As film students and younger fans experience "Big Hollywood Sound" in Imax presentations and digital theaters, many are also discovering action and adventure movies made well before they were born. There is a legacy to be enjoyed in the sound of these films: Blockbuster movies of the ‘80’s, and ‘90’s are notable for the extraordinarily dramatic impact of their sound mixing, and the way in which it could immerse audiences in a surrounding space. During this period, a small group of sound professionals in Hollywood wrote and published a critical journal about the craftsmanship, new technology, and changing aesthetics that excited conversation in their community. Their work has been edited and compiled here for the first time.
David Stone is a sound editor, a veteran of roughly 100 Hollywood feature films, such as Gremlins, Top Gun, Die Hard, Speed, and Ocean’s 11. He was a Supervising Sound Editor for projects as varied as Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Beauty and the Beast, Batman Returns, City Slickers 2, and Dolores Claiborne. He has collected Golden Reel awards for Best Sound Editing five times, and won the 1992 Academy Award® for best Sound Effects Editing, for his supervising work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In 2015, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival in California. Stone is now a Professor and former Chair of Sound Design at Savannah College of Art and Design. Between 1989 and 1994, he was the editor of Moviesound Newsletter, which was published by Vanessa Ament.
Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament is the author of The Foley Grail, and a contributor to Sound: Dialogue, Music, and Effects (the Silver Screen Series). She is on the steering committee for Cinesonika, an international film festival and conference. A veteran Foley artist, sound editor, and voice actor from Los Angeles, she also writes and sings jazz, and is a member of the American Federation of Musicians, SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity, and the Editors Guild. She worked on Die Hard, sex, lies, and videotape, Platoon, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Beauty and the Beast, Noises Off, and A Goofy Movie, and many other films. Dr. Ament received her Ph.D. in Communication, in the area of Moving Image Studies, from Georgia State University in Atlanta, and is presently the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Endowed Chair Professor of Telecommunications, at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
"The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a zine as, ‘a non-commercial, often homemade publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.’ That describes well the intent and tone of Moviesound Newsletter — a labor of love that provided a much-needed platform for ruminating with interested others about post-production sound in the pre-Facebook, pre-blog era.
Hollywood Sound Design is much more than a simple compendium of old technologies and gossip from MSNL. The authors organize material by topic rather than chronology, and explanatory mini-essays place the excerpts in historical context. The subject is not sound theory, or how-to; the greater aim of the book is to provide an accurate historical record and inspiration for film historians, scholars and students of sound."—Betsy A. McLane, "Sonic Echoes from the Pre-Digital Era," Cinemontage Magazine, June 2018
"Many believe that Apocalypse Nowwas the first popular film to open our ears to the possibilities presented by immersion in a listening environment. Once we transcended into the world of multi-channel distribution, many decisions had to be made, both creative and technical, that would influence how we experience the sonic world of a film. In Hollywood Sound Design and Moviesound Newsletter: A Case Study of the End of the Analog Age, David Stone and Vanessa Ament have gathered some of the great articles from Moviesound Newsletter, written by some of the seminal contributors to this creative process. This book is a must for those interested in understanding the progression of the storytelling process through the sound of a film that informs the use of film sound today."
—Peter Damski, C.A.S. (Cinema Audio Society); Emmy Award-winner for Sound Mixing for A Comedy Series or Special in 1994 and 1995, both for Mad About You
"Ever since The Jazz Singer beguiled the ears and eyes of its patrons in 1927, the motion picture has been an acoustic as well as a visual art form. David E. Stone and Vanessa Theme Ament’s gloriously-geeky celebration of Hollywood sound design in the predigital era belongs on the bookshelves of film students and armchair aficionados alike. Having formerly worked as a moviemaker myself, I could feel the mag film slithering through my white-gloved fingers once again as I devoured page after page of lively prose in the service of fascinating technical knowledge."
—James K. Morrow, Author, The Godhead Trilogy, The Last Witchfinder and Galápagos Regained
"This book is a fountain of information. A terrific gaze back through the looking glass at those individuals who were there, in the trenches in the golden age of sound and its introduction into multi-channel sound editing, sound design and re-recording. A top shelf reference for anyone in motion picture sound right now or at any moment in the future."
—Elliot Tyson, Hollywood Re-recording Mixer, Mississippi Burning (1988), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and The Green Mile (1989); Winner of an Academy Award for Glory (1989)
"Hearing films through the perspective of these leading practitioners is like taking mini-master classes in the art of creating and listening to sound tracks. It’s also a living history that documents and critiques a crucial period (late ‘80s through early ‘90s) as sound designers expanded film’s aural vocabulary in revolutionary ways."
