Birds, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

On Wednesday night, I tuned into DS106 radio to listen to stories about different iterations of The Birds by Daphne du Maurier, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s. While each story has the same basics, such as a fear of killer birds, the broadcast pointed out many differences in the audio from one to another. Across the different iterations, the birds found themselves sounding quite differently, like a monkey, a human, or a cat in a few scenes. Within the recordings, the audio crackles and sounds very clearly like a broadcast on an old radio. There’s great attention to detail with the sound design, such as a conversation happening in the background at a restaurant, faintly hearing another woman talk as we attempt to focus on the main speaker. The sound designers also create extremely believable environments, such as one that represents a windy shore, potentially waving a metal sheet aggressively to achieve the desire sound. The small details also have historically had great attention, such as small taps to represent bird’s pecking, or soft scratching or tearing to mimic someone’s intended action. With that being said, you cannot overlook the incredible importance of music. Suspense can be drawn from slower music that feels as though its “growing,” while during a chase scene there may be fast paced music that gives the feeling of almost getting caught. A final point is the importance of the voice of an actor, something that seems like a no-brainer to focus on, though it may be more impactful to a scene or story than we truly realize. The ability to provide a very specific emotion, especially when there are no images to accompany it, is often left up to an actor’s voice alone. Providing a feeling of startled shock or genuine joy can be extremely difficult to capture, trying to hide the obvious fact that you’re acting.

Sound is an extremely flexible and useful tool to take productions to the next level. From the clinking of silverware on plates at a diner in the background to the deeply emotional and desperate cry from a mother to her dying son, sound can truly change and enrich a scene.