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Painting with Silence

There’s no light without dark. No joy without sadness. No victory without defeat. And no sound without silence.

Sound and silence are two sides of the same coin, fully dependent on one another. They are equal entities, and yet one is formally defined as the mere absence of the other.

zsun-fu-775149-unsplash.jpgPhoto by ZSun Fu

Merriam-Webster defines silence as “forbearance from speech or noise; muteness–often used interjectionally” (Silence). In other words, silence is the absence of a thing but not a thing itself. This is a limiting view of silence. A canvas is white to begin with, but that does not mean that a painter has no need for white paint. To the contrary, white paint is used to create highlights, adding the dimensionality that brings a subject to life. Often, white paint is responsible for the most emotional, powerful details of a painting—the spark in one’s iris, the trail of a tear, the breaking of clouds, the crest of a wave. Without white paint, the colors on the canvas would be overwhelming, flat, and ultimately meaningless. The same can be said about silence, but before an artist can begin painting with it, she must recognize it as a color of its own. Continue reading

Behind the Silver Curtain

The Magic of Foley Sound Design

The magician’s task is to trick. He deceives in order to achieve his greater purpose: to entertain. Magicians accomplish this greater purpose by taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary. And this mysterious transformation of mundane to magical happens on stage, front and center, before the audience’s very eyes.

A film is a different kind of magic show—a fabricated reality designed to trick the viewer into believing that the spectacle unfolding on screen was, in some world and at some point in time, real. The task of a filmmaker is therefore not unlike that of a magician: deceive in order to entertain. But while the magician must remain visible throughout the show to avoid suspicion, the filmmaker must remain removed from the audience entirely. The role of magician and assistant are divided among numerous cast and crew for the filmmaker; and the big screen serves as a silver curtain, forever drawn and concealing the magic of the movies. Continue reading