SOUND CENTRE - placing of the centre within the sound picture

See also Point of listening = POL

FIXED SOUND CENTRE - the centre of the sound picture remains fixed in the same place (usual in Standard production)
MOVING SOUND CENTRE - 'we go with' - the sound centre moves along with the characters as they talk (going 'up the garden path' so as to speak)
This is a crucial rule in radio drama scripting and production. You have to define this in SCRIPTING a scene from the top - FIXED SOUND CENTRE or MOVING SOUND CENTRE.
 Most radio drama scenes have a FIXED SOUND CENTRE. This organises the sound picture. As listeners, we are placed at the centre of the sound picture. The first character who speaks in the scene is crucial.
 
 
 TO APPLY MOVING SOUND CENTRE - See Level Seven : Script: 'We Go With'
 Perspective explained by film shot analogy
 Perspective - construction, width and depth of the sound picture
Perceptual filling-in - necessary compensation by the listener for what is blurred or indistinct or omitted
Point-of-listening in radio plays - Beck, Alan, 1998, Sound Journal 6. Radio drama's frame & 7. Sound 'in' and 'out'
Atmos bed (underneath the scene dialogue) - establishes scene location or scenery
 'Mise-en-scène' - representation of the play scene, locations, spaces and perspectives
 
 

ESTABLISH SCENE AT TOP

 RULE: FOR A CHARACTER SPEAKING AT THE BEGINNING OF A SCENE, WE NEED POSITION THREE (usually) - THE EQUIVALENT OF A FILM MEDIUM SHOT (head to knees).
 We need to 'see' that character in (film term) MS - In mid-shot, the frame cuts across the subject at the knees. Medium long shot is a tight full-length figure. (MS = medium shot, MLS = medium long shot)
 It is more difficult for the listeners to hear a new character at the top of the scene, if that person is in position four, further away from the microphone. A word or two shouted is fine. And then an approach to the microphone into position three.
 
 

 HERE IS AN EXAMPLE FROM A SHORT 5-MINUTE PLAY CALLED 'MEAT IS MURDER'


SCENE 2

Situation: autopsy room with doctor (Pierce) working. His assistant Sam is just outside the door.

 

QUICK FADE UP, MORTUARY EFFECTS. A BED IS PUSHED THROUGH SOME SWING DOORS INTO A ROOM.
1. PIERCE (shouts across the room) I'm going to be working on this til late Sam.

2. SAM (voice off) No worries, need a hand with that one?
3. PIERCE (shouting still) If you're free.
4. FX FOOTSTEPS ACROSS THE MORTUARY
5. PIERCE His wife found him on the kitchen floor this morning.
6. FX RUBBER GLOVES BEING PUT ON. A BRAIN SAW STARTS UP. FADE OUT.

HERE ARE MY COMMENTS:

I recommend a script change at 2, with a bit more script to establish the doctor in a 'mid' shot, to use a film term. Then he can shout off to assistant Sam.


You have not specified where the sound centre is here in your script. Presumably we are with Pierce, and yes, the actor can do a 'turn' and shout across the room to Sam.

But you cannot begin the scene with that. It just does not work for radio drama.

You need to establish his presence first, and that means an inbreath, a little scripted phrase, and then he can call across, with a 'turn'. We then 'see' him in 'mid' shot.

Why can the scene not begin with a 'turn' and calling over to Sam, as you have scripted?

You are introducing a new character and we have to be 'with' that character for a little or more to establish them. And so we can understand who he is, according to radio drama conventions.

In a following scene, because we now know the autopsy room, we will remember the location and Pierce. And you can begin that later scene with a MLS (medium long shot) of the full autopsy room, in effect (position 4 at the microphone).

FOR THE FIRST INTRODUCTION OF A NEW CHARACTER, WE NEED THAT POSITION THREE 'SHOT'. Position 4 is too 'fuzzy' without description.

Fixed sound centre

standard production realism - eye-level shot - replicates our head level in the Lifeworld - fixed sound centre - paraproxemic

Alternatives - by analogy with the film camera angle/level:
High angle, low angle, straight-on angle; eye-level shot; oblique angle; canted frame?
Paraproxemics (media studies):
Study of the way the media, especially film and TV, simulate the way people handle the space between themselves in real-life dialogue and hence induce a sense of belonging in the viewer/listener. In radio's case, this reproduces the apparent interpersonal distance between radio's performers and the listener.

 

Distance and perspective - sound centre and the sound picture:
Relate to the five positions at the microphone
Alternatives - by analogy with film:
Extreme long shot, long shot, medium shot, (extreme) close-up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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