Fight Club and the Art of Sound Design
Sound design is an integral part of making a film, but it is often one of the most unnoticed. This may be its strength, not a weakness. Creating sound to suit actions in scenes takes a whole lot of ingenuity to blend seamlessly into the movie such that its underlying strength is not noticed. This makes the scene very believable, as Daniel Nieteziel said, ‘it makes our ears believe a lie.’
Fight Club would have been just another movie with eye catching visuals and creative fight scenes, but Ren Clyce and Richard Hymn have given the movie a feature that sets it apart from the usual, and that is its sound design. They created original sound effects using props like chicken bones, almonds, leaves, etc., to create believable sounds rather than settle for the usual mundane sound effects that have already been created and are frequently used by other sound designers. The movie has become so popular as well as controversial because the sound and visuals were not created to spare any sensibilities but to be as close to real life as they possibly could.
Film Radar created this killer video essay on Fight Club’s Sound Design.
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The importance of sound design is to give credence to the visuals, but you will be surprised to know that apart from the dialogues, all other sound details are created in the studio, not during the shooting of scenes. Daniel Nietzel explains this in his essay when he shows a club scene, all loud music, and noisy ambiance amidst the captured conversation. In reality, Daniel shows that the club scene was held in a quiet location where the dialogue took place. However, the sound designer was able to add a club’s noisy ambiance in between the dialogue making that scene utterly believable.
David Fincher’s Fight Club has garnered popularity in its amazing visuals that portray an interesting storyline, but it is the underlying sound design that gives the visual its weight. Subconsciously, our mind processes what our ears are hearing in the general ambiance of a film judging the reality of its production even as we are excited by what we see. This is the beauty of sound. Although it goes unnoticed, our subconscious picks up on the various auditory effects we hear and decides if it’s real or not. Little sound patterns that can be ignored but they always add credibility to a scene.
This is what Ren Clyce and Richard Hymn have given to this movie. In the fight scenes, you will hear the believable sounds of fists pounding flesh, of the crunch or snap of bones no more able to take the abuse, the believable sounds of shouts and cries, of a body, thudding to the floor, etc. This is what made this movie so spectacular. The believability of the visuals was promoted by the originality of the sound design.
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