Jump to content
Mandolin Picker

Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten Harder to Understand

Recommended Posts

Interesting article over at SlashFilm.com on the various reasons why its much harder to understand dialog in more recent pictures than movies from 10-20 years ago. It turns out its not necessarily because we are getting older and our hearing is going bad. Part of the problem is actually an 'artistic decision' that makes some dialog  purposely hard to hear, some of it deals with the actors themselves. Another aspect is lack of respect for the sound crews allowing them to get mics in the proper places, along with the idea that "we'll fix it in the mix" later. Technology now allows movies to have hundreds of tracks, and mixing for a theater is different from a DVD release, which is different from streaming. All in all a good read, with some of the issues being the same things we have seen in music production over the years.

Full article at https://www.slashfilm.com/673162/heres-why-movie-dialogue-has-gotten-more-difficult-to-understand-and-three-ways-to-fix-it/ 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was told once that modern surround sound puts the dialogue in the Center channel speaker. So if you don’t have a Center channel speaker all you mostly hear is music and sound effects.

Our small town is blessed with a movie theatre built in the 1940’s. About 15 years ago they added surround sound. It never seemed to work right. A few years ago our downtown flooded and they had to rebuild the theatre. I knew the tech who had to replace the system. He said there was only one stereo power amp?  They had everything hooked up to that. 
 

Edited by John Vere

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And don't mentioj the trend (OK, it goes back a couple of decades now) to film everything so dark, you can't see what's going on.  So "we" pay to see nothing and hear nothing, right? 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kevin Perry said:

And don't mentioj the trend (OK, it goes back a couple of decades now) to film everything so dark, you can't see what's going on.  So "we" pay to see nothing and hear nothing, right? 🙂

Or........... if you must have lighting, then it must be in shades of teal and amber.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes, music and sfx seem to be much louder than dialog , half the movies we watch these days need a vocal rider (normal stereo telly)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think back to my all time favorite movie, "12 Angry Men" starring Henry Fonda. An old B&W movie shot almost entirely on one set - the jury room. No explosions, no CGI, some music, but man the story and dialog keep you riveted to the movie. The story is what made the movie, good writing. Wish we could get back to that.

  • Like 2
  • Great Idea 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, pwalpwal said:

yes, music and sfx seem to be much louder than dialog , half the movies we watch these days need a vocal rider (normal stereo telly)

In regard to movies the voice is meant for the center channel in a 5.1 or higher system now days. Even most older "restored" movies have the audio "remixed" to be this way. They can take a mono source now and use AI separate almost everything out in to mixable tracks. I saw a short interview with Peter Jackson about the new Get Back movie and they used that new AI technology to remix the audio for the entire series. As for normal TV show's some of them are 5.1 and some of them aren't.

I gave up trying to get decent movie sound. You have to recalibrate your system for every single movie and it's more trouble than it's worth to me. I disassembled my true surround system and it's in the basement and sound bars are just glorified TV speakers. And the thing about flat TV's also is, the speakers point out the bottom or back and most of them use some sort of phase manipulation to make it sound like the audio is coming from the front. Where you put your TV can greatly effect the audio clarity and dialogue is horrible. They sound best mounted on the wall as close to it as possible so the phase manipulation bounces it off the wall properly.

Whoever built the house I live in must have had one of those old really tall and deep projection TV's. They built a space for it to sit in perfectly in the living room and ran the antenna wire and outlets there. It makes my flat TV sound horrible so I bought a high end Samsung sound bar based surround system to go with the high end Samsung TV and high end Samsung 4K player. Long story short on the 'high end' thing, I got it dirt cheap through a work promo where my wife works, then found out a couple months later that they announced they were going out of the high end audio and disc player market which is why they blew out all their inventory. Then the sound bar, sub, and 4K disc player all promptly died 30 seconds out of warranty. 

The other thing I hate about sound bars is I can never get the audio to sync up. It will go from 0 ~ 50 to adjust the sync in one direction but I always need them to go in the negative direction. I can't be the only one who has run in to this. It's perfect when using the TV's speakers but I've never been able to sync a sound bar to any TV properly. Drives me crazy watching movies like that especially after obsessing on my DAW over 4ms guitar lag for the last 20 years. 

3 hours ago, paulo said:
4 hours ago, Kevin Perry said:

And don't mentioj the trend (OK, it goes back a couple of decades now) to film everything so dark, you can't see what's going on.  So "we" pay to see nothing and hear nothing, right? 🙂

Or........... if you must have lighting, then it must be in shades of teal and amber.

I think the reason everything is so dark now is because everything is visually mastered for Ultra High Definition now in a perfectly calibrated room with calibrated extremely expensive monitors with perfect kelvin lighting. In that environment I'm pretty sure everything looks great. That's the thing about 4K. There is 4K resolution for PC monitors and youtube video's and there is 4K UHD for movies. The UHD part actually takes control of your TV and sets up all the brightness and color. It was designed so we could see the movies exactly how the directors intended. But you have to have a 4K disc player connected to a 4K UHD TV which 99% are now. You have to pay Netflix extra money to view true UHD content but you can stream it. I pay extra for it and I can't tell the difference between it and a disc. I bought a cheap hacked Sony 4K player on Amazon. They unlocked it via hardware so it's region free and Sony can't brick it with firmware updates. Now I can play all my old Hammer Horror movies from the U.K. from the discs and delete my rips. Here's a link to it if anyone is interested. It's a great player especially for the money. You have to get it from the listed "Sold by" vendor B.E. or it may not be region free. *wink wink*.

