Door Morning


I have a whole new respect for the climax of "Monsters Inc" now.

I have a whole new respect for the climax of “Monsters Inc” now.

By the time I woke up, I’d been dreaming about doors for several hours.

I know why, too: one of the assignments for my advanced Sound class was to cut in sound effects for a series of door openings and closings. The video clip wasn’t long: just a series of clips from different movies showing different doors. Old doors, sci fi doors, elevator doors, double doors, vault doors. It doesn’t sound like a difficult assignment- but it is a surprisingly detail oriented and time/mind consuming task.

Seven minutes of doors. Seven hours of work. Dreams.

Yesterday we reviewed the cuts in class. It was interesting to hear everybody’s different takes. Who thought to add hand hits on the door surface. Who remembered to add the sound of the lock on the door close. Who gave the door enough “weight”. Who got the rhythm of the “bounce” right when the door hit the wall.

In spite of the fact that I found myself continuing to edit and critique door sounds in my sleep, I enjoyed the exercise. There’s a bit of sense-memory involved when trying to find the right sound effect for a door because it is such a common sound that you know what it should sound like. And it’s not just a matter of what you see on the screen, but what is going on behind the door, inside the lock, against the wall, etc. The material of the door. The puff of air the door’s movement makes. The sound of the window treatments, etc.

The sounds happen so naturally in real life that we forget that each piece has to be built deliberately in a sound design. I do, anyway. I’ve found myself listening to the doors in television shows with new ears. At that level of detail-thinking it is easy to wax philosophical. My notes from the class read like a series of fortune cookies:

A door closes on both sides.

And:

Attack Decay Sustain Release

And:

Finality of Closure: Sound as Punctuation

It’s like walking through the section of the library dedicated to end-of-life planning. (And what does the library door sound like?)

Well, if I’ve learned nothing else, it is how to be a motivated listener. Even in my sleep.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 9, 2016.

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