Portraying the past with sound.


Hello all!

I searched for a question like this and didn't find it here; but if so, please direct me to the link.

I am trying to understand why - (maybe as a cliché?) - so many many times when in a film there is the intent to show something that belongs to the past, and the visual itself cannot immediately convey this, the dialogue / voices are usually processed in similar ways? Is it merely because with reverberation long tails we may associate distance to it? Or are we just so used to it that we just don't think about it any more and assimilate?

Do you know any examples that convey this in other way than that?

Looking forward for your answers! Thank you!

Melissa Pons

Posted 2013-07-06T00:00:12.183

Reputation: 614

Thank you for your answers. I guess reverb and delay are always good allies to this, though from time to time there are also some processed reversed sounds included. – Melissa Pons – 2013-07-17T03:25:21.590



Well, isn't this a case of mainly matching the convention? If it's established, then it's effective, even if it has no rational reason. When you think of it, another way to convey past would be some sounds or music that are recognized as belonging to a certain time period (that's in the past. It can be even the film's past, i.e. the reference is made to an earlier point of time in the film), but then you get the obvious problem that only those viewers that recognize the sounds will understand it. Therefore it's logical that there are more viewer neutral approaches as conventions. And when you think in terms of audio effects, reverb or delay just really stands out as the only rational choice (it doesn't muffle or inhumanly mangle the sound).

Internet Human

Posted 2013-07-06T00:00:12.183

Reputation: 3 091


Yeah I think the 'distance' notion is a good observation actually. To some degree flashback reverb has become a universal pneumonic device for audiences, so it's an 'easy sell' to some degree - and especially in the case of the TV world where subtly doesn't always sell, a dialogue reverb really helps the juxtaposition pop clearly. This is my though at least.


Posted 2013-07-06T00:00:12.183

Reputation: 6 616