How would one appreciate something one cant see? How would it be if that piece of work is something that is not supposed to be noticed, but has to highlight something else? How would one agree to put time and effort on something that can never be seen, never be felt and still has to engage someone’s emotion? How can one put a value for an effort for something thats close to an illusion?
Welcome to the world of film sound. This is truly an invisible art. One can argue that music too is an invisible form of it. I have a disagreement here. I believe that music is something that one HAS to appreciate in order to get its full benefit. You have to be aware and conscious of music. Sound in films is not like that. You SHOULD NOT be aware of sound. You should be aware of the story, the film. Be one with the character, get involved. Not listen to the birds or cricket or the dog that walks a hundred feet away somewhere for a few seconds.
How can one truly be appreciated for doing something that has all the qualities listed above? Thats what makes it an invisible art form. You cant see, can feel, and hear. This is the true design in sound. A master of this art form in its true sense is a true sound designer. Why? He creates. He takes the pain, effort and time. He strains a good amount both physically and mentally. Why? So that in the end, everyone can enjoy something they aren’t supposed to know is there.
Is it subliminal? No. Not necessary. Who would know that the posh hotel that you see in the movie is actually a 10 X 10 set? The lasers that that are fired are imaginary? The punch into the face is inches away? That is where something believable is created. People have said that sound is 20 % of the total impact. I dont believe in that. I feel that if not 50%, its atleast 49.9% there. Why? Otherwise who would think that the magic spells are actually nothing? Would a Dinosaur scare you by looks? Would you get scared of a haunted house?
It is not just the presence of sound that matters always. It is the intelligent use of silence that matters too. When are we getting to that stage is a real question. But till then, I am sure that many engineers, sound editors and sound designers would agree, it truly is an invisible art form for an elite few who are masters. There is something else that has all the all the properties that I have mentioned above. It mesmerizes, surprises, is invisible and if done right, is astounding. Its called Magic.
So, are we magicians? Maybe. Maybe not. But we definitely are Illusionists.