Friday, 25 April 2014

#BBC Jamaica Inn who's to blame?


my mum has bought a sound bar for her TV. One of those expensive narrow speaker things from Bose.  She says she has real problems understanding some of the #BBC shows she watches.  She is not alone over 2,000 people have complained about the poor sound quality of 'Jamaica Inn'  It does not help that none of the actors seem capable of opening their mouths on this drama.

I call it the 'attack of the whispering actors' in the good old days of boom microphones, the actors er, had to boom.  Now we have those clever little radio mics you can Sellotape to an actors body. The good thing is that now dialogue can sound more natural and the performance more intimate.

Intimacy is something I teach in my courses at The London Academy of Media, but I also teach that by all means give the intimate performance but make sure there is clarity. Mumbling like Marlon Brando with toothache in a dodgy west country accent lacks that clarity.

Some have blamed the Sound Engineer and there is an element of truth there.  Fantastic as Dolby surround home cinema sound is, most people, including my mum, listen off the crappy speakers on their TV and the stereo mix on some shows means that dialogue is swamped by the music, this means that the mix should work on the crappiest of speakers.  I often check my students work on my iPhone, it is the ultimate acid test to see if their performance cuts through and my production does the same but does not drown their performance.

Equally I would hate all the actors to turn in an r.p. performance with the odd 'ooo arrrrrr' thrown in for good measure so the answer is clarity of performance and checking the quality of the sound production on the poorest form of carriage (a smart phone) and the BBC might not have lost 1.6 million viewers between episodes, and much more importantly my mum would not have to spend her pension money on expensive sound equipment. 

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