A young woman wearing vintage clothes stands in an empty cinema with the light of the projector behind her.
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Real Tech Reasons Movie Dialogue is So Hard to Understand Now
Recently, the folks at SlashFilm took a deep look at why movie dialogue has gotten more difficult to understand in recent years. Sound designer Thomas Curley summed up the array of issues by saying, "It might fall into the realm of the 'Jurassic Park' thing. They spend so much time realizing that they can do all these things, but not thinking about if they should do all these things."
Dialogue needed to be loud and clear before digital audio was available, but as digital was introduced, far more changes could be made. However, in this case, having greater control over the entire soundscape means there's more to mess with — and more to mess up.
At home, you get a different sound mix than you'd get at a movie theater, and similarly, if you're watching a movie on streaming, you get a different sound mix than with a Blu-ray. Sound director Mark Mangini confirmed that a Blu-ray disc with 7.1 audio is "our full fidelity, 48 kilohertz, 24-bit master audio."
This same audio can be heard on "certain premium platforms" but, for the most part, if you're streaming a movie or show, you're getting a degraded sound experience that's mixed after the original sound designer no longer has control. In order to make certain the entire streaming experience is synced (sound and image), the quality must be compressed.
Take a peek at the video by clicking on the button below, and see what SlashFilm turned up. An array of industry insiders speak on the problem and confirm what we've suspected for a while: It is really, truly more difficult to understand dialogue in films now than it ever has before.