Sunday, 10 May 2015

Even Gunshots Sound Better in Michael Mann films.

Sound design is a tricky thing. You don't really pay attention to it while watching a movie. It's often subtle and with movies becoming more tone-deaf with each passing day, it's tough to acknowledge their beauty.

Action movies could use sound design in interesting ways but they sell themselves short instead . It's all gunfights, explosions and car chases. In such dire circumstances, Michael Mann once again proves that there's a better way to do things.

Remember Heat? Of course, you do. In fact, I recommend you re-watch it every month. So, Heat has a bunch of gunfights, the longest one is after de Niro and his buds rob the bank and then are accosted by a police squad. The shootout's prolonged, messy, and it's loud. The bullets somehow manage pierce the screen and buzz in your ears. Save the exception of Saving Private Ryan and I haven't ever seen a movie where it's the gunshots that catch my attention. In Saving Private Ryan's case, Spielberg gave specific instructions to his sound designer to amp up the volume so that viewers feel the same amount of disorientation felt by the soldiers who landed on Normandy on D-Day.

Now, if you think Mann's pulling the same trick, you are wrong. Mann actually makes his sound designer shoot real weapons and then record the sounds. So, this isn't just the case of a sound professional using something from a sound library. What you hear when you watch Heat are actual gunshots. And bullets as you may have guessed are LOUD. Don't take my word for it though. Watch the epic shootout from Heat and then compare it with the shootout from The Rock.

PS: You'd even notice the echo in the clip from Heat. Heck, the shootout in The Rock is happening in a basement without the hint of an echo. Details. They count, yo.

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