Tag Archives: Poor Sound Processing

Kill The Mumble!

Hope that got everyone’s attention, LOL. An email exchange reminded me of this issue that I recently mentioned in passing. It also made me realize just how wide spread a problem very poor audio quality has become in TV shows, movies and games. Having some modest hearing loss due to defective ear protection, I’m more aware of it than some.

I targeted what I’ve dubbed “the mumble” in my subject, but I see two main problems here. There’s also the proliferation of poorer quality, but more portable hand held recording equipment, especially in TV show production. It just doesn’t pick up audio as clearly as older, heavier equipment does. Never mind the occasional shaky picture from “steady” cams as well. “The mumble” is made all the worse by that problem too.

So what is “The Mumble?”

It’s a BAD habit that the new generation of directors and actors have. Actors will look down and mumble their dialog to show angst, regret, uncertainty, brooding… even reflection. I first really took notice of it on CW’s “Arrow”

You have failed this scene!

Stephen Amell, the lead actor, used this technique so frequently during the last three or so seasons of the show that it would be more correct to call it a full body cast than a crutch.

I’ve seen it in movies and in an increasing number of TV shows. What’s worse is that the sound editors will frequently leave it at a level that the background music for the scene completely drowns the dialog out. It makes it damned hard to follow shows at times, no matter how loud you turn up the TV.

What ever happened to the concept that an actor was supposed to project, and show their range via tonality and body language? Sir Alec Guiness managed to do that and still play an Obi Wan Kenobi who was clearly troubled by past and current events. Is it really too much to expect that current actors try to be as professional?

First world problem? Yes. Bigger things in the world? Absolutely. But if we can’t even fix the simple little stuff like this, how are we ever going to tackle the big, important problems of the world?

Reblog this. Start a twitter or facebook campaign. Let’s #kill the mumble and make TV and movies just a little more watchable. 🙂