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Sound Design & Science Fiction [Paperback]

William Whittington
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Feb 2007
A contemporary study of the rise of sound design and its relationship to science fiction cinema.

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Sound Design & Science Fiction + Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema + The Sound Effects Bible: How to Create and Record Hollywood Style Sound Effects
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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (1 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292714319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292714311
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Sound Design is a major achievement in film studies that should be widely read as a general introduction to the underappreciated art and practice of sound. Whittington makes a compelling case for the centrality of sound to the modern Hollywood aesthetic. While surveying the evolution of sound technology, post-production practices and design in seminal science-fiction films of the last forty years, he concurrently provides a comprehensive introduction to the various components of the soundtrack and how they create meaning. He carefully defines terms such as Foley and source music not just in a glossary but as they arise, in such a way that the book can serve as a textbook on sound design in general, not just on the one genre...given the brilliant research that has been devoted to the transition to sound, I am particularly excited that Whittington has chosen to focus on more recent developments." Elisabeth Weis, Screen 2008, issue 49

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really smart and comprehensive read... 22 Sep 2009
I run a degree in Sound Design in London and this book has gradually pushed its way to the front of the reading list for my students. It is very succeeds at marrying the development of sound recording and post production technology with the conceptual role sound has played in film - using a series of well known Sci-Fi as case studies. The book actually is not really about Science Fiction per se - that is just the hook that the author uses to hang his ideas. The language is sophisticated and clear, and the overall approach informative and practical. You'll learn from this as a practitioner AND as a theorist. The chapter on THX-118 is the best explanation of technological determinism I've read. Essential for sound students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essencial Guide 4 April 2011
By mattp
I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in film sound history and more detailed looks at the most influential films, with backgrounds on the industry climate at key stages of sound development and recession.

Definatley an essencial book to have in your collection.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound and two Blade Runners 12 May 2007
By sjedis - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm one of those picky people when it comes going to the movies. I always go early and only to specific theaters to make sure I get the best seat. I want to see a movie the way it was meant to be seen. After reading William Whittington's Sound Design & Science Fiction Film, I realized that where I sit is just as important if you want to hear the film the way it was meant to be heard. I've also gained an appreciation for what goes into how I experience a movie.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this exploration is that it focuses on my favorite genre, science fiction. It's a logical choice for experimentation and certainly technological innovation, after all, what does a alien, a light saber, or a pod racer sound like? Ask Ben Burt. It is up to the imagination of the designers like Burt to create the realities of that imagined universe. It's been 30 years since I saw Star Wars for the first time, but the sensation of the opening as Vader's ship passes, seemingly, overhead and onto the screen is still crystal clear.

While Whittington explores the development of the sound design through films like THX 1138, Star Wars, Exterminator II, Alien, and the Matrix, my favorite chapter is the one on the two Blade Runners, one of my favorite films. I have my own issues with director's cuts and though I loved the visual sensation, music, and the Sam Spade-like voiceover of the original 1982 version, I almost wish I hadn't seen Blade Runner until the director's cut came out in 1992. But, it's like the judge asking the jury to disregard the previous statement, it took some convincing for me to see how the basic elements of the story had changed.

Whittington goes carefully through both versions of the film and, skeptical the whole way, I had to re-examine my own memory of the story. Gradually I realized that not only were there two different stories, with basically different Decker's, but that the majority of the transformation comes from the sound design itself. Removing the voiceover and allowing the story to reveal, not explain the events, fundamentally changes the story and leaves open questions about Decker himself. Is he a replicant? Are his memories more real then those of Rachel? Those issues, unambiguous in the original version, are much more in the style of author, Philip K. Dick.

Okay, you may not be interested in re-examining your view of Blade Runner; the way I was. Apparently, I was one of the few people who saw it the first time out. But, if you are curious and enjoy movies, this book will give you insight on the changes in sound within the film industry and in how we experience that when we view films at home or in the theater. On the other hand, if you're one of those hopeful future filmmakers it will give you a broader perspective on the power of sound as an integrated element of film. As for me, I'll just have to make sure I get the best seat in the theater, and give this director's cut a chance.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and rigorous 4 May 2007
By Jeffrey C. Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm teaching "Sound Design in Science Fiction and Horror Films," and so was of course delighted when I came across this book. Academically sound and insightful, I had a sophomore the other day come up after class and say "I really like this book. I thought it was going to be boring, but it's really interesting." High, high praise. It's much more of a thematic, conceptual exploration than any kind of a "how-to" or even "how they did it," so if you're looking for information on how to create sound design for science fiction, this isn't your book. But if you are interested in examining, for instance, how in science fiction "the sonic landscapes begin to emphasize a greater uneasiness in relation to technology, scientific breakthroughs and the future" with some specific illustrations from movies like Alien, 2001, and Star Wars, then this book is for you. This is an area of study that could use a lot more books like this! Sound design studies, to the front. Next we need the same kind of treatment for Horror films.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Studies Must-Read 7 April 2007
By Danny Leopard - Published on
If you're interested in Sound Design, Science Fiction, or both, you must read this book. If you're teaching a course on either of the topics, you must assign this book for your students to read. Well researched, an easy read, yet rigorous... What more could you ask for?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insights on a neglected topic 11 April 2007
By Rob Spadoni - Published on
I know of no other book that considers sound in science fiction films in this depth. The case studies of such films as 2001 and T2 are fascinating. Whittington writes engagingly and accessibly, making the book valuable not just to academically inclined readers but to casual science fiction fans as well.
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-blowing book 23 Dec 2011
By Reviewer - Published on
This is a mind-blowing book that any fan of cinema should have on his shelf. It will revolutionize how you see your favorite science fiction films of the past and forever change how you view any film you see in the future regardless of genre. William Whittington takes you on a fascinating ride through the history of science fiction cinema and explains why sound in film is every bit as important as the picture in expressing the filmmaker's intentions. When I went back and viewed the films he discusses, I came away with a whole new understanding of them and how innovations in sound design helped to make them the classics we love. I especially enjoyed the anecdotes on the creation of sound design for the films The Exorcist and Star Wars. This is an important, must-have book. I can barely wait for the author's forthcoming book on sound design in horror films.
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