Originally Posted by FilmMixer
IMO it just isn't always warranted.
regardless of if it matches what's on screen.
And that's where it's just your opinion. Your job doesn't apply except in that you tend to avoid dialog panning when you're working. Once you start "noticing" that people on the left of the screen are coming from the middle of the screen, it's hard to "un-notice" it and that's is the opposite of the effect of people being so used to dialog coming from the middle that it seems "weird" when it comes from the left of the screen or whatever.
It's not technology or history or laziness or...... that has lead us to those decisions, or stopped us from grabbing the pan knob.
So it's 'je ne sais quoi' ? Of course it's history. It's the "way it's always been done" or the "way you were taught" or "what people are used to hearing". It's also, "It sounded WEIRD when I put the voice above the screen." All of those are psychological responses of not being used to hearing a movie that way. But real life sounds come from wherever the source is and it doesn't matter if it sounds "weird" or not. Mother nature says, "TOUGH."
My job is to get the directors vision up on the screen using sound the best way I know how.
And that is the problem. And it's a problem with rock albums too. The sound guys are TOLD to make it louder. They're told to compress the crap out of it. And if they don't, the lose their jobs. Sadly, that makes for crappy sounding rock albums. Fortunately, no one told Pink Floyd what to do with their albums or DSOTM and WYWH wouldn't be what they are.
For example, in Power Rangers (spoiler alert......). When the kids are in the pit and Zordon is taking to them... I initially presented that as him coming out of the overheads (where he is logically located based on where the kids look...).
So we completely matched the picture. It just sounded weird, disjointed and disconnected.... we all agreed and I presented him in the surrounds and used some verb in the OHs... it kept him closer to the main characters yet still had the impact of him being off screen...
I think the problem there is partly psychological ("weird" even though it's correct) and partly the fact that even Atmos doesn't cover every possible point of sound. If you look at the diagram on the most recent page, there are 24 speakers in the home version shown, but a HUGE GAP at the screen. You can just see all the dotted angles have this open spot there because there is just one center speaker. The theater version only has 3 with 2 more being optional. 70mm back in the 1960s had 5 speakers behind the screen and that's when they started playing with dialog panning. But it wasn't panning that killed 70mm films. It was the format itself. It's unwieldly and hard to work with. Another movie wasn't made until TRON in 1982 and that was for practical purposes with minimizing grain and the like with so many layers added to create the glow effects, etc. 70mm prints are still normally made from 35mm masters. It's not remotely
the same as filming in 70mm.
I think our other poster missed the entire framing of my reply to him.
I'm not sure you're thinking about it the same way some of us are. You seem to be stuck on the exceptions rather than the rules. I'm saying MOST FILMS have NO (as in NONE what-so-ever) dialog panning and you're talking about situations where it makes sense to not use it, but what about the rest of the film??? It's all from the center. That's not judicious. It's lazy.
I just put on Star Wars and no matter where they are on the screen, the voice comes from my center channel speaker below the center of the screen. If I concentrate on it, I'll notice it's not coming from anywhere on the screen since I had to put the speaker below it, but the brain is good at tuning out height differences when there's visual cues. It's harder to tune out left/right differences. A wider dispersion speaker or maybe even a dipole speaker might help at least stretch the image across the screen width, making it hard to localize. That would still be an improvement over having a point in the center talk where there's no one standing.
Simply put just because you can doesn't mean you should. That's not because technology has changed, etc... Atmos and MDA allows us to go nuts with panning. Or laziness.. or the status quo... (I might add I was involved with the first film to ever have an overhead channel/speaker...)
You seem to use your job as a crutch to justify your opinion, but at some point it really is just viewer preference at work. Either you want sound to come from their mouths or wherever they are on the screen or you don't. I don't know how many spaceships flew into the back of the room on Revenge of the Sith, but I'm pretty darn sure despite DTS-ES 6.1 sound with a rear center and an in-phase side image, NONE flew past my head even when they SHOULD HAVE. Why? I'm sure Lucas thought it would be distracting if they did that. I think it would have been AWESOME. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had the flag over Disney's Castle at the start be a pirate flag and it flapped as it went right past my head (exactly what Star Wars was avoiding) and it was short, but excellent!
IMO, Reality should always be the goal. Avoiding "distractions" is subjective. Include a mono track if you think people have such short attention spans.
And what about those sound mixing folk that do use dialog panning when they're allowed to? Do they think they shouldn't have used it? I'm saying clearly we fundamentally disagree on what's REAL and what's FAKE. You appear to think fake is better because you can tell the story without being distracted. I'm saying it would be less distracting still if you made the film in MONO and then all those stereo ping-pong effects wouldn't keep me from noticing that Transformers is a terrible movie.
For a 2D image presented on a flat screen, making audio move around to match it at all times isn't always the best way to tell a story.
You see that's George Lucas talking or whomever that decided reality is too "distracting" to use it. It's the same excuse used to justify NOT putting lots of stereo surround effects in the soundtrack when 5.1 first came out. We want the audience to pay attention to the story not the planes flying past their heads and into the back of the room. Even today, it's RARE to hear in-phase surround rear effects (that would go past your head when the side surrounds are in-phase) because people might jump if it sounds too real. They might miss something on screen while they're gawking or whatever.
I think people willing to put 24 speakers in their home WANT to hear impressive sound effects in their movies. They watch movies for the sound not the story at this point. Is that bad? It's the difference between many audiophiles and music-philes. The former has maybe 100 albums in his collection and his speaker system cost $30,000. The latter has probably 10,000 albums in his collection and his system cost $500. The former listens to sound. The latter listens to music. The rest of us are probably somewhere in-between.
If your paying attention to the panning (or lack of it) the director has failed to properly tell their story.
There is no story in Michael Bay movies so you might as well have impressive surround sound. How many on here bought T4 just to hear Atmos and couldn't have cared less about its (dismal) story telling?
Originally Posted by dschulz
On the subject of panned dialogue - exception that proves the rule - old 70mm mixes that used 5 screen channels behind the screen to have dialogue follow the actors, at least to some extent. West Side Story comes to mind.
Atmos has 5 (2 are optional) behind the screen so it could work well for panned dialog. It wasn't that it didn't work with those 70mm films. It was great. It's that directors hated filming in 70mm and 70mm theaters were/are more expensive, especially in an age when mono and stereo only sound was still common (1980s). THX was what it was because it meant someone took the time to certify the sound wouldn't SUCK at a given theater. These days, sound is monumentally better than it was even in the 1990s and such certification is largely unimportant these days and the home version of THX completely sold out to certify JUNK (THX cables that cost a fortune and do nothing or tiny computer speakers that are "THX" certified?) and thus the THX brand slowly became a joke at home, more of a money grab than a certification.
Of course, those mixes were done knowing they would be played back in unconventional cinemas with very large screens, 5 speakers behind the screen, and nary a thought to how things would translate to home video.
If you have your speakers lined up properly with the screen edges (like with a projection drop-down screen), it sounds awesome at home. I had to put my front speakers under the screen, but they are in the proper places so when I watch Gravity or Cars or West Side Story it sounds like it should.