?Elisabeth Weis, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, Author, The Silent Scream: Alfred Hitchcock’s Sound Track, co-editor: Film Sound: Theory and Practice
Preface & Acknowledgements
Reel One: Short Subjects: (Glossary, Trivia, Scoreboard)
Sc. 1 Introduction to Short Subjects
Sc. 2 Welcome to It
Sc. 3 Bits of Glossary
Sc. 4 Trims and Trivia
Sc. 5 Music Scoreboard
Sc. 6 Post Script for the Scoreboard
Reel Two: Exhibitionists (The Theater Beat)
Sc. 1 Theater Beat Short Notices
Sc. 2 Theater Beat Articles
Reel Three: Sound Reports: (Notices, News Articles, and Big News)
Sc. 1 Introduction
Sc. 2 Notices
Sc. 3 News Articles
Sc. 4 Big News
Reel Four: Rewinding (Articles, historical)
Sc. 1 Setting the Context for Historical Articles
Sc. 2 Articles of Historical Note
Sc. 3 Understanding SFX and Libraries
Sc. 4 Rick Mitchell Research
Reel Five: Talking Pictures (Interviews)
Sc. 1 Introduction
Sc. 2 Patching Up Lawrence (Richard L. Anderson)
Sc. 3 Jammin’ with the Cosmos (Mark Mangini)
Sc. 4 Ben Burtt Sounds Off! (Ben Burtt)
Sc. 5 Thoughts from E.T. (Elliot Tyson)
Sc. 6 Sound Director Runs TV Academy (Leo Chaloukian)
Sc. 7 The Washing Machine (Tim Hoggatt, Deborah Dobb, and Jim Cavaretta)
Sc. 8 We Chat with DTS’s Jeff Levison (Jeff Levison)
Reel Six: Active Listening (Reviews at the Movies)
Sc. 1 Introduction
Sc. 2 He Bugged Me (The Fly II)
Sc. 3 Dead Calm
Sc. 4 The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey
Sc. 5 Classic Comic (Robert Altman’s Popeye)
Sc. 6 Lethal Effects (Lethal Weapon 2)
Sc. 7 Bear with Us (L’Ours, a.k.a. The Bear)
Sc. 8 The Hunt for Red October
Sc. 9 Ben Hur
Sc. 10 Doors of Pretension (The Doors)
Sc. 11 Director Sharpens Blade (Blade Runner)
Sc. 12 Digital, Schmigital (Final Approach)
Sc. 13 One Man’s Meat (Dante’s Matinee)
Sc. 14 Gump Sounds Great (Forrest Gump)
Sc. 15 When Dinosaurs Ruled the Box Office (Jurassic Park)
Reel Seven: Critical Listening (Reviews at Home)
Sc. 1 Introduction to George Simpson
Sc. 2 Laser Discs and the Reviewer
Sc. 3 Picks Disc Pix
Sc. 4 1989 Great Vintage for Laser Sound
Sc. 5 Golden Reels on Disc
Sc. 6 And the Competition is Fierce Dep’t.
Sc. 7 The West Side Kids
Sc. 8 Laserblast: Surround Yourself
Sc. 9 LaseReviews
Sc. 10 LaserViews
Sc. 11 Laserblasts: Dep’t. of Suspicious Restorations
Sc. 12 Laser Louie Looks at Musicals
Sc. 13 Pardon Me, But Your Fangs are in My Wallet
Sc. 14 Sounds Your Father Never Heard
Sc. 15 Home Video in Identity Crisis
Reel Eight: Sound Thinking (Thoughts and Analysis)
Sc. 1 Introduction
Sc. 2 Indy Splits
Sc. 3 Holy Split-Surrounds, Batman!
Sc. 4 What’s Q-Sound?
Sc. 5 Cinema Digital Sound Introduced
Sc. 6 Cinema Digital Sound Falters
Sc. 7 Digital Editing Meets Mag-Dracula
Reel Nine: Sturm und Drang (Editorial and Opinion)
Sc. 1 Editorial Notices
Sc. 2 Opinion - Colorizing, Restoration Standards
Sc. 3 Editorial: The Colorization of Sound
Sc. 4 Restorations and Re-Releases
Sc. 5 Opinion - Labor Relations, Personal Standards
Sc. 6 Busman’s Holiday
Sc. 7 Editorial: Aby… Abbeh… Abbbah… Abbuh…
Sc. 8 Opinion - Credit For Movie Sound Workers
Sc. 9 Editorial: Eighty-One Out!
Sc. 10 Thoughts from the Foley Stage:
Sc. 11 Editorial: The Foley Grail
Reel Ten: Unsound Thinking (Humor)
Sc. 1 Introduction
Sc. 2 Humor pieces
Sc. 3 April Fool’s Issue
Sc. 4 In Appreciation of John P.
Sc. 5 New Equipment Roundup (not really)
Reel Eleven: Reader Participation (Bag of Snail-Mail)
Sc. 1 Introduction: Life Before the World Wide Web
Sc. 2 On the Bylines
Sc. 3 The Mail (1989-1994)
Sc. 4 Call and Response: The Johnson Letter
Sc. 5 Concluding Thoughts
Reel Twelve: Time And Tide (Concerns And Obituaries)
Sc. 1 Jimmy Macdonald: The Sound of a Spider Web
Sc. 2 Ken Berger
Sc. 3 Remembering Alan Splet
Sc. 4 Murray Spivack Tribute
Sc. 5 Three Lively Spirits
Sc. 6 To the Trained Ear
Afterword and Further Reading
Appendix 1 MSNL’s Guide to Reading Material
Appendix 2 Extended Note: A Case of Blackmail
Appendix 3 Personal Note: In Combat with E.T.
Appendix 4 Extended Note: Auteur or Hauteur?
Appendix 5 The Whole SFX Catalogue
Appendix 6 The Couch Potato’s Guide to Laser Sound