What are your thoughts on surround music in movies?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Tone Deft
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Re: What are your thoughts on surround music in movies?

Post by Tone Deft » Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:27 am

funny how posts read different on a smart phone (earlier) than on the PC (now.) blah blah blah excuses...
sporkles wrote:I'm not sure if I can make up my mind myself; a part of me thinks it's silly and unnecessary (probably the same part of me that finds stereo manageable and multi-channel intimidating).
Roger Ebert would have agreed with you, same with Woodie Allen, even back to the Lumière brothers in the 19th century. Méliès would vehemently disagree.
The other part of me thinks that in modern film soundtracks, the line between FX/sound design and music is quite blurry.
good insight, agreed.
I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this. Could you find yourself thinking "having that trumpet come from behind totally MADE this movie, man!"? Or do you rather think that the music doesn't need to surround you and that it may in fact be distracting?
from what I've seen it takes Hollywood two or more years to go from overusing a new technology to chilling out and letting the art speak rather than the tech overwhelm the art. the first 3D movies made heavy use of putting things right in your face. it was Coraline IMO to finally chill with that effect. they did it once at the beginning and not again (maybe again in the trippy garden dance scene?) with sound I've sat in on screenings that compared 5.1 to EX to Atmos playback, once I heard Atmos I didn't want to go back. the first movies were either really subtle like Brave or just poor mixes like the latest Die Hard movie. I didn't get out to see Gravity or The Hobbit but I heard those mixes were messing with peoples' heads.
I don't know if I'm just a nay-sayer, but I find things like 3D glasses and Dolby Atmos to be nothing but gimmicky fads designed to keep gadget-crazy consumers interested. Basic surround is great, but do we need 64 channels to convince the audience that a bullet is passing by?
the difference is that the bullet goes around the sides of the room with 5.1 and EX. with Atmos you get a much better sense of it coming at you as it traverses the ceiling. again, a lot of this is with the sound engineer and how they use the tools. end of the day an Atmos theater can do exactly what a 5.1 theater can. if the 5.1 sound placement sounds better, they can do that with Atmos. if the Atmos placement sounds better, you can't do that with 5.1. Atmos can also do stereo, if that's what's called for.
I digress, but this is where I'm coming from. So, just to recap: is stereo enough for the music track? (And will Ableton introduce surround support ... ever?)
per my response below, as more complex surround systems become the norm in society, as clubs get cool installations and theaters rent out their spaces for non-cinema uses consumers will want this. once Sonar or Bitwig or Logic or PT gets it, Live will follow.
Actually: does anyone think that music in general needs more than two channels?
it all comes down to the artist. another old-ish example of surround is The Flaming Lip's album Zaireeka. it's 4 CDs that you plat at the same time from 4 different stereos. it's meant to be a party album, think of a college dorm atmosphere, you run around, see who has a portable stereo, get 4 of them together, try to hit play at the same time while being almost too wasted to coordinate such an effort. then the album plays. sometimes not all the stereos play sound, sometimes it's all of them. point being it's an artistic take on what can be done with more than one channel. BUT for some forms of music it's just silly, remastered Simon & Garfunkel in 64 channels is a bit silly. remaster a symphony so it sounds like you're sitting in the middle of the stage? that could be cool. a full on class electronic band making full use of a system like that could blow your mind.

another sign is that Primus recently remastered Sailing The Seas Of Cheese in 5.1. when asked why Les said that he wanted to try his hand at the art of surround mixing.

we've had users up in here that were DJing live in multichannel environments (hambone1, crazy dude.) I can easily see that trend continuing. surround sound in general will proliferate, speakers will be cheaper, we'll find more ways to hide speakers (thin film for example.)
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

doghouse
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Re: What are your thoughts on surround music in movies?

Post by doghouse » Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:04 pm

Back in 1973 I bought a quadraphonic sound system: quad open reel deck, quad LPs and tapes, etc. I thought it sounded great.

By 1980 all the quad formats were dead.

Ten years later surround was all the rage thanks to video but I found it very disappointing because of the audio compromises made in the surround channels, the development of center channel for dialog (really fucks with music imaging) , etc.

Are there any proper surround formats for music? I haven't kept track and don't have a home theater system. I still have my quad receiver in storage, though!

kitekrazy
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Re: What are your thoughts on surround music in movies?

Post by kitekrazy » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:28 pm

beats me wrote:Gimmicky? Perhaps. But I don’t think it’s a fad. I don’t think anybody is going to get all retro and long for the days when movies were just in stereo.

I have 5 speakers hooked up for our surround sound in our living room but I put zero effort into making sure they’re optimized for the room as far as placement. Actually, scratch that. The receiver came with a microphone I placed in the best center viewing position and with a single click of a button the receiver pinged the microphone from all the speakers and adjusted them for the best listening experience. That’s close to zero effort. I just wasn’t running around the room with tape measures and a compass.

I probably wouldn’t care if I didn’t do that, but I do get a little moment of excitement when something is happening to the left rear of me in the movie and it comes out of the speakers appropriately.
If you ever walked into someone's living that bought those surround speaker packages, you see all of the speakers sitting on their entertainment centers. They never placed the rear surround speakers where they should be. When you go into stores you don't see surround speakers. They are replaced with a soundbar and two front speakers.

Surround music doesn't really work if they way the OP suggested. Having a trumpet sound behind you in an orchestra setting doesn't work compared to SFX.

kitekrazy
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Re: What are your thoughts on surround music in movies?

Post by kitekrazy » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:33 pm

sporkles wrote:I'm not sure if I can make up my mind myself; a part of me thinks it's silly and unnecessary (probably the same part of me that finds stereo manageable and multi-channel intimidating). The other part of me thinks that in modern film soundtracks, the line between FX/sound design and music is quite blurry. I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this. Could you find yourself thinking "having that trumpet come from behind totally MADE this movie, man!"? Or do you rather think that the music doesn't need to surround you and that it may in fact be distracting?

I don't know if I'm just a nay-sayer, but I find things like 3D glasses and Dolby Atmos to be nothing but gimmicky fads designed to keep gadget-crazy consumers interested. Basic surround is great, but do we need 64 channels to convince the audience that a bullet is passing by?

I digress, but this is where I'm coming from. So, just to recap: is stereo enough for the music track? (And will Ableton introduce surround support ... ever?)

Actually: does anyone think that music in general needs more than two channels?
There is no need to. This function is often left to audio and video editors. Look at how most people listen to music. It's often on portable devices. Mixes coming out of studios with that in mind. An mp3 sounds really crappy at high volume on a decent stereo system.

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