How far we've come...

Posted by: Micah

How far we've come... - 03/08/10 11:36 AM

I got a good laugh the other night while my fiancee and I were watching a movie (can't remember which one it was?). During one scene it sounded like there was water pouring out of our fireplace. Amy sprang to her feet to see what had happened.

Laughing I told her, 'relax sweetheart, that's just the surround sound effects from the movie". I rewound the scene and played it again.

"But how do they make the sound come from somewhere where there isn't even a speaker"? She asked.

My M80's are up by the screen, and my QS8's hang on the back wall and to the side of us. I haven't upgraded to 7.1 yet, and there are no surround speakers on the side walls at all. But the sound was coming right out of the fireplace on the left hand side of the room.

Her question sort of stumped me. I mean I know that surround sound is designed to fool the mind into thinking it's coming from all sorts of directions, not just out of the speakers. But how they accomplish this is beyond my comprehension.

"They mix the sounds between the front speaker and rear speaker to make it sound like it's coming from the side", is all I could tell her. She didn't really grasp how they were able to pull it off so convincingly. But then again, I'm not sure how they do it either!

I would imagine it was similar way back when they first developed records and you put that little disk on a player, and the sounds of peoples voices and instruments and everything else played out of the speaker... How do they do that? I still can't even grasp that concept myself. But how its gone from that to being able to project sounds coming from places that don't even have a speaker in the vacinity is truely mind boggling.

We certainly have come a long, long way in a relatively short amount of time.
Posted by: cb919

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 11:57 AM

Hey Micah, I know exactly what you mean. My wife and I often marvel at the apparent direction of surround sounds when watching movies.

In Journey to the Center of the Earth (even though it's not a great quality movie), there's a scene where water is dripping in a cave sequence. Everytime I hear it (my kids love to watch this movie) I could swear there is a leak directly above our heads nowhere near a speaker.

Also, watching Dave and Tim at RadioCity late one night, my buddy kept telling me that one of my kids was up at the same point in the concert - we were re-listening to some favourite tracks. By the 3rd time he finally realised it was the sound field fooling him into thinking he was hearing sounds from upstairs.

It's all good fun!
Posted by: Adrian

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 01:16 PM

One of the best scenes for surround effects is the chaos on the ship in Master and Commander. The cannon sequences are great, but the sounds above you from the perspective of being below deck is incredible, as if the ceiling of your room is actually the main deck of the ship.
Posted by: cb919

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 01:38 PM

I really have to watch that movie again as it is mentioned so often. I saw it when it was 1st released on DVD years ago but just through the TV speakers. At the time I thought it was good, but not so good to leave a lasting impression. Guess I'll rent a BR copy next weekend.
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 02:05 PM

Master and Commander BR was on sale at Target for $14.99, I think. To buy you might want to try there. (Could be just a local thing).
Posted by: Adrian

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 03:37 PM

 Originally Posted By: cb919
I really have to watch that movie again as it is mentioned so often. I saw it when it was 1st released on DVD years ago but just through the TV speakers. At the time I thought it was good, but not so good to leave a lasting impression. Guess I'll rent a BR copy next weekend.

I would say it's a "good" movie with "great" special effects/audio, some parts of the movie seem to simply be there to fill time but the opening battle scenes are some of the best LFE's you'll find...trouble is, it set's a high bar for the rest of the movie.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 04:33 PM

Tai Lung "escaping" in Kung Fu Panda Blu-ray is as good as it gets when it comes to surround candy. The QS4/QS8 are special.
Posted by: audiosavant

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 04:51 PM

There are a lot of tricks available today for sound placement within a surround matrix. Localization of sound in surround is a complex (and fun!) mixing process that involves everything from panning and phase relationships to delay/reverberation routing within the 360 degree sound field using unusual equalization processes.

Unlike a magician, I think I can reveal one piece of software that I (and countless other post production houses) use that makes mixing/placement of audio a magical experience for the creator as well as the consumer.

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/audiopostproduction_product/nuendo4.html

Combine that with a HUI that allows one to pan left/right/center/sides/rears and anywhere in between in surround 5.1, 7.1 all the way to 10.2 (and higher for custom installations) and you have a psycho-acoustic brain toy for sure.

We have certainly come a long way from Quadraphonic and simulated surround (anyone remember Q Sound?).

I am currently mixing a surround project and, while working with a reverb plugin in surround mode, managed to actually scare myself and the client with the sound of helicopters stealthily swooping in from behind, flying over our heads fast and low. And we knew it was coming!

I wonder what Edison would think of the progress we have made concerning sound reproduction. I bet it would blow his mind!
Posted by: jakewash

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 05:03 PM

I remember Q sound and one Larry Rickman. He was owner of my cities CFL team, the Calgary Stampeders, during the 80's.
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 07:18 PM

Oh wouldn't it be great indeed to be able to show Edison how far we've pushed his baby! I'm sure it would truely knock his socks off. He probably never dreamed we'd be able to do what we've done.

It reminds me of an interview with Bill Gates that I read. They asked him if way back in the 70's & 80's when he was first starting his Microsoft empire if he had any clue what would become of it. What he said was very interesting indeed.

He said it's gone both ways at once. We're no where near where he thought we'd be by now, and at the same time we've done things he never even concieved back then.

As far as not being as advanced as he thought we'd be by now he explained that in Microsoft's infancy they imagined within a few decades we'd all be talking to our personal computers like a normal human being. Carrying on conversations, and even getting emotional responses out of them. But as he explained it, A.I. has progressed much slower than had been envisioned, and is much, much harder to accomplish than they ever dreamed. Which in his opinion really goes to show what an amazing organ the human brain really is. For all intents and purposes, our minds are unduplicatable.

