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The Sound Design of Walter Murch

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Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Godfather II, THX 1138…What do all of these movies have in common? The sound design of one, Mr. Walter Murch.

Walter Murch is one of the OG analogue sound benders, his work on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Apocalypse Now as well as George Lucas’ THX 1138 in particular proving especially influential on me. He’s also a sick film editor (The English Patient), helped create the 5.1 audio surround sound standard, and coined the term “Sound Designer”.

Creating and recording analogue sounds, warping and mixing them in new ways to make new sounds, and creating a sonic soundscape to enhance and stand complimentary to the film’s visuals are what I appreciate most about his work.

If you heve em’, throw on the headphones. Here is some of Walter Murch’s audio work in motion:

1971, THX 1138:

1974, The Conversation:

“Worldizing: A Sound Design Concept” by Walter Murch:

If you are in an ordinary-sized room and play a voice at 4x speed, and you record it on another tape recorder which is also running at this very fast speed, then when you play the 2nd recorder back at normal speed, you get the original sound but you get the space of the room as if it were 4x larger than it really is. It has something to do with the physics of recording a sound at that speed and then slowing it down: the original voice returns to normal, but the space of the room balloons outward to 4x the size that it really is.

Dude’s a genius. I definitely recommend checking out any, if not all, of the films listed above. They’re amazing films and the audio design shines in each of them.

More on Walter Murch:

Walter Murch at Wikipedia
Walter Murch IMDB

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