The emotional response to Home Cinema
Sitting in my home office without AC, the UK’s Heatwave is bittersweet. The sound of the kids in their paddling pool is joyous, but it’s the inescapable sticky claustrophobia of humidity taking my focus.
The dichotomy reminds me of a recent visit to one of our suppliers. I spent far longer than planned with Dean Sutton and Paul Cummin, firing demo clips at each other.
The Artcoustic party trick, i’m sure they would agree is dynamic range. The ability to deliver sound levels matching commercial cinema, is a key component in delivering the emotional response the creative artists intended.
We’ve all been guilty of showing off systems which play loud with precision, the first race from Speilburg’s Ready Player One, has been a staple in demos for years. It’s loud, its brash, its chaotic and it perfectly highlights audio precision. But… this scene that starts at 10 and ramps up from there doesn’t create any real emotion, theres no contrast, no subtlety for the chaos to break free from.
Near silence shattered by an explosion, the visceral jump scare heightened by the contrast, that creates emotion. So we ended up in the psychological thriller section, a place where the soundtrack is the difference between success and failure. Like the humidity with the heat, a good thriller lets you enjoy the moment, while surrounding you with an almost unpleasant sense of foreboding.
Us (Jordan Peele, 2019) opens with a family at the amusements, our senses enveloped by the sights and sounds of the fair, delivered with believable volume and precision as a rollercoaster passes over head.
The enjoyment soon turns, as the young girl is drawn away from the noise and quietly into a house of mirrors. Here the audio truly shines. As she whistles to herself breaking the silence, the audio moves around the room, our eyes tell us we can see the girl, but the whistle sound comes from one of the reflections. Discombobulated, the contrast between what we think we see and what we hear, this scene is a master class in suspense.
Upping the ante, the opening of Possessor (Brandon Cronenburg, 2020), probably not a film to watch with clients, sets a relatable scene. Realistic sounds, bring us into the world, keys quietly dropped on a table in the background, sound as you know they should. The sense of realism built through the sound designers restraint, not overplaying their hand.
As the scene builds, there is an almost unnecessary use of firepower, each shot shattering the peace. Remind me, which Cronenburg directed this film again?
These scenes create vast emotions, unimaginable watching on a TV or worse phone.
Only through correct design & planning can we bring these experiences to your home. Enough sound isolation from the outside world makes your private cinema the quietest room in the house, creating the backdrop for correctly specified loudspeakers to awaken your senses.
This is the art of the cinema, it’s what we do and why we do it.
Cinema Lusso – Better by design