The phenomenon of loud sound effects and music and quiet dialogue in movies is a well-known and often discussed topic in the film industry. This is often referred to as the “loudness war,” where filmmakers and sound engineers aim to make soundtracks as loud as possible to grab the audience’s attention. This practice has been prevalent since the advent of sound in cinema and has only escalated in recent years with advancements in sound technology.
One reason for the loud sound effects and music in movies is to create an immersive experience for the audience. Loud sound effects can help to convey a sense of danger or excitement, while loud music can set the tone and mood of a scene. Sound engineers will often increase the volume of these elements to ensure that they are heard over other sounds, such as dialogue or background noise.
Another reason is that loud sound effects and music can help to mask limitations in the recording equipment used during the production of a movie. Poorly recorded dialogue can be masked by loud sound effects and music, reducing the likelihood that the audience will be distracted by audio artifacts or other audio-related issues.
The issue of quiet dialogue in movies is often related to the loudness of other sound elements. When sound effects and music are mixed at high volumes, the volume of the dialogue must be reduced to prevent audio distortion. This results in dialogue that is often too quiet to be easily understood by the audience.
This problem is compounded by the fact that the volume levels of movies are not standardized across different production studios or theaters. This means that the same movie can sound very different when played in different locations, with some screenings featuring excessively loud sound effects and music and barely audible dialogue.
To address this issue, several international standards organizations have established guidelines for the production and playback of audio in movies. For example, the European Broadcasting Union has established the EBU R128 standard, which sets guidelines for the loudness of audio in movies, television programs, and other audio content. This standard is designed to ensure that audio levels are consistent across different productions and platforms, making it easier for the audience to understand the dialogue in a movie.
In conclusion, the loud sound effects and music and quiet dialogue in movies are a result of a combination of factors, including the desire to create an immersive experience, mask limitations in recording equipment, and the lack of standardized volume levels in movie production and playback. The use of international standards, such as the EBU R128, is an important step towards ensuring that audio levels in movies are consistent and that dialogue is always audible to the audience.