spend all week shooting a rain-soaked action scene of Mrs MacWirter getting lost on the moors.
Because TV is just radio with pictures, we give the act of telling the audience that Mrs MacWirter is lost on the moors to the dialogue. The problem there is, not every member of the audience is going to hear that statement. Some may be Mutt-n-Jeff, some may have just gone to the loo and others are away, getting a beer out of the fridge or just not paying attention.
Sometimes people ask if I miss my days in television - do I hell! It's a daily grind. It's not an adventure like a movie. Come in Monday, script conference, read-through. Tuesday walk-through. Wednesday rehearsals. Thursday rehearsals. Friday dress rehearsals and taping. Monday script conference and read through . . .
Rinse, repeat, retire and die!
This sausage-factory method of churning out third-rate guff like Eastenders hardly lends itself to the creation of great art.
But things are changing. Netflix has just signed up to use 15,000 sqm of studio space at Pinewood for £6m p.a. over 10 years and is said to be out shopping for UK production companies it can swallow. It promises to bring film quality products to television.
At the same time, TV sets are getting bigger, the images are getting better as more and more stuff is shown in HD or UHD and sound systems are getting better.
With a bit of luck, we should be able to see Mrs MacWirter getting lost on the moors!