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The process diary of film director Glendyn Ivin


Glendyn Ivin

Years ago at the Berlin Film Festival I was lucky enough to get tickets for a sold out masterclass by legendary editor and sound designer Walter Murch (above). I thought he would give some edit tips, tricks and filmmaking anecdotes but what he talked about was so much more insightful and has influenced and inspired me in countless ways since. 

He began his talk by playing an audio clip of a mysterious sound. A rhythmic, muffled and distorted 'pulse'. He asked the audience if anyone could identify what the sound was and no one really could. He then told us that the sound he was playing was a audio recording of the mother's womb, essentially what a baby can hear before they are born.

He explained the ear and the mechanics of how it works forms very early on during gestation. In theory we are aware of sound long before the brain understands what it is. So we have an aural sense long before a visual one. Walter discussed this idea as a way to describe why sound is so 'intuitive' to us. For example, and it's generalised... most people have opinion on what music they like, but find it hard to describe, why they like it. Whereas most 'non creative' people don't really have an aesthetic opinion on images.

He continued his class by showing us some specific scenes from films he had worked on. In particular the Godfather. He wasn't so much interested in discussing the edit, but more the sound design elements. He went on to discuss why sound is arguably more important than vision in cinema. An idea I agree with wholeheartedly, but never really knew why.

Essentially our brains were processing sound from the forming ear long before we were conscious of what it is. Therefore we have a much deeper, more subconscious relationship with the aural world. It's pre-conscience. It affects us emotionally and in ways we find difficult to describe because it's been part of our world long before we could think, let alone speak or see. 

I think about this alot.