But he admitted that they never saw the internet coming. Where practically any information you'd ever want was a click away. News was up to the second. And everyone in the world was tied into it.

It was an interesting article.
Posted by: RickF

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 07:35 PM

 Originally Posted By: CatBrat
Master and Commander BR was on sale at Target for $14.99, I think. To buy you might want to try there. (Could be just a local thing).

Amazon has it for $12.49 and third party sellers are starting at $10.99 .... Master and Commander

Awesome movie, I wish there were more of the Aubrey–Maturin series made into movies like this one ... speaking of which, I'm about ready for another Bourne movie also.
Posted by: terzaghi

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 08:08 PM

 Originally Posted By: Adrian
One of the best scenes for surround effects is the chaos on the ship in Master and Commander. The cannon sequences are great, but the sounds above you from the perspective of being below deck is incredible, as if the ceiling of your room is actually the main deck of the ship.


I agree! REALLY great sound effects.

What bothers me the most is that not all movies have such great sound. I find that a lot of movies have poor surround effects and little LFE.... why o why can they not all have stellar sound?
Posted by: RickF

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 09:07 PM

I believe very well mixed music listened in two channel stereo can really provide some amazing surround sound like imaging. A couple of days ago while listening to Otis Taylor the imaging was so well I thought I was listening in surround sound whenever I just knew the system was set up for two channel stereo, had to look back at the AVR a couple of times to make sure it was indeed set for two channel stereo.
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/08/10 09:10 PM

You would think since they're all mixed in state of the art studio's that stellar sound would be an absolute. However it must be low on a lot of producers lists because it just isn't so.

Of course that does make it even greater when you find a really superbly mixed movie to sit down and enjoy. But I must admit, there's nothing worse than picking up a movie with the thought that surely it MUST have great sound effects, only to get it home and find out it's just another run-of-the-mill sound track.

Perhaps our Savant can clue us in as to why so many just don't seem to care?
Posted by: RayLewis

Re: How far we've come... - 03/09/10 11:44 AM

Micah: That interview with Bill Gates does sound very interesting. Do you recall where you saw it?
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/10/10 06:34 PM

 Originally Posted By: RayLewis
Micah: That interview with Bill Gates does sound very interesting. Do you recall where you saw it?



You would ask me that. As I recall it was on like 60 minutes or one of those programs. I did a quick Google search only to find out there are 50,000 interviews with Bill Gates... go figure.

And half of those are of him showing off Window's 98 only to have it crash on him over live TV... ooops! \:o
Posted by: Potatohead

Re: How far we've come... - 03/10/10 07:17 PM

 Originally Posted By: RickF


Awesome movie, I wish there were more of the Aubrey–Maturin series made into movies like this one ... speaking of which, I'm about ready for another Bourne movie also.


Well, the Green Zonepremacy comes out on Friday
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/11/10 09:09 AM

Yeah in this one he's fighting for truth, justice & the American way right? Those movies are okey in small doses. But running around pummeling police officers, scaling walls, sticking pencils into men who've just crashed through your bedroom window, and just generally kicking ass & taking initials because he's moving too fast to take names all while not remembering who he is or why he's kicking so much ass.... well now THAT'S entertainment!

\:D
Posted by: RayLewis

Re: How far we've come... - 03/11/10 09:45 AM

Thanks for looking for the Bill Gates discussion, Micah.
Posted by: Murph

Re: How far we've come... - 03/11/10 10:54 AM

 Originally Posted By: Micah
while not remembering who he is or why he's kicking so much ass.... \:D


Wasn't it because he was all out of bubblegum?
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/11/10 02:09 PM

Oh yeah, don't mention it. I was actually sort of hoping I could find it again myself so that I could watch it again. He's just such a high profile character everyone and their brother wants to interview him. And he doesn't seem too shy about accepting those invitations! Lol ;\)
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: How far we've come... - 03/11/10 02:16 PM

I knew someone who claimed that Gates stole her father's car (when they were very young, way way before Microsoft). Her father apparently never got over it, especially when Gates made it big, and has been bitter and resentful ever since. I didn't believe her at the time, but it was amusing....well not really, she was kind of creepy.
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/12/10 11:53 AM

Have you ever seen Bill Gates before he became a billionaire? If you think he's a geek now, he wouldn't even have made it on the set of 'Revenge of the Nerds' back in those days. He was such a dweeb even other dweebs musta told him, "dude, I know I don't have any friends, but I really can't be seen with you... it would ruin my reputation".

Never struck me as a car thief. Hell to this day he drives something like a 1985 Volvo or something like that. Said it gets him around just fine, so why buy anything else?

"Ummm... how about because I drive a nicer car than you do, and you'll make more money than I will in my whole life, TODAY"!!!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: How far we've come... - 03/12/10 12:57 PM

 Originally Posted By: Micah
Never struck me as a car thief. Hell to this day he drives something like a 1985 Volvo or something like that. Said it gets him around just fine, so why buy anything else?


That's the car he stole! \:o
Posted by: Micah

Re: How far we've come... - 03/12/10 01:00 PM

LMAO, well then at least that chicks father has the peace of mind in knowing that his beloved car is resting in a much nicer stable than he could ever have provided for it! \:D
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: How far we've come... - 03/12/10 01:09 PM

I'll say.