The search for high end visual is as much a rabbit hole as the search for high end audio. I'm convinced all the screens come from one factory in South Korea and the only restriction is software based. The more you pay the more they unlock the capabilities/clarity/color, but I really think all the screens are the same except for maybe how they are backlit. From what I've read they are stuck at 120 refresh rate and can't go beyond that which is why the resolution is becoming more important and you're seeing 8K TV's. I'm guessing an 8K capable TV will "downscale" to 4K making it play smoother in the same way making a 4K monitor play 1080p content makes everything smoother but I don't know. I still have a 900lb Samsung flat tube screen TV in my basement that works perfectly and has a great picture. I had a wide screen version of it one time but it got zapped and the magic smoke came out. That was a bad day. I loved that TV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Kevin Perry said:

And don't mentioj the trend (OK, it goes back a couple of decades now) to film everything so dark, you can't see what's going on.  So "we" pay to see nothing and hear nothing, right? 🙂

Actually, today with most camera systems (Red, Black Magic, etc.) the trend is to record video flat. Meaning the video is produced at the camera with low contrast, high detail. Colorists then add color, depth, highlighting and darkening in post. So the blame rests firmly on the film post crew. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i used to have a 5.1 system (around 2000), but of course only one person can occupy the sweet spot.. i got it because of music being done in 5.1, altho some films were also enhanced (apocalypse now stm), and if you have a 5.1 i can highly recommend:

flaming lips - soft bulletin

super furry animals - -rings around the world

cornelius - point

disappointed by :

pink floyd - dsotm

any other 5.1 recommendations?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, pwalpwal said:

i used to have a 5.1 system (around 2000), but of course only one person can occupy the sweet spot.. i got it because of music being done in 5.1, altho some films were also enhanced (apocalypse now stm), and if you have a 5.1 i can highly recommend:

flaming lips - soft bulletin

super furry animals - -rings around the world

cornelius - point

disappointed by :

pink floyd - dsotm

any other 5.1 recommendations?

Back in the day, DSOTM was available in quadraphonic. A precursor to 5.1. I don’t know if you can even find quad copies anymore or the equipment necessary for the playback. At one point my dad had a quad system. I remember he had Isao Tomita’s version of Holst, The Planets in quad. Again a sweet spot was always the issue.

Edited by Doc H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Doc H said:

Back in the day, DSOTM was available in quadraphonic. A precursor to 5.1. I don’t know if you can even find quad copies anymore or the equipment necessary for the playback. At one point my dad had a quad system. I remember he had Isao Tomita’s version of Holst, The Planets in quad. Again a sweet spot was always the issue.

yep, but i'm not old enough to have had a quad system haha... some artists are now releasing things as quad again, eg, https://www.discogs.com/release/14435971-Thee-Oh-Sees-OCS-Oh-Sees-The-8-Track-Collection

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My last car had a 5.1 surround system.

But you only noticed it if you turned your head sideways to look out the drivers side window....THEN you could hear the difference the rear speakers provided.

I will say the demo disc they provided sounded pretty damn good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Doc H said:

Back in the day, DSOTM was available in quadraphonic. A precursor to 5.1. I don’t know if you can even find quad copies anymore or the equipment necessary for the playback. At one point my dad had a quad system. I remember he had Isao Tomita’s version of Holst, The Planets in quad. Again a sweet spot was always the issue.

I had a massive Marantz Harmon Kardon Quad head one time I got a yard sale. It had a joystick on the front to control the Quad panning. It died decades ago. Last winter I went to an estate sale here and they had an entire collection of about 50 Quad LP's. All stuff I had absolutely no interest in so I passed on all of them. Nothing good like The Who or Edgard Winter or Pink Floyd. All Barbara Streisand and things like that, that I have no interest in. You can still get Quad Decoders on eBay for a couple hundred bucks.

Edited by Shane_B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, paulo said:

Or........... if you must have lighting, then it must be in shades of teal and amber.

Yeah, but that is less about the lighting and more about the color grading applied to the image in post.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Mandolin Picker said:

Interesting article over at SlashFilm.com on the various reasons why its much harder to understand dialog in more recent pictures than movies from 10-20 years ago. It turns out its not necessarily because we are getting older and our hearing is going bad. Part of the problem is actually an 'artistic decision' that makes some dialog  purposely hard to hear, some of it deals with the actors themselves. Another aspect is lack of respect for the sound crews allowing them to get mics in the proper places, along with the idea that "we'll fix it in the mix" later. Technology now allows movies to have hundreds of tracks, and mixing for a theater is different from a DVD release, which is different from streaming. All in all a good read, with some of the issues being the same things we have seen in music production over the years.

Full article at https://www.slashfilm.com/673162/heres-why-movie-dialogue-has-gotten-more-difficult-to-understand-and-three-ways-to-fix-it/ 

There's another issue that truly degrades any viewing experience (besides injecting BS political agendas into EVERYTHING).  They speak in low-educated chat-speech!

My roommate's currently watching some series that supposed to take place back in the late 1,700's (I believe), yet some of the "dialog" includes sentences similar to "I know! Like, what we do Bro?"

Arrgh-facepalm-gorilla.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, craigb said:

There's another issue that truly degrades any viewing experience (besides injecting BS political agendas into EVERYTHING).  They speak in low-educated chat-speech!

My roommate's currently watching some series that supposed to take place back in the late 1,700's (I believe), yet some of the "dialog" includes sentences similar to "I know! Like, what we do Bro?"

Arrgh-facepalm-gorilla.jpg

What would ol’ Bill Shakespeare say of such a travesty in the use of the English language?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Doc H said:

What would ol’ Bill Shakespeare say of such a travesty in the use of the English language?

Careful Doc, with that kind of disregard for our greatest playwright, you might end up getting bard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I see what I did there 😊